Skip to main content

Ashford University Review

Ashford University Review

Who is the author of this review?

I have attended 10 different universities and campuses during my academic career. This review should be weighed in light of this experience. I have attended college classes in the California State University system, an Ivy League university, colleges in the northeast, southeast, and west of the United States, online, and overseas.

In January, 2012, I completed all the major coursework for a bachelor of arts in International Business at Ashford University online.

Ashford University

Ashford University campus in Clinton, Iowa

Ashford University campus in Clinton, Iowa

Get Discounts on Ashford University Textbooks

Comparison to other Bachelor's Degree Programs

How Does Ashford University Compare to Other Schools?

This section will be more valuable to readers than the other sections. Hiring managers wondering how an online degree compares to a degree earned on campus have come to the right place. Those who wonder how difficult it will be to complete an online degree versus a traditional in-class process have also come to the right place.

The 12 universities and colleges I attended include: The Defense Language Institute, Monterey Peninsula College, San Jose State University, San Joaquin Delta Community College, Copper Mountain College, University of Maryland, Veteran's Upward Bound Program, University of Pennsylvania, Modesto Junior College, Athens Technical College, Barton Community College, and finally, Ashford University.

Of these 10, two are online programs: Barton and Ashford. The two University of Maryland courses were taken in Okinawa, Japan. Athens Tech is in Georgia. UPenn is in Philadelphia. San Jose State, MJC, and Delta are all situated in Central California. So, the comparison provided here is based on personal experience greater than most professors at colleges and universities in the United States.

Ashford University Grading Scale

GradeMinimum Percent for GradeQuality Points



































Two mainstream grading systems operate on most American campuses. The most common is the straight A to F system based on gradations of ten percent. An A is 90 to 100%, and a D is 60 to 69.99%. Less than 60% is failing, an F.

The next common system, which may be employed by individual professors on any campus anywhere, is the "curve". In this method, professors compile very rigorous examinations to separate even the most dedicated and studious of degree seekers. Questions get asked using theory beyond what is printed and directly stated in the text. Examinees must answer novel questions and apply course material. Every math, physics, chemistry, and engineering exam is of this nature. At the University of Pennsylvania, many courses hosted this exam and grading format.

At traditional campuses with bell towers and ivy covered brick walls enclosing the Quad, students (especially networking affiliations like sports teams and fraternities) keep lists of which professors grade in which manner. They will also compile copies of old exams. More often than not, these old exams will be the source of more than a few questions on the current semester's exam.

Online Grading

Online grading is similar to the tenth gradation system, but much more formatted, and far less variable. First, you are not going to know anyone at the frat house with a box of Professor Smith's old history exams. You have to know it yourself. Second, the X-factor of bizarre, pedantic professors is removed. You will not enter a class to get surprised on the first essay with an F because the professor grants unlimited deductions for spelling, grammar, and sentence use (his discretion). Ashford University has a "grading rubric."

Instructors at Ashford must use the grading rubric. This rubric is a detailed matrix assigning value to each component of an essay. As you might expect, the majority of points relate to what every essay must provide: answers to all the questions posed in the assignment; demonstration of knowledge from the course work and assigned reading; and provision of length requirements. Minor requirements include grammar & spelling, proper formatting according to APA standards, and other technical matter. These minor details have limited points, less than 10 percent altogether.

Instructors use a fillable matrix to grade essays. Once an essay is graded, the completed rubric is made available to the student for review. This is one of the great benefits of Ashford University and of online programs in general. It should not be long before traditional campus systems catch up to this standard. (Within 10 years, perhaps?)

Reviewing Returned Work

Each assignment and paper is returned to you in your "basket." In my last online classes at Ashford (one of the improvements I noted in my two years), every returned essay was marked up in Word with notes detailing every point lost. One thing that never happened in my essays was to lose points because the professor disagreed with my answer. I have had that happen in some other courses on campuses. The biggest points lost at AU will come by failing to respond to a part of the topic.

Other types of returned work include statistics and accounting homework assignments.

Ashford University Gradebook

This is the first and only time I had a 100%. It is not easy!  In fact, I finished with an A- in this class.

This is the first and only time I had a 100%. It is not easy! In fact, I finished with an A- in this class.

Scroll to Continue

Weighting of Material

Most universities have an official policy requiring professors to state in a syllabus material requirements, textbooks, and weighting of assignments, mid-term exams, and the final exam. This syllabus should be delivered on the first day of lecture. In the traditional campuses I attended, these were not always given on the first day. Sometimes they arrived late enough to negatively impact understanding of what the course is testing and how scoring and grading will operate. In a course on Arabic, at the University of Pennsylvania, I never received a syllabus. This meant that the Egyptian instructor could grade however she wanted. This meant that the two mediocre Muslim students received A's and the prior service Marine received an Incomplete- for not attending enough classes! I never knew about the minimum attendance requirement. She made it up to justify her hatred of me for my military service.

No student at Ashford can suffer abuses under the whims of an instructor. The weighting is completely programmed into the course format. For example, BUS 450, International Finance, breaks down the weighting of grades like this: Discussions, 40%; Assignments, 10%; Quizzes, 35%; and Final paper, 15%. You must perform some work twice each week. Logging in does not qualify.

Monitoring Your Grade:

With online schools, including Ashford University, you can monitor your grade at any time. You never have to visit your professor's office hours to check and ensure that the grades on your papers handed back to you are the same as the ones entered by a teacher's assistant into the grade book. (I have brought in assignments and exams more than once to a campus professor to correct errors in my grading. TA's do make errors. So do the professors themselves.)

Using the Ashford University Gradebook tool, you can see exactly what weight is assigned to every discussion, assignment, quiz, exam, or paper.



In reading the reviews on review sites, some reviewers wrote about one or two bad experiences. I only had one. What I really appreciated in my courses was that the instructors (even the one I loathed) all had more than a decade of public sector experience. At Modesto Junior College, there is a tenured math teacher who is an abomination to the field. He has never worked outside of teaching, uses the examples from previous editions of the text as his teaching, and then gives exams far outside of what was covered in class.

I never had any problems with any instructor at Ashford University being outside the loop of practical application. In the Discussion Forums (two questions must be answered and actively discussed and developed each week), the instructors often give practical advice. Many times, instructors know about the business or work of one of the students, and a worthwhile engagement begins there. Many of the students are also working professionals. Because of this, the discussion forums give a feel of how the text material is applied, and the kinds of ways it works and does not work. In all of this, the instructors guide and facilitate the discussion.

The Ashford University staff easily earn an A.

FREE Ashford University Constellation App!

Which Learners Perform Better on Tests of Knowledge: Online or Face-to-Face?

This question is handily answered by a major conglomeration of studies which have compared distance learning with campus learning. This work is called The No Significant Difference Phenomenon. The following link will allow you to search hundreds of studies comparing online and onground learners, their propensity to persevere or quit (no difference), to perform on final exams (distance learners do better), on overall cumulative scores (no difference), and many other factors.

The No Significant Difference Phenomenon

Additionally, though no study had been produced comparing the income of online degrees vs. campus degrees, this changed in 2012. A report was published showing that online degree holders earn more 6 years after enrolling than those who enroll in state or private non-profit universities. Online Degrees Earn More

Is Ashford University a Good School?

As a student of 10 colleges and universities, I can say, "Yes!" I have been in an Ivy League school, University of Pennsylvania, 2 online schools, Barton and Ashford, one intense military school, the Defense Language Institute at Monterey, and I have almost 200 college semester units total.

Ashford University is a rigorous program. Ashford Graduates learn an impressive amount of knowledge. Writing requirements are heavy. Reading is even more intense. Only UPenn required more reading. Only UPenn and DLI required more work. Even my (non-engineering) classes at San Jose State were easier than Ashford.

As an international business student, I learned things about business, and about international business I never knew were even considerations in management at all. I understand how FOREX works, why risk is an important understanding in every contract, and how to mitigate and control risk. I learned the importance of employee retention and customer satisfaction. I learned about logistics and about legal considerations. Ashford taught me the importance of good contracts, arbitration, and international law. Although I have owned three successful businesses in the past, and now own my fourth, Ashford gave me a lot of applicable knowledge.

Text Books

The authors and text books at Ashford are the same ones being bought and sold on campuses all over the United States and in Europe. The only difference is Ashford text books have special covers, and are labeled "Ashford University edition". I believe this is because Ashford negotiated a better price to purchase the texts. Publishers protect the market by making them appear different than other textbooks, which sell for more. Increasing the difficulty of these relabeled text books to compete in the market place protects the profits of publishers. The contents are the same. The students' only worry in this is the fact they are going to read most or all of every one of these texts. It replaces lecture, after all.

Ashford University Rating

Ashford University Rating

Using the votes of the first 86 people who responded to this articles poll, the average rating is 4.24 out of a possible 5. That is quite high for any school.

Update (July 3, 2013): After 115 votes, the average rating is now 4.18 out of 5.

Update (December 1, 2013): After 131 votes, the average student review of Ashford University is 4.21 out of 5.

Update (April 17, 2015): After 185 votes, the average is 4.23 on a 5-point scale.

Veteran Education Leader on Ashford University

Where is Ashford University? The Campus is in Clinton, Iowa.

Ashford University Mailing Address

If you need to send in a payment to Ashford University, this is the address:

Ashford University

13500 Evening Creek Drive

San Diego, CA 92128

You will need to send in payments to pay tuition if you are not using student loans and the Pell grant to pay your costs. There is also a final fee of $150 at the end of your courses; this is a 'graduation fee' which is not (by Federal law) covered by loans or Pell. Be sure to use other funds to pay this final amount so as not to break any laws.

San Diego is the location of the administrative functions for Ashford. The main campus is located in Iowa (see map to right):

400 North Bluff Boulevard

Clinton, IA 52732

Ashford University Grade Points

GradeGPA Points

























How to Calculate Your GPA

Every College Student learned to calculate a grade point average in high school. Total your points, total your units, and divide the former by the latter.

The adjacent table shows the point value of each letter grade at Ashford University. These are typical values, used at most institutions of higher learning.

I actually don't know if D grades are issued. My lowest grade was a C+, so I interpolated values I did not score myself directly, and extrapolated all values below a C+.

How to get good grades at Ashford:

In my first classes, I put in a "good" effort. I read most of the required reading. I wrote my papers using one extra page to "brainstorm" the topic and flow of each paper. In those early courses, I earned mostly B grades, and received a C+ in the mix. However, in my international human resource management course, the instructor was brutal in grading (the only bad professor experience I had at AU). To get a B-, I had to read everything, spend three times as much time on each essay, and cite every source of information, allowing nothing left uncited as "common knowledge."

I also looked at some job openings which asked for GPA.

So, I decided to invest a max effort in every class, and earn as many A's as possible. This is something I have done before. I have earned 4.0 semesters 9 times in my life. With the added effort, I earned 9 A's in my last 9 classes. Two of these were A- grades. However, if you are prepared to do ALL the reading (some of it two or three times) and take your time on quizzes and prepare your papers with design and research, then you can earn an A and possibly even a 4.0.

Poll for Ashford Grads

Ashford University Accreditation

According to their website:

Ashford University® is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association.

Ashford University also applied for accreditation from the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

Ashford is accredited by the HLC through the 2014-2015 school year. The WASC accrediting body denied AU's application in July, 2012. However, they encouraged Ashford to reapply "early next year". Curiously, they made excellent mention of the Clinton, Iowa campus. And, they made an issue of the San Diego administration and campus. They recommended some of those administrators move to the Iowa campus.

Personally, I wonder how much of that result was the work of Senator Harkin of Iowa. He actually set up a board to "look into" for-profit education. That is a joke, really. Even state schools, always assumed to be non-profit, actually send tens of millions each year to the state. Harkin really harped on the issue of the jobs being in San Diego. In my opinion, he wanted them moved to Clinton. That would help his jobs report numbers around re-election time, wouldn't it?

Reading excerpts from the WASC report, it really sounds like they are saying, "You are really approved. But, we are holding out a year with the uh-hum, suggestion, that you move as many jobs as you can to Iowa.

Ashford University Receives Initial Accreditation from WASC

I received an email notice on July 12th, 2013- Ashford has received "Initial Accreditation" from the Western Association of Colleges and Schools. Way to go, AU! The email further informed the school will be transitioning from HCL accreditation to WASC. Here is a quote from the email:

Our transition from HLC to WASC will not impact you or your Ashford degree(s) and, regardless of when you graduated from Ashford, you graduated from an accredited institution.

Of course, no person of normal intelligence would think it would make a difference, or affect classes in any way. But, I can see why it is wise to explicitly state there will be no issues of concern to students or degree holders.

Ashford University Ranking

In 2007, The Online Education Database (OEDb) began ranking online colleges and universities. The current list gives the Ashford University as #33 out of 65 schools. This gives AU a middle-of-the-pack ranking with 32 schools ranked above and 32 schools ranked below them.

The Ashford University ranking is above Strayer (#47) and Kaplan (#45). Colorado State University ranked #5 on OEDb's list. The University of Phoenix does not appear in the rankings.

At OEDb's website, you can search rankings of online schools by degree and type. The International Business program at Ashford University ranked #9 of 54 schools in 2013. Nice.

Contact to Apply to Ashford:

The admissions counselor I used in the beginning, and who answered all my very many questions as I interviewed different online programs was Felicia Handsend. You can reach her at:


Ashford University Diploma

Once graduated, everyone wants a diploma to hang on the wall. My last class ended two weeks ago. Today, I received an email notifying me that I will receive my diploma in the mail, "in approximately six (6) weeks."

Perhaps, Bridgepoint, you all can outsource this job to a Craigslist vendor? They always manage to get things out in two business days. But, Ashford has seen this day steadily approaching for two years. I think it would be fair to have predicted my graduating as I began the last class with a streak of 8 A's and a 3.6 overall gpa. I saw someone else complain about the late delivery; I thought it was silly and an anomaly for certain. But, it seems that six weeks is standard delivery. $150 graduation fee, and it takes two months to deliver the diploma?

It may seem minor. But, I am excited. I want to see my diploma! After all, perhaps more than the knowledge, I invested two years and $13,000 for the piece of paper I can show in interviews and my clients can see on my wall. It's like my birthday has been rescheduled.

Here is the email I received on February 13th, two weeks after my last class on January 30th:

Congratulations on completing all of your degree requirements!

This email is to notify you that your diploma was ordered by the Registrar’s Office. In approximately six (6) weeks, your diploma will be delivered to the address we had on file at the close of the month in which you completed all program requirements. Your diploma will display all the degrees and honors that you have earned at Ashford University; however, your diploma will not display any earned minors, concentrations, or specializations.

As part of our new diploma program which began on July 1, 2011, your diploma will now arrive fully framed to aid you in properly displaying your academic accomplishments. Congratulations on this great achievement!

However, I must note that Ashford did many, many things for me during my two years- and they did them quickly. So, they are still running a 99% approval rating from me. But... it's the diploma! C'mon, people!

Update: I received my framed diploma in the time promised. It is presented in a very nice frame, with a gold-embossed university symbol on the topmost of a triple-layered matte. For my 3.62 gpa, the university bestowed me with cum laude beneath my name.

Ashford University Community Outreach Day

In 2012, Ashford began a program for volunteering. It convened April 24, 2012. Ashford students went into their communities to volunteer and make a difference. This is important for Ashford and online schools. Just about the only thing online schools do not do as well as campus schools is to get students out to volunteer.

Personally, I do not see how that makes a better manager or psychologist. But, the brick and mortar campuses are touting the average number of hours their students volunteer. So, the volunteer day is just one more thing making Ashford a cut above.

Ongoing Support

It has been almost two years since I graduated. Ashford U. has continued to send me invitations to free webinars on job hunting, resume writing, and interviewing. There have been other topics, too. All the invitations were to events promoting job-hunting skills.


Man from Modesto (author) from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) on July 07, 2015:

Zack, I enrolled in, and completed an online program at Norwich University for Structural Engineering. They made me take one prep course: Calculus and Advanced Mathematics. As is typical of many Master's programs, they only want to see your transcripts and receive letters of recommendation. You must apply and write an essay. No GRE is required.

I finished with a 4.0 GPA and was top in my class. Norwich has an amazing 5-day graduation on-campus program. I met the people in my cohort. 90% of them are working for major companies. Several students were from foreign countries. It was a great experience. However, I was strongly determined to get the 4.0. I worked extremely hard to earn it. I would say that only University of Pennsylvania and DLI are in the same league as far as intensity is concerned.

However, when the head of the engineering department read a short bio on me as the award for "most outstanding student" was given, he simply said I earned a bachelor's degree "completely online" and omitted mention of Ashford University. There is a stigma.

Still, I competed with some of the best professionals in the world in the program, and finished at the top... and I'm an Ashford grad. HR folk need to see this and take notice. There are amazing workers with Ashford diplomas.

Zack on June 26, 2015:

Man from Modesto,

Would you mind sharing the graduate programs to which you were admitted? Like you, I attended DLI and other rigorous military programs along with a half dozen brick and mortar colleges. While not as challenging as the military Intel schools, earning Magna Cum Laude from Ashford took more work than any of the others. I can't speak for what it may have taken to skate by, but I do know that there is not the hand holding that in-person universities have. My understanding of the taught fundamentals has been noticeably greater than co-workers with equivalent degrees from PSU, UNC-Charlotte, Texas A&M, and Arizona.

Man from Modesto (author) from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) on January 13, 2014:


Be sure to send course descriptions. Acceptance, to my knowledge, has two components: existing agreement between Ashford and the transfer-to university; and matching course descriptions.

I occasionally receive emails from Ashford announcing they hammered out agreements with such-and-such university. It seems reasonable to expect such articulation agreements are not mandatory to transfer. But, if one is in place, it will make transferring much easier.

The thing many do not realize is this: The California schools are FOR-PROFIT. It is popular to call them non-profit. Truth is, they transfer tens of millions back to the state every year. I learned that when I read through a financial proposal for the newest campus- UC Merced.

Leatherneck on January 12, 2014:

Thank you very much for that information regarding the ASSIST website. I am preparing my formal letter for appeal and after checking the above site it does not show Ashford on the list. I will be sending my unofficial transcript along with my letter and will be sure to post the results.

Man from Modesto (author) from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) on January 08, 2014:

Thanks for sharing, Dianne! You are correct, the experience you accrued while working and taking coursework at night will make a difference for you.

I believe you will find another of my articles very interesting. "The Attack on Online Education" exposes the bias of a paper written by some Harvard grads. Their goal was to make online degree holders look bad. However, their data plainly shows that online degree holders earn more- quite a bit more.

I believe the reasons are simple: 1. They have more work experience 2. The "party" factor isn't there; they have professional comport. 3-4-5... and many more reasons!

Dianne on January 07, 2014:

I really appreciate the feedback you all have provided. I too have sometimes questioned my decision to attend Ashford University, but it was my last hope. I attended on-campus at West Virginia University and Atlanta Christian College (now Point University), but because of an unfunded summer term I owed WVU $8K (I thought was covered by loans but wasn't). Now I've paid it down to $6K but paying it down at this rate would just waste more time. So I used CLEP and Straighterline exemption methods to makeup the General credits I had earned, and now I'm considered a Junior. I plan on graduating in October of 2015. The goal has always been to learn while still meeting the "degree" requirement for most decent if not well paying jobs. It's true what they say that Undergrad is the new HS diploma. I felt so far behind for 2 years while my peers and family members passed me by with mortar boards pinned tight. But I persevered and that should say something to the hiring managers. I will take some of your defenses to my interviews to really impress. I know I worked hard, and I know that I supplemented my work with my own research and learning. I went above and beyond while maintaining a full-time job and sorting out personal struggles. Life doesn't stop like it did when I was on campus. I think that says a hell of a lot considering most students don't have to worry about living on their own (and the bills/challenges that come with it), working full-time (and the headache of all that implies), and even if they did both of these their classes are spread out and teachers are accessible for an entire semester. I have to get it all down in 5 weeks plus there's very little guessing for multiple choice tests and final exams, no we write 8-10 page papers for EVERY class and EVERY week there's a 2-3 or 3-5 page paper due with Discussion posts. It's rough! I'll be darned if someone tells me I didn't work hard.

Man from Modesto (author) from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) on December 21, 2013:

Leatherneck - The way CA schools determine if a course is equivalent is by using an established program. They punch in the course and if it pops up with an exact (or almost exact, maybe) match, then they accept it.

If your courses are not matches, it might be only because they never received a course description from that university. When I transferred to Modesto Junior College, I had to deal with that. I acquired course descriptions and sent them to the college. THEN they accepted them.

Check out the website. They convert course equivalencies (junior colleges to California state universities.)

Also, if you want to junior transfer to the CA state system, they require a core academic list be completed. It's called the IGETC. A few majors, such as engineering, do not require IGETC. Their course load is too full to allow for the extra religion, history, and etcetera. Check out IGETC here:

Remember: Everything is open for haggling. When you get your student aid package, no matter what it is, phone them and make an argument that you need more free money (you have to move, are married, etc.) With human-to-human interface, things get done. I hope you have a great success. Peace.

Leatherneck on December 20, 2013:

I actually just received my application letter back from SJSU stating that I did not meet the requirements of the basic four core classes that they require. Either this was in error in my part in submitting the application but I don't see how they would not accept any of the Math or English courses that I provided even from an objective standpoint. Either way I am still continuing along with my classes and I may have to just look at finishing out my degree with Ashford as an option before I start to use my GI Bill on any other education such as my masters.

I had mainly chose SJSU out of location and the degree they had available. Parking wouldn't have been too much of a problem as I have a motorcycle and I would commute from Pleasanton. Either way SFSU is still a strong choice in the fact that there is the BART railway system. Thank you for the heads up on Berkeley, I had considered it and when I talked about it with my wife she had said the same thing.

Man from Modesto (author) from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) on December 17, 2013:

Leatherneck, Thanks for the informative post. I'm sure others will appreciate it. When I was stationed in Okinawa, I took two classes at University of Maryland. I had to bus from Kinser to one of the Air Force bases. I had to learn how to use the Japanese bus system- it wasn't easy! I took two Japanese classes there, and used the same Japanese text I used at San Jose State.

You might want to reconsider SJSU. The town has a lot of crime, parking is a royal pain, and the community is nothing like a college town at all. The pubs, parks, and activities are lacking. SFSU might be better, Cal Poly, UC Santa Barbara, etc. Avoid Berkeley and Santa Cruz- the group ideology there is one which clearly has never experienced foreign culture, and has not idea how great it is to be American. Marines will not be as comfortable there as elsewhere.

Leatherneck on December 14, 2013:

Semper Fidelis Brother, I am currently out in Okinawa myself and enrolled in Ashford for a BA in Environmental Studies. I've finished about 80 credits so far and I have found the work to be demanding. I consider myself a very educated and sharp person and I've enjoyed my work here. Although there have been some discussion posts I found myself reading wondering how they wandered into the class, once I started getting into my major classes I've found that it wasn't an issue anymore. This summer upon my separation from active duty I will "hopefully (still waiting for an acceptance letter)" be transferring over to San Jose State University in the fall into a BS in Environmental Science with a Minor in Environmental Studies so I wont be receiving an Ashford Diploma. However my wife has completed her Ashford degree in Early Childhood Development and it has not prohibited her from any jobs that she has set out for. Had I been paying tuition myself rather than using Military Tuition Assistance I don't believe I still would've picked Ashford as there are other degree's available that are easier on a military man's pocket but I am overall satisfied with what I have learned in this university. Best of luck to you.

Man from Modesto (author) from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) on November 16, 2013:


Thank you very much for your input. The truth is, graduates of "non-traditional" programs earn more after graduation than do students from brick and mortar schools. The particulars of your experience, I believe, are the reasons behind it:

1. Multitasking job, school, and family creates an efficient worker.

2. The 50 hrs/week work experience shows itself on the job

3. The work experience of online students is typically a magnitude greater than typical 4-year campus grads.

4. Most online grads have campus experience. This nullifies an argument that socio-political and interpersonal skills might be deficient because of missed classroom interaction (further crushed by actual work experience, yes. But, those who cite this against online degrees never mention work experience.)

Best wishes to you, Joshua! Have a great career.

JoshuaHill on November 15, 2013:

I just received my BA in Organizational Management from Ashford. I attended this school for the majority of my college career; although I did leave to pursue a more prestigious degree at the University of Oklahoma. Out of state tuition helped me decide that OU was not for me. My main reason for returning to Ashford was the fact that I only had to focus on one class at a time while working over 50 hours a week and raising a family. I did go to Junior College for a semester in my hometown, but found that I was not really challenged as much as I thought I should/would be. There was no option for learning beyond the associates level without moving away, and I was always unmotivated because of this. As a result, I did the best I could with what I thought had available to me and sought employment as a means for sustenance. I was able to procure well-paying employment, but desperately unfulfilled. I also knew that even more lucrative employment would remain out of reach without a degree. That being said, a degree is only a way to open the door for future employment in the best positions. We get hired based on who we are able to present ourselves as to prospective employers. Higher education helps us to portray a better image because of what we retain from said education. Others have said, and I agree, "You get what you put into it." If you have only studied enough to pass then you won't be able to dispense that knowledge when it matters, for example in a job interview. Someone on this board said, and I'm paraphrasing, that an HR representative told them they do not feel that Ashford taught them what they needed to know about business. That looks to me that they were not able to prove their knowledge in the interview. I can guarantee that HR knew that they had a degree from Ashford before the interview. They would NOT have scheduled the interview had they had the preconceived notion of Ashford's "sub-par" education. Unfortunately for the rest of us who did learn something, because Ashford is not as well respected by some as a known state school, this is the first impression that HR representative had from Ashford. My current employer has applauded my degree completion and has even offered to promote me as well as pay for an MBA. I have, however, succumbed to the reality that to have the best chances for lucrative employment is to cater to the masses and obtain a degree from a more well known institution in my area. Every one of these schools has no issue with the degree that I obtained from Ashford University. The take-away from this is people do not get hired based solely on their degree. It is up to each of us as individuals to make ourselves as marketable as we can. I would not have been able to get to the point I am at without having the option of an online education. The issue that Ashford may have is that they are not as stringent on acceptance as they should be. Hence the cause of many of their poor reviews, and their higher dropout rate. I learned a lot at Ashford. It has honestly helped in my career. I was able to put what I was learning in class into practice while enrolled. Graduating from college doesn't automatically guarantee you a good job, but learning in college does. I am proud to be an Ashford alumni, and I hope others put forth the effort that I did in ores to better themselves.

P.S. I did not experience the poor communication issues that others did, and all of my professors, that dealt with these, were accommodating of any emergency. And FYI if there is an extreme emergency a student has the option of pushing a class out, up to a year, to be able to complete the work. It will affect financial aid, however. If someone has the resources to help them complete their assignments (do your work in the hospital while your mother is having surgery) then please go for a degree. It is only a burden for 4 years, and the pay off is well worth it.

Fierce Manson from Atlanta on December 04, 2012:

Hi Man from Modesto, I am so very glad to see a well-balance review of Ashford University. The reviews I have seen are of personal experiences, which is fine, but how can someone give a REAL review without stating a balanced report. You stated in your review what your experience was, but you also listed FACTS from other sources besides your experience. I graduated from Ashford in 2011, and I have no idea why some feel it is the easy degree school. Thank you for writing a review that all can draw an informed opinion of AU!

Man from Modesto (author) from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) on October 08, 2012:

Thank you for posting, Krystal! Best wishes to you for great success in your coming career.

Krystal Scarbrough on October 08, 2012:

I believe that an individual's college experience is relative to his/her own life and exertion of effort. While some individuals will barely graduate from college because of their lack of effort, others will excel because they were diligent in their studies. I have been a student at Ashford University since 2009. I graduate in 7 months with a B.S. in Early Childhood Education, Minor in Child Development. For all those who refer to Ashford University as a "diploma mill," perhaps you can experience it for yourselves without any preconceived notions regarding online colleges.

I have had to earn my degree every step of the way (completing at least 200 APA-formatted and original papers; annotated bibliographies; outlines; reference sheets; journal entries; Powerpoint presentations; Excel spreadsheets; data logs; labs; hundreds of discussion post responses; and at least 400 discussion posts). I can honestly say that I have worked very hard for my degree- harder than I worked as a 2 semester student at Louisiana State University. Some individuals appear to be approaching the idea of Ashford University with preconceived notions, which hinders the formation of unbiased and thoughtful supporting details.

Man from Modesto (author) from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) on August 07, 2012:


Thank you for sharing. I spoke with several programs already. None of them cared about where I acquired my undergrad degree.

Britnie on August 07, 2012:

I also got into my School Psychology program with my B.A. from Ashford

Man from Modesto (author) from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) on May 11, 2012:


I am applying to grad programs. The degree has not been a problem with any school. I was accepted to the first one to which I applied. However, I declined it when I realized I could get a much cheaper master's in my home state.

VanessaH on May 11, 2012:

I enjoyed this article. I have enrolled with AU. I read all the posts and I have to say I am not at all nervous about people accepting my degree. I feel I made a wonderful choice. I have never been to any colleges other than AU, and I am glad I choose this college first. When I decided to attend Ashford, my father was researching online and saying are you sure. I said yes! I researched Ashford as well and yes there were many people saying negative things, there were also many that have had great experiences as well. I can't judge someones post without knowing what the full circumstances are. A person writing blogs that are negative about Ashford may have been kicked out for cheating for all I know, or they could have a legit reason to give it a bad reputation. I can say for myself it has been a wonderful experience. I am learning a lot, and being challenged. I am about to start my 5th course, I was a talented student in high school but find I am still being challenged, and learning many new things. I can say this has been a good blance between challnege, and easy. Some things are easier than others, but I feel like I am in college. Some classes I have had to put in more time, while others not as much. I do agree that in online school a person has to read so much more, and it is more challenging at times, I say this because we have to take learning into our own hands. I have to read the material, and do my research, and make sure I fully understand the discussion before submitting my response, and sometimes its more difficult then sitting in a class room with a teacher, where I can just raise my hand to ask a question. I can aslo agree some people don't take education as serious as others, but was it not the same way in grades k-12 also? I feel my experience with Ashford lies on how I am as a student, and not based on other peoples experiences. I hope soon more online colleges are given credit they deserve, if they do. I feel Ashford is one of them. I am so happy I don't have to drive 2 hours a day just to school and back, and I am still able to be home with my son daily. I can do my work at anytime of the day, if it's sunny out I can play outside with my son and do my work in the evening if I choose. I don't have to worry about childcare on top of going to school, since my husband works all the time, and I am a stay at home mother. Ashford has offered me this luxury to be able to get a degree, and still be the mother I want to be. I can say, if it were not for online schooling many people would not be able to go back to school, or would not want to.

Man from Modesto (author) from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) on February 25, 2012:

Smartchick: I did review your article. I feel good about myself. It seems that all of my encouraging you to find some scientific support for your war on online degrees has paid off. However, I must disappoint you: The article by three Harvard grads is not very scientific at all. And, what can we really expect from a program which is most famous for its recruiting techniques, 98% graduation rate, and 80% honors rate (read: grade inflation).

The paper does little to veil an apathy for online programs. Bias and science do not mix.

Also, if you would kindly scroll all the way down to the very last page, you will please note that, when 4-year degrees are reviewed, the average annual wages break down like this:

4-yr public & non-profit: $34,528

2-yr public & non-profit: $30,617

4-yr for-profit: $37,578

I'm not sure why the fact that for-profit schools' graduates earn more (when they have a job, about 8% fewer of them do...) is reserved for the very last page of the report. And the 8% difference? Many online students are single mothers, women and minorities. These groups are typically less employed than the national average.

Aside from graphs, it appears that your authors (let's not call them scientists) make no mention of controlling for these factors in the appendix.

And, I must point out that one data point leaps out of the data: Income at the time of application for financial aid. I have no doubt that this is a significant factor in predicting satisfaction and loan repayment. However, the Harvard authors make no mention of this in their regression analysis.

I appreciate your challenges. I believe we are both learning.

SmarttChick on February 23, 2012:

Check out this research study on how for-profit grads fare after graduation:

(Hint: not so well)

Man from Modesto (author) from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) on February 23, 2012:

HCL, We can research and examine information all day. But, in the end, you can only really know a right decision when you have peace inside you. God created us to know what is good for us. Peace is a sign of a right decision. Doubt, a nagging doubt, a "feeling" of something wrong... are some of the ways we can physically attune to what is "wrong" and what is "right".

This is true generally, and also individually. God has a plan for you. When you decide on this course, you will feel content. You will have peace. You will even feel "full".

HCL on February 23, 2012:

Wow, you and smartchick sound so smart. Reading your posts makes my head

Man from Modesto (author) from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) on February 23, 2012:

Smartchick: Have you seen the website "No significant difference"? There are more than 300 scientific studies showing that distance learning is equal to, or slightly better than, on-campus learning. Also, if you look at all the "before and after" tests of basic skills, you will notice that there is a meager improvement of just a few percent in skills like math, reading comprehension, and resourcing- for all methods of study (and these skills, not grades, correlate with promotions and pay). The improvement for the online learners is greater than that of the campus students, btw.

Quoting heuristics and a few modest complaints from a handful of students from the 80,000 strong student body at Ashford University is not going to convince any intelligent, analytical, scientifically oriented people.

Man from Modesto (author) from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) on February 22, 2012:

HCL- I transferred half my semester hours from other universities. I finished a B.A. in International Business entirely online. The text books are the same ones used at other major colleges and universities.

I don't know about Western Governor's University. However, place a premium on programs that have high graduation rates; have campus populations equal to or greater than their online populations (like Colorado State University).

You will be better off if you can first land a job with your bachelor's, then get an online Master's for promotion in your job. See my hub on this here:

SmarttChick on February 22, 2012:

HCL - run for your life from schools like Ashford (and check out another hubber's experience at Ashford titled "My Ashford University Experience").

There are problems in almost every corner of higher education but at least in the traditional (read: respected) schools, you have a chance of learning something applicable in the work place AND your resume won't be overlooked by hiring managers who know what these schools churn out...

HCL on February 22, 2012:

What do you think about Western Govenors University? Did you go to Ashford on ground campus?

HCL on February 22, 2012:

I do look at their numbers but my business courses have taught me that many corporations lie about their numbers. I am very limited to where I can go because my B.A in Healthcare Leadership degree is Nationally Accreditted and not Regionally Accreditted. There is a bias on NA vs RA degrees. Anyway, what do you think about Western Govenors University? Also you mentioned you had a great experience at Ashford. Did you attend their campus on ground? If you did then that would make all the difference. I need to attend online. Online is a whole new thing right now and so all kinds of colleges are struggling with how to deliver education online. My undergrad was done on campus and I really learned a lot.

Man from Modesto (author) from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) on February 22, 2012:

I have been doing a lot of research. If you are going to do it online, have you considered Colorado State University? They have more than 20,000 students, the fees are about market rate for online, and they have a high graduation rate (uncommon in online programs.)

Grand Canyon also looks pretty good by the numbers. But, I believe it is all online, which means you will have to fight the (ignorant but real) bias against online schools.

I know Ashford is a start-up by former UOPX people. The story I read said they were unhappy with UOPX and felt they could do a better job. I am pleased with my experience.

HCL on February 22, 2012:

If you read the bios from the faculty like the Directors and V.P's etc, they all have worked for Apollo inc. Also if you search hard enough you will find that they were held accountable for keeping a lot of student finanical aid funds. I live in California, I don't have time to go to Iowa just to argue over figures that were not calculated correctly. I am trying to do a master's degree and I will have to pull out loans. I am not trying to argue with you or anything, I am just don't know what to school to go to. I like Grand Canyon University but they are like Ashford too. FYI I did not bother checking for grammer or spelling errors. I don't care right now. lol

Man from Modesto (author) from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) on February 21, 2012:

HCL: I have really, really, bad news for you. EVERYTHING in America is publicly traded. When you were born, a corporation was formed matching your exact name, except in ALL CAPS. The corporation owns everything. Your bank will give you a loan to YOUR NAME, but never Your Name. You see, Your Name has rights under the Constitution of the United States. But, YOUR NAME has no rights against search and seizure.

Even the town you live in is a corporation. Each individual church building belonging to the Catholic empire is also incorporated (to minimize losses in sex abuse cases).

Ashford will not become another University of Phoenix. The innovative proactive development underway is well beyond what I have heard about UOPX.

HCL on February 21, 2012:

I was going to go to Ashford University until I found out that they were a publicly trading company. This makes it look really bad in my eyes and so I decided not to go there. It is slowly becoming another University of Phoenix.

Man from Modesto (author) from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) on February 12, 2012:

Here is another article on grade inflation at Harvard. How can 91% receive honors? Are the exams not challenging the students?

Is this quote from an online student, or from a Harvard grad? “I’ve coasted on far higher grades than I deserve. It’s scandalous. You can get very good grades and earn honors, without ever producing quality work."

Man from Modesto (author) from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) on February 12, 2012:

Hmmm... Harvard does graduate 97%. Does that seem unusual to you? A search on Harvard complaints conducted February 12, 2012 found there are some problems over at Harvard. First, Harvard has a decades-old running problem with GRADE INFLATION.

If they are giving away grades and honors, is that the same as a "diploma mill"?

In Marine Corps boot camp, every platoon loses 10% as a requirement to weed out odd balls and can lose up to 20% before the drill instructors are called to account.

Here is one Harvard should have booted out. This Harvard grad was denied tenure, then shot and killed three colleagues at an Alabama campus. She had previously killed her 18 year-old brother in 1986, when she was 20. That means she was a Harvard undergrad when she shot and killed her first victim.

Additionally, both Asians and Indians have filed complaints with the U.S. Dept of Education over bias in admissions. Is Harvard really the Holy Grail of academia? It is far less clear-cut than some believe.

Man from Modesto (author) from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) on January 11, 2012:

Any search for "Item X" and the word "scam" is intended to do only one thing: find garbage. That is not a very reasonable approach for anyone desiring to find the best knowledge.

SmarttChick on January 05, 2012:

You ask: "Is it a negative or a positive attribute of a graduate who completed a program in which only 37% of those who started graduated?"

This depends on many factors. What did the 37% look like as a group? Were they literate, educated individuals? Had they been exposed to a rigorous program of study where they were challenged, not only by the faculty but by peer interactions and the materials presented?

Why did the other 63% NOT graduate? Were the admission standards too lax so that anyone with a pulse (and access to Pell grants and student loan funding) was admitted, or was there a rigorous admissions process?

If they admit people not ready for college level work - as do all the nation's community colleges - do they provide the kind of remediation and support so that the students have a chance at being successful or do they simply take their money, get them contractually obligated to paying full tuition regardless of whether or not they complete, and leave them to their own devices?

The answers to these questions must be learned before you can answer your question.

As to whether or not "this speaks nothing against a GRADUATE of a distance learning program", I ask you this: given the questions I have posed, how do you think people will judge the 37% who graduate from an institution where 63% fail out?

Here's a hint. Harvard admits 8% (yes, eight!) of the undergraduate applicants and has a graduation rate of 98%, overall (undergraduate, full time). Take a good gander at the admit rate at your school and if they are admitting close to 100% of the applicants and graduating less than half of them, well - you're in MENSA, the math.

Man from Modesto (author) from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) on January 05, 2012:

Thank you, Maria. This is my point: in the early stages of EVERY college, there are some people who do not yet possess the skill set required to succeed. One legitimate accusation against online, for-profit schools seems to be that they enroll more of these under-qualified people. However, this speaks nothing against a GRADUATE of a distance learning program. Is it a negative or a positive attribute of a graduate who completed a program in which only 37% of those who started graduated?

MariaBonilla on January 05, 2012:


I am about to complete my last class at Ashford University; I found this review to be very interesting and would like to make a comment.

I have questioned the integrity of the courses at times, however, the only times I have felt like "the smartest kid in the class" is when after three years of being a student at Ashford, I was placed in a freshman psychology class for one of my electives. I felt a little discouraged seeing bad grammar here and there, but I also realized they were probably students who were entering college level work for the first time...

Man from Modesto (author) from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) on January 05, 2012:


Look at the "No Significant Difference Phenomenon" link I posted. Additionally, listen to my testimony when I tell you that I have attended 10 campuses, and am now in my last class at Ashford University. The work is comparable to any other work I have done. However, the reading is much more intense with online courses. So is the essay writing. I am applying to Master's Programs now. NOBODY is questioning my AU online degree.

The real problem with an online degree is that hiring managers seem to have an unfair bias against GRADUATES of these programs.

AU has a 37% graduation rate, and a 36% retention rate. This means that all those people who "should have never enrolled, but got recruited" are NOT graduating.

Further, AU is making great moves to improve it's program. It is a BUSINESS. This means they want to be "first to market" with innovation. They want to produce the best product, too. If you are with AU, did you notice in recent months that a job placement service has started? Just click on "jobs I qualify for" and a list of jobs seeking your degree comes up. It includes many internships, and some are with big firms like AT&T.

btw... I have already been accepted to a USA Today "Best Colleges" school.

Chad on January 04, 2012:

Where was this article a year and a half ago. I am a class away from getting my online degree and know that the education level cannot be compared to a brick and mortar, but the information posted by Smart Chick is a bit saddening. I think that that "scam" part of online education does include cheating and inappropriate work being submitted, but it also has to do with the financial aid. We, as students, are locked into terms with these over-priced classes that are similar to prices at more well-known and established institutions.

SmarttChick on January 02, 2012:

Unfortunately, in teaching on the online (for-profit) environment, I found that a LOT of students copy word-for-word from web sites, and submit it as their own work. They also are prone to copying directly from the textbook and changing a word here and there, which is also cheating.

Unfortunately for those like you who actually do the work, this is what a lot of us remember when we see those institutions on resumes...

Man from Modesto (author) from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) on January 02, 2012:


Thank you so much for your excellent counter points. Everyone reading here will definitely benefit in making a decision. Honestly, I had never seen this until TODAY. I think God is making a point on your behalf. The Ashford University break ends tomorrow. However, I already finished the three chapters, researched my topic, and wrote a nice post with even an additional resource besides the assigned text.

I read a post from another student, who is now in her 9th class at AU. I found her comments about foreign exchange unusual, as she mentioned the "non-cash" nature of spot exchange. However, the topic (& the reading) were limited to hedging and speculation of CURRENCY exchange. So, I copied her entire first sentence, and googled it. I found it on a site called Another of her paragraphs is near verbatim of my own post, which included the text book definition of currency exchange (which does not mention non-cash products.)

So, yes, there are slackers, and the system makes it possible for them to get through. Every work environment I have ever been in has had its share of slackers. Excepting the University of Pennsylvania, and the engineering track at MJC, I have found slackers in academia as well.

Something I learned in the Marines has proven invaluable for me in selecting people for assignments: You never know who is going to work hard for you. Usually, it is the quiet ones.

Having owned three businesses in Philadelphia, hiring and firing many dozens of people in five years there, I learned this simple truth: When a good employee stands in front of you, you know it immediately, "This one is going to work out." When a slacker comes in for an interview... do not let him/her talk you into a job. You'll regret it.

SmarttChick on January 02, 2012:

Interesting. If you Google "Ashford University" and the word "Scam" you will find that it is not only me that has some question about certain schools (

It is this kind of press that makes it hard for those with what could be called "questionable" degrees to get jobs. I am certain that there are unhappy consumers at all colleges and universities but generally speaking, where there is smoke...

As to the statement, "There are no bad students, only bad teachers" I disagree. While there are certainly bad teachers out there, there are also students who want the degree without doing any work; students who want an "A" for just showing up; students who cheat, blatantly and I could go on. There are bad teachers, and there are most certainly bad students just as there are bad schools.

My point was that those on the market for a degree should research thoroughly what the options are available to them, and know what they are getting in to, in terms of money spent, and reputation in the work force before they spend a single dollar on any class or degree program. This may not be codified in the MENSA charter, but it is good, old fashioned common sense.

Man from Modesto (author) from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) on January 02, 2012:


What classes did you teach? In what years and for what program? In my early classes, there were a few people who made grammatical errors. In some classes, I saw posts from people who completely missed the point of the question.

Smartest person in the room? I am member to MENSA. Still, I often find there are one or two excellent evaluations of the weekly discussion questions which are superior to my own. Due to time constraints, I have slopped answers once in a while myself (rare!) in order to meet timeline requirements.

I have read an article online from other teachers who have taught both- and stated that the online students are superior. Additionally, this analysis is supported by the 'No Significant Difference Phenomenon'.

I recognize that there is a heuristical bias against online degrees. From my psychology studies at the University of Pennsylvania, I can tell you that such biases persist even in the face of contradictory evidence. Did you ever consider that the people in your selection committee were hurting the company by laughing out legitimate degrees?

In your post, you mention that an online degree requires greater concentration and discipline. Are these not assets which make good employees and quality leaders?

Let me challenge you with a closing question. Have you ever heard the phrase, "There are no bad students, only bad teachers"? Personally, I paid my tuition in junior college by tutoring math. I found that even students with D averages can earn an A on an exam with the right encouragement and instruction.

SmarttChick on January 02, 2012:

I have taught both traditional and online courses at universities and community colleges in the non-profit AND for-profit sectors.

The rigor can be there and it sounds from your experience that you found your online program to have rigor. I can tell you that this is not always the case, but that goes for the classroom as well as online.

One thing to consider when you are in ANY institution of higher education is your peer group.

Look around. How intelligent are your peers? If you're the smartest one in the room, that's probably not good. You want to go to college and be challenged, to learn more, to stretch yourself. If you are "the smartest guy/girl in the room", you're not being well-served by the institution that is taking your money.

If you're reading discussion board posts where most of your classmates' posts are hard to read due to misspelled words, and pathetic sentence structure, unless you're in a College Prep/reading class, you're not wisely investing your time and money.

Also, be wary of the resume impact. As someone who has hired many people over the years, and served on numerous hiring committees, I will tell you that there is a bias. Certain institutions, when appearing on a resume, route it to the trash can. The institutions most likely to land your resume in "File 13" are those perceived to be diploma mills, or rigorless online degree factories. Think about it: if your classmates routinely posted poorly-written topics on papers and discussions, do you think that happens in a bubble? There are people (like me) who have encountered others with that degree and if the experience wasn't a positive one, you're going to suffer. If your college is allowing people to move on (pass classes) and graduate and they're still not writing much better than a 5th grader, you have the potential to pay a steep price for that, beyond your student loans by not being hired.

Even open-minded people, when presented with 2 resumes of relatively equal experience where one person has a traditional degree and the other has a degree from a questionable institution, the traditional college always wins, hands down. I have served on a number of committees when discussions about certain online "degrees" ended in polite chit chat while the resume was moved to the "do not consider" pile.

Unfortunately, there is a LOT of money to be made in online education and a lot of money has been made in this sector by non-profit educational institutions (making money to stay afloat, most of the time) as well as for-profit institutions, making money to pay stockholders. This doesn't always set up the best environment for doing what's best for students in the online class environment.

Choose your program of study wisely. Talk to employers. Google the institution. An online degree from Penn State University is viewed much differently than an online degree from a place like you have mentioned. Whether this is right or wrong, I leave to others to decide, but at the end of the day, most of us went to school to get a better job, so if the degree you are listing is an impediment to getting that job,... was the convenience of the online degree worth what you borrowed?

Man from Modesto (author) from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) on December 26, 2011:

Thank you, Stephanie. Having attended a literal dozen programs, I can confidently tell you: The work at an online school is as difficult as a traditional campus. I think those who lambast online learning have not experienced the traditional route.

Stephanie Bradberry from New Jersey on December 26, 2011:

I am glad to read a review of an online institution that is not simply a scathing report of one personal bad experience. I think more people need to take time to look at all aspects of the institution and provide as much unbiased feedback as possible to really give others a sense of what an institution is like. Thanks for being level-headed in your approach. Voted up and useful.

Related Articles