University of Phoenix-Southern California Campus


The University of Phoenix – Southern California occupies a small, urban campus in Costa Mesa, several miles southeast of Los Angeles. The campus is adjacent to both the John Wayne Airport and the San Diego Freeway. The University of Phoenix is the flagship institution for both distance learning and for-profit higher education. Both of those models have been the focus of serous concerns, even as total enrollment throughout Phoenix’s network of campuses exceeds half a million. At Costa Mesa, student nearly 12,000 students attend classes either on campus or online.

Business, Public Administration and Social Services, and Information Technology constitute the three most popular bachelor’s degree programs at the University of Phoenix – Southern California. The Business Program offers thirteen unique master’s degrees, nine of which can be completed online. A Master of Information Systems Degree can be earned either on campus or through Internet coursework. The majority of advanced nursing degrees are available entirely through online classes, which helps nurses already in the workforce enhance their credentials without adjusting their schedules.

In total, the University of Phoenix – Southern California offers the following eight academic programs:

  • Arts and Sciences
  • Business and Management
  • Criminal Justice and Security
  • Education
  • Human Services
  • Nursing and Health Care
  • Psychology
  • Technology

Each of these programs include a mix of associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree opportunities. In addition to standard degrees, UP – Southern California also features certificate and professional development classes in a wide range of fields. Technology, nursing and business certificates, both at the undergraduate and graduate level, can provide a career boost or help a professional adult keep pace with rapidly changing tools and methods in their work.

A unique aspect of the University of Phoenix’s professional development programs are the test preparation opportunities. Both professionals and students can enroll in structured, online preparation for a number of standardized tests, including the PRAXIS, CBEST, PMP and TEXES. Professional development courses are non-credit earning, but can potentially pay dividends in other ways.


Information Summary

Ranks 345th in California and 3755th overall. See the entire top 2,000 colleges and universities list
Overall Score (about) 35.4
Total Cost On-Campus Attendance $11,320
Admission Success rate N/A
Student Ratio Students-to-Faculty 195 : 1
Retention (full-time / part-time) 68% / N/A
Enrollment Total (all students) 9,954

Unique Programs

Visiting Student Center

Prospective students can sample what the University of Phoenix has to offer at the Visiting Student Center, a free, online portal with skills assessments, reading and math study guides, and a tool for exploring career options. Students interested in online classes can experience UP’s user interface and become familiar with its tools and navigation.

Military Division

For several years running, Military Advanced Education has ranked the University of Phoenix as one of the most accommodating institutions for military personnel. Each campus has a military counselor on duty to ease the process of enrollment, class selection and scheduling, and balancing all of life’s responsibilities. Spouses and military veterans are also eligible for special assistance programs.


University of Phoenix Southern California-building :: University of Phoenix-Southern California Campus
University of Phoenix-UCLA Campus :: University of Phoenix-Southern California Campus


The University of Phoenix system has an open enrollment policy. Applicants need only supply proof of high school graduation or its equivalent. At the Costa Mesa campus, prospective students should contact the Registrar/Executive Director for information about the process of enrollment. The application can be completed entirely online.

For incoming students, there are several ways to earn credit at UP – Southern California even before enrolling in classes. Standardized tests such as the CLEP (College Level Examination Program) and the DSST Credit by Exam Program afford gifted students the opportunity to bypass certain general education requirements. Unique to the University of Phoenix is the Prior Learning Assessment system. Undergraduates with significant professional work experience can transfer that experience into general education credits by completing a structured essay or training portfolio.

Transfer Students

The University of Phoenix – Southern California accepts credits for transfer from accredited colleges and universities in the United States. International students with an approved Visa and proof of prior education are likewise welcome to apply.

Financial Aid

Most students who attend the University of Phoenix – Southern California receive some form of financial aid to cover their education-related expenses. Because the majority of students are older adults, UP – Southern California provides no campus housing or cafeteria. Therefore, tuition, fees and books are the only costs that students need to consider – although these costs can certainly add up to a hefty sum.

The process of applying for aid at a for-profit institution is no different than at any other. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid as quickly as possible. Speedier filing will result in a quicker decision on financial aid awards, not to mention less stress. The process of seeking scholarships and grants outside of the school or federal system will largely be up to the prospective student.

Student Financial Aid Details

Ranks 1855th for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in California.


The University of Phoenix quite deliberately caters to working adults, the “non-traditional” students of most universities. More than 80% of enrolled students are over 25 years of age. Two-thirds of undergraduates are women, and nearly half come from typically under-represented ethnic groups. In general, students who enroll at the Costa Mesa campus of UP are seeking to boost their career or perhaps change careers altogether.

As many of the University of Phoenix’s students have been out of the classroom a long time, several programs are in place to assist new attendees with the adjustment process. At the Life Resource Center, students receive guidance in achieving a healthy balance between work, school and daily responsibilities. For the purely academic aspect of student life at UP, a dedicated Graduation Team works closely with each student to ensure they’re progressing at the correct pace. The Graduation Team’s purpose is analogous to that of an academic adviser at a typical university, and is comprised of an enrollment adviser, a finance adviser and an academic adviser.

Student Enrollment Demographics

Student Graduation Demographics


The majority of University of Phoenix faculty work only part-time, and the institution does not grant tenure. Typically, these faculty are either semi-retired or working for major companies within their particular industry. The UP curriculum is centralized and standardized, with instructors delivering content rather than crafting unique courses. This ensures that credits earned at the Costa Mesa campus are theoretically identical to credits earned at any other UP campus or online. More than 20% of University of Phoenix faculty system-wide are either African-American or Hispanic-American, a number that exceeds national averages.


  • Petersons Four-Year Colleges 2011. New Jersey: Peterson, 2010. Print.
  • University of Phoenix. University of Phoenix – Southern California Campus. 2011. Web. 11 July 2011.
  • Frontline. College, Inc. 2011. Web. 13 July 2011.

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