Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University SealGrand Canyon University (GCU) is a non-denominational Christian university in Phoenix, Arizona, that is popular with homeschoolers. GCU welcomes applications from homeschool students who are at least 16 years of age. Dual enrollment allows students to earn college credits while still in high school and get a head start on their college degree. GCU offers classes in a convenient online learning format as well as a traditional campus environment, or courses can be completed using a combination of both – all at a cost that is as affordable or more affordable than attending a state university. GCU students can take advantage of numerous financing options, including scholarships for academic achievement.

Despite its name, Grand Canyon University is located about four hours away from the national park. Originally founded in 1949, GCU has grown along with the city of Phoenix to become one of the nation’s leading private universities. GCU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and is consistently ranked among the top colleges offering online courses by noteworthy sources including: Fortune Small Business, Technology & Learning Magazine,, Online Education Database (OEDb), and more. GCU has also been cited as one of G.I. Jobs Magazine’s Military Friendly Schools for both 2012 and 2013, recognizing its commitment to military students.

As the premier private university in Arizona, GCU emphasizes personalized attention for traditional undergraduate students as well as working professionals. GCU has small class sizes with an average of 17 students per class, and dedicated full-time faculty who care about the success of their students. Students can get to know their professors and work directly with them on various projects. Individual achievements are also encouraged, giving each student the opportunity to shine in his or her field. The GCU campus has been described by students as a home away from home and an enjoyable place to learn and grow.

GCU offers approximately 100 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in liberal arts, nursing and health science, performing arts and production, teaching, and business through its seven colleges: the Ken Blanchard College of Business, the College of Education, the College of Nursing, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Fine Arts and Production, the College of Christian Studies, and the College of Doctoral Studies. GCU also offers an Executive MBA program.

For undergraduate and graduate students, 4-credit classes allow them to complete their degree program in less time. Many of the undergraduate degree tracks are broad but let students emphasize a certain area. For example, biology majors can complete their degrees with an emphasis in Pre-Medicine, Pre-Pharmacy, or Pre-Physician Assistant; while art design majors can choose to emphasize in animation, screenwriting, web design, or film production.

The College of Arts and Sciences has the largest number of faculty members of any college at GCU and provides course offerings ranging from Robert Frost to Molecular Genetics. The College of Arts and Sciences represents what is commonly called the “core education.” Core classes are courses that are required for all degree programs and support GCU’s stated mission and vision of student development: “GCU prepares learners to become global citizens, critical thinkers, effective communicators, and responsible leaders by providing an academically challenging, values-based curriculum from the context of our Christian heritage.”

As a Christian university, GCU encourages students to apply Christian values and ethics to their studies and to the workplace. GCU offers several Christian studies degrees meant to equip learners to lead as Christians in their areas of influence, be they secular, religious, professional or personal. Along with Christian values, GCU’s curriculum embraces quality academic programs and clinical rigor to prepare students to be skilled, caring professionals. There are four pillars that GCU lives by: Academic Advancement, Christian Camaraderie, Extracurricular Excellence, Wellness and Well-Being. In addition, GCU is a university that gives back to the community.


Grand Canyon University was established by Arizona Southern Baptists as a nonprofit liberal arts college in 1949, to enable local Baptists an opportunity to obtain bachelor’s or master’s degrees without having to go out of state. Then known as Grand Canyon College, its first campus was located in an abandoned armory building in Prescott, Arizona. Two years later, the school relocated to the present campus in Phoenix. Grand Canyon College became Grand Canyon University in 1989, the first Christian university in Arizona.

Best known for its education, nursing and health sciences programs, GCU faculty, staff and administration developed a strong reputation for helping students to find their purpose and achieve their potential. The college has produced some of the most effective teachers, nurses, health care professionals and fine-arts students in the Southwest, as well as basketball and baseball players who have gone on to compete at the professional level.

In the early 2000s, GCU was struggling with maintaining its operations and the quality of its academic programs in light of dwindling financial support. In 2004, GCU transitioned out of non-profit status, implementing new business practices to turn itself around. In 2008, Grand Canyon University Inc. went public with stock traded on the NASDAQ exchange, making it the first for-profit Christian college in the United States. Today, this smaller, more intimate Arizona university boasts an engaging atmosphere with many amenities and facilities like those found at larger universities.


The student population at Grand Canyon University is growing steadily, and the university has been expanding its campus over the past few years with millions of dollars spent on new facilities including an aquatics center with an Olympic-sized heated pool, and a new 55,000-square-foot state-of-the-art fitness/recreation center. The latest dining hall on campus, Thunder Alley, features a cafe, convenience store, various fast food venues, an assortment of games and big-screen televisions, a six-lane bowling alley, and an intimate venue for up-close live concerts. The 5,000-seat GCU Arena, which opened in September 2011, is home to GCU’s men’s and women’s basketball teams. The arena also hosts concerts, conferences, theatrical productions and other events.

GCU’s massive expansion project has also provided for updated classroom buildings including a new 125-classroom facility. In the Fall of 2010, a 23,000-square-foot classroom building housing 19 classrooms along with administrative staff for the College of Education was completed. In October 2011 GCU broke ground on a new College of Arts and Science building, and in August 2012 the four-story, 73,000-square-foot classroom building and lab facility was completed. It has forensic chemistry labs as well as a prayer chapel.

GCU has extensively expanded its student housing too. Hegel Hall opened in 2003 and houses over 400 students; Canyon Hall opened in 2010 and houses nearly 550 students; Prescott Hall opened in 2011 and can house up to 500 students; and Camelback and Sedona halls opened in the fall of 2012 and can each house over 600 students. GCU also offers apartment-style living in the North Rim Apartments, which were remodeled in 2011. GCU provides campus safety and security services such as 24-hour foot and vehicle patrols, late night transport/escort service, 24-hour emergency telephones, lighted pathways/sidewalks, and controlled dormitory access (key, security card, etc). By the way, alcohol is not permitted for students at GCU.

In 2010 a GCU satellite campus was opened in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for pre-licensure nursing students in partnership with the Presbyterian Health System. In September 2012, GCU was offered a free 217-acre historical boarding school campus in Northfield, Massachusetts, established in 1879 by famed evangelist Dwight L. Moody and worth at least $150 million, currently owned by the Green family of Hobby Lobby Inc. However, a month later GCU backed out of the deal citing unanticipated costs in tens of millions of dollars compounded by significant resistance from the town.

Student Life

Grand Canyon University is home to nearly 6,800 traditional students who live and commute to the 100-acre Phoenix campus, which provides the perfect oasis for learning and having fun. (Total enrollment is approximately 40,000, with the majority of students online; in contrast, Arizona State University has over 72,000 students, with nearly 60,000 enrolled in at least one class on the ASU campus.) At the heart of the GCU campus lies a brick-lined promenade that connects students from their dorms to classrooms, the newly-renovated Student Union, Fleming Library, and weekly chapel services where staff, faculty and students come together to worship.

GCU is home to an array of diverse student-run clubs and organizations that range from those which are academically-focused, to professional organizations, to recreation and leisure, and everything in between, including student government and publications. The Office of Student Life and the Office of Spiritual Life help organize and develop programs and events that not only provide a refreshing break from studies, but aid in the development of leadership skills. The Spiritual Life and Student Life teams also coordinate fun activities such as concerts, barbeques, dances, pizza parties, movies on the lawn, and even skiing excursions.

For those who love sports, GCU offers a broad range of intramural as well as intercollegiate sports. GCU is part of the NCAA II athletic conference and offers 21 NCAA Division II athletic teams including baseball, basketball, softball, volleyball, soccer, and wrestling. The new Student Recreation Center that opened in the fall of 2010 features three basketball courts, a modern athletic training facility, and a fully equipped fitness center with a full schedule of fitness classes offered daily for campus residents. In addition, GCU’s state-of-the-art health care center gives both nursing and athletic training majors the perfect place to develop their care-giving skills.

As an interdenominational Christian university, GCU has a legacy of guiding students to become socially responsible, compassionate servant leaders by serving fellow students and the surrounding community. GCU offers a wide variety of volunteer programs and service projects for students, faculty and staff to participate in, such as canned food and toy drives. Annual events such as the Memorial Day “Salute Our Troops” celebration, the neighborhood Fall Festival, Christmas tree distribution, and the Run to Fight Children’s Cancer are the cornerstones of GCU’s community outreach efforts. Staff and students also look for new opportunities to serve as needs arise by providing support to those affected by natural disasters across the country and around the world.


Grand Canyon University is committed to reaching out to homeschoolers, as the faculty and admissions personnel recognize the merits of homeschooled students. At GCU, a homeschooler is classified as a student who possesses homeschool transcripts from a state that recognizes homeschooling as a valid secondary school option. Applicants who cannot provide official copies of their secondary transcripts from an accredited high school or homeschool program, do not have a GED, and do not have any post-secondary transferable credits may be admitted based on Self-Certification of completion of High School Diploma. In some cases, an enrollment officer may request an admission interview to determine evidence of maturity and readiness for college level work.

GCU recommends a certain level of academic preparation to provide a solid foundation for undergraduate success. Thus, it is usually necessary that the student satisfactorily complete basic competency requirements. These may be net by a combination of high school courses, college courses, or test scores demonstrating the equivalent of English: 4 years (composition/literature-based); Mathematics: 3 years (2 years of algebra and one higher math); Lab Science: 2 years (one year each of biology, chemistry, earth science, or physics); Social Science: 2 years (one year of American History and one year of either European history, world history, sociology, geography, government, psychology, or anthropology). New freshmen with a deficiency in no more than two competency areas or who otherwise do not meet the enrollment standards may be admitted to GCU with specifications.

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  1. I have a 16 year old that would like to attend GCU and I homeschool him… I am interested in how he can take college classes now online from GCU?

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