Grand Canyon University was founded in 1949 by the Southern Baptist Church. Then known as Grand Canyon College, its first campus was located in an abandoned armory building in Prescott, AZ. Two years later, the school relocated to Phoenix, where it has developed a strong reputation as a premier Christian institution. GCU is known for producing some of the most effective teachers, nurses, health care professionals and fine-arts students in the Southwest, as well as basketball and baseball players who have gone on to compete at the professional level.

By the early 2000's, GCU was struggling with maintaining its operations and the quality of its academic experience in light of dwindling financial support. In 2004, the University transitioned out of non-profit status, implementing new business practices to turn around operations. The University community embraced a renewed emphasis on enhancing curriculum and opportunities for working professionals, particularly in the areas of nursing and education.

Today, the University is in the midst of its most exciting era. The student population is growing steadily and the campus is undergoing a $200 million renovation and expansion - including a new 5,000-seat Arena - that is changing the landscape of West Camelback Road.