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My MBA at the University of Phoenix Online, Part 4: Curriculum

A while ago, I started a series reviewing my experience with the University of Phoenix Online. I attended this school through its online master’s degree program and I earned my MBA several months ago. So far, I’ve discussed how I decided to go this route, their admission philosophy and policies, and what it’s like attending a course online.

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The next part, a review of my curriculum is long past due. I’ve procrastinated this section as I originally intended to take a quick look at each course and write about the merits of each. This was a daunting task hindering me from continuing the series. I’ve decided to take a different, more general approach.

The bottom line is that there were only a few courses from which I feel I gained useful knowledge. The first course was a three-week, 1 credit course called “Managerial Communication.” The class allowed the students to get their feet wet with the format, which for some students was quite foreign and a major change. It forced us to rethink the techniques we’ve learned throughout our lives for effective learning. My prior experience with technology and online learning helped make it a quick transition for me, but others were not as successful. Here are the “highlights” of the rest of the curriculum.

  • Human Relations and Organizational Behavior: the theory behind behavior I’ve observed in the workplace, and how to manage people and projects.
  • Statistics: I’ll still need to use reference materials if my job every required statistical analysis, but the classes was good practice.
  • Accounting: I’ve been “in accounting” for a while but never had an overview of its theories and practices, just learned on the job. The class added some technical knowledge, but not much practical ideas.
  • Finance: These classes were helpful in terms of reading and analyzing financial statements and preparing budgets and forecasts.
  • Project Management: I did pick up useful tools and techniques for running projects, something which I didn’t have extensive experience on the job.
  • Information Management and e-Business: Nothing I didn’t already know from my own experiences, these classes added very little.
  • Cases in Decision Making: This class did a good job of bringing together everything from the two years of classes and running decision-making scenarios.

My path at the University of Phoenix involved a curriculum of 46 credits for a general MBA. The University’s program description is a little different as it provides this information:

The MBA consists of 39 credit hours and includes three proficiency courses (MBA 501, MBA 502, MBA 503) which may be satisfied using an undergraduate business degree, undergraduate coursework or graduate coursework. Students may also waive an additional nine credits using graduate courses and may qualify for a 21-credit hour residency.

During my time enrolled, the University updated the curriculum several times. In the middle of my degree pursuit, I dropped to part time employment at my job to teach music full time in a high school for six months. (This time also coincided with a hiatus on shizennougyou.) I paused my degree for a year, and when I returned, there were several changes to the curriculum and to my overall experience, but I’ll get to that in Part 5.

This is Part 4 of a series about my experiences with the University of Phoenix Online. Here is what has been published so far.

Updated October 21, 2015 and originally published January 29, 2007.

About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of shizennougyou. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous


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avatar 2 Anonymous

I do…MBA ’11

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avatar 3 Luke Landes

Me? I haven’t looked for a new job since finishing my degree. Others have gotten decent jobs with a salary above what you’re asking after getting their degree, but many of the people in my courses, especially towards the end of the curriculum, all ready had jobs making above that amount and were getting the degree to sharpen their skills and round out their knowledge rather than get a promotion.

I don’t think the chief operations officer of a midsize business or the director of human resources is looking to get the degree for a $70,000 a year job as a manager. They pursued the degree for other reasons.

If you can’t get a $70,000 a year job without an MBA, chances are you won’t hold a $70,000 with an MBA for long.

We’re talking about standard business schools here, not Ivy League where people will give you a job doing whatever you like for whatever salary you like just because a certain school is listed on your resume. If that’s what you want, try Harvard or Wharton.

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avatar 4 Anonymous

How on earth can you consider a 21-credit ‘degree’ an MBA? You can take 7 6-week online courses and go around saying that you have an MBA? That is a joke. No reputable business would pay you a premium for that.

Thank for exposing what a fraud these ‘degrees’ are. How about studying the brilliance of the Apollo Group in business school: “How can we go about getting people to pay us for something completely worthless?” Genius!

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avatar 5 Luke Landes

Mike, the program isn’t 21 credits. Apparently some of the requirements can be bypassed by prior coursework or a residency, but this is no different than most graduate programs throughout this country. My path required 46 credits, and some others required 52 or more.

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avatar 6 Anonymous

I am interested in your comments on the information management, IT, ecommerce courses. That is what I am looking into, so I was wondering what information you can provide about the courses, since it is a little difficult to get specific info about the courses from the recruiters.

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avatar 7 Anonymous

I agree with Mike’s comment that a degree at UOP will not carry as much weight compared to a degree at an Ivy League school. I think most UOP students are aware of this when they enter the program. Generally speaking, UOP students are older and already established in their career and want to obtain their master degree at a school that offers them the flexibility to go to school full-time, have a career and family. On the other hand, an Ivy League student is probably younger and is pursuing their MBA so that they can climb the corporate ladder quicker.

I can see how a degree at UOP may seem like a joke to someone who has an MBA degree from a top 25 school and I agree on paper it does not look that great. However, an MBA degree from a top 25 school does not mean you will make more money and have a higher position compared to a UOP graduate. It all boils down to how well you apply yourself and what you want to get out of it once you get your degree (even a little bit of luck comes into play). For instance, I have a friend who has a JD/MBA degree from a top school, but cannot get a job since she does not know how to look for a job or even interview. Flexo, I applaud you on your accomplishment in completing your degree and I’m sure you’ll do well!!!

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avatar 8 Anonymous

I agree and I echo Janice’s and Mike’s comments. UoP MBA are structured for mature established employees with an objective to enhance existing career skills specifically in critical thinking and decision making.

Another critical skill vital to business success is effective writing/communications skills. My opinion is UoP does a decent job with this skill-set.

In general, online education is meant for students who can work independently and have a certain amount of discipline. I would advise younger students or those not established in their careers or job to attend brick and mortar schools.

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avatar 9 Anonymous

So what Janice is saying is that if you do not attend one of the top 10 so called schools in the country, you should not bother obtaining an education. What is funny is that the same accreditation board accredits all of these top schools. What is even funnier is this stigma which is out there against for-profit institutions. The government wants to protect their state schools as this is their money making coffer. They want the idea that state schools are better to remain because this is how they get paid. Now look at the healthcare website, the DMV or anything run by a state or the federal government, they are a total joke.

This stigma is changing quickly and the states are trying to play catch up with online programs. I have attended both state and for-profit schools and sorry to burst your bubble Janice but the for-profit school was light years ahead of the state school. If the for-profits are so bad, why are the state universities licensing and purchasing content from the for-profit schools? I can tell you why, because they cannot implement anything without screwing it up. The only way they are going to get up to speed is if they purchase everything from a third party.

Let’s look at the content being provided, the same exact text Harvard uses for accounting courses is the same exact content used by University of Phoenix. Coincidence, no, the accreditation boards require specific texts for universities and if all of them are using the same texts, what sets them apart? Nothing!

What I am saying is you are receiving the same education regardless of where you go. If you want to go purchase the brand name school and pay 100k more, go ahead, remember you have to pay this back in the end. I hire for a Fortune 500 organization and I don’t care where the degree is from. If someone put forth the effort to earn a degree, this is all that matters. Of course the institution must be accredited as well. These are really the only two things I look at before I call someone in for the interview. Once we are at this point, it is a matter of which candidate sells themselves the best.

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avatar 10 Anonymous

I just applied to UOP’s MBA program last week. After looking at several schools I decided that UOP was the best route for me. Just like Janice said it doesn’t matter if you went to UOP or Wharton, it depends on how you apply your yourself afterwards that counts. At the end of the day, a degree is a degree. UOP is a business just like Wharton, although they have differing marketing techniques. The point is that anyone willing to take the extra step to continue learning with an advanced degree deserves praise. I liken UOP and Wharton to a Honda and Mercedes. The Honda may cost $30K less than the Mercedes but it will still get you from point A to B when you hit the gas.

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avatar 11 Anonymous

I just completed my first class (with an A). I have a great job and am definitely able to get into a top school, but tried UoP since I travel extensively – I liked the option of switching online if I needed to. I’m doing the “bricks and mortal” path and love it. It’s quite challenging. I write a paper every week, have a lot of reading and just in the first class, I’ve learned so much. At first, I was leary of UofP (is it reputable, etc.). At the end of the day, if you can’t use it, does it matter? I’m a great point in my career, this can only help.

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avatar 12 Anonymous

Phoenix online is the biggest rip-off ever!
The costs for the classes are much more than any other online university. They refuse to work with Great Lakes student loans, and their instructors are very biased.
A BS from a good credited college is worth more than an MBA from Phoenix. Plus it doesn’t cost nearly as much.

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avatar 13 Anonymous

My loan with UoP is through Great Lakes.

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avatar 14 Anonymous

Great Lakes services my UOP loans. I don’t know where you’re getting your information from.

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avatar 15 Anonymous

I am a UoP MBA student and find the comments quite interesting. I respect your opinion, but I know for a fact that there are other universities that are much more expensive than UoP…matter of fact that is why I dropped out of my clinical psyc major at a different university – their prices started decent per course, but it seemed that each year their prices were going up by the $500’s.

I am about to begin my 5th class with them, via the campus/OLS version. So far, I enjoy the courses and am learning quite a lot. With any course, especially at a Master’s level, the student is totally responsible for what they gain from the program. For myself, I gain more from the ground courses, due to the face to face interaction and being able to ask questions and get immediate responses. However, I know that I am in control of my learning, and regardless of which format I use, whatever level of effort I decide to put forth in the courses, correlates to what I gain.

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avatar 16 Anonymous

In reply to Mike’s comments: It seems that you have a ingrained hatred for online degree programs. I’ve read all of your comments and every single one is negative. It’s great that you went to a business school ranked in the Top 25, but I’m pretty sure that attending one of those 25 schools does not guarantee an individual a high paying job. The UofP program is designed to compliment real world business skill and knowledge, and does a great job in doing this. Work experience accounts for a lot in real life, and the name of the school on a resume does little to reflect the knowledge and skills a person possesses. You can be an Ivy League graduate, but still be undisiplined, lazy and and plainly stupid. The Uof P forces students to take contraol of their education rather than just going with the flow. In any educational environment, the student only gets out what they are willing to put in.

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avatar 17 Anonymous

I got lucky with a great Job that pays very well, unfortunatly i have no degree and thinking of going to UOP i have not heard nothing but great things about the School, what made me want to apply is my cousin lived in Canada and did his masters with UOP and found a prestigeous job in DUBAI. as long as UOF is accredited it does not even matter if you graduated from HARVARD, its all about how good you interview knowing that you have a backup and that is your Degree

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avatar 18 Anonymous

Chuck well stated! They speak so badly of UOP but what you put in it, is what you will get out of it. I know many college students that cant remember what they have learned at a traditional school. What people fail to understand is, we the students teach ourselves and thats how we will retain the information forever. UOP allows you to become organized and strict when taking your course. My thing is experience it first before you talk crap!!!!!!

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avatar 19 Anonymous

Thank you all for your comments. I want to start my MBA at UOP and I was very doubtful before Iread the comments. I was always scared that ou spend the money and not one respects or accepts your degree. I am glad that this is noteveryones feeling. Also for Mike my friend graduated with and MBA from UOP and she is the VP of Business Devleopement of healthcare company. So Iw will move with my MBA at UOP. Thanks Again.

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avatar 20 Anonymous

There are a lot of interesting comments on here. I have a year and a half to finish my BSBM, then I intend to continue with the MBA program.

I think most of the responsibility is on the student to maximize the potential of him or herself and the quality of education he or she experiences. There are people at top 25 schools who do not put forth the effort, no different than any state school or online school.

A major point I did not see in comments is that you do not have to work exclusively online. I attend school in person and rarely, an online class shows up on my schedule. (I think it will be 2 classes out of all of them). The personal interaction with working professionals and working professors is invaluable.

Many people that I know who have attended well known schools, did not necessarily earn a better education. You can easily see who earned their credentials and who happens to have them. I work with both types of people.

I work in sales and make a considerable salary plus commission. In addition, I am a single father.

This program makes the most sense for me.

This program is effective and extremely challenging. I recommend going to see for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

Also, remember misery loves company so avoid the naysayers no matter what the topic.

Have a nice one,

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avatar 21 Anonymous

I am in my 6th MBA class at UoP and I also received my BS/Management degree from UoP in 2007. People who trash UoP either have never experienced it or have experienced it but couldn’t hack the pace. You have to be extremely disciplined, well organized, and very committed to these classes. Anyone who says a degree from UoP is not a real degree does not know what they are talking about. I have friends who attend traditional colleges working on their Masters and when they tell me what they are doing in their classes, I think that its the traditional schools who aren’t offering real degrees! Our workload is much more intense, extremely focused, and we probably have more interaction among classmates than even in the traditional classroom. My writing and research skills have skyrocketed due to the amount of papers we are required to write, in one class I was writing 4,000+ word papers every week for 6 weeks…let’s see students in traditional schools do that! I think the UoP classes, particularly the business classes, more closely mimmics the real business world because of the way the programs are set up. If I were an employer, I would take a graduate from UoP over any other university (including the top 25 schools) simply because I would know that person had to be someone very dedicated and hardworking to make it through the grueling program.

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avatar 22 Anonymous

I have to agree with you that so much discipline and dedication is expected from students who attend UOP. Students who can’t keep up pace with the rigorous course structures drop out
I am on my last block for my Associates at UOP. I am confused whether to continue with my bachelors at UOP, or transfer to a brick and mortar setting. I really do not want to put “all my eggs in one basket.”
I was surprised to hear some people think online education is a joke. People who make such comments are biased and need to experience UOP themselves before making such judgments. UOP definitely treat students as commodities because they are for-profit based. As in brick and mortar settings, some instructors turn in feedbacks very late because of taking care of too many students on other online settings. I personally think online education is a buffer zone for professors and instructors to earn more money from the comforts of their homes.

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avatar 23 Anonymous

In response to mike’s comment’s I completed two degrees through UOP and I found one think to be true. Generally those who had gone to a traditional brick and mortat college had a much tougher time then students who had gone through previous UOP classes. I had students from UOP, UCSB, CSUB, and other cal state schools. I did what was known as flexnet which had no breaks in between classes and had the first and last week take place in the classroom. The primary difference between the online and flexnet programs is the presentation factor. Not only do you have to write a great paper but you have to be able to present and defend your solution. In sounds like Flexo went in on the old program while the new program is actually based upon the harvard business model. Very much based upon a nine step solution process.

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avatar 24 Anonymous

So why didn’t you guys just take night and online classes at your local lower-tier 4-year public university. Most of these places offer MBA degrees that you can get while working full-time for a lot less money than UoP. I can’t figure out why people choose UoP. Thanks for any input. At least for people (like myself) who have little experience with UoP, we put degrees from for-profit schools in a lower category than state schools. We might be wrong to do so, but we do. So knowing that, why would you choose UoP over a state school with night and online courses?

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avatar 25 Anonymous

Why do over 2,000 employers pay to have their employees attend University of Phoenix? I am not talking about lousy low rate companies either. Boeing, Ford, General Dynamics, GE Healthcare, Verizon to name a few. The entire US military and for those of you in the career education industry, Obama chose Henry Schmidt who holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in organizational management from the University of Phoenix to head up the position of Cybersecurity Coordinator of the United States. The stigma is changing and all state schools are transitioning to online. This is a fact and they are actually the ones playing catch up.

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avatar 26 Anonymous

I have two classes to complete in my BS/Accounting program. One of my co-workers had just graduated from a large University about an hour from our town, and loaned me an accounting book. To my surprise, the text book
was the same as ours at UOP, just a newer edition, and the course syllabus was also very similiar. I too feel that
I’ve learned a tremendous amount, some classes more than others, but I take responsibility for that, because UOP
gives students every resource imaginable to gain knowledge from. You get out what you put in.

I’m considering several schools for an MBA or Master’s, as I want to make the right decision, and would prefer
an AACSB accredited program, but I also realize the costs of such programs. I live in a rural town, and with no
plans to re-locate, I have to weigh the difference in costs, and with potential earnings in a small town.
For me, there are no schools available within 1 hour. With working full-time, I don’t have the “energy” to drive
to school in the evenings. I feel I get good socialization at work, so I don’t mind taking online classes.
I have made several friends through class, and we email regularly. It’s like burying yourself into a great novel,
you’re there!


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avatar 27 Anonymous

Just finished my MBA from University of Phoenix which was not easy at all but wish I would have gone somewhere with an AACSB accreditation. Texas A&M does offer a 100% online AACSB accredited MBA that is only $9500 which is extremely quality. Another thing is that Texas will wave the GMAT testing if you have at least a 3.25 GPA in your Undergraduate degree……………………….

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avatar 28 Anonymous

“Extremely quality”? “wave the GMAT”? Do the offer a degree in English as well?

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avatar 29 Anonymous

Before throwing stones at someone else, check your spelling.

Do “they” offer a degree in English as well? Let me guess, your degree came from a brick and mortar?

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avatar 30 Anonymous

Chirstopher, why do you say that. I have 4 more courses to finish my MBA a UOP, I am concerned about what made you say this?

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avatar 31 Luke Landes

The MBA program at UoP is accredited by ACBSP, a competitor to AACSB but just as recognized. UoP has not applied for accreditation by AACSB.

Price is a valid concern. There are definitely less expensive options out there.

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avatar 32 Anonymous

They have not apply because they do not qualify!! and ACBSP is an association of third tier schools and correspondence schools like Phoenix

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avatar 33 Anonymous

Hey, Flexo! When are you going to finish up the two final installations on your MBA at the UoP? I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far, but I want more1

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avatar 34 Anonymous

The information about University of Phoenix is useful as are most of the comments.

The following may be beyond the scope of this forum but I felt it worthwhile to post anyway.

I am 52 years old and a 1988 graduate of ASU WP Carey School of Business with a BS in management. My career has been primarily entrepreneurial with little experience in the larger corporate world.

Though an MBA has been a personal goal for some time, my motivation is also driven by a desire to change careers (from passenger transportation to logistic and supply-chain management) and increase my earning potential.

My reservations regarding the pursuit of a graduate degree relate to my experience and age as well as the length of time since earning my undergraduate degree. The extension of my concerns is the probability of achieving these goals at my age.

Questions: Is UoP potentially a good fit for people of my age and circumstances? Is there reasonable opportunity for me to attain my goals with an online MBA?

Thank you for your comments.

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avatar 35 Anonymous

I graduated from UoP in 06 with a BSB/M and 09 with my MBA, after which I started work for one of the largest Environmental/Engineering Corporations in the U.S. as a Project Manager. After successfully managing the refurbishment of a very large international airport in California. I’ve since moved-on from that position to a large Defense Contractor and manage their Space program as an Engineering Manager. I have many “Brick & Mortar” engineers working for our contract that have difficulty writing a paragraph to explain what they accomplished the previous week. Without my education from UoP I wouldn’t be able to apply for these positions not to mention my success.

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avatar 36 Anonymous

I would like to comment on the question above. I attended the UOP for my undergrad degree and now my MBA. I am employed with a Fortune 100 company that ranks #32 and earn a salary over 85K with other rewards. Without my UOP degree, this would not have been possible especially with the economy the way it is.So anything is possible, employers don’t give a care where your degree came from….just long as you have it $$$$$$ LMBO all the way to the bank$$$$$$$ Thank you UOP$$$

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avatar 37 Anonymous

I graduated from UOP in November 2007 with an MBA and it was a very positive experience. I actually attended class as opposed to the online route. I will say that the classes are extremely tough. Don’t be fooled by what others may say, the work load coupled with group learning environment will make you think about your business actions and decisions in a different but positive way. Bottom line… What you put into it is what you take away. Now, is UOP for everyone? Not necessarily. I was working full-time and needed a program I could start right away and attend in the evening. It killed me but I was dedicated and finished with a 3.8. Ultimately, it made me a better person both personally and professionally. At 39, I wasn’t able to go to USC or UCLA (too expensive and the programs they offered at the time didn’t work with my work schedule). So it boils down to the individual. What is it you want? Figure that out and choose a program that best fits your needs.

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