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Grand Canyon University reaching attendance, expansion milestones

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In welcoming a record number of students and beginning to expand its campus, Grand Canyon University has reached several milestones this year.

In the spring, the university had 19,000 students on its campus, which was just under 300 acres.

“As we look forward, the campus will grow to 30,000 students in the next five years or so,” GCU president Brian Mueller said. “We’ll also expand from 300 acres to 400 acres.”

The number of students taking online classes is even larger, at about 70,000 students. Most of them are working adults who are seeking a master’s or doctoral degrees, whereas most of the students attending classes on campus are traditional students who recently graduated high school.

Mueller said GCU’s tuition rates, which haven’t increased in the past decade, was one of the reasons why students are attracted to the university.

“We’ve made it very affordable,” he said. “In fact, a lot of our students are able to graduate with little or no debt, and that is very important to families.”

He added the university’s diverse academic programs also appeal to students. Currently, it offers 220 academic programs and that number will grow to about 300 over the next few years.

“Our goal is to understand where the economy is going, understand where the jobs are going to be and keep creating programs that will help people get jobs,” Mueller said.

Recent graduate Angelita Cardenas, a Tempe resident, said the university’s Christian focus was one of the reasons why she chose to attend. She took the online route graduated with a degree in communications last month.

“I like that they incorporated the Christian values,” she said. “A lot of our instructors were very Christian-based in their teachings, and that was a big deal for me.”

GCU recently became the largest Christian university in the country, according to Religion News Service.

Mueller said the Christian focus coupled with the tuition rates and diverse programs offered “has made this a place that people are really seeking.”

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