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What can a student learn at a for-profit school? The growing sector offers everything from diplomas in massage therapy to MBAs – on campuses and online – along with certificates in areas such as “addiction counseling” and “diversity studies.” Online, students can even earn a J.D. from Kaplan’s Concord Law School or a doctoral degree in Business Intelligence, Public Safety Leadership, Emergency Management or Epidemiology from Capella University.

Enrollment in for-profit schools has nearly tripled in under a decade, from 673,000 in 2000 to 1.8 million in 2008. Tuition at for-profit schools averaged $14,174 in 2009, according to the College Board. And federal aid to for-profits totaled $26.5 billion last year, up from $4.6 billion in 2000, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

The Hechinger Report had a look at the wide range of degrees and programs on offer. Here’s a sampling of what we discovered in the for-profit universe:

Major players

  • American InterContinental University: offers associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees; programs include associate’s degree in interior design, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration, master’s in Internet Security.
  • Ashford University: offers associate’s degrees online in business and early childhood education; offers bachelor’s degrees in standard subjects, as well as Law Enforcement Administration, Supply Chain Management, and Homeland Security and Emergency Management; offers master’s degrees in education, teaching and learning, business administration, public administration.
  • Capella University: offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in standard subjects – all online only; also offers certificates in subjects like Addiction Counseling, Diversity Studies, Leadership; bachelor’s in Software Architecture, master’s in Sport Psychology, Gerontology, Management of Nonprofit Agencies; doctoral degrees in Business Intelligence, Public Safety Leadership, Emergency Management, Epidemiology.
  • DeVry University: offers associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five areas – Business & Management, Engineering & Information Technology, Health Sciences, Liberal Arts & Sciences, and Media Arts & Technology; offers an associate’s degree in electroneurodiagnostic technology at its North Brunswick, NJ campus; offers a bachelor’s degree in Game and Simulation Programming.
  • Kaplan: offers “diplomas” in Medical Assistant, Medical Billing and Coding Specialist, Pharmacy Technician, Practical Nursing, Computer Support Technician, at its campus in Las Vegas; offers associate’s degrees in Criminal Justice, Computer Networking Technology; offers an online J.D. through its Concord Law School; offers online certificates through Kaplan University in areas that include Corrections, Internet and Website Development, Legal Secretary, Private Security and Crime Scene Technician.
  • Strayer University: offers associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as diplomas and certificates – both online and on campuses across the country (mostly in the South); programs in Accounting, Business, Criminal Justice, Education, General Studies, Health Services Administration, Human Resource Management, Information Systems and Public Administration.
  • University of Phoenix: offers associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in standard subjects like English and psychology but also more obscure subjects like a Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership or a Master of Health Administration in Gerontology.
  • Walden University: offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in standard subjects – all online only; also offers “endorsement” programs and certificate programs; endorsement programs are in special education; certificate programs include Engineering and Applied Science, Instructional Design, Post-Master’s Certificates in Nursing, Psychology, and Public Policy & Administration.

Smaller programs

for-profit colleges breif summaries

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