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Grand Canyon University Review [2024] A Review of GCU Online

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Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University is a four-year institution of higher education that operates with a robust online platform that serves students around the globe. Grand Canyon University is a private, non-profit (not for profit) Christian university located in Arizona. It is the largest Christian college in the world, and one of the biggest online schools, with more than 100 degree programs available online and at its campuses in Phoenix, Arizona and Vancouver, British Columbia.

Grand Canyon University offers undergraduate online degrees at the Bachelor’s level and graduate degrees at the Master’s level. The school also offers a Doctorate degree in Education Leadership. Grand Canyon University has been accredited by The Higher Learning Commission since 1975 and was most recently reaffirmed as an accredited institution in 2018.

Is Grand Canyon University a Good School?

Grand Canyon University (GCU), which has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1968, was established in the late-1940s. Since its founding, GCU has continued to grow. In 2022, GCU’s on-campus student enrollment was about 25,000. Another 90,000 students study at Grand Canyon University using its online platform, with nearly half of these distance learners reaching for a graduate degree or higher.

GCU is recognized as a doctoral research higher learning institution with moderate research. The university utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. Grand Canyon University ranks among those in the #331-440 category for National Universities in Best Colleges’ 2022-2023 Edition.

In addition, GCU students (excluding football players) participate in a variety of athletics, playing as NCAA Division I athletes. Grand Canyon University (GCU) is a member of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC).

Grand Canyon University’s Most Popular Programs

GCU is well known for the quality of their nursing program, which reflects in high enrollment numbers. But business and education are overall larger, with many teachers using GCU’s convenient online programs to get their bachelor’s degree and master’s degrees.

Program of StudyAssociateBachelorMasterDoctorate
Business Administration2,4942,09135N/A
Registered Nurse4,755690N/AN/A
National Center for Education Statistics most popular degree programs.

What is Grand Canyon University Known For?

Grand Canyon University is a private, non-profit, nondenominational Christian higher learning institution that has seen recent growth in its enrollment numbers, bucking a national higher education trend that seems to show signs of contracting.

GCU’s administrators attribute its expanding appeal to its proactive approach to keeping its class sizes small and the school’s tuition affordable. Grand Canyon University’s tuition has not changed for the past 14 years, making the school an affordable higher learning option.  Plus, GCU’s tuition rates are the same for in-state, out-of-state and international students.

The school’s Phoenix-based campus ranks among the top 20 in the nation. Even with the addition of several new, on-campus residence halls, the school is still challenged to meet the evolving demand for its classes and degrees.

Grand Canyon University Acceptance Rate

GCU’s 2022-23 incoming class ranks as the school’s largest (a record!), with approximately 9,700 students enrolled and expected to attend.

GCU’s incoming students are a diverse group. These nearly 10,000 students were entering the school vying for one (or more) of the 200+ academic degree programs offered by GCU’s nine colleges/schools. It is noted that about ¾ of Grand Canyon University’s academic programs are offered fully or partially online.

The 2020 acceptance rate for GCU, of all 48,918 applicants, was 80.7%, which translates to an acceptance of 39,474 applicants.

Grand Canyon University Graduates’ Careers and Salaries

GCU graduates’ highest-paying jobs include education careers like special education; business careers like human resources manager; and nursing careers like family nurse practitioner and nursing director.

Job TitleSalary RangeAverage Salary
Elementary School Teacher$30k – $80k$45,914
Human Resources (HR) Manager$52k – $104k$67,434
Family Nurse Practitioner (NP)$85k – $130k$100,050
Special Education Teacher$41k – $68k$49,185
Director, Nursing$77k – $166k$104,446
Grand Canyon University Top Jobs by Salary

GCU Admission Requirements

Students/applicants to Grand Canyon University must be at least 16 years old. And while GCU is a nondenominational Christian school, applicants and students of all backgrounds are welcome to apply and attend. In fact, no statement of faith is mandated by the school for potential applicants, except for those students specifically applying to GCU’s College of Theology.

Each applicant to GCU must submit the following information in a manner/form that is acceptable to school administrators. Note that specific admission requirements may vary based on the level of academic degree and subject/modality.

Undergraduate admission requirements include the following –

  • High School Transcripts –
    • For Graduates w/Unweighted GPA of 3+ – transcripts can include a secondary home school option.
    • For Graduates w/Unweighted GPA of 2.5+ & a Qualifying Entrance Score –
      • SAT (Math & Reading) – a score of 1380 (after March 2016’s 1600 Point Scale)
  • College Transcripts, if applicable
    • GED & Transcripts for any credits earned from applicable coursework. Note that the number of potential transfer credits that may be applied will depend upon the student’s unweighted GPA for the credits earned. In addition, those reaching for a baccalaureate degree can potentially 90 credits towards the degree’s requirements if the earned credits meet Grand Canyon University’s defined criteria.

Note that Grand Canyon University charges no application fees, and an essay is not required.

GCU Online Reviews

Grand Canyon University’s student reviews vary. They very often depend on the subject, the level of the degree, and whether it’s a campus-based or online program. While some students raved about their online classes at Grand Canyon University, others felt their expectations of GCU were never met.

For example, on Niche GCU has three out of 5 stars with more than 600 reviews, but their reviews for individual programs and online courses are much different. In fact, several programs, including business, accounting, and biology, have 5 stars. Like many other online schools, Grand Canyon proves best for working adults who need credentials to earn higher pay or change positions, not for students who are new to college or lacking in self-motivation.

Some of the best-reviewed programs, not surprisingly, including nursing, teacher education, and management – programs that are primarily attended by students who have a specific goal. For those who know what they want, an online degree from Grand Canyon University can give them a quality education.

Can Grand Canyon University Students Pay Back Their Loans?

GCU students fare well on the job market, which you can see in low student loan default rates. As of 2020, only one Grand Canyon graduate was in default, out of more than 42,000 peers. Financial aid is working at GCU.

GCU Fiscal Year202020192018
Default rate0%1.5%5.0%
Number in default16291,802
Number in repayment42,02740,05235,855
National Center for Education Statistics default rates.

School Rankings

Grand Canyon University, as a nationally ranked university, falls within numbers #331-440 category for Best Colleges’ 2022-2023 Edition of 443 schools. Breaking down some of the aspects of college life that students find relevant and important, according to Niche (2023), GCU ranks among more than 1,000 schools as follows –

  • #5 in the Nation for College Dorms
  • #16 Best Online College in the Nation
  • #18 Best College Food in the nation

However, Niche also notes that GCU is #1 in Arizona colleges for –

  • College Food
  • Campus
  • Dorms
  • A Nursing Education

Grand Canyon University Pros and Cons

A “Pros and Cons” list is useful in making important decisions. College Consensus offers these pros and cons you may want to add to your own list:


  • Small class sizes
  • Over 200 academic programs
  • Financial Aid available
  • 0% student loan default rate
  • Highly rated nursing program
  • 72% of first-year students return

Reviews of Similar Online Schools:


  • 42% graduation rate
  • Difficulty scheduling internships and practicum experiences


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