Online university honored for third time in four years at USDLA 2012 International Conference ST. LOUIS, MO - For the second straight year, Western Governors University, www.wgu.edu, has received the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) 21st Century Award for Best Practices in Distance Learning. The nonprofit, online university received the award yesterday at the association’s international conference in St. Louis, Missouri. This is the third time in four years WGU has been recognized with this award. The nation’s leading distance learning organization, USDLA, presents these prestigious awards annually to organizations and individuals engaged in the development and delivery of distance learning programs. The awards were created to acknowledge major accomplishments in distance learning and to highlight distance learning instructors, programs, and professionals who have achieved and demonstrated extraordinary results through the use of online learning and technology. Now with more than 32,000 students and 15,000 graduates nationwide, WGU uses an online, competency-based learning model that measures learning rather than time. This approach allows students to earn their degrees by demonstrating their mastery of subject matter rather than spending time in class to accumulate credit hours. Designed to meet the needs of adult learners, WGU’s innovative learning model makes it possible for students to take advantage of prior education and experience to move quickly through material they already know so they can focus on what they still need to learn. As a result, the average time to complete a bachelor’s degree is 30 months. WGU offers more than 50 online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in the high-demand fields of business, information technology, K – 12 teacher education, and health professions, including nursing. "As a premier organization for the entire distance learning profession, we are honoring Western Governors University as a leader in the industry," said Dr. John G. Flores, Executive Director of USDLA. “WGU has raised the bar of excellence, and we are truly honored by its contributions to the distance learning industry."