Only a few young individuals in the world have the means or time to attend university in the conventional manner. Many professionals who are eager to pursue further education are constrained by their monthly paychecks. Additionally, some individuals are too preoccupied with raising a family to even consider returning to school.
These circumstances have fueled the popularity of online degrees, which are significantly more affordable and flexible compared to on-campus programs.
However, free online degrees present a different story altogether. When the University of the People, a tuition-free online university, was launched in 2009, many people started wondering if it was too good to be true.
It’s understandable why people have concerns when a university describes itself as the “first non-profit, American-accredited, tuition-free online university.”
So, what does “American-accredited” actually mean? Is the University of the People a legitimate option for those seeking to further their education without burdening their finances?
The simple answer is: Yes.
In fact, the University of the People is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), which is acknowledged by the US Department of Education. The DEAC is also recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
The university has also been acknowledged as a Candidate for Accreditation by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), a regional accrediting agency.
Is University of the People a Good Choice for International Students?
There is no reason why it shouldn’t be if what they offer aligns with your wants and needs. The University of the People currently attracts students from 200 countries and territories.
As stated on its official website: “An accredited American degree is usually recognized worldwide because American higher education is widely regarded as the gold standard. Even countries with different educational systems are inclined to take US degrees seriously if they are accredited within the US.”
This statement means that a degree from the University of the People should be accepted and valued by educational institutions and companies across the globe. Prospective students who are hesitant can verify the qualification’s status in their home country, just as they should for all colleges and universities on their list, regardless of cost.
Moreover, the University of the People has earned the trust and admiration of organizations worldwide for its efforts to provide accessible education to those who need it. Its philanthropic partners include prestigious foundations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation, as well as Facebook and Twitter.
What’s the Catch?
While the university has eliminated most costs for students to enroll and embark on their virtual academic journey, there are still some fees they are required to pay.
The University of the People asks applicants for a one-time, non-refundable fee of US$60. Additionally, undergraduate and graduate courses come with assessment fees of US$120 and US$240, respectively.
The approximate total costs to earn a degree at the University of the People are as follows:
- Associate degree: US$2,460
- Bachelor’s degree: US$4,860
- MBA: US$2,940
- M.Ed.: US$3,180
Each amount is still a relatively small price to pay for quality education. After all, the professors who volunteer their expertise are the same individuals who teach in some of the most esteemed universities worldwide.
The university’s partnerships with renowned institutions further confirm its credibility. Contributions come from McGill University, Long Island University, Effat University, Harvard Business School Online, New York University, UC Berkeley, the University of Edinburgh, and the International Baccalaureate.
The University of the People also collaborates closely with prominent companies such as Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, and Union Square Ventures. These official relationships make it exceptionally convenient for students to secure internships and for graduates to find employment.
It’s no surprise that 87% of graduates are currently excelling as professionals. Many of them are working for companies like Amazon, Apple, Dell, Deloitte, IBM, Microsoft, JP Morgan, the UN, and the World Bank.