SALT LAKE CITY — Just one week after the 21st anniversary of its founding, Western Governors University (WGU) is passing another milestone—100,000 graduates. The online, nonprofit university established by 19 U.S. governors has grown to become one of the nation’s largest universities, offering competency-based bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in business, K-12 education, information technology, and health professions, including nursing.
“WGU graduates could fill this year’s Super Bowl stadium more than one and a half times,” said WGU President Scott D. Pulsipher. “And, the impact extends well beyond our graduates—to their families, to their employers, and to their communities. About 40 percent of our graduates are the first in their family to complete a college degree, so these degrees have the potential to change families’ lives for generations. It’s exciting to consider what the impact will be as we continue to add thousands of new graduates every year.”
Because of its focus on quality, accessibility, and affordability, WGU is able to serve working adults—effectively meeting students where they are, allowing them to study and learn on schedules that fit their busy lives. WGU pioneered competency-based education, which measures learning rather than time spent in class. Students can apply prior learning and experience, moving quickly through what they already know while taking the time they need on what they still need to learn, with regular, individualized faculty support. Rather than waiting for the end of a semester to complete courses, which are developed in collaboration with employers, students advance as soon as they demonstrate mastery. As a result, many WGU students are able to graduate sooner, saving time and money—the average time to a bachelor’s degree is about two and a half years.