Grand Canyon University proclaims itself as a premier Christian higher-education institution. The university offers classes online as well as on campus for students working towards certifications, and undergraduate and graduate degrees. Courses at Grand Canyon University prepare students for real-world employment while incorporating Christian principles into the education. The institution became regionally accredited by the North Central Association's Higher Learning Commission in 1968.
The concept for Grand Canyon University began in the 1920s with a handful of students and faculty from the closing of Montezuma College--a small Baptist college in New Mexico--vowing to one day build another Christian higher-education institution. The alumni of Montezuma came together in the mid 1940s to raise money and bring their dream into fruition. Grand Canyon College classrooms opened in 1949 in Prescott, Arizona, with 93 students. The college relocated to its present site in Phoenix, Arizona, in the fall of 1951.
Although the first two years of Grand Canyon College's operation saw financial hardships and relied heavily upon donations to stay afloat, there was a steady growth in academic excellence, attendance and athletic reputation. According to the Higher Learning Commission, Grand Canyon College entered candidacy for accreditation in 1961. By 1968 the school was regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and remains accredited from its last 10-year comprehensive evaluation in 2007.
Shortly after its regional accreditation, the athletic teams in basketball, baseball and tennis at Grand Canyon College began to win national championships against other colleges. In the 1980s, the school expanded its academic departments to include arts and sciences, business, education, nursing, performing arts and master's degrees in education. This expansion prompted its name change from Grand Canyon College to Grand Canyon University in 1989.
According to Grand Canyon University's website, the Rev. Tom Wolf--who held weekly sermons at the school--brought to light Grand Canyon University's position as a spring board for Christians entering the international marketplace. He proposed that the Christian mission involve more than evangelism but also the lives and examples of Christian laymen entering the work force. Wolf's ideals became a part of the school's current global emphasis and continued basis of Christian principles in its education.
As of 2010, Grand Canyon University offers regionally accredited certificate, associate, bachelor's, master's and doctorate degree programs from its College of Education, College of Liberal Arts, College of Nursing and Health Sciences and Ken Blanchard College of Business. In the fall of 2010, the university will open its College of Fine Arts and Production for campus students.