For-Profit Colleges and Agnotology

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date



College of Education


Curriculum, Instruction and Foundational Studies

Faculty Sponsor

Phil Kelly


Through the lens of agnotology, I will investigate why for-profit colleges are still prevalent in higher education today despite their predatory nature. For-profit colleges and universities (FPCUs) have lower graduation rates, higher tuition costs, and have lower employment rates after graduation than do public colleges and universities. I will begin by defining FPCUs and their attributes. I will explain their methods of misinformation, false advertising, and use of ignorance (agnotology) as a way to avoid regulation and remain a staple in higher education. This presentation will then discuss how FPCUs have been enabled by the federal government and its policies as well as predatory loan agencies that have also benefitted from a lack of government oversight. I will also discuss the history of using ignorance to further markets that are either inefficient or hurtful to consumers. Examples of this include the electricity industry and fossil fuel industries. After a thorough review of these materials, I will discuss the impacts that FPCUs have had and will have on higher education and its students.

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