Is Grand Canyon University a Diploma Mill?

Two college graduates holding their diplomas and wearing their cap and gown

Founded in 1949, Grand Canyon University is the home of the Division I Lopes, The Havocs (often referred to as the best student section in college basketball), an on-campus Chick-Fil-A and tens of thousands of passionate students. The average incoming freshman GPA is 3.5, and the university hasn’t increased tuition in eleven years.

With so much to love, the university grew its campus student body from fewer than 1,000 students in 2009 to over 19,000 campus students in fall 2017 and more than 60,000 students studying online. The substantial growth of the university may cause those unfamiliar with GCU’s long-standing history to ask, “is Grand Canyon University a diploma mill?” This couldn’t be further from the truth:

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What is a Diploma Mill?

A diploma mill, also known as a degree mill, is defined as a phony university that “sells” illegitimate college diplomas and transcripts instead of educating students. In the case of a diploma mill, once a student has paid the required, “tuition”, an exchange is made for a college diploma or transcript when, in some cases, no academic study has taken place. In this respect, diploma mills are hoax universities that give out fake diplomas and degrees en masse without academic approval by officially recognized educational accrediting bodies.

Accreditation is a process of validation where colleges and universities are evaluated by certain criteria, which are set by a peer review board, and subsequently approved or denied. The government has passed bills that make it illegal for an organization to give out degrees without accreditation.

How to Spot a Diploma Mill

Here are some warning signs that a university may be a degree mill:

  1. The university is not accredited.
  2. The university is not recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the U.S. Department of Education.
  3. University admission criteria consists of possession of a valid Visa or MasterCard.
  4. A college degree is offered based on a “review” of work experience and resume.
  5. Students are promised and charged a “flat fee.”
  6. The school’s website lists no faculty or lists faculty who have attended schools accredited by the fake agencies.
  7. Students are promised a diploma within 30 days of application.

Is Grand Canyon University a Diploma Mill?

If you look at the warning signs of a diploma mill and then analyze Grand Canyon University, you will see that the university does not resemble a degree mill in any way. GCU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and holds additional accreditations from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), the Arizona State Board of Educations and the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE). Grand Canyon University is also recognized as a legitimate, post-secondary education provider by both the Arizona State Board of Education and Council on Higher Education Accreditation (the U.S. Department of Education). For more information on the accreditation of nursing programs and other university licensures, please visit our University Accreditation and Regulations page. 

Grand Canyon University has rigorous admissions requirements for both traditional campus and online students, some of which include high school or college transcripts, minimum GPA requirements and minimum SAT and ACT scores.

GCU students are able to earn their degree only after they have met all graduation requirements for their program of study, including maintaining the GPA requirements for their intended program. GCU’s rigorous academic standards have made a degree from Grand Canyon University well-respected among both alumni and employers.

Students are also able to freely view the university’s staff directory, which showcase a diverse group of professors who stem from many colleges from around the country. In addition, though Grand Canyon University prides itself on its affordable, fixed tuition, it is not a flat fee, but based on a student’s number of credits and additional fees may apply, such as parking and applicable lab fees.

Overall, if you compare the signs of a degree mill with Grand Canyon University’s history, academic practices, accreditation and values, you will find that the university does not fit the description of a diploma mill. GCU is an accredited university committed to helping students find their purpose and helping them prepare for a rewarding and fulfilling career by offering many in-demand online and campus degree programs founded on the fundamentals of the Christian faith.

Explore GCU’s stunning campus and join our ever-growing community of like-minded students. Visit our website to schedule a guided tour and get started on your journey to find your purpose.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.