What Is AMU?
American Military University (AMU) is a private, for profit distance learning college that is a part of the American Public University System, based in Charles Town, West Virginia and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Founded in 1991 by retired Marine Corps officer James P. Etter, AMU was created with service members in mind.
It sought to provide distance education that would be relevant to the unique needs of military learners.
In 1998, AMU would be one of the first universities to become fully-online.
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Is AMU Accredited?
In 2002, AMU was recognized into the American Public University System (APUS) in order to bring the same quality of affordable and flexible education to a larger audience of motivated working adults.
The HLC issues accreditation to degree-granting institutions located in a 19-state region and is recognized by both the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
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The Air Force Academy is another institution that is accredited by the HLC.
American Military University Degree Programs
AMU has over 200 degree programs and offers online classes that start monthly, running either 8 or 16 weeks.
It has received the “Best for Vets Colleges” distinction from Military Times every year since 2015.
Additionally, AMU has been listed on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs” every year since 2013. (Reference)
They have conferred over 87,000 degrees since 1995 with over 82,000 alumni.
Two thirds of American Public University System’s students are active duty military personnel.
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How Much Does It Cost To Go To AMU?
The undergraduate tuition rate is $270 per credit hour or $250 per credit hour for military-affiliated students, working out to $8,600 or $8,000 for military-affiliated students for 30 credits annually.
The graduate tuition rate is $350 per credit hour or $325 per credit hour for military-affiliated students, working out to $6,600 or $6,150 for military-affiliated students for 18 credits annually.
You simply have to apply online, which will take you about 10 or 15 minutes. There is no fee involved.
Once you submit your application, an admissions representative will guide you through the next steps.
After that, you are able to register for courses.
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Is American Military University Reputable?
If you’re currently in the service, this set up probably sounds really good to you.
You can apply online without any fee, the price per credit hour is reasonable, and classes start every month.
But you might be wondering if an American Military University degree will look good in the civilian world and if the university is actually respected.
The reality is, it varies.
Some companies, including Fortune 500 companies, partner with AMU/APUS and will hire AMU graduates.
Nowadays, it tends to be more important that you have a bachelor’s degree or an advanced degree in comparison to where you got them.
Unless you want to be a professor, a lawyer, or a doctor, you probably do not have to worry too much about the name of your school.
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Because it is an accredited program, the federal government will accept it for federal employment if you’re looking into a GS job after your time in the service.
Similarly, if you just need a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree to advance in your military career, American Military University offers interesting courses with a flexible schedule, making it ideal for military students.
In addition, because AMU has a military-focus, it may be able to specifically provide military members with skills that they need for their jobs.
It is likely that AMU might be able to do so even more than a civilian brick-and-mortar school.
Is American Military University A “Degree Mill”?
One downside is that AMU occasionally has the reputation of being a “degree mill” where students pay money in order to just get a degree.
The open enrollment is great from one perspective in that it is hassle-free.
On the other hand, the Ivy Leagues have a high reputation due in part to the fact that they do not accept many people.
If anyone can get in, the degree might hold less weight in the civilian world.
In addition, the reputation of your degree from American Military University may depend on what degree program you choose.
Some degrees seem to have a better reputation like degrees in history, homeland security, and space studies.
In fact, ten of American Military University’s programs are ranked #1 of all online programs based on student enrollment.
By contrast, some students felt like some majors, like information technology, did not really teach them any new skills and that American Military University was just a degree mill after their money.
Even though some students were pleased with their degree programs and the skills they received, some were upset due to difficulties with financial aid through the American Public University System.
Sometimes students were told very late in their courses that they had a missing document.
Other students experienced difficulties when outside scholarships were applied.
And still others had a great experience with a bachelor’s program only to have financial aid issues with an advanced degree program.
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Pros And Cons
- Designed for Military Students: All of your classes are online. There are classes available every month.You can select an 8-week course or a 16-week course. You may also be able to transfer credit for military education and training courses. The flexibility is ideal. You can work from a hotel, your barracks, or your parent’s basement. You do not have to worry about PCSing because your classroom will go with you.
- Affordable: As a military student, you only have to pay $250 per credit hour. Many other online courses can be over $500 per credit hour. You also get added benefits as a military student. You do not have to pay the course technology fees.
In addition, you get your textbooks for free if you’re an undergraduate student.
- Interesting Degree Programs: AMU has degree programs like space studies or intelligence studies that will be useful to you in your military career. Many programs at civilian colleges and universities will not be so military-focused.
- Reputable: You will likely be able to find employment after your military service in any sort of government or private sector job. AMU has graduates in a wide variety of careers, companies, and fields.You could land a job at a Fortune 500 company or in the federal government.
American Military University is accredited by the same accrediting organization that accredits the Air Force Academy, Ohio State, and University of Chicago.You have nothing to worry about!
- Easy Application: You do not have to worry about fees or a lengthy application.Instead, you’ll spend no more than 15 minutes on your application and be able to register for classes soon thereafter.
- Less Recognizable in the Civilian World: Although some civilians know of American Military University, it is more popular in the military community. A name like Harvard is going to be recognizable to everyone (and every employer). Civilians are going to know the reputation of a big-name school that has a brick-and-mortar institution. They may not for AMU. It is also important to remember that some professions like professor, doctor, and lawyer require recognizable universities for employment. If you love history and want to be a history professor after leaving the military, AMU is not the school for you.
- Financial Aid Difficulties: Of the over 80,000 students, many of them did not have financial aid difficulties, but some did.The last thing you need as a military member is a headache with financial aid. If you’re on the fence about American Military University and don’t want the hassle of figuring out financial aid, it might be better to look into other options. Additionally, many other online programs also have a $250 credit hour cap for military-affiliated students, so AMU is not the only option.
- Military Skills vs. Civilian Skills: While some of the degree programs may be very useful for the military, they might also be less so for the civilian world. It seems like some degree programs have better reputations than others at AMU. Degree programs that are useful in both the military and civilian worlds will be more beneficial to you.
- Degree Mill: Some individuals, including potential students, see AMU as a degree mill. It’s a for-profit university, so you pay it money, and you get a piece of paper at the end of it. Some programs have amazing professors with connections in your career field for jobs down the road. Other programs might just give you some skills you can use in the military, but your degree might not mean a lot later on.
- Open Enrollment: Since American Military University has open enrollment, it is not selective like an Ivy League. This can call into question its reputation. Anybody can go to AMU. This is great from one perspective if you really need a degree to advance in the military. But if you are looking for job opportunities after the military, it could be less than ideal.
In Summary, Is American Military University Worth It?
In the end, depending on what you’re looking for, AMU may be a good option for you.
You can find AMU graduates represented throughout a variety of government agencies at all levels and in the private sector.
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As you decide if AMU is going to be a good fit for you or not, remember both sides.
American Military University is accredited by the same agency that accredits the Air Force Academy, but it is also sometimes less recognizable in civilian world.
It all comes down to you and what you need from a university and a degree program.
AMU may or may not meet those needs.
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