WGU and Gallup
Gallup is a trusted partner in WGU’s effort to create pathways to opportunity for our students. Each year, Gallup conducts the Alumni Survey to check in with WGU graduates and ask questions about their student experience, their career progression after graduation, and their overall wellbeing. The results have shown that WGU’s effort to provide a personalized, quality education and individualized support for each student—one by one—has led to a challenging and valuable educational experience delivered to students in an accessible and affordable way. In fact, WGU alumni’s responses to the survey are overwhelmingly more positive than the responses of students in the national, non-WGU sample.
To mark WGU’s first 25 years, we asked Gallup to conduct an Economic Impact Survey in addition to the yearly Alumni Survey. What we found is that, while we still have plenty of work to do, our graduates receive a tremendous return on a substantially lower than average investment: In just a 16-year window, from 2004 to 2020, we have saved our alumni more than $1 billion in tuition. Not only that, a student who graduates at age 38—the mean age of graduation at WGU—will earn, on average, $826,000 more in their lifetime than they would have without a WGU degree.
As the number of WGU graduates continues to slope upward, so will the scale of our impact. Scale matters. But at our core, our primary motivation is the person.
We are driven first and foremost by the one-by-one impact we can have on individual lives and families. And as these reports show, our personalized attention to each student will continue to have a massive positive impact on our graduates, their families, their employers, and their communities.
We look forward to another 25 years of breaking tradition and changing lives for the better.
WGU 2021 Alumni Survey
Gallup surveyed more than 1,200 WGU alumni who completed their program between 2016 and 2020 to measure how WGU’s most recent graduates are faring in comparison to bachelor’s degree holders nationally. The survey collected feedback on graduates’ experiences while enrolled as students, as well as critical postgraduation metrics like employment and wellbeing. When their outcomes are compared with those of more than 1,000 national bachelor’s degree holders from the Gallup Alumni Survey, WGU alumni are thriving at significantly higher levels than their peers.
WGU 25th Anniversary Impact Report
WGU was founded in 1997 to connect talented students with educational opportunities that lead to personal and professional success. To quantify the impact WGU has had in its first 25 years, we commissioned Gallup to study the economic effects of a WGU degree. This report’s insights draw from WGU’s alumni database, which at the time of this report contained 163,354 graduates, along with Gallup survey data of WGU and non-WGU alumni nationwide, and rich administrative sources from the Department of Education’s IPEDS database, College Scorecard and other federal statistical programs. The data show WGU has indeed expanded access to a college education, delivering affordable degrees in high‑demand fields to hundreds of thousands of graduates, most of whom are non-traditional students, such as working parents. The result is that most alumni complete their degrees quickly, with little debt and high salaries.
In September 2022, Gallup hosted WGU leaders at an event in Washington D.C. where they discussed the findings of the 2021 Alumni Survey and the 25th Anniversary Economic Report with a guest panel. These are highlights from that event.