Kaplan University

Chicago, Illinois and Davenport, Iowa

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Kaplan University is their students’ “lifelong partner for career improvement… delivering a best-in-class educational experience with an unmatched commitment to student success.”

School’s History: 

Kaplan University is a network of over a dozen brick and mortar campuses that also offers many degrees that can be earned entirely online. This article focuses on Kaplan’s online degree programs. Kaplan University opened in 1937 as the American Institute of Commerce in Davenport, Iowa. The American Institute of Commerce changed its name to Quest College, in November, 2000. And, in 2004, after obtaining permission to offer graduate-level degree programs, the name of Quest College officially changed to Kaplan University. In 1999, the College was one of fifteen colleges that participated in the U.S. Department of Education’s Demonstration Grant allowing them to offer courses distance learning over the internet. After just one year, Kaplan University had over 500 students that were taking at least one online course. Today, Kaplan University has approximately 37,000 online and campus-based students. It also has over a dozen campuses in Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska, Maryland, Maine, Missouri and Wisconsin as well as a Kaplan University Learning Center in Maryland. From 2000 to the present day, Kaplan University has been expanding course offerings and accreditation.


Kaplan University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. It is also associated with and accredited by the following institutions in the following programs of study:

  • Social and Behavioral Sciences
    • The Behavioral Analyst Certification Board has approved Kaplan University’s undergraduate and graduate applied behavior analysis courses as meeting the requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Behavioral Analyst Examination.
    • The online Bachelor’s as well as Master’s Degrees of Science in Psychology in Addictions as well as the online Graduate Certificate in Addictions are accredited by the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission.
  • Business and Management
    • Degrees in the School of Business and Information Technology have received programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. This accreditation includes all of the business degree programs at Kaplan University except for its Master of Science in Finance.
    • Kaplan University’s Master of Science in Finance with a concentration in financial planning is a Certified Financial Planner Board-Registered Program.
    • The following degree programs at Kaplan University are recognized by the Society for Human Resource Management as fully aligned with SHRM’s HR Curriculum Guidebook and Templates:
      • Master of Science in Management with a concentration in human resources
      • Master of Business Administration with a concentration in human resources
      • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a career focus area in human resources
    • The Program Management Institute Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs has granted accreditation to the following Kaplan University School of Business and Information Technology graduate programs:
      • Master of Business Administration with a concentration in project management
      • Master of Science in Management with a concentration in project management
  • Education
    • The Master of Arts in Teaching program is approved by the Iowa State Board of Education.
  • Health Sciences
    • The Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Mangement Education awards accreditation to the Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Technology program offered online.
  • Legal Studies
    • Concord Law School is authorized in the state of California to operate as a degree-granting institution and is registered as an unaccredited law school in the distance learning program with the California Committee of Bar Examiners.
  • Nursing
    • The Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, Master’s Degree in Nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice program, and post-graduate APRN certificate program at Kaplan University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
    • The Iowa Board of Nursing has awarded interim approval to the Doctor of Nursing Practice program offered online at Kaplan University.
  • Public Safety
    • Kaplan University is recognized by the U.S. Fire Administration as an official Fire and Emergency services Higher Education institution.
    • The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Kaplan University has received programmatic accreditation from the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress for the following programs:
      • Associate of Applied Science in Fire Science
      • Bachelor of Science in Fire Science

For specific approvals and accreditations at Kaplan University listed according to each U.S. State see here.

Prominent Online Programs:

Kaplan University offers twelve high-quality online degree programs. According to student body makeup four programs standout as the most prominent and popular:

These excellent online degree programs, along with a host of others, provide an array of educational options for students looking to gain the needed training and skills to embark upon a better, higher paying career within a purely online educational setting. The outstanding and accessible online learning opportunities offered through Kaplan University make Kaplan a great choice for students seeking a degree that doesn’t require onsite classroom participation.


Kaplan University employs an impressive and highly credentialed faculty. Of its over 2,900 faculty members, 43% percent possess doctoral degrees in their respective fields. And, not only are Kaplan professors excellent and engaging teachers and learning facilitators, Kaplan professors are active researchers who regularly publish in their fields.

Several examples of Kaplan University faculty publications from the 2014-15 academic year demonstrate just how active Kaplan professors are in advancing their fields of study and research (Kaplan faculty underlined):

  • School of Business and Information Technology:  Mago, J. E., & Friestad-Tate, J. (2015). Introduction to the World of Business. Dubuque, IA: Kendall-Hunt Publishing
  • School of General Education: Parson, W., Huber, G., Moreno, L., Madel, M.-B., Brandhagen, M. D., Nagl, S., Xavier, C., Eduardoff, M., Callaghan, T. C., & Irwin, J. A. (2015). “Massively parallel sequencing of complete mitochondrial genomes from hair shaft samples.” Forensic Science International: Genetics, 15, 8–15. doi:10.1016/j.fsigen.2014.11.009.
  • School of Health Sciences: Moench, I., & Lopatin, A. N. (2014). “Ca(2+) homeostasis in sealed t-tubules of mouse ventricular myocytes.” Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology, 72, 374–383. doi:10.1016/j.yjmcc.2014.04.011.
  • School of Nursing: Adelman, D. S., Theiss, M.- A., & Goudounis, J. (2014). “Dealing with radiologic disasters”. Journal of Radiology Nursing, 33(3), 100–104. doi:10.1016/j.jradnu.2014.03.006.
  • College of Social and Behavioral Sciences: Wallace, H., & Roberson, C. (2014). Principles of criminal law. (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Course Presentation and Flexibility:

Kaplan University online courses are designed to afford the greatest degree of flexibility and convenience to students. Using advanced technology, Kaplan courses allow students to tailor curriculum and organize their schedules to fit the rhythms of their own daily lives and needs. Lessons, class materials and academic resources are all made available through classroom portals that are accessible 24 hours a day. Interaction and engagement with professors and other students is made easy through the use of email and class discussion boards. Finally, for additional questions and needs, including technical support, Kaplan maintains an IT staff that will respond to student inquiries via phone or chat.

School Awards and Recognition:

Kaplan University has been widely recognized as one the best choices for online college education. As recent as the 2014-15 academic year, Kaplan achievements have been noted by several academic and media organizations. In their latest University Report Kaplan notes recognitions and honors from the following:

  • U.S. News & World Report, “2015 Best Online Bachelor’s Programs Rankings”: In the 2015 ranking of online programs, among more than 1,200 online programs, including only the regionally accredited schools that met the federal standard of 100% online course delivery, Kaplan University was named to the list of Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for the second consecutive year. In 2015 Kaplan’s bachelor’s programs ranked in the top 30% of online bachelor’s degree programs evaluated.
  • Military Edge, “Best for Vets: Colleges 2015”: “Along with its annual survey of universities and colleges, Military Edge reviews data from the U.S. Department of Education, including schools’ academic success measures. For the second consecutive year, this online military news source has placed Kaplan University on its list of the top 20 institutions regarded as best for veterans.”
  • Forbes “2015 America’s Best Employers”: “This year Kaplan, Inc., parent of Kaplan University, ranked 92 in the magazine’s annual ranking of 500 U.S. employers across 25 industries. Forbes polled more than 20,000 workers at U.S. organizations to identify the best employers.”
  • “New Federal Guide Recommends Kaplan’s Approach as Best Practice for Evaluating Ed Tech Products. In its 2015 Ed Tech Developer’s Guide: A Primer for Developers, Startups, and Entrepreneurs, the U.S. Department of Education cited Kaplan University’s Educational Product Evaluation Checklist as a best practice for assessing educational technology products.”


The following table is based upon data from the National Center for Education Statistics comparing the net yearly cost for 31 online schools, colleges and universities similar to Kaplan University. Undergraduate online tuition at Kaplan University is $371.00 per credit hour. Full-time status as a student requires the completion of 36 credit hours across thirty weeks of class. This adds up to a total tuition cost per year of around $13,356. Kaplan University’s cost is just below the average full-time online tuition of $13,746 across comparable online colleges and universities.


Financial Aid and Scholarships:

Kaplan University offers a wide range of Financial Aid. Kaplan awarded over 35 million dollars in scholarships and awards to over 48 thousand students in the 2014-15 academic year. At Kaplan’s user-friendly Paying for School webpage students are presented with a wealth of information on how to secure needed funds to cover the cost of earning their degrees. Kaplan also has a special Financial Resources page that provides students with financial aid documentation as well as video instruction on the “in and outs” of applying for student aid. At Kaplan, financial aid is offered, usually combined, through Federal Loans and Grants, State Grants as well as Internal Grants and Scholarships and External Scholarships. Credit transfer incentives are available as well. Finally, Kaplan has a Military Service Education Program that provides major tuition discounts as well as books and fees discounts for active military servicemen and servicewomen as well as their spouses and families.

Federal Loans and Grants:

  • Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan
  • Direct Graduate PLUS Loan, Direct PLUS Loans
  • Federal Pell Grants
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG)

State Grants: Subject to Specific Terms of the Awarding State:

Kaplan Grants and Scholarships:

Military Service Education Program

Career Advancement:

Kaplan University has a strong focus on their students’ career advancement and has developed an outstanding, multifaceted Career Advancement Program designed to assist both students and potential employers discover career opportunities and determine the best career fit for Kaplan graduates. Kaplan takes a four pronged approach, addressing the needs of Students, Potential Employers, Career Networking and Career Changes.

Kaplan’s career services team provides Students with expert advice on:

  • career assessment/exploration
  • occupational direction
  • résumé/cover letter review
  • interview preparation
  • mock interviews
  • career networking tips
  • assistance in building an online presence for your job search
  • job-search support
  • online career fairs
  • 24/7 online access to job openings and career development tools through the CareerNetwork (online job/career source)

Kaplan University assists Employers find “right fit” Kaplan graduates with expert advice from professionals working in the field that can assess and match suited candidates to employer needs. This redounds to the benefit of students as well because Kaplan University career service experts stand in the perfect position to make career connections and make employers’ search more manageable in a large but not always clear talent pool. The specialized services Kaplan offers employers include:

  • Dedicated, one-on-one support to meet your specific hiring needs
  • Pre-screening candidates to identify the best match
  • Pre-selecting the most qualified interview candidates, if requested
  • Free, 24/7 online posting for targeted access to your career opportunities
  • Virtual job fairs and information sessions to let students get to know your company and learn more about your hiring needs
  • Opportunities to collaborate with academics and student life

Kaplan’s Career Network Program offers every active student, graduate and alumni continuous and ongoing collaboration with Kaplan’s career service team. Experts are available for online mentoring from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm ET. Students have access to Kaplan’s specific and personalized job tracker 24/7. The Kaplan career network database is already connected with the professional, and students’ interaction in the program allows students to create a professional profile and establish, even while still taking classes, needed connections in their chosen fields with potential employers. Kaplan University’s career network program offers assistance to:

  • Complete a work interest assessment
  • Build a resume and cover letter using the online tool, Optimal Resume
  • Schedule time to meet with a Career Specialist to discuss your individualized job search
  • Update current employment status
  • Apply for employment opportunities geared toward their program of study and geographic area

Finally, Kaplan addresses student, graduate and alumni career advancement through their Career Moves program.This service provides access to expert advice on job opportunities related to students’ field of study as well as the latest research, articles and news on various fields of study and employment.


Kaplan University is featured in the following rankings for their exemplary offerings in the subject fields listed below:

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Top 10 Accredited Online Colleges – Online Focused