The Story of WGU
As the most student-centric university in the world, the story of WGU is centered on our students. We are directly invested in their struggles, their lives, and their successes.
Too many people have felt that education was out of their reach. Distance, cost, and life situations led them to believe that education was unattainable. From our inception we have taken these barriers to education head-on so our students have access to the surest way to change their lives for the better—a degree.
Although our university has grown and our focus has widened, our single commitment to our students has not. Our ambition to help individuals bridge the gap from talent to opportunity will never rest.
WGU is a nonprofit, online university that was founded by 19 U.S. governors. However, WGU is a private university, not a state university. WGU developed out of a vision for the future of higher education that emerged among the governors of the Western Governors Association (hence our name), but WGU operates independently with its own governance structure. This allows us to keep our focus on students, following the vision that got us started.
"We take our commitment to innovation on behalf of our students seriously. That means constantly working to inspire our students, our people, and ourselves to keep striving for more."
—Marni Baker Stein
WGU Provost & Chief Academic Officer
The focus of WGU is to continue to build on the original vision and goals our 19 founding U.S. governors had. We are always innovating and working hard to disrupt the higher education model, ensuring that more students can pursue education in a way that meets their needs. Everything we do ties back to that goal of helping students have the best experience possible. We're willing to do whatever we can to ensure our students have everything they need to succeed.
Western Governors University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), a regional accreditation body of colleges and universities in a seven-state region that includes WGU’s headquarters in Utah. NWCCU provides the accreditation of many other major institutions, including the University of Washington, the University of Oregon, Gonzaga University, the University of Utah, and Brigham Young University, to name a few.
WGU also has the distinction of being the only university to have received regional accreditation from four regional accrediting commissions at the same time. In part because of our founding by 19 state governors, who represent a wide geographic region of the United States, in 2002 WGU was simultaneously reviewed by a special committee—the Inter-Regional Accrediting Committee—comprising representatives from four regional accrediting commissions.
"A repeat Best Value School Designee, every adult considering enrolling in an online degree program should take a close look at Western Governors University, one of the most innovative school's we've seen. Two things stand out, besides the very reasonable cost, and they are: competency-based learning and the overwhelmingly positive reviews this school receives from its students and graduates," University Research & Review writes in awarding WGU its exclusive Best Value School recognition. "This is a school for those who are focused on attaining a respected credential and are willing to dive in and go get it."
The United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) has recognized WGU 10 times for our leadership in distance learning. In addition, the university’s Take a Break program received the USDLA’s Non-Profit Innovation Award in 2019 for its unique ability to combine a high level of student service with assessment security and integrity. USDLA has previously recognized four individual WGU leaders with its Outstanding Leadership by an Individual in the Field of Distance Learning Award.
"WGU has raised the bar of excellence again, and we are truly honored by their contributions within our industry," said Dr. Reggie Smith III, CEO / Executive Director of USDLA. "Western Governors University continues to amaze us each year."
WGU received the 2018 CIQG Quality Award from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation/International Quality Group. The international organization recognized WGU for its "outstanding performance of higher education in meeting the CIQG International Quality Principles," noting that "the university, which uses a competency-based learning model with students working online, monitors its performance in key areas and works for continuous improvements and adjustments to improve the quality of students' educational experience."