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Grand Canyon University Online Degrees: Reviews from Real Students

Earning your degree through an online program can be a great way to enter your preferred field, or advance in the one you’re already in.

Grand Canyon University (GCU) is a popular online education option. According to student reviews from various online sites, GCU has some solid educational options, but there are also more than a few recurring complaints that should be taken into consideration before you enroll.


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Quick facts about GCU

GCU is a private, Christian college, offering classes both online and on campus. The school is headquartered in Phoenix. AZ, and is accredited through 2027 by the Higher Learning Commission. 

According to the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard, GCU has a graduation rate of 41%. The average graduation for colleges of all types is typically closer to 60%. 

The average salary after graduation for the typical GCU student ten years after graduation is $52,700.

Online bachelors programs include:

  • Business & Management
  • Criminal, Political & Social Sciences
  • Engineering & Technology
  • Language & Communications
  • Nursing & Health Care
  • Performing Arts & Creative Design
  • Psychology & Counseling
  • Teaching & School Administration
  • Theology & Ministry

Online master’s programs include:

  • Business & Management
  • Criminal, Political & Social Sciences
  • Engineering & Technology
  • Language & Communications
  • Medical Studies & Sciences
  • Nursing & Health Care
  • Psychology & Counseling
  • Teaching & School Administration
  • Theology & Ministry

Online doctoral degrees include:

  • Business & Management
  • Nursing & Health Care
  • Psychology & Counseling
  • Teaching & School Administration
  • Theology & Ministry

Does Grand Canyon University Accept Pell Grants and FAFSA?

Yes, Grand Canyon University accepts Pell Grants, as well as forms of financial aid that offered through the FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. 

Student reviews: pros and cons

Before we dig deep into online reviews, it’s important to remember two things:

  1. People are more likely to leave a review after a negative experience.
  2. With any educational experience, you will get out of it what you put into it.

In other words, take the reviews with a grain of salt. 

Pro: Not-for-profit status

GCU recently switched from a for-profit school to a non-profit. There has been speculation that this will allow the university to focus more heavily on academics rather than its business model.

Pro: Advisers can be helpful

Several reviewers noted their advisers by name, thanking them for helping students move through the degree process.

In addition to academic advisers, there are also student advisers, who can help with advice beyond course selection.

Tip: If you decide to go to GCU, make early contact with your advisers and ask them for strategies on the best ways to get the most out of the relationships. Be sure to set calendar reminders to check in regularly (at least once per term) to ensure that you’re meeting all the requirements necessary for graduation.

Pro/Con: Instructors can be hit-or-miss

As with just about any university, GCU’s teaching staff gets very mixed reviews. Some people claimed that their professors were very knowledgeable, while others stated that their instructors did not seem to be qualified to teach the coursework.

Tip: Before enrolling, search out online reviews for the program of study you’re considering. If you’re already a student, talk to your student adviser when selecting classes for the next term. They may be able to fill you in on the reputation of the different instructors.

Pro/Con: Heavy focus on Christianity

It’s important to know that GCU is a school that is rooted in the Christian faith. While you don’t need to be Christian to enroll, many reviewers state that the Christian focus is intense. One person noted that most classes started with a prayer. 

Tip: If you're not a Christian, you may be more comfortable at a different school. 

Con: Scheduling can be challenging

One reviewer noted that most professors stated an expectation that students be online five days per week in order to pass the class. The student stated that this made it extremely difficult to take more than one class at a time, especially for people who are employed.

Other students noted that the class requirements were extremely rigorous, requiring students to complete several papers each week in addition to regular coursework.

Tip: Confirm the class requirements before finalizing your schedule. Reach out directly to professors whenever possible. 

Con: Unclear financial policies

One common thread among unhappy reviewers was the perceived emphasis on money over education. Several students accused the school of charging for unexpected expenses, and losing interest in student progress and questions after they were enrolled and the tuition was paid.

Tip: If you go, make sure to have a clear estimate of all your educational costs in advance, including tuition, books, fees for specific courses of study, etc.

Con: Inflexible during change of life circumstances

More than a few students claimed that they had to alter their schedules due to family emergencies or other unexpected circumstances. Their general complain was that that the professors and administration were not responsive to requests and that they were not accommodating of allowing changes or additional flexibility.

Con: Internships and practicum placement can be difficult

At least two students mentioned that the school does not provide support in finding internships or practicums that are required to complete certain degree programs. This was especially challenging due to the time constraints faced by students who were simultaneously working and going to school.

Con: Varying level of academic ability among students

Multiple reviews expressed frustration at having to collaborate or participate in online discussions with other students who didn’t display competence with grammar or in forming their ideas. In graduate level classes, this was most-often attributed to the lack of entrance exams.   

Our takeaway

GSC does have some very-satisfied students, but this school was not a great fit for everyone.

Our advice: Do some comparison shopping before enrolling at GSC. While a change in organizational structure may be forthcoming, for now, there are enough repeated criticisms that lead us to believe you may find a less frustrating experience elsewhere.

Interested in exploring online college options? 

Check out our recent roundup of the 20 Most-Affordable Online Bachelor Degree Programs.  


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