History of GCU

Grand Canyon University (GCU) was founded in 1949 by the Southern Baptist Church. Then known as Grand Canyon College, our first campus was located in an abandoned armory building in Prescott, AZ. Two years later, we relocated to Phoenix, where we began developing a strong reputation as a premier private Christian university in Arizona. 

By the early 2000s, 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. GCU has developed a reputation for producing some of the most effective servant leaders in the workforce today by offering bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in diverse fields, from business administration and business management to early childhood education, nursing and engineering. The student population is growing steadily and the campus is undergoing a multi-million-dollar renovation and expansion that is changing the landscape of West Phoenix.

  • GCU Campus 60s
  • GCU 1970
  • GCU 1990
  • Grand Canyon University today
  • GCU's new Maryvale Golf Course
  • gcu grove residence halls
  • GCU new soccer stadium under construction

University Development

GCU's 179-acre campus is an oasis in the heart of West Phoenix. With new infrastructure being built and expansion occurring every year, our campus is designed to enhance the student experience and truly help you feel like this is your community-and your home.

Amenities include a renovated Student Union, popular dining options across campus, resort-style swimming pools, modern fitness centers and the 7,000-seat GCU Arena, home to our men's and women's basketball teams as well as the site of popular concerts and speaker series.

Our newest facilities on campus in fall 2015 include an 84,105-square-foot classroom building, designed to accommodate our growing student population studying in STEM fields, and The Grove, a group of four new suite-style residence halls for freshmen, located in the northwest corner of campus.