Kaplan University

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Kaplan University
Type For-profit online university subsidiary
Established 1937 as the American Institute of Commerce
President Dr. Betty Vandenbosch
Academic staff
Nearly 3,600
Students 29,200 online and campus-based students[1]
Location Davenport, Iowa, US (with main administrative building in Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
Campus 14 campuses in Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, and Wisconsin and 1 Kaplan University Learning Center in Maryland[2]
Affiliations Kaplan Higher Education Corporation, Graham Holdings Company
Website KaplanUniversity.edu [2]
Ku sta pos rgb 301 2755.png

Kaplan University (KU) is a for-profit college owned by Kaplan, Inc., a subsidiary of the Graham Holdings Company. The university is predominantly a distance learning institution, and also maintains 15 physical locations across the United States. It is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), one of the nation's seven major accrediting bodies. Kaplan University was named in honor of Stanley H. Kaplan,[3] who founded Kaplan Test Prep.[4] In 2017, Indiana's Purdue University bought Kaplan University with the aim of making a nonprofit institution, pending approval by the HLC.[5]


The American Institute of Commerce (AIC) was established in 1937 in Davenport, Iowa as a workforce preparatory school. In 1999, after six decades of growth in Iowa, the U.S. Department of Education selected the school as 1 of 15 to receive a grant that would enable it to offer courses online. Around this time, AIC and four other Iowa colleges were acquired by Quest College and renamed accordingly. In November 2000, Kaplan Inc. purchased the Quest Education Corporation and changed its name to Kaplan College.[6] Beginning in September 2004, Kaplan, Inc. divided its programs into two different offerings: Kaplan University which specializes in online bachelor's and graduate degrees and Kaplan College, which offered classroom-based instruction and was largely vocational in nature and focused on associate degrees and certificates. In 2015 Kaplan sold all 38 Kaplan College campuses to Education Corporation of America. Kaplan College is now known as Brightwood College.[7]

In October 2007, all seven Iowa and Nebraska-based Hamilton College (Iowa) campuses merged with Kaplan University and are now operating under the Kaplan University brand.

Concord Law School merged with Kaplan University in October 2007, changing its name to Concord Law School of Kaplan University. Concord Law School was established in 1998 and was the first fully online law school in the United States.[8] The American Bar Association does not accredit online programs but students with non-ABA-accredited law degrees are allowed to take California's bar examination and practice law once admitted to the bar.[9][10]

On April 27, 2017, Purdue University announced plans to acquire Kaplan University and convert it to a public university in the state of Indiana, subject to multiple levels of approval. Terms of the acquisition were not initially announced. [11]

Offerings and enrollment[edit]

The University, which has its main campus in Davenport, Iowa, and its headquarters in Chicago, Illinois, is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission. Kaplan University serves approximately 33,000 students. Roughly 75 percent are female, 60 percent are over age 30, and one-quarter are military affiliated. More than half are considered the first generation in their family to go to college. The University has 15 campuses and learning centers in Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska, Maryland, Maine, Missouri and Wisconsin.[12]


Kaplan University is academically organized into eight schools.[13][14]

  • Business and Information Technology[15] [16]
  • Concord Law School[17]
  • Education[18]
  • Health Sciences[19]
  • Nursing[20]
  • Open College[21]
  • Professional and Continuing Education[22]
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences [23]

According to Kaplan's annual academic report, the University awards more than 12,000 degrees and certificates a year. More than 40 percent of its faculty have a Ph.D. [12]

Many of Kaplan's offerings rely on Competency based education. This allows the University to offer credit to students who can demonstrate they have mastered certain learning outcomes through professional and military training.[24]

The university’s school of nursing was awarded a national professional accreditation for its Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in April 2006 from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The School of Nursing was granted additional programmatic accreditations from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) in June 2016, including for its doctoral and master’s programs. [25] In addition, other schools have earned programmatic accreditation. For example, Kaplan University’s School of Business was granted accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) in 2013. [26]

Learning Science Research[edit]

Kaplan University uses its access to a large and diverse pool of at-risk students to conduct teaching experiments that allows it to fine tune its online programs for the best results. It has partnered with researchers from Harvard and Stanford who have found that the online medium allow for better analyzation of learning outcomes and experimental teaching practices.[27]

Admissions and financial aid[edit]

Kaplan University has an open admissions policy.[28][not in citation given] Applicants are eligible for both Pell grants and federal student loans. The university offers members of the military discounted tuition rates as well as granting service members college credit for some of the military education they may have received while in the service.[29]


Each year, the U.S. News & World Report ranks 300 online degree programs. Kaplan University's ranking has ranged from number 56 to number 156 since 2013.[30]


Criticisms of Kaplan College are documented in the entry for Brightwood College, the owner of Kaplan College since 2015.

False Claims Act lawsuit[edit]

On August 17, 2011, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida issued a series of rulings in three related cases purportedly based on the federal False Claims Act. The federal government has repeatedly declined to pursue the claims. The cases included three separate complaints by three former Kaplan University employees, Messrs. Wilcox, Gillespie, and Diaz. The court dismissed the claims brought by Wilcox in their entirety. (Diaz v. Kaplan Univ., No. 09–20756–civ, 2011 WL 3627285, (S.D.Fla. Aug. 17, 2011).[31] Wilcox was later, and separately, criminally convicted by a federal jury for making threats against Kaplan employees. (U.S. v. Wilcox, 1:08-cr-00256, U.S. District Court, Northern Division of Illinois (Chicago).[32] The District Court also dismissed in part Gillespie’s complaint, severely limiting the scope and time frame of the allegations, and, on July 16, 2013, the Court entered summary judgment in favor of the Company on all remaining claims in the Gillespie complaint. (Diaz v. Kaplan Univ., No. 09–20756–civ, 2011 WL 3627285, (S.D.Fla. July 16, 2013).[33] Gillespie appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit and, on March 11, 2015, the Appellate Court issued a decision affirming the lower court’s dismissal of all of Gillespie’s claims. (Urquilla-Diaz v. Kaplan University, No. 13-13672 (11th Cir. 2015).[34]

On Diaz’s compliant, the Court dismissed the entire False Claims Act claim and on October 31, 2012, the court entered summary judgment in favor of Kaplan as to the sole remaining employment claim in the Diaz complaint. Kaplan also received a judgment for costs against Diaz based on his frivolous employment claims. (Urquilla-Diaz v. Kaplan University (1:11-cv-23394).[35] However, Diaz appealed and, on March 11, 2015, the Appellate Court affirmed the dismissal of three of the four Diaz claims, but reversed and remanded on the claim that incentive compensation for admissions representatives was improperly based on enrollment counts. (Urquilla-Diaz v. Kaplan University, No. 13-13672 (11th Cir. 2015).[36] Kaplan filed an answer to Diaz’s amended complaint and a summary judgment briefing schedule has been set.

On July 7, 2011, the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada dismissed another False Claims Act case brought by another former employee of a Kaplan nationally accredited campus, Mr. Jajdelski, in its entirety and entered a final judgment in favor of Kaplan. (Jajdelski v. Kaplan, Inc., 834 F. Supp. 2d 1182 (D. Nev. 2011).[37] Like the other cases, the federal government has repeatedly declined to intervene. On February 13, 2013, the U.S. Circuit Court for the Ninth Judicial Circuit affirmed the dismissal in part and reversed the dismissal on one allegation under the False Claims Act relating to eligibility for Title IV funding based on claims of false attendance. (CHARLES JAJDELSKI V. KAPLAN. INC., No. 11-16651 (9th Cir. 2013).[38] The surviving claim was remanded to the District Court, where Kaplan was again granted summary judgment on March 9, 2015. (U.S. EX REL. JAJDELSKI v. KAPLAN, INC.)[39] Plaintiff has appealed this judgment.

On March 22, 2017, a Ninth Circuit panel tossed out the False Claims Act case finding Jajdelski had failed to present evidence the company received student aid funds for "phantom students" upholding a lower court's ruling in favor of Kaplan.[40]

Degree credibility and debt load[edit]

In 2010 Kaplan and other for-profit education companies came under scrutiny from the U.S. Congress due to concerns that the industry leaves too many students with heavy debts, and with credentials that are of little help in finding jobs.[41] Much of the report focused on Kaplan College programs, which are no longer a part of Kaplan University. Although the report was critical of Kaplan Inc, Senator Tom Harkin, then chair of the investigating committee noted, "Kaplan stands alone among the large, for-profit education companies for having taken what are, in my opinion, real and significant steps to reduce high withdrawal rates and high default rates by implementing the Kaplan Commitment program."[42]

Political influence[edit]

Anita Dunn, a former White House spokesperson, was hired by Kaplan . [43][44]

Purchase by Purdue University[edit]

In April 2017, Purdue University announced its decision to acquire Kaplan University with the goal of creating a new public university to expand access to higher education for working adults[45]. The institution will offer multiple credentials from certificates to doctoral degrees both online and at fifteen different campus locations.[5] The rest of Kaplan Inc. will be under agreement to continue offering nonacademic support to the University for thirty years, with a six year buyout option. According to a company filing, Kaplan was not eligible for any reimbursement until the new university covered all operating costs and set aside $10 million in each of the first five years.[46]


  1. ^ "Graham Holdings Company Reports First Quarter Earnings". 
  2. ^ "Campus Experience". 
  3. ^ "Kaplan Inc. - SHK". Kaplan.com. Archived from the original on 2013-11-27. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  4. ^ "Test Prep Pioneer Stanley Kaplan Dead At 90". NY1. 2009-08-24. Archived from the original on 2009-09-29. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  5. ^ a b "Purdue Buys Kaplan University, Will Create New Nonprofit Chain | Inside Higher Ed". Retrieved 2017-05-04. 
  6. ^ "History". Kaplan. 
  7. ^ "Education Corp. Buys 38 Kaplan College Campuses - Inside Higher Ed". Retrieved 29 August 2017. 
  8. ^ "Accreditation". Concord Law School. 
  9. ^ "Distance Education | Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar". Abanet.org. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 7, 2010. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  11. ^ "Purdue to acquire Kaplan University, increase access for millions". Purdue University. Retrieved 27 April 2017. 
  12. ^ a b "Academic Report: The Year in Review 2015–2016" (PDF). Kaplan University. 
  13. ^ "Online University Degree Programs: Accredited Online Degrees & Online Certificates | Kaplan University". Kaplanuniversity.edu. 2013-07-17. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ "Business Programs". kaplanuniversity.edu. 2013-07-17. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  16. ^ "Information Technology Programs". kaplanuniversity.edu. 2013-07-17. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  17. ^ "Online Law School - Get Your Law Degree Online | Concord Law School". Concordlawschool.edu. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  18. ^ "School of Education". Kaplan University. 
  19. ^ "Online Health Science Degrees: School of Health Sciences | Kaplan University". Online.kaplanuniversity.edu. 2013-07-17. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  20. ^ "School of Nursing: Online Nursing Degree Programs | Kaplan University". Online.kaplanuniversity.edu. 2013-07-17. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  21. ^ "Open College at Kaplan University". Kaplan University. Retrieved 2015-01-14. 
  22. ^ "Professional and Continuing Education Project Management and Certificate Programs offered by Kaplan | PDC". Kaplancontinuingeducation.com. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  23. ^ "School of Social and Behavioral Sciences". Kaplan University. 
  24. ^ "Flexible Learning Options and Competency-Based Education". Competency-based Education. Kaplan University. 
  25. ^ "Kaplan University's School of Nursing MSN-Nurse Practitioner Program and Doctor of Nursing Practice Program Earn National Accreditation from CCNE". Businesswire. 
  26. ^ "Kaplan University's School of Business Granted Accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)". Kaplan Newsroom. 
  27. ^ Brown, Jessie (October 6, 2016). "Engineering Learning at Kaplan University" (PDF). Ithaca S+R. 
  28. ^ National Center for Education Statistics (2012). "College Navigator – Kaplan University". Retrieved January 25, 2012. 
  29. ^ "University Corner: Kaplan University". Military Advanced Education. KMI Media Group. 4 (2). March–April 2009. Archived from the original on October 6, 2011. Retrieved August 1, 2011. 
  30. ^ "For Second Consecutive Year Kaplan University Ranks among the Best Online Bachelor Degree Programs by U.S. News & World Report - Kaplan Online Newsroom". newsroom.kaplan.edu. Retrieved 29 August 2017. 
  31. ^ https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCOURTS-flsd-1_09-cv-20756/pdf/USCOURTS-flsd-1_09-cv-20756-2.pdf
  32. ^ News, Bloomberg. "Ex-Kaplan dean convicted of e-mail, web threats". Retrieved 29 August 2017. 
  33. ^ https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCOURTS-flsd-1_09-cv-20756/pdf/USCOURTS-flsd-1_09-cv-20756-6.pdf
  34. ^ http://media.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/files/201313672.pdf
  35. ^ "Docket for Urquilla-Diaz v. Kaplan University - CourtListener.com". CourtListener. Retrieved 29 August 2017. 
  36. ^ "Urquilla-Diaz v. Kaplan University, No. 13-13672 (11th Cir. 2015)". Retrieved 29 August 2017. 
  37. ^ Travis, Scott. "UPDATED: Kaplan University whistleblower lawsuit dismissed". Retrieved 29 August 2017. 
  38. ^ "CHARLES JAJDELSKI V. KAPLAN. INC., No. 11-16651 (9th Cir. 2013)". Retrieved 29 August 2017. 
  39. ^ Judge, KENT J. DAWSON, District. "U.S. EX REL. JAJDELSKI v. - Case No. 2:05... - 20150311c55 - Leagle.com". Retrieved 29 August 2017. 
  40. ^ "9th Circ. Nixes Kaplan FCA Suit Over Fake Enrollments - Law360". www.law360.com. Retrieved 29 August 2017. 
  41. ^ Lewin, Tamar (November 9, 2010). "Scrutiny Takes Toll on For-Profit College Company". The New York Times. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  42. ^ "Drowning in Debt: Financial Outcomes of Students at For-Profit Colleges". Government Printing Office. Retrieved 27 April 2017. 
  43. ^ Halperin, David (28 March 2014). "Which For-Profit College Lobbyist Are You?". Retrieved 29 August 2017. 
  44. ^ Lichtblau, Eric (9 December 2011). "For-Profit College Rules Scaled Back After Lobbying". Retrieved 29 August 2017 – via NYTimes.com. 
  45. ^ Service, Purdue News. "Purdue to acquire Kaplan University, increase access for millions - Purdue University". www.purdue.edu. 
  46. ^ "Purdue acquires for-profit Kaplan University". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-05-04. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 26°8′N 80°12′W / 26.133°N 80.200°W / 26.133; -80.200