Grand Canyon University

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Grand Canyon University
Former names
Grand Canyon College
Motto Find Your Purpose
Type For-profit
Established 1949
Religious affiliation
(historically Southern Baptist)
President Brian Mueller
Administrative staff
Students 19,500 (on-campus)
60,700 (on-line)
75,200 (total)[1]
Location 3300 W. Camelback Rd.
, Arizona, U.S.
Campus Urban
Newspaper GCU Today
Colors Purple, black, white[2]
Athletics NCAA Division I
Nickname Antelopes ("Lopes")
Mascot Thunder the Antelope
Grand Canyon University logo.png

Grand Canyon University (commonly referred to as GCU or Grand Canyon) is a for-profit Christian university in Phoenix, Arizona, in the United States.

Founded in 1949 as a non-profit liberal arts college, the university was purchased by Grand Canyon Education, Inc. (NASDAQLOPE) in February 2004. The university is the first, and only, for-profit to participate in NCAA Division I athletics.[3] As a non-profit, the university had briefly participated in NCAA Division I athletics, from 1995 to 1998, winning several conference titles.

The university offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs in education, liberal arts, business, science, engineering, math, Christian theology, and health care through its eight colleges. The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education classifies GCU as a research university with moderate research activity.


Aerial photo of university in 1951

The college was founded as a nonprofit institution in 1949 in Prescott. Arizona Southern Baptists felt the need to establish a faith-based institution that would allow local Baptists the opportunity to obtain a bachelor's or master's degree without going east to one of the Baptist colleges in Texas or Oklahoma. On October 8, 1951, Grand Canyon College relocated to its current location in Phoenix.[4]

Suffering financial and other difficulties in the early part of the 21st century, the school's trustees authorized its sale in January 2004 to California-based Significant Education, LLC,[5] making it the first for-profit Christian college in the United States.[6]

The federal government sued the college in 2008 for violating the Department of Education's "incentive compensation ban", which states that no school that accepts federal financial aid can compensate its enrollment counselors based on their enrollment numbers. The school settled the case and paid $5.2 million to a former employee and the federal government.[7]

In fall 2014, with the school in a better place financially, it announced the exploration of a return to non-profit status.[8] On March 4, 2016, Grand Canyon's regional accreditation body, The Higher Learning Commission, formally rejected the university's petition for conversion to non-profit status. The commission's board of directors stated that the school conversion strategy, particularly its plan to outsource some of its activities (such as curriculum development and student support services) to outside vendors, did not meet the criteria for "such a conversion".[8][9][10]

In April 2017, Arizona nursing board officials censured GCU after the school's nursing programs fell below 80% graduation rate for two consecutive years. GCU said it would implement a plan to increase graduation rates.[11]


Cypress Hall, one of seventeen residence halls, as viewed from the second floor of student union

Grand Canyon University has 17 residence halls on its Phoenix campus.[12] In 2006, the college spent US$150 million to renovate the campus, adding a brick promenade, an aquatics center, with pool and hot tub, and a café offering an assortment of games and big-screen televisions.[13]

In 2009, Grand Canyon University's campus began work on a $60 million campus expansion project which includes a 500-bed dormitory, a 55,000-square-foot (5,100 m2) fitness and recreation center, 125-classroom facility, food court and bowling alley,[14] and a 7,500-seat arena. The GCU Arena, which opened on September 2, 2011,[15] is used for concerts, speakers, and other events. The arena is also home to the college's men's and women's basketball teams, and women's volleyball games.[16] The arena was expanded to 7,000 seats with construction beginning in spring 2014 and concluding in August of the same year.[17][18] Grand Canyon University offers several fast food restaurants, coffee shops, student union, cafeteria, video game room, and six-lane bowling alley for student recreation.[19] In August 2016, the university announced it was establishing a campus police department employing a 177-member police force.[20]

Grand Canyon's Albuquerque campus offers master's programs in reading and education and a traditional Bachelor's of Science in Nursing degree program.[21]

The university operates several other campuses in Arizona. These campuses, operated by the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, are located at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, Banner Boswell Medical Center, and Scottsdale HonorHealth. The university also operates a campus in Tempe, offering various master's programs in education.[21]


Grand Canyon University offers over 200 bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs through its eight colleges.[22]

  • Colangelo College of Business
  • College of Education
  • College of Fine Arts and Production
  • College of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • College of Nursing and Health Care Professions
  • College of Science, Engineering, and Technology
  • College of Theology
  • College of Doctoral Studies

In August 2016, the university announced that it was opening a seminary.[23]

Grand Canyon University's academic workers include 335 full-time workers and more than 4200 adjunct faculty.[23]


Baseball game, Gonzaga University at GCU, February 19, 2016

Grand Canyon University is currently a member of NCAA Division I with most sports participating in the Western Athletic Conference. Men's Volleyball competes in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. It is the only for-profit institution at the NCAA's Division I level. In March 2013, former Phoenix Suns shooting guard Dan Majerle was hired as the 13th men's basketball coach. Majerle oversaw GCU's transition into NCAA Division I basketball, in the WAC. GCU is fully eligible for the postseason beginning in the 2017–2018 season.

GCU also has a range of competitive club sports teams such as Men's and Women's Lacrosse and Rugby. Although the Men's lacrosse team has been a part of GCU athletics for some time, GCU did not include the sport in its jump from NAIA to NCAA. As a part of the MCLA, Grand Canyon won the 2015 National Championship as a club team. The 2015-2016 season is the third season for both the women's lacrosse team and the rugby team.

Recognition, ranking, statistics, and accreditation[edit]

GCU is licensed by the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education.[24]

Grand Canyon University is both regionally and nationally accredited. According to the Higher Learning Commission, Grand Canyon College entered candidacy for accreditation in 1961. By 1968 the school was regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and remains accredited, successfully renewing its 10-year comprehensive evaluation in 2017. [25]

In autumn 2015, GCU admitted 58% of those applying.[26] The freshman retention rate is 61 percent.[26] It falls into the category of National Universities, wherein it was classified in the 2017 Best Colleges from U.S. News, as a Tier 2 institution (meaning its ranking placed it in the bottom 25% of institutions in its category).[26]

GCU was recognized as a top-five online school for entrepreneurs by Fortune.[27]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "Brian Mueller is the rock helping Grand Canyon University roll" (PDF). Phoenix Business Journal. September 25, 2015. Retrieved 2015-10-15. 
  2. ^ "Brand Standards | Media & Branding | Grand Canyon University". Grand Canyon University. Retrieved 2016-04-17. 
  3. ^ Medcalf, Myron (July 29, 2013). "GCU's for-profit predicament". Retrieved July 29, 2013. 
  4. ^ "History OF GCU". Grand Canyon University. 2015. Retrieved August 12, 2016. 
  5. ^ Tammi Reed Ledbetter, Grand Canyon Univ. sold; trustees in advisory role, Baptist Press, February 10, 2004, Accessed May 24, 2006
  6. ^ Bob Smietana, Christian Ed That Pays Off, Christianity Today, May 19, 2005, Accessed May 11, 2006
  7. ^ "Grand Canyon University, A For-Profit School Previously Sued By The Feds, Joins The Great Scam Of NCAA Division I Athletics". Deadspin. 
  8. ^ a b Cross, Jim (March 4, 2016). "Grand Canyon University Denied Switch to Nonprofit Status". KTAR News. Retrieved August 12, 2016. 
  9. ^ Public Disclosure Notice
  10. ^ Klapper, Clayton (March 4, 2016). "Grand Canyon University Denied Request to Switch to Nonprofit Status". ABC15 Arizona. Retrieved August 12, 2016. 
  11. ^ Anne Ryman (2017). Grand Canyon University's RN program censured by state nursing board accessed 2017-06-09
  12. ^ "RESIDENCE LIFE - Grand Canyon University". Grand Canyon University. Retrieved 7 March 2016. 
  13. ^ Stanton, Alison (October 11, 2006). "GCU campus receives makeover". Arizona Republic. Retrieved October 11, 2006. 
  14. ^ "Where to Eat? New Campus Options Already Popular | GCU Today". Grand Canyon University. September 1, 2011. Retrieved August 21, 2014. 
  15. ^ "A Year’s Wait Is Over: Welcome, GCU Arena! | GCU Today". Grand Canyon University. 2011-09-08. Retrieved August 21, 2014. 
  16. ^ Anderson, Craig (March 23, 2010). "GCU begins expansion of campus in Phoenix". Arizona Republic. Retrieved May 13, 2010. 
  17. ^ Bob McClay. "GCU to expand seating at new arena". Retrieved August 21, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Done! Arena is ready for its unveiling - GCU Today". August 13, 2014. Retrieved March 21, 2017. 
  19. ^ "GCU Student Life". Retrieved February 12, 2017. 
  20. ^ "GCU now has its own police force". Grand Canyon University. August 31, 2016. Retrieved February 12, 2017. 
  21. ^ a b "GCU Tucson Campus | Grand Canyon University". Grand Canyon University. Retrieved April 17, 2016. 
  22. ^ "Majors & Programs". Grand Canyon University. 2015. Retrieved February 13, 2017. 
  23. ^ a b Glader, Paul (August 11, 2016). "Largest For-Profit Christian College to Open Seminary This Fall". Christianity Today. Retrieved August 12, 2016. 
  24. ^ "Accredited University | Grand Canyon University". Grand Canyon University. Retrieved August 21, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Higher Learning Commission Reaffirms Grand Canyon University Accreditation". PR Newswire. March 13, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017. 
  26. ^ a b c "Grand Canyon University". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved August 18, 2017. 
  27. ^ Top 5 e-schools, Fortune Small Business / CNN
  28. ^ Peters, Craig (February 4, 2017). "Kevin Warren Presented with Inaugural Pioneer Award". Minnesota Vikings. Retrieved February 13, 2017. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°30′45″N 112°7′48″W / 33.51250°N 112.13000°W / 33.51250; -112.13000