This School in Arizona Has Been Named the Worst College


Arizona is home to numerous notable schools and institutions, including Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University. However, not all schools in the state have the same level of reputation or achievement.

In reality, numerous publications have rated one institution as Arizona’s worst college, based on factors such as net price, student debt, graduation rate, and academic quality. Western International University is a defunct for-profit private university that was connected with the University of Phoenix.

The Rise and Fall of Western International University.

Western International University was created in 1978 as a school for adult students who wished to further their education while working full-time. The school provided both online and on-campus programs in business, technology, and liberal arts, claiming to give students a flexible and inexpensive education. At its peak, the institution had over 10,000 students enrolled with many locations in Arizona and other states.

Read more: This School in California Has Been Named the Worst College

However, the school’s reputation and enrollment began to dwindle in the 2010s, as it faced more competition from rival online and for-profit institutions, as well as scrutiny from regulators and accreditors over academic quality and financial stability.

The institution was also embroiled in a number of litigation and investigations, including a class-action lawsuit brought by former students who claimed the school deceived them regarding the accreditation and transferability of their credits.

In 2017, the school stated that it would no longer accept new students and would close its existing sites by 2018. The Higher Learning Commission, the regional accrediting organization for the North Central area of the United States, removed the school’s accreditation in February 2019.

Criteria and Rankings for the Worst Colleges in America

Several magazines and websites have published rankings of America’s worst universities, using a variety of criteria and data sources. Some of the typical parameters used to assess the quality and performance of colleges include:

Net Price:  The student’s average cost of attendance after excluding grants and subsidies. This indicates how affordable and accessible a college is to low- and middle-income students.

Student Debt: The average amount of debt a student graduates with. This illustrates the cost load and return on investment for a college degree.

Default Rate: The percentage of students who default on their federal student loans within three years of graduating. This indicates graduates’ capacity to repay their loans and find meaningful jobs.

Graduation rate: The percentage of students that finish their degrees in 150% of the typical time. This shows a college’s academic excellence and student retention rates.

One of the sources that listed Western International University as the worst institution in Arizona was Washington Monthly, a bimonthly nonprofit magazine that covers politics, government, society, and the media. In 2014, the magazine issued four separate rankings of America’s worst universities, each with a different weighting and adjustment for the four categories indicated above. Western International University was included on two of these lists:

  • The first list weighed all four elements equally. Western International University is placed fourth out of twenty, with a net price of $18,241, an average student debt of $32,335, a default rate of 26.3%, and a 15% graduation rate.
  • The second list had a greater influence on graduation rates. Western International University rated second out of 20, with a net price of $18,241, an average student debt of $32,335, a default rate of 26.3%, and a 15% graduation rate.

Academic, a website that offers information and recommendations on schools, scholarships, and professions, has listed Western International University as Arizona’s worst college. In 2023, the website produced a list of the top 21 worst institutions in the United States, organized by state.

The website employed the same four variables as Washington Monthly but added accreditation status, student feedback, and reputation. Western International University was the only institution from Arizona to make the list, ranking fourth out of 21. The college was defined on its website as “a for-profit private institution in Arizona and affiliated with the University of Phoenix” and said it “stopped enrolling students in 2017 and lost its accreditation in February 2019” .


Western International University, originally a for-profit university affiliated with the University of Phoenix, saw a decline in enrollment, regulatory scrutiny, lawsuits, and loss of accreditation. By 2017, it had ceased admitting new students and will finally close in 2018. Washington Monthly and Academic ranked it as one of the worst institutions in Arizona, taking into account characteristics such as net price, student debt, default rates, and graduation rates. This underscores the issues that certain educational institutions confront, emphasizing the need of sustaining quality and financial stability.

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