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As a competency-based, student-focused, online, nonprofit university, we do things a bit differently at WGU. From the bottom up, we're designed with students in mind—particularly, the busy, working, adult student who wants to earn a bachelor's or master's degree but for whom a traditional university education simply won't do.
Read more about our competency-based approach
Download the 2016 Annual Report
WGU has been different since the very beginning. We were designed in 1995 by 19 U.S. governors whose driving goal was to break the mold of traditional higher education and come out on the other side with something new, something innovative: something that harnesses technology to teach in new ways, focuses on measuring learning rather than time, and provides more Americans the opportunity to build their careers and better their lives by finally finishing that bachelor's or master's degree they need to achieve their goals.
View the WGU timeline of the first 20 years
The principal mission of Western Governors University is to improve quality and expand access to post-secondary educational opportunities by providing a means for individuals to learn independent of time or place and to earn competency-based degrees and other credentials that are credible to both academic institutions and employers.
WGU's Core Themes
WGU is regionally, NCATE, and CCNE* accredited. WGU is also a USDLA 21st Century Distance Learning Award recipient for its leadership in distance education.
*The bachelor's and master's degree programs at WGU are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (One Dupont Circle NW, Suite 530, Washington, DC 20036, 202-887-6791).
Through competency-based learning, WGU grads earn a degree that represents proven knowledge. Because they finish their programs having become truly competent in the skills and subjects employers value most, WGU graduates are ready to excel in their careers. It's why WGU grads get jobs that more than pay for their education in just a few years.
WGU is mission driven. Created to expand access to higher education, WGU’s mission has remained one of helping hard-working adults meet their educational goals and improve their career opportunities.
Designed to be different in powerful ways, WGU is one of the best values in online education. WGU provides a more student-centric, convenient, cost-effective way for self-directed adults to earn a challenging degree.
Our focus on developing competent graduates is valued by employers. Perhaps that’s why 93 percent of employers who hire WGU graduates rate their preparation for the workforce as "Very Good" or "Excellent."
WGU students come from urban, suburban, and rural areas. Most are working full-time or part-time jobs while they are students. The average age of the WGU student is about 37.
The primary focus of the faculty at WGU is student learning. Because of our unique student-centric, competency-based approach, faculty serve in different roles compared to traditional schools and other online schools.
Leading voices in the media and academia have taken notice of WGU’s approach to higher education and have shared our story and the stories of our students and alumni in many major publications and outlets.
At WGU, being a nonprofit means we're free to be responsive to the needs of students, not the needs of shareholders. We can keep the tuition low and remain laser-focused on our mission.
Simply put, we're in the business of producing highly competent graduates, and nothing else.
Western Governors University is an online university driven by a mission to expand access to higher education through online, competency-based degree programs. WGU has flourished into a national university, serving nearly 94,000 students from all 50 states.
Read the Annual Report
The university continues to open doors for adult learners who need flexibility to achieve their education and career goals. WGU’s innovative competency-based academic approach makes it possible, allowing individuals to fit their education into their lives, not the other way around.
At WGU, we believe everyone has the right to earn a college degree. And we believe the path to that degree should be accessible, flexible and affordable. We believe life experience should count for something, independent learning should be celebrated, and focus and determination rewarded. We believe in you.
WGU was founded by 19 U.S. governors. At no other time in the history of higher education have the governors of several states joined together to create a university. WGU is also supported by major corporations and foundations who believe in WGU’s commitment to producing highly competent graduates.
Because your professional success is our goal. If you’re seriously considering an
online degree program, you want high-quality academic content that’s relevant to
your career, tuition that’s affordable, flexibility that fits your lifestyle, and
a strong support system to help you stay on track. These are the critical attributes
of WGU as a nonprofit university founded by 19 U.S. Governors to
expand educational access for the working adult.
The "competency-based" approach benefits you in two ways. First, you know you’re
being trained to be competent in your field. You want high-quality academic content
that’s relevant to your career. We make sure you know your stuff. Second, the approach
lets you advance as quickly as you can demonstrate your competence through our rigorous
assessments. It really is a "Show me what you know" approach that lets you take
advantage of knowledge you already possess. You can use this knowledge, work hard
in your program, and accelerate your time to completion. You could save both time
and money. An Enrollment Counselor can explain this approach further.
"The principal mission of Western Governors University is to improve quality and
expand access to post-secondary educational opportunities by providing a means for
individuals to learn independent of time and place and to earn competency-based
degrees and other credentials that are credible to both academic institutions and
"We help our students achieve their dreams for a degree and career success by providing
a personal, flexible, and affordable education based on real-world competencies."
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"The dreams of 19 governors have become [WGU Grad Angie Gonzalez's] dream fulfilled." — Tom Costello
NBC Nightly News
Find out why Fast Company calls WGU one of the world's 50 most-innovative companies, CNN says we're "a school without boundaries," and major news outlets from NPR to Bloomberg BusinessWeek are touting WGU's "potential to transform the higher education industry."
Read about WGU in the news
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WGU has an innovative learning model for helping working adults earn bachelor's and master's degrees. Learn more about how it can help you.
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