If you've ever typed "online college" into a search engine, chances are you've seen more than one ad for Purdue University Global. Thanks to a massive advertising push, the school is creating a significant presence, helped along by the name recognition of Purdue University.
But that name recognition has also caused quite a bit of confusion, leaving people to wonder if the online school is part of the brick-and-mortar institution called Purdue—and if it is, how that might impact a PG degree. Let's wade through some FAQs about this school and then discuss pros and cons of matriculating here.
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What is Purdue University Global?
Purdue University Global, or PG, is the new, online-only arm of Purdue University. This program offers a very large variety of degree programs, including master's, bachelor's, and associate's, as well as certificate programs. Purdue also offers online classes to students who are enrolled in programs at one of the school's physical campuses, but those classes do not fall under the Purdue Global umbrella.
Purdue's online degree program may be fairly new, but Purdue University has been around for a long time. It was founded as a public institution in West Lafayette, IN, in 1869. John Purdue, a prominent businessman at the time, donated money and land to create a university focused on science, technology, and agriculture.
Today, Purdue is known as a top research institution in multiple fields. It boasts 13 American astronauts as alumni and has been associated with 13 Nobel prizes.
In 2017, Purdue acquired Kaplan University, an established for-profit institution that targeted online and adult education. While the acquisition was controversial among the traditional academic circles, the school's president told the Washington Post that the move was a strategic advantage for the school in positioning itself as a leader in online education.
What degrees are offered?
Current programs include:
Doctoral degree programs
Master's degree programs
Management and Leadership
Homeland Security and Emergency Management
Education—Instructional Designs and Technology
Bachelor's degree programs
Fire and Emergency Management
Health and Wellness
Cloud Computing and Solutions
Environmental Policy and Management
Legal Support and Services
Nursing—RN to BSN
Psychology—Applied Behavior Analysis
Early Childhood Administration
Human Services—Youth/Family Services and Administration
Associate's degree programs
Small Group Management
Criminal Justice and Criminology
Applied Science in Public Safety and Security
Criminal Justice for Military Students
Health Science for Military Students
Health Science for Military Students
Legal Support and Services
Is the school accredited?
Yes, PG is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission. This is the same accreditation carried by Purdue University.
That means that any degrees earned through PG should be recognized as legitimate within professional fields and by other institutions.
Is a Purdue Global degree the same as a Purdue University degree?
No. While PG is part of the Purdue University system, the schools have separate accreditation.
Does Purdue Global accept Pell Grants and FAFSA?
Yes, PG accepts the same federal and state financial aid that would be available at traditional schools. This is includes federal grants (such as the Pell Grant) and other aid distributed through the FAFSA, a.k.a., the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
In addition, PG accepts other forms of financial aid, including scholarships, grants, and federal and private student loans.
Tip: Before applying to any school, be sure to fill out the FAFSA to find out how much aid you could be eligible for. After accepting all of your grants and scholarships, it's best to max out lower-interest federal student loans (if needed) before turning to private loans.
The university also offers a Returning Student Relief Grant, which clears up to $4,500 in outstanding debt owed to the university from students who previously attended Purdue Global or Kaplan University but did not graduate.
PG also offers ways to reduce tuition costs, including offering credit for work experience, offering grants to students who are transferring from certain community colleges, and partnering with corporations to provide tuition reductions to their employees. Learn more here (scroll to the bottom of the page.)
How much does it cost?
Although prices may vary by major, most undergraduate programs cost $371 per quarter credit hour as of June 2019.
Students who participate in ExcelTrack programs (more on this below) will pay a flat rate of $2,200 per semester.
There are discounts for certain populations, including:
Current members of the military: $165 per quarter credit hour
Military veterans: $230 per quarter credit hour
Military spouses: 10% tuition reduction
Indiana residents: $220 per quarter credit hour
The school also offers a tuition cap to first-time students in pre-determined programs. Eligible students can complete a as associate's degree for $22,500, or a bachelor's for $45,000 (excluding background checks and lab fees).
The ExcelTrack program is an innovative, competency-based system that allows students to move at their own pace. This is especially beneficial for people who already have professional experience related to their courses of study.
If you have three years of work experience in a related field and you have completed at least three courses at another college, you may be eligible to take a competency test to determine if you can participate in ExcelTrack. If accepted into the program, you may be able to skip over some of the lower-level courses that are required in the regular programs.
This program also allows you to take as many classes as you'd like each semester so you can graduate early. Students who are serious about buckling down could save quite a bit of money with this option, because there's a fixed price of $2,200 per semester.
PG allows new students to take three weeks of classes before paying tuition—although you will have to pony up the admission application fee first.
This is pretty unusual offering, but one that's well worth considering—especially if you're uncertain that online education will fit with your schedule and learning style.
Con: Not a long track record
This is a young program, so some of the kinks are still getting worked out. For example, the online learning delivery program may transition to another program soon, which is likely to cause the same technical issues you'd get with any major software changes.
However, online student reviews don't reveal an inordinate amount of complaints, so this is not a major concern.
While we believe that online education is the wave of the future, especially in light of rising student loan debt, we have to acknowledge that not everyone is suited for online learning.
Whether you're considering PG or another online school, it's important to acknowledge what kind of learner you are. Are you self-directed? Do you do better in a classroom? How do you best process information?
Online learning has come a long way and many courses provide a high level of interactivity between students and professors. Some programs even require group projects. As the learning delivery systems continue to improve, we expect online college offerings to do an even better job of catering to different learning styles.
This school's affiliation with Purdue University gives us confidence in the quality of education PG is delivering. With flexible options for working professionals, and a recognition of student's existing skill sets, this program is well-suited for working professionals who want to continue their educations without upending their lives.
The price point is also reasonable compared to the cost of completing similar degrees on-campus at in-state schools.
Overall, PG is a program worth looking into if you're considering going to school online.
Trish Sammer is Nitro's managing editor. Her work has appeared in Woman’s Day, Redbook, Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and Forbes. She has also written for various corporate clients, including the tech giant SAP, The Franklin Institute, and PSE&G. When Trish isn’t busy acting as a writing ninja for other people, you can find her … well, writing about other stuff, like divorce and blended family life. She lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband, their combined brood, and the world’s laziest dog. Read more by Trish Sammer