Writing a Dissertation - University of Phoenix Style

Writing a Dissertation - University of Phoenix Style

Norma J. Turner (University of Phoenix, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-876-5.ch010
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This chapter presents an overview of the doctoral program at the School of Advanced Studies at the University of Phoenix. By providing the program and process involved in obtaining a doctorate at the University of Phoenix, both active and potential students would have knowledge about the general requirements and courses. They would also gain insight into the philosophy of the doctoral program and understanding of the program’s continual growth and development. This chapter includes information on the people and the processes, both internal and external to the University of Phoenix, involved in the successful completion of the degree program.
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That the University of Phoenix would begin its doctoral programs as a means of rounding out its educational offerings to adult learners should surprise no one. Having been in business since 1976, the University of Phoenix (UOPX) has become one of the megaliths of adult learning institutions in the United States, reaching out to various markets on an international level. I remember the faculty meeting in the late 1980s when Bill Gibbs, who was the accountant then, announced that the university had finally made a profit. UOPX was small then. The Phoenix faculty comprised 127 members. Today, the Phoenix faculty, one of 43 campuses throughout the world, consists of 1700+ members. The growth of UOPX resulted from hard work, trial and error, and a commitment to the adult philosophy of learning. Such growth could lead to depersonalization of the educational process, but that has not happened—at least, in the doctoral program.

In a small garage in San Jose, California, a professor from San Jose State University began classes for adult learners in his garage. The professor, Dr. John Sperling, was conducting field-based research in adult education and believed that adult learners deserved the opportunity to learn in an academic environment suited to their experiences and work responsibilities (Apollo Group, 2004). The learners came from various backgrounds, all seeking a bachelor’s degree. However, their schedules would not allow them to sign up for courses at the local colleges or universities. From this simple beginning grew the roots of the largest for-profit adult learning institution in the United States. The vision of this school was to help adults earn degrees without having to give up their responsibilities as parents and wage earners. This vision requires a school that is dedicated to adult learning principles and a program that adjusts to the needs of working adults. The infrastructure of the school must be adapted to the working adult’s lifestyle. That means counselors and staff members work into the evening when adults need them; there are no fees for sports or extracurricular activities. Classes are scheduled in the evenings and weekends; the students take one class at a time, arranged for them in advance, in professional-looking buildings equipped with the latest technology. Classes are delivered on ground campus with online support or on an online campus, offering total flexibility for adult learners.

The UOPX has forged ahead, creating an adult learning model that has been copied and adapted by many other schools. As The UOPX educators have worked and learned by trial and error, investing their resources and energy into programs and courses, adopting and adapting curricula to develop programs that would meet the objectives set forth during those first years. They never changed, even as the global environment changed.

Perhaps the most fundamental challenge facing UOPX as well as any for-profit educational institution is the dual goal of providing quality education and earning a profit. Trying to achieve these two goals became more of an issue when UOPX went public in 1990. Over the 25 years of its history, UOPX had established a marketable product which has been expanded into several states. The educational goals of the school often seemed to be weighed against the financial need to produce a profit. Despite the perceptions, the students excelled in the studies, faculty members continued to grow and develop in their teaching ability, and stockholders marveled at the financial growth. Even during times of crisis and stress, the belief in UOPX’s ability to rebound and continue to grow never faltered.

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