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Federal Trade Commission Sues Grand Canyon University Over Deceptive Doctoral Program Practices

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has taken a decisive step in its pursuit of justice by filing a lawsuit against Grand Canyon University, an esteemed institution and the largest Christian school in the nation. This legal action stems from allegations of deceptive practices that misled prospective doctoral students regarding program costs and requirements over an extended period.



Photo Source: Grand Canyon University Arena - Dusk


Initiated on December 27th and directed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, this lawsuit implicates key entities: Grand Canyon Education (GCE), Inc., Grand Canyon University (GCU), and Brian Mueller, the CEO of GCE and president of GCU, as defendants. Notably, GCE was the proprietor of GCU until 2018, as elucidated within the lawsuit.


The crux of the matter revolves around assertions that the Phoenix-based institution, boasting a robust enrollment of over 100,000 students, misrepresented the total expenses associated with its "accelerated" doctoral programs. Allegedly, GCU informed prospective students that the overall cost equated to that of 20 courses or 60 credits. However, the reality painted a different picture, revealing additional "continuation courses" mandatory for nearly all doctoral students, incurring substantial, undisclosed expenses, as contended by the FTC.


In a press release accompanying the lawsuit, the FTC highlighted alarming statistics. It cited the U.S. Department of Education's findings indicating that less than 2 percent of GCU's doctoral program graduates completed their studies within the cost parameters advertised by the university. Moreover, a staggering 78 percent of students found themselves compelled to undertake five or more continuation courses, significantly escalating their financial burden.


What adds weight to the FTC's claims is their assertion that despite prior investigations by both the Department of Education and the FTC itself, the alleged deceptive marketing practices persisted unabated.

This legal action is not merely an isolated incident but underscores the critical need for transparency and accuracy in educational institutions' representations. The FTC's lawsuit seeks to rectify the purported deceptive practices and uphold the rights of students who aspire to pursue higher education without being misled or burdened by concealed financial obligations.


As this legal battle unfolds, it casts a spotlight on the responsibilities incumbent upon educational institutions, especially those held in high regard. The outcome of this lawsuit holds implications not only for the affected parties but also for the broader landscape of academic integrity and ethical standards within the education sector.

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