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Brightwood College

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LAST UPDATED: June 27th, 2019
Originally founded in 1937, Brightwood College has grown to be a system of for-profit colleges spread across multiple states in the U.S. Kaplan Inc. purchased the American Commerce Institute in 2000 and renamed the network of schools Kaplan College (later becoming Kaplan University). Kaplan went on to purchase a number of other college campuses and institutions, and by 2004, owned 64 campuses. In 2015, Kaplan started a re-branding process, turning some of these campuses into Brightwood Colleges. Today, there are over 9,000 students enrolled in Brightwood College programs.

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The Good

  • Program Variety
  • Graduation Rate
  • Costs and Financial Aid
  • Availability

Program Variety

Students that study at one of the Brightwood College campuses have the opportunity to choose from a number of available programs. Students can earn associate degrees, diplomas, certificates, and complete single course requirements. Areas of study offered through Brightwood College include: allied health (22 different specialty programs), business (two different specialty programs), continuing education (33 different specialty programs), criminal justice and legal studies (three specialty programs), information technology (two specialty programs), nursing (three different specialty programs), and trades (three different specialty programs).

Graduation Rate

Of the students that start a program through Brightwood College, eighty-eight percent finish their program of choice and earn required certificates or diplomas. This graduation rate is high compared to other trade schools and should demonstrate to students that the faculty at Brightwood College will help in any way they can to get students to graduation.

Costs and Financial Aid

How much a program will cost in order to complete will vary depending on what program a student decides to pursue. Costs may also be impacted by how many credits a student takes at one time, or if they decide to spread their program out over a number of semesters. Program costs at Brightwood College range from $10,000 to $40,000. In an effort to finance or off-set these tuition costs, students who are eligible can obtain federal financial assistance. Both federal grants and loans are available to students as long as all requirements and needs are met.


There are thirty-two Brightwood College campuses spread across eight different states. States that feature a Brightwood College campus include: California, Indiana, Maryland, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas. In the state of California, there are ten campuses, including Bakersfield, Chula Vista, Fresno, Modesto, North Hollywood, Palm Springs, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, and Vista. Within the state of Indiana there are two campuses which can be found in Hammond and Indianapolis. Maryland has three campuses, including Baltimore, Beltsville, and Towson. There is one Brightwood College campus in Las Vegas, Nevada. There is also one campus in Charlotte, North Carolina, one campus in Dayton, Ohio, and one campus in Nashville, Tennessee. In Texas, there are thirteen campuses, including the following: Arlington, Beaumont, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Friendswood, Houston, Laredo, McAllen, San Antonio-Ingram, and San Antonio-San Pedro.

The Bad

  • Job Placement
  • Loan Repayment Default

Job Placement

Job placement services are available to all Brightwood College students. These services help students find and prepare for job opportunities in their field of study. However, these job services are only helping fifty-five percent of graduates land employment once their program is complete. That means that nearly half of the Brightwood College graduates do not have a job to go to after they finish school.

Loan Repayment Default

This may be connected to the low job placement rate, but Brightwood College students have trouble paying back their student loans. Despite being eligible for financial assistance through the federal government, many students must obtain loans in order to pay for school. Of those that take out a loan to finance their education, roughly fourteen percent default on their loan repayment due to unemployment or underemployment following graduation.

The Bottom Line

Brightwood College offers students a number of options in terms of programs and areas of study. They graduate a large percentage of their students and subsequently help place these graduates in professional careers. Despite a number of re-brand and ownership transformation, Brightwood has established a number of programs that help students further their career in desired fields of study. Those who live close to a Brightwood College may find value in some of the degree options. However, there are areas of concern that prospective students should consider prior to enrolling in any of the Brightwood College programs.
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