Full Sail University is a for-profit university in Orange County, Florida
Full Sail University was founded in 1979 in Dayton, Ohio as Full Sail Recording Workshop. Full Sail relocated to Florida in 1980, adding video production and film production courses and, with the move in 1989 to its current campus, expanded its curriculum to include other entertainment and media-related areas of study. Full Sail began offering online degrees in 2007. The school is partly owned by TA Associates, a private equity firm.
Full Sail is not regionally accredited, but is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) to award associate’s, bachelor’s degrees, and master’s degrees in audio, film, design, computer animation, business, and other fields. The school offers 49 degree programs and 2 graduate certificates and has a student population of around 14,600.
Full Sail University is an entertainment media institution offering on-campus and online degrees, including 2 graduate certificates, 2 associate degrees, 25 bachelor’s degrees, and 8 master’s degrees. Academic degree programs are primarily focused on audio, film and media production, video game design, animation and other studies related to the media and entertainment industries. Over 70% of students and graduates have used financial aid to cover some or all of their education expenses. Students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before applying for student loans through the university.
The college’s education is accelerated, typically completed in half the time of a traditional four-year college — associate’s programs are 12 to 13 months long, bachelor’s programs are 20 to 36 months long, and master’s programs are 12 months long. Degree programs begin monthly. Courses are generally four weeks in duration, with students taking an average of two courses at a time.
According to The New York Times, Full Sail has many of the same problems as other institutions in the for-profit college industry. They reported that some of the university’s academic programs have high loan burdens and low graduation rates. The $81,000 video game art program graduated 38 percent of its students, who carried a median debt load of nearly $59,000 in federal and private loans in 2008. The Times cited other Full Sail degree programs as having higher graduation rates, noting that the master’s in entertainment business, “a yearlong program with a $36,245 tuition, graduated 80 percent of its students, nearly 63 percent of them on time.” According to Inside Higher Ed, “a closer look at the numbers reveals that graduation rates are not a major problem at Full Sail: the overall graduation rate is a fairly high 78 percent, according to federal data.” In the same article, however, The New York Times noted that Full Sail’s own students have posted criticisms of the school, including some that call Full Sail a “scam” because of its high costs, low placement, and difficulties with credit transfer.