Grand Canyon University will surpass 20,000 in enrollment on its Phoenix campus when classes begin Aug. 27, while both its ground campus and its online academic programs both rank in the top 10 in the nation by a popular college research and review website.

GCU, which completed its transition back to a nonprofit status on July 1, expects 7,100 new students with an average incoming GPA of 3.5 for fully admitted students in its 2018 incoming class. That brings total enrollment on the traditional campus to approximately 20,500 students. Ten years ago, when a new leadership team was brought in to transform the university, there were less than 1,000 traditional students on campus.

“Families are discovering that private Christian education can also be affordable,” Brian Mueller, president of GCU, said of the university’s growth. “What’s also encouraging is the number of students studying in academically rigorous programs like the natural sciences, engineering, cybersecurity, computer science and information technology. We have put in place a strong academic support system to help them succeed.”

GCU’s campus is rated No. 7 in the U.S. by – up from its No. 8 ranking in 2017. That puts the university on a prestigious top 10 list that includes Virginia Tech, UCLA, Liberty, Stanford and Rice among others. The ranking looked at campus resources such as classrooms, laboratories, performance venues, housing, food, safety and recreational facilities.

“College rankings are only as good as the data that they choose to incorporate,” Mueller said. “What we like about this one is that it incorporates thousands of student surveys to get a real-world reflection of each university. Nearly all of our facilities have been built in the last 10 years and we work closely with our student leaders to understand their needs. But, more than just our state-of-the-art facilities, I think this ranking reflects the culture of our campus. There is a spirit of community and engagement that is evident in everything from Chapel services to campus activities and athletic events.”

GCU’s online programs were ranked No. 8 in the country by That ranking looked at academics, admissions, value, professors and student life data from the U.S. Department of Education as well as student surveys.

“We believe our online programs are second to none,” Mueller said. “Grand Canyon Education’s leadership has 30 years of experience in online education and offers a multitude of support services for GCU’s online student body.”

The school year kicks off with Welcome Week from Aug. 20-25, including GCU’s spirited Move-In process in which more than 2,700 volunteers spend the entire week helping their students move into their residence halls. Move-In exemplifies the campus culture at the university.

“What’s special about Move-In is that every one of our student volunteers was at one time a freshman heading off to college for the first time,” Mueller said. “Once they experience the welcoming spirit and camaraderie of Move-In as freshmen at GCU, they line up to volunteer in subsequent years to ensure the students coming behind them get that same experience.”

Other highlights heading into the 2018-19 school year include:

• Two new six-story, 600-bed apartment-style residence halls (Cactus and Jerome) opened in August – marking the 20th and 21st residence halls on campus. Of the 20,500 students expected this fall, about 12,000 will live on campus. Three more residence halls are planned for 2019 in order to keep up with student growth. GCU ranks No. 6 for “Best College Dorms in America” by

• Other new construction includes a new classroom building for the Colangelo College of Business, a Canyon Activities Center, another parking garage for students, new campus dining options in Taco Bell and Pita Jungle, and an expanded Lope Shop merchandise store. An additional 1,000 field-level seats will also be added at GCU Ballpark by the spring.

• GCU students majoring in marketing and advertising now have opportunities to work for Grand Canyon Education’s entrepreneurial endeavor, Canyon Advertising, which opened in the past year and is already flourishing. The agency provides hands-on learning experiences for GCU students while offering affordable advertising and marketing options for clients, which include several Christian schools, public schools and districts, and local nonprofit organizations.

• Research efforts into such areas as molecular hydrogen, hydrocolloidal bandages, 3D prosthetics, and antimicrobial products in Sonoran desert plants will accelerate further now that GCU is a nonprofit institution that can apply for more research grants.