Your WGU Student Experience
At WGU, the student experience is designed to meet your needsso you won’t have to choose between work, family, or school.
How you’ll complete your degree
Some aspects of your WGU student experience will be quite similar to what you’d expect at any college. You’ll study, write papers, complete assignments, and take tests. You’ll interact with your fellow students and faculty (although at a distance rather than in classroom). Other aspects are quite different.
You'll Focus on Demonstrating Competence (not just class attendance)
We don’t ask you to accumulate credit hours; we ask you to develop competence—proof that you understand concepts and can translate this understanding into usable knowledge and skills.
There are many advantages to this approach. Here are a couple:
- With few exceptions, you'll "schedule" your "class" time. You decide when and where you study. It could be after work. After the kids are put to bed. On a quiet Sunday afternoon.
- You and your mentor choose the learning resources you need. How you develop competence is up to you. It could be an online study group, an online learning community, textbooks, or other resources. You have the guidance of a mentor to set your path to success; the steps you take are your decision.
You’ll Take and Pass Assessments
Often, we find that adult students like you have already developed many of the competencies you need for degree completion. So instead of making you attend classes, we ask you to prove your knowledge through assessments. Here are some examples of assessments from various programs:
- Assignments involving problem-solving (e.g. science, information technology, etc.)
- Computerized exams consisting of multiple-choice, matching, or other question types (e.g. Mathematics)
- Projects requiring the student to design a lesson plan (e.g. Teaching)
- Reflection essays about case studies (e.g. MBA)
- Research papers on particular topics within the field.
How our competency-based approach works for you
Success in your career is based on what you know and what you can do. With WGU’s competency-based approach to education, success in your degree program will be similar.
As a student, you will demonstrate your mastery of the necessary competencies by completing challenging assessments. An assessment may be a traditional "test", a project, an essay, or another practical demonstration of a required skill.
You won’t just be competent in your field; you’ll also be a well-rounded, competent communicator and problem-solver prepared to take on life’s challenges.
Your Advantage in Competency-Based Education Relevant to Your Career
Our approach allows you to leverage the skills and knowledge you’ve already acquired through job experience and prior college to your benefit. Since we don’t ask you to attend class but rather require completion of challenging assessments, as soon as you feel ready, you’ll be able to do just that.
The faster you can complete your assessments, the faster you’ll graduate. And since you pay for time instead of credits with tuition, the less time it takes you to graduate, the more money you’ll save.
Relevant to Your Career
WGU provides you with an education that’s based on real world competencies—the skills and knowledge you’ll need to be successful in your career. Each degree program is developed by a council of experts in the field who help define the competencies that form the curriculum. This combination of expertise in both industry knowledge and academia guarantees that your degree will be relevant in your chosen field.
How Our Competency-Based Approach Works for You
WGU’s competency-based approach to online education is flexible and very personalized. Our focus is on ensuring you develop the skills and knowledge (competencies) you need to be successful. How you develop these competencies and how long it takes for you to complete your program is in large part determined by you.
Your Personal Mentor
As soon as you become a WGU student, you will be assigned a student mentor who will be your partner throughout your education. Your mentor will serve as your academic advisor, your coach, and a friendly supporter of your ultimate success.
How You’ll Work with Your Mentor
As your primary point of contact, your mentor will work with you throughout the duration of your program. You will interact closely with your mentor on a regular basis via phone, email, and web conferencing.
Together, you will develop a personalized Degree Plan that’s consistent with your academic background and career experience, your comfort with independent learning, and the amount of time you will commit to your studies. Your Degree Plan becomes your "road map" to success. Your mentor will determine the best learning resources for you based on your background, strengths, and weaknesses. Your mentor will also ensure that you stay on track, determine when you are ready for the required assessments, and help you schedule them accordingly. Learn more about WGU’s faculty.
Your Student Mentor – Your Partner in Education
You will always feel supported and connected. That’s why we pair every WGU student with a dedicated mentor. Your student mentor will work with you throughout the duration of your program and advise you on the various steps to completion of assessments.
Your personal Degree Plan
Your Degree Plan serves as your blueprint for completion of your degree program requirements. You will develop your Degree Plan in close coordination with your mentor.
How Your Degree Plan Works
For your program, the essential skills and knowledge a highly competent graduate needs to possess for career success have been carefully identified and selected.
Your Degree Plan "maps out" the learning resources and assessments you need in your program based upon the skills you already have and those you need to develop. Here’s what your Degree Plan takes into account:
- Your Existing Competencies – The skills and knowledge you already possess coming into your program.
- Learning Resources – The online courses, tutorials, textbooks, and other learning materials you’ll use to prepare for WGU assessments.
- WGU Assessments – Tests and assignments that measure your competence.
Your Degree Plan details all of your program requirements, including:
- Details of your term (the amount of time you have to complete a required number of assessments)
- Assessment type, status, and associated learning resources
- Required completion dates (deadlines you set within proper guidelines for completing assessments)
Your mentor will work with you closely on establishing a plan that works around your busy schedule.
What you'll use to learn
As a WGU student, you’ll use a variety of learning resources to acquire the skills and knowledge you need to complete your assessments. These learning resources come in a variety of forms, including:
- Web-based tutorials
- Online classes
The majority of these learning resources are included in the cost of tuition. (Textbooks are not included.)
WGU operates an online bookstore through EdMap that contains all of the required texts for your assessments. Books are competitively priced and, in some cases, can be purchased in an “eText” form at a significant discount.
Online Learning Resources
WGU also provides online learning resources, such as online courses and web-based tutorials through affiliations with third-party education providers.
What You’ll Use to Learn
Learning approaches and backgrounds vary. That’s why WGU equips you with a variety of learning resources to help you acquire the knowledge and skills you need to successfully complete your assessments.
Connecting with other WGU students
Even though you are at a distance, at WGU we make sure you always feel supported and connected. There is nothing else like our mentoring program in all of higher education, and you will really appreciate how "connected" and "important" WGU mentors make you feel. Plus, you’ll be able to interact and study with other WGU students and become part of an online community in your specific degree area.
Online Student Portal and Communities
As a WGU student, you’ll have access to a student portal that is a gateway to student communities designed to give you the communication and connectivity you need to be successful in your degree program. These communities offer you support and the opportunity to interact with mentors and other students.
There are two kinds of student communities:
Program Communities – These communities are designed to build relationships between students and mentors. They primarily focus on:
- Expanding your knowledge in your overall field of study.
- Industry research and current events.
- Networking opportunities.
Learning Communities – These communities provide a virtual space in which subject- and assessment-specific information can be obtained for use during competency development. They primarily focus on:
- Development of competency.
- Small group learning sessions that support cooperative learning.
- Academic help
Connecting with Other WGU Students
Online doesn’t mean alone. You’ll connect with other WGU students through the WGU Student Portal as well as our online learning communities. These learning communities provide you with support for competency development as well as the opportunity to interact with other students and mentors.
Your opportunity to finish more quickly
Benefit from What You Know
We believe you should be able to benefit from what you already know. Because WGU is all about acquiring competence—not accumulating seat time—your time in your degree program is determined by passing the required assessments. We don’t ask you to attend class. We require you to complete challenging assessments.
Unlike most schools, we never require you to spend time (or money) studying material you’ve already mastered.
If you already have competencies (skills and knowledge) in your field of study from your prior academic and work experience, great! You’ll be able to draw upon this experience as you complete assessments—and go faster.
The faster you can complete your assessments, the faster you’ll graduate. And since your tuition pays for time instead of credits, the less time it takes you to graduate, the more money you’ll save.
The Opportunity to Finish More Quickly
We want you to benefit from what you already know. Because WGU is all about acquiring competence—not seat time—your time in your program is determined by passing assessments. If you have experience in your field, you can use it to pass the assessments more quickly. We never require you to spend time (or money) studying material you’ve already mastered.
Support from the university
When you enroll at WGU, you become so much more than a student. You become part of a communityfamily reallyof students, faculty, mentors, and staff all united under one common goal: your success.
We won’t leave you on your own to figure out what resources are available to you. You’ll have a dedicated partner in your education: a mentor committed to connecting you with what you need to succeed. There is nothing else like our mentoring program in all of higher education.
Student Success Office
If you find yourself having some issues or complaints that can’t be resolved by your mentor, WGU’s Student Success Office is there to help you. You’ll find you always have an advocate for your success throughout the duration of your degree program.
IT Help Desk
Being an online university, there are some technology requirements to follow. WGU’s IT Help Desk is available to help you resolve any technology problems you come across as you complete the requirements for assessments. The Help Desk is open morning, noon, and night (weekends, too).
WGU Student Assistance Program
WGU has partnered with the Wellness Corporation to provide WellConnect™, a free, voluntary, and confidential service which offers counseling and support services to students. WellConnect provides support with a live clinician by phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! Click here to learn more.
Tools for Success
You’ll be given all the tools you need to reach out and network with your peers, including message boards, emails, a student portal, and more. All the support you need to succeed is here… all you have to do is take advantage of it.
Support from the University
When you become a student at WGU, you become part of a community of learners. The entire staff is committed to making your online learning experience as flexible and personal as possible. You’ll have all the support you need to succeed.
"I had a lot of life and work experience that WGU let me capitalize on, and
I didn’t have to sit through a traditional classroom."
Graduate, Teachers College