25 Years of Breaking Tradition
In 1997, 19 U.S. governors established an ambitious goal to harness the power of the internet and make higher education a more accessible, affordable option.
Twenty-five years later, WGU has grown to become the nation’s largest nonprofit, competency-based, online higher education institution. With nearly 140,000 enrolled students and over 300,000 graduates in all 50 states, WGU has proven that breaking away from the traditions of typical higher education institutions can exponentially benefit learners, their families, and their communities.
This year, we look back not only at what WGU’s students, alumni, faculty, and staff accomplished in 2022, but also at the impact WGU has had over the past 25 years.
A Cross-Country Celebration
Throughout our 25th anniversary year, WGU hit the road in the WGU Sage Coach, a remodeled Airstream bus that brought the celebration directly to students, alumni, and employees living in every region of the country. We held commencement ceremonies, alumni events, and employee meetings in person in these eight cities:
- Dallas, Texas (February)
Phoenix, Arizona (April)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (May)
Seattle, Washington (July)
Salt Lake City, Utah (August)
Indianapolis, Indiana (September)
St. Louis, Missouri (October)
Orlando, Florida (November)
During each commencement weekend, WGU faculty and staff from the area attended anniversary and commencement events and celebrated with graduates and their families. In addition, the Sage Coach toured the regions where commencements were held and participated in WGU events across the country. These efforts truly made 2022 a year to remember.
WGU's Key Results
WGU's Key Results amplify our commitment to reinvigorating the promise of education as the surest path to opportunity. We recognize that for education to fulfill its promise, pathways must be accessible and traversable by all, and learners must actually attain the credentials they seek. For this reason, we measure completion, return for graduates, and equity in access and attainment.
Our Key Results shape the decisions we make at WGU and reflect our understanding that students must be the primary beneficiary of everything we do. Our commitment to improving these student outcomes offers clarity of purpose and direction for the university.
Equity in Access
WGU endeavors to close the higher ed access gap for historically underrepresented groups.*
Equity in Attainment
WGU is committed to supporting students from historically underrepresented groups* as they work to attain a degree.
*Historically underrepresented groups include students who identify as Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Indigenous, or being from two or more races. Low income households earn less than $35,000 annually.
Myriad repercussions from the pandemic affected our students’ ability to persist in and complete their studies. While WGU is better positioned than many other institutions to serve students in this context, we are not immune to the pandemic’s effects. Evidence has shown that these effects have disproportionately impacted individuals from historically underrepresented and low-income backgrounds. These dips, also due in part to our changing learner profile, are expected to trend upwards in the coming years as we continually work to improve outcomes for all of our students.
Graduation rates are standardized metrics that show the percentage of students who graduate within a given time frame. At WGU, the rate at which undergraduates complete their programs is tracked on a four- and six-year trailing 12-month average, and the rate at which graduate students complete their programs is tracked on a two- and three-year trailing 12-month average.
Source: WGU Internal Data
2022 Enrollment Demographics
Enrollment Over Time
300,000 Graduates and Counting
In 2022, WGU surpassed a milestone: 300,000 total graduates since the university's founding. Not only is our alumni community vibrant and growing, graduates also possess a measurably valuable credential that opens doors to opportunity. In fact, in the WGU 2022 Alumni Survey, Gallup estimates that WGU working learners who graduated between 2017 and 2021 collectively earned over $1 billion more in 2022 than they were earning at the time of their enrollment at WGU.
Data as of Dec. 31, 2022.
Gallup Alumni Survey
WGU participates in the annual Gallup Alumni Survey to gather feedback on students' academic experiences, career readiness, and wellbeing. The results show that WGU alumni are thriving at much higher rates than their peers, not just in their careers but in all aspects of life.
Survey conducted Nov. 16-Dec. 13, 2022 with responses from 1,448 WGU undergraduate alumni.
National Survey of Student Engagement
WGU Students who participated in the survey expressed a high level of satisfaction with the university’s efforts to support them while providing a relevant and affordable education.
Survey conducted in 2022 with responses from 252,336 students from 456 institutions in the U.S. and Canada.
*As self-reported by alumni at the time of graduation.
Harris Poll Employer Survey
Reflecting on the Past, Ready for the Future
WGU's founders were true pioneers in online education, with those least likely to have access to higher education at the center of it all. As we look ahead to the next 25 years, this remains our mission.
To that end, WGU launched its Core Academic Commitments, which are five tenets developed to guide the university’s academic work. They include Value, Integrity, Relevance, Transparency, and Personalization. The commitments provide our academic organization with a common language and guidance to ensure alignment with the university’s mission and Key Results.
2022 was a year of expansions: the College of Health Professions was redesigned as the Michael O. Leavitt School of Health and the Teachers College became the School of Education, a new school which currently houses the Teachers College and the College of General Education.
WGU also reaffirmed its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Not only did we develop a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Assessment and Learning Framework, but we also made it available to other institutions under a Creative Commons license. In sharing this tool, WGU hopes to make learning and assessment products more accessible and equitable both inside and outside its own ecosystem.
Sarah DeMark, Interim Provost and Interim Director of the Open Skills Network
Through it all, we have kept competency-based education at the heart of what we do. For example, WGU debuted its Open Skills Library of over 20,000 skills and continued to release new collections throughout the year. The Skills Library enhances WGU’s competency-based curriculum and serves as a modifiable template for other academic institutions and employers developing similar databases. WGU uses its Skills Library to design credentials and competencies in its educational model. Designing credentials through this approach assists programs, courses, and assessments with alignment to current and projected labor market demands.
The resilience of our student body is inspiring, and we will continue to offer an unmatched academic experience and community of care to each student as they work toward their educational and career goals for the next 25 years.
College of Business
- Contributed to the university’s mission to advance equity and access.
- Applications for low-income students increased by 2% year over year.
- Enrollments among historically underrepresented groups increased by 14%, adding 10,869 new students, with 3,264 students graduating.
- Students from low-income backgrounds increased by 8%, adding 8,036 new students, with 2,345 students graduating.
- 2,775 new first-generation students enrolled, with 3,440 students graduating.
- WGU's student chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) became the world’s largest student chapter and won a superior merit award for excellence in educational programming and development for student members.
- Two M.S. Marketing degree programs were built with four industry partnerships--Google, HubSpot, Online Marketing Certified Professional (OMCP), and Digital Analytics Association (DAA).
- Accounting programs became the largest conferrer of accounting degrees in the United States.*
- From 2019-2021, WGU accounting degree conferrals grew by 90% in a flat-to-declining market.
*Source: National IPEDS database published by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics
Mitsu Frazier, Senior Vice President and Executive Dean, College of Business
Ashutosh Tiwary, Senior Vice President and Executive Dean, College of IT
College of Information Technology
- Multiple college records for student success and engagement in 2022.
- More than 35,000 active students.
- 22,380 new students.
- 8,364 new and 11,779 active students from historically underrepresented groups.
- 4,750 new and 7,506 active students from low-income backgrounds.
- Chosen by the United States Naval Community College to offer an Associate of Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance degree for active-duty enlisted sailors, marines, and coast guardsmen.
- Partnered with the Reboot Representation Tech Coalition to launch B4 Women in Tech, a nearly $1 million investment to support a significant increase in the number of Black, Latina, and Native American (BLNA) women earning bachelor’s degrees at WGU by 2025.
- Cybersecurity master's program ranked third in the country for "Best Online Cybersecurity Master's Program" by Fortune.com.
- Launched new degree programs.
- Cloud computing degree with multi-cloud, Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure focused tracks.
- Network engineering and security with Network Agnostic and Cisco focused tracks.
- Accelerated BSIT to MSITM bridge degree.
Leavitt School of Health
- College of Health Professions was renamed the Michael O. Leavitt School of Health (LSH) to honor the legacy of WGU founding governor Michael O. Leavitt.
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) program was the first nursing program to earn the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Essentials Recognition.
- Launched a second nurse practitioner program, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, in March 2022 in response to severe shortages of psychiatric services.
- The Accountable Care Learning Collaborative at WGU transitioned to the Institute for Advancing Health Value, creating a renewed focus on developing healthcare workforce skills in value-based care and health equity.
- Institute for Advancing Health Value at WGU launched two certificates:
- The Population Health Equity certificate addresses knowledge gaps about advancing equitable health outcomes.
- The Value-Based Care Certificate, designed using competencies aligned with the Health Value Atlas, is a conceptual framework of 60 capabilities across 10 domains necessary for success in a value-based healthcare system.
Keith Smith, Senior Vice President and Executive Dean of the Michael O. Leavitt School of Health
School of Education
- Continued efforts to diversify the national teacher pipeline.
- Graduated more than 12,400 next-generation educators.
- 23% of graduates were first-generation students.
- 2,917 new students started in July, the largest monthly new student start in the Teachers College’s history.
- Launched two new programs:
- M.S. Learning Experience Design and Educational Technology with two tracks (K-12 Learning Designer, and Adult Learning Designer).
- B.A. Educational Studies for future education professionals opting for a different pathway than classroom teaching.
- Formed the College of General Education, which houses WGU’s general education courses and provides next-generation arts and sciences learning.
- Addressed the critical shortage of special education teachers with the M.A. Teaching–Special Education program, a self-paced, competency-based, online program designed to meet the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) standards.
- Launched a new Virtual Study Hall program, a mentor-facilitated forum where students gather virtually to study and receive additional instructional support.
- Nearly 17,000 attendees in 2022.
- Teachers College named as a continuing partner in Beyond100K, a multi-sector network whose national goal is to train 150,000 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teachers over the next 10 years.
Stacey Ludwig Johnson, Senior Vice President and Executive Dean of the School of Education
*Source: WGU Internal Data
Creating Communities of Care
For most people who choose to attend WGU, their lives look a little different than what we imagine the typical first-time college student’s life to be. They are working adults who come to WGU looking for a higher education experience that will fit their busy lives and allow them to either complete their first degree or learn the skills necessary to complete a graduate degree and move ahead in their careers.
WGU works to implement innovative care networks to help students persist in their programs and attain their degrees. These include individualized faculty support, helpful scholarship and financial aid programs, and a flexible and personalized support system.
Military Support: Serving Those Who Serve Our Country
- Named the #1 online school for 2022-23 by the Military Friendly® Schools survey.
- Awarded WGU's first U.S. government contract when the U.S. Naval Community College (USNCC) selected WGU to provide an associate degree in cybersecurity and information assurance.
- USNCC president praised WGU as the “gold standard of competency-based education."
- 46% increase in the number of USNCC students attending WGU.
- .Featured in a five-minute segment on Montel Williams' Operation Career television show
- Included stories of three WGU students: an active-duty service member, one from the National Guard, and a military spouse as well as WGU’s senior manager of military and veterans benefits.
- Aired on American Forces Network and Lifetime.
- Participated in 495 outreach events across WGU’s seven regions.
- Increased efforts to improve the military-affiliated student experience through website enhancements, increased scholarships, and pre-enrollment tools.
Crisis Support and Relief
At WGU, the Environmental Barriers Program (EVB) is an innovative and effective effort designed to consistently champion student academic success and achievement—even when a student is facing natural disasters or emergencies that might otherwise impede their progress, from local crises like fires and weather events to global disruptions like a pandemic.
In 2022, from winter storms to wildfires, extreme weather impacted WGU students across the country. They also continued to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sixty events and more than 10,000 new Environmental Barrier Records were logged in 2022 for potentially impacted students.
More than 3,000 records were created for natural disasters or major community events.
Roughly 7,500 records were created for the ongoing pandemic.
More than 8,000 students experienced some level of documented impact.
Fortunately, EVB metrics show positive overall outcomes for those impacted by disaster compared to overall WGU student outcomes. In fact, students supported by the EVB demonstrated slightly better retention and graduation rates than their typical WGU peers, despite the challenges they faced.
- Celebrated the first WGU graduate of the Amazon Career Choice program, Julio Martinez of Umatilla, Oregon, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Cloud Computing at WGU.
- Gathered with governors past and present to reenact the signing of the document that created WGU in 1997 in recognition of WGU’s 25th anniversary. The celebratory event reaffirmed WGU as a resource created by governors for the states and the contribution state leaders continue to make to the university’s significant success.
- Played a key role in establishing WGU’s partnership with the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which increases WGU’s impact among Hispanic communities and makes the chamber’s members eligible to apply for WGU’s Community Outreach Partners Scholarship.
Completed the annual Night Shift Nurse Campaign and delivered a total of 550 appreciation kits to more than 8,100 nurses across all six Central Region states.
Established Distinguished Alumni Councils in Indiana and Ohio.
Awarded 1,062 scholarships across Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and West Virginia.
Awarded a $100,000, planning grant from Lilly Endowment of Indiana to develop Science of Reading curriculum in the School of Education.
- Worked with partners and governmental agencies in Iowa on a $12.8 million grant-funded opportunity that designates WGU’s Teachers College as an approved provider and will enable 150-200 paraeducators to become licensed classroom teachers over two years.
- Celebrated the creation of the Fast Track Workforce Incentive Grant program, which helps strengthen the Missouri workforce by providing funding to eligible residents who pursue studies in high-need areas. Nineteen of WGU Missouri’s degree programs meet the grant’s programmatic requirements.
- Formed partnerships with 26 organizations, including Froedtert Health, which includes Froedtert Hospital, a major training facility for more than 1,000 medical, nursing, and health technical students annually.
WGU Texas celebrated its 25,000th graduate, Marqueston Hall, who earned his Master of Science in Management and Leadership in 2022 and launched his career in human resources.
Established the South Region Distinguished Alumni Council. This council of seven alumni provide strategic insights to the regional vice president and help build alumni networks and partnerships.
Continued to expand partnerships with key institutions, signing more than 14 major agreements, including with the City of Dallas, City of Houston, City of Sunland Park, and Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD.
Awarded more than 1,352 scholarships for a total of $2.65 million. WGU Texas alone awarded more than 1,031 scholarships for a total of $2.3 million.
Signed a partnership agreement with the Technical College System of Georgia, the first such agreement with a statewide education system in Georgia. This partnership reaches 143,750 students enrolled in 22 colleges and 88 campuses across Georgia.
Increased access to underserved populations through partnership agreements, including HBCUs Morris Brown College and Drake State Community & Technical College, Sigma Gamma Rho’s Southeastern Region, Prospanica, HACEMOs, and four community colleges serving rural areas.
Partnered with California Competes to host the California Adult Learner Symposium. The symposium brought together community stakeholders to discuss the local impact of higher education pathways to degree and career attainment for adult learners.
Formed the California Distinguished Alumni Council, composed of 12 individuals who will serve a two-year term and were selected for their alignment with WGU's fundamental beliefs and embodiment of leadership principles. The group met in December to discuss how to best serve WGU students and alumni in California.
Honored Amanda Wilken of Vacaville, California, as WGU’s 30,000th graduate in California. She completed a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Human Resource Management and works at the City of Vacaville Housing Services.
- Co-hosted a free Small Business Bootcamp with the Center for Women and Enterprise in Worcester, Massachusetts. WGU College of Business faculty and alumnae presented during the two-hour bootcamp.
- Produced the webinar “How to Land Your First Cybersecurity Job” for more than 2,000 registrants, moderated by College of IT Vice President and Dean Paul Bingham in the Washington, D.C. area.
- Continued to expand community college partnerships with key regional institutions, including Borough of Manhattan Community College and Hudson Valley Community College in New York, and Holyoke Community College and Middlesex Community College in Massachusetts.
“This really is a great way to help Nebraskans continue to get the education they need to take the great jobs that we’ve got available.”
- Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts
Broadening Our Impact
- Our 10X Vision
- WGU Academy
- WGU Advancement
- WGU Labs
- Juvo Ventures
Our 10X Vision
At WGU, we are transforming higher education. We realize that in order to expand pathways to opportunity, we need to think about the whole learning ecosystem so that, instead of reaching hundreds of thousands of individuals, we can positively impact the lives of millions. Our “10X vision” guides us as we continue to scale and grow our services as a university, and our 10X affiliates help us to deliver on the promise of education for all individuals at WGU and beyond.
WGU Academy 2022 Key Accomplishments
With the goal of offering an array of products in a flexible consumption model, WGU Academy launched Academy 2.0 in 2022. It includes a redesigned website and a new learning platform with an integrated progress tracker and support services scheduler. WGU Academy brought to market a full-service portal and platform that will support product offerings into the future while providing learners with the flexibility and accessibility they are looking for in an online learning environment.
WGU Academy's product offerings immediately expanded to include single courses alongside a guaranteed admission pathway product. The 2.0 platform will enable WGU Academy to continue to build and offer transferable courses, guaranteed degree pathways, and non-degree offerings. All courses offered by WGU Academy contain the social-emotional learning elements that have helped prepare our learners to succeed when experiencing the rigors of college and career.
WGU Academy's graduate count surpassed 6,800 in 2022. Academy graduates attending WGU continue to perform above average, with 75% of them achieving Term 1 On-time Progress (OTP). They also persisted at an impressive rate, with 90% of Academy graduates achieving seven-month retention.
2022 WGU Academy Data Points
All-time WGU Academy graduates as of Dec. 31, 2022: 6,827
Number of courses completed by WGU Academy learners: 10,000+
Reinvigorating the Promise of Higher Education
In 2022, WGU Advancement forged partnerships with individuals and organizations to advance a more equitable model for higher education and increase opportunity for all learners.
The Michael O. Leavitt School of Health was named in honor of the former Utah governor and WGU founder at WGU’s 25th Anniversary Gala. More than $10 million was raised to accelerate healthcare reform, address workforce shortages, and improve equity and public health in the U.S.
The R&D for Growth and Equity grant provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation allows WGU to better understand the unique journeys that Black, Latinx, and Indigenous learners experience through their interactions with faculty, curriculum, technology, processes, and systems while enrolled at WGU.
To learn more about WGU Advancement’s work in 2022, please review our 2022 Impact Report.
Examine, Build, Connect, and Grow
WGU Labs Research investigates policy, systems, and technology solutions that will transform learning. In 2022, the Labs research team conducted 13 research engagements, including key partnerships with WGU’s Financial Aid, Northwest Region, and Student Success teams.
WGU Labs Product designs high-quality learning technologies and instructional content. In 2022, Labs built two de novo solutions to major challenges in the education marketplace and WGU:
CBE Transformation Services for Nursing Programs, which has served three institutions in moving to a CBE model.
MeasurEDU, an affordable, data-led, automated early alert system for student interventions to increase retention and graduation rates.
Labs Product has also supported the following WGU initiatives:
WGU Teachers College: Created real-world learning analytics activities for the M.S. Learning Experience Design and Educational Technology program.
WGU Marketing: Tested alternative career pages powered by a leading data company.
WGU Enrollment: Conducted Self-Service Enrollment user research.
WGU People and Talent: Developed the WGU Coach program.
The College Innovation Network (CIN) connects a network of post-secondary institutions to uncover and address critical barriers that impede impactful EdTech-driven innovation.
In 2022, CIN recruited an additional four institutions (for a total of 11 active members) representing more than 150,000 students, developed and launched its third EdTech Survey series that explores attitudes and utilization of EdTech, secured additional funding from the Koch Foundation, and developed new products and services:
NavigateU, a platform that transforms university website information into an easy-to-use student support engine that can improve retention and student success
Professional development series on how to build contexts of belonging for faculty and administrators
The Accelerator at WGU Labs helps early-stage, mission-aligned EdTech startups to grow their learner impact and achieve financial sustainability. In 2022, we invested $2.325 million in six companies and provided consulting support in areas such as market development planning, research, and WGU partnership development, including the exploration of a potential pilot for WGU to deliver bachelor’s degree coursework to incarcerated individuals.
Juvo Ventures is a double-bottom-line venture capital firm focused on educational and future-of-work technology companies that improve access, quality, and outcomes across the education-to-work lifecycle.
WGU endeavors to be the world's most student-centric university. Established in 1997 by 19 U.S. governors, the nonprofit now serves more than 140,000 students nationwide and has more than 300,000 graduates in all 50 states.
What We Believe
We believe in human potential.
We believe in the inherent worth and ability of every individual. Talent is equally distributed; opportunity is not. We were founded to fix that.
We believe in the promise of education.
We believe education is the surest path to opportunity. We want to reinvent education so that every learner can have success.
We believe in our students.
If we provide them a student-centered, radically affordable, high-quality, workforce-relevant education, they will succeed.