It seems the University of Phoenix takes offense with my articles about their bilking of the American taxpayer and screwing of thousands of people who were lured into debt with the promise of an on-line worthless degree. How could I possibly question an institution that has a graduation rate of 16%, awarded Shaq a doctorate, and whose students have a 30% loan default rate within 3 years. I received the following email from a professor at the University of Phoenix. I’ve left his name out, but I verified that he is a professor. Did you know their on-line programs are better than Harvard, Yale and Stanford. I’m sure they are shaking in their boots. I interviewed someone with a University of Phoenix MBA on their resume. This person was a dullard. The entire For-profit education racket is a joke and completely dependent upon your tax dollars to keep the scam going.

I’ve included my response to the professor below his public relations drivel.


Greetings Mr. Quinn,

I have taught strategic management MBA courses for a number of universities for more than ten years and presently teach several online MBA courses for 2 universities. Most of my experience is with teaching online MBA courses. In some of your Burningplatform articles you have made some rather misinformed statements about the University of Phoenix. Just like non-profit universities – not all for profit universities are the same quality. I know Wharton is an excellent school – but UoP online offers an important option for adult-learners.

The University of Phoenix (UoP) has the most effective and by far the best quality online university programs in the world. Like Wal-Mart dominates retail – UoP has the most innovative and effective online learning programs for adult-learners. Harvard, Stanford, Yale’s, etc. online learning programs are nowhere near the quality or effectiveness of UoP’s online learning platform.

I would not make the same comparison about the in-person classroom programs – but for online learning – UoP has huge competitive advantage edge over all other universities.

Some facts you may not know about UoP are:

The University of Phoenix (UoP) is a highly accredited institution of higher learning that offers a wide variety of classroom and online degree programs.

The University of Phoenix has close to 600,000 graduates, nearly 480,000 current students and 32,000 faculty members. The faculty members bring an average of 16 years of “real world” work experience to the classroom unlike most tenured professors at traditional colleges who have never worked in business nor held an executive position in a corporation. UoP requires faculty to be specialists and/or successful practitioners of the business discipline in which they teach.

University of Phoenix is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association. University of Phoenix business programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

ACBSP has accredited the University of Phoenix’s Bachelor of Science in Business, Master of Business Administration, Master of Management, Doctor of Management and Doctor of Business Administration.

Why is accreditation of University of Phoenix business programs significant? Because only about one in four business schools offer programs accredited by a programmatic accrediting body, University of Phoenix is part of an elite group in the higher education community for business students.




I’m sure you do your best to teach people who want to learn. The University of Phoenix/Apollo Group is as bad as Wall Street in their manipulation of the federal student loan system to create profits. Your employer admits tens of thousands of people who should not be in college. It’s a scam. I deal with facts, not PR bullshit and slogans. Apollo stock is down 80% from its 2009 high. Your employer is shutting down 50% of your campuses. Your employer will not exist in five years. It will be bankrupt.

A graduation rate of 16% is a joke. Your employer was getting $2.5 billion per year in Federal government support and luring people into debt. The 84% who didn’t graduate are left with debt and no degree. I consider that to be a despicable business concept.

“When calculated using the standards set by the Department of Education, the university’s overall graduation rate is 16 percent, which, when compared to the national average of 55 percent, is among the nation’s lowest. The federal standard measures graduation rates as the percentage of first-time undergraduates who obtain a degree within six years. The number is significantly lower at the university’s Southern California campus (six percent) and its online programs (four percent).”



  1. Jim, chances are that wasn’t a real professor writing to you. It’s the PR arm of the “university” or — probably more lilkely — a PR agency hired to help improve their image. It’s a form letter, and they have the ability to sign whatever professor’s name to it that they choose (it’s often part of the compensation contract for educators).

    But great that you got their attention. Will be interesting to see if anyone else who has ridiculed them online gets a similar form letter.

  2. Jimmeh — you are my hero.

    I once saw an ad for U of Ph. in Grand Rapids. They hire off the street … just about anybody with a pulse.

    Hey Professor — thanks for informing us that you are the Walmart of on-line universities. I can’t tell you how much that boosted my confidence in you diploma mill. Oh, you sound like a douchebag.

    Q: What do you call 600,000 U of Ph. grads?
    A: A huge pool of McDonald’s workers/

  3. Thinker

    I googled the professor’s name. He’s legit. We’ve had two more email exchanges. He loves my Strauss & Howe articles.

    I’m sure he has successfully educated some students. I have no problem with the professors at these on-line colleges. I have a problem with the management of these companies. They are criminals in my eyes.

  4. Wow, Jim — that’s rather unusual. Good for him to reach out, though — most of the time, those are staged emails or letters.

    Have to feel sorry for a guy who’s trying to teach at a diploma mill.

    1. Thinker

      He teaches for other universities too. I’m sure there are many professors at these universities who are trying there best to educate as many people as possible. He seems like a decent guy. I think it goes back to having a blind spot when your living depends upon having a blind spot.

  5. Hey admin, the title of this post implies that there was some previous feedback from UoP. Where is it posted? Thanks.

    1. IS

      In one of my previous articles I made fun of the University of Phoenix. One of their corporate PR people emailed me to tell me they didn’t really have a degree in lesbian studies and that I should apologize. I posted our back and forth in the comments section. It was amusing.

  6. I’m sure University of Phoenix has a superior online degree program than Harvard, Yale or Stanford but that is because Harvard, Yale and Stanford do not offer ‘online’ degree programs. Maybe they should but if they did you can be assured that the University of Phoenix would cease to exist if all one had to do was pass their required examinations to be awarded a degree from the most prestigious universities in the United States.

    I’m a great believer in the value of online instruction. Years ago, when I got my first computer and began posting on USENET I was amazed when a Stanford professor wanted to send me some zip files in response to my posts on the nature of heredity. I had merely observed that my Irish Setter would ‘point’ to game even though it had never learned this behavior from its mother and yet a ‘trait’ that was not hereditary to the species was passed ‘genetically’ on in the ‘breed’. Of course I had to learn what zip files were and his files far too lengthy and technically specialized for me to fully comprehend but the idea that I, a curious layman, would find himself engaging a Stanford professor in a discussion showed that the internet offered a lot more potential than seducing teeny boppers.

    Maybe that is how it professors should select their classrooms. I don’t imagine Plato applied to study under Socrates or Aristotle under Plato. It was likely far more informal, like the internet, in which the older scholar selected the brightest young men to tutor. Were the University of Phoenix to adopt that model it could well become the new Stanford. Until it does it is just a diploma mill.

  7. Great Job. I’d love to see repartee in a magazine or newspaper someplace. Nice stuff Admin, makes me proud.

    These idiots are the Countrywide financial of the sub-prime student loan bubble, and won’t go to jail just like nobody went to jail over the sub-prime housing collapse. Until the criminals in Washington start putting people in jail for fraud, stealing and abuse of taxpayer funds, this will happen over and over and over again. But then, the criminals in Washington would have to put themselves in jail as well (where they belong).


  8. It’s not about about the method of instruction (although I would argue, sangell, that a real classroom is a superior venue for learning). It’s the business model. U of Phoenix didn’t invent this scam, it was one long used and cherished by various trade schools. They just took it to a whole new level. Just another example of how government programs create unintended consequences.

  9. I have to argue just a little here, not ALL online degrees are crap. I’m taking online courses now for my paralegal certificate from a school run and taught by practicing attorneys who are published authors as well. From the comments I gather not many of the students have straight A’s like I do. That said, the certificate alone is not likely to get anyone a job. If I didn’t have six years experience in the field I would not be doing this. Many of the students doing this are going to find out they can’t get a job in the any field due to lack of experience.

  10. a_kick_in_the_nuts.jpg

    No mercy. He still works for them and is collecting a paycheck. Fuck him. What about all the kids committing suicide because of student loan debts and worthless U. of Phoenix degrees?

  11. For some perspective:

    The U of P has 380,000 students – my school has 3,500 students

    The U of P has 20,000 faculty – my school has 300 faculty

    The U of P has 12,000 staff – my school has 650 staff

    The U of P spends $1 billion per year on marketing ($400k per day on google ads) – my school’s entire budget is $400 million.

    Do they seem like they are focused on education or profits?

  12. Admin writes, “The number is significantly lower at the university’s Southern California campus (six percent) and its online programs (four percent).”

    WTF? Is this a typo?

    1. Zara

      Not a typo. Their overall graduation rate is 16%. It is 6% at its Southern Calif campus and 4% for Southern California on-line course. They have over 200 actual campus locations.

  13. Any school or University that has a 16% graduation rate should be shut down immediately.

    Maybe somebody can dig up how much U. of Phoenix and for-profit bullshit degree mills spend on lobbying every year. I’m sure it’s a fortune.

  14. Very cool, admin. I scrolled through the offerings and saw several courses that looked tasty. At my age college credit is the last of my worries. Maybe there is something to this internet learning thing. My mind is open (just a crack).

  15. The online diploma mills are the sub-prime housing of this generation.

    Sub-prime housing existed because so many people were making money off it, and they didn’t care what happened when people that couldn’t afford houses got houses they couldn’t pay for. The end result was collapse, and all the cheapening of the home ownership experience. People that worked and saved and bought a house are underwater, or got the their houses taken away; while scumbags live in houses they couldn’t afford for years as squatters waiting to be kicked out. And the banksters and hedge funds got millions of homes from honest people. Nobody went to jail, in fact, they were bailed out and are now making more money than ever.

    The sub-prime student loans are the same thing. People that can’t afford and aren’t smart enough to go to a decent school go into debt for a worthless online degree and usually drop out anyway. Then they default on their loans. The schools (and stockholders) got rich, the PR firms got rich, the politicians got rich, and the taxpayers will be left holding the bag. Meanwhile, the whole university and college experience (like housing) has been forever tarnished, weakened and cheapened so the scamsters could make a fortune. The kids in debt are slaves forevermore. We used to have laws against such things and people that enforced these laws, but no longer. What else can the scamsters make meaningless before it is all said and done?

  16. with a 16% graduation rate it must be one tough cirriculum. could be 100% if it were similar to free shit u. can’t accuse them of being a diploma mill. (sarc)

    one should attend a private for profit university campus. then some real life lessons will be experienced. not too keen on the ivy league though. my last boss had a ms and mba from yale. good guy but what a egotist . . .it ended up getting him canned because of bad decisions under the influence of ego.


  17. For-Profit Colleges Spending Millions On Lobbying, Nearly $40 Million Since 2007

    For-Profit College Lobbying Group Sues Obama Administration Over Regulations

    Auction 2012: For-Profit Colleges Win When Lobbying Blitz Weakens Regs

    For Profit Colleges Lobbying

  18. Zara
    I watched the Salman Khan TED Talk. Blew me away. I have to find out if my daughter the science teacher knows about this.

    And obviously, schools could be revolutionized by Khan Academy.

  19. Eddie and Admin, I sure as hell wish khanacademy existed when I was in jr. high or high school. There is simply no excuse for kids to struggle with math these days. I had to take Algebra II twice simply because the first time I had a teacher so incredibly boring that all I did in class was space out and doodle.

    I stumbled onto it due to his excellent dissections of the Geithner plan(s).

  20. AWD
    I have worked hard to give my kids a decent chance for an education. Here in MA there are a number of towns that provide the opportunity to learning a great deal but within the narrow vision of what the schools find as acceptable. Fortunately my children have seen that much of what is taught in today’s schools is nothing more than indoctrination. My wife and I pay cash for my son to go to state school to study Chem E. We hope for the best he studies hard but I do not see it working out well for many of his fellow students who borrow without any thought of the future consequences. Kids these days face a very different paradigm then we faced. We could work our way through college. Our dads could work as a truck driver and could help us through and we could find a low paying job that payed us a basic wage after four years that you could survive on. Today the hopes and expectations are vastly different for both the parents and children. I can only hope and work for the best for my family.

  21. Great story Bob. I have two girls, 7 and 9, and I’m not sure what awaits them, but I’ll do my best also when the time comes.

    I wish greed hadn’t destroyed education, but it has, like so many other things that used to be good about our society and country. It’s so sad to see the debt slave kids, can’t start a family, can’t buy a house, or live a descent life. They want that chance, but many aren’t going to get it. There’s no going back anymore. What a mess. So sad.

  22. AWD
    I wish I could disagree with you but I would be lying. I do try to look at it as Chris Martenson does that this bad part could be a good opportunity for those well prepared but I cannot lie to my kids and say that all is well and tomorrow will be just like yesterday. Sorry no normalcy bias. BTW 7 and 9 are great ages. Mine are 10 years older and they will get older very quickly. I am still stunned my son is studying organic chemistry and my daughter came home today her team having made States in gymnastics. It moves much to fast for my small reptilian brain. We can only do what is best for them. I do wonder if the founders of this nation had the same concerns for there children’s future’s when they went to war with England.

  23. ITT Educational shares slide on SEC Investigation

    By Mia Lamar

    ITT Educational Services Inc. shares slid Monday after the for-profit education company late Friday revealed the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the company’s involvement in some private student-loan agreements.

    ITT Educational (NYSE:ESI) shares were last trading down 13% to $16.21, nearing a one-month low.

    The company was made aware of the investigation on Feb. 8, according to a securities filing. A subpoena issued by the SEC requested documents related to a 2009 loan risk-sharing agreement and its PEAKS Private Student Loan Program, the company said.

    ITT Educational noted it is cooperating with the SEC in its investigation, adding there can be no assurance the outcome won’t have a material effect on its financial condition.

    Last month, ITT Educational said it would pay $46 million to SLM Corp. (NASDAQ:SLM) , the country’s biggest student lender, commonly known as Sallie Mae, to settle a lawsuit stemming from a risk-sharing agreement on loans.

    Legal issues come as the company continues to struggle with waning student enrollment. Last month, fourth-quarter results showed ITT’s new-student enrollment dropped 11%, its 10th straight quarterly decline.

    For-profit educators have been tightening admissions standards to combat increased public scrutiny over recruiting practices and academic quality. They also face increased competition from nonprofit and state schools.


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