THE WGU IMPACT
Built for Life
We're an online university dedicated to making higher education accessible for as many people as possible. Everything we do at Western Governors University is aimed at increasing accessibility and opportunity for each student, regardless of their background, motivations, or life situation. That focus helps produce success for our over 250,000 graduates. Our curriculum focused on today's workforce needs is why WGU grads have a 98% employer satisfaction rate, and why our students see an average salary increase of over $18,000 just two years after graduating.*
*2021 Harris Poll
Tonya Drake, Regional Vice President, Northwest Region
A leader in higher learning, Dr. Tonya Drake has dedicated her career to expanding access and success to high-quality and relevant higher education. She serves as Chancellor and Regional Vice President for the Northwest at Western Governors University (WGU).
Her work is guided by the belief that higher learning transforms lives and she is passionate about creating pathways to opportunity. Drake earned the Certificate of Leader Development for National Security and Strategy from the National Security Seminar at the U.S. Army War College. She served as keynote speaker at the Global Leadership Summit in South Africa on the topic of “Deconstructing Race” and she was named among Seattle Business magazine’s “Daring Women.”
She has extensive experience in leadership positions at Edmonds Community College, Shoreline Community College, Maricopa Community College District, Arizona Board of Regents, Arizona State University, and the University of Washington. Drake serves on the board of directors for the Association of Washington Business. She has served on the executive committee for the United Way of Snohomish County and is an active member of women’s executive leadership group, Chief.
Drake holds a Ph.D. and master’s degree from Arizona State University, a bachelor’s degree in Business from University of Washington, and an associate degree from Lower Columbia College.
Ismar Vallecillos, M.Ed., Northwest Regional Director, Western Governors University
In the rapidly changing higher education landscape, no one is more confident that higher ed can and should help all students go further than Ismar Vallecillos, Northwest Regional director for the largest online higher education institution in the United States, Western Governors University (WGU). With more than 110,000 enrolled students nationwide, WGU offers a unique, accredited, competency-based education model, which measures skills rather than time in the classroom. This allows students to achieve an undergraduate degree for less than $20,000 in a shorter period of time.
Vallecillos brings an inspiring and motivating perspective to education in Colorado and the Northwest, with particular emphasis on his belief that education is the great equalizer. His experience as an educator from elementary through college level, combined with his personal background as the son of immigrants and an adult education student, equip him with wide-ranging expertise that encompasses access, affordability, innovative learning environments and equity in education, particularly the Latinx experience.
Vallecillos has a passion for supporting low-income, rural, first-generation, technical-degree-holding and some-collegebut-no-degree students. As an immigrant from El Salvador, Vallecillos grew up working for his father’s landscaping business before earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees while raising a family of his own. He believes in the power of education to improve lives and strengthen communities.
WGU Washington Board Members
- Dr. Andre Alfred
- Marty Brown
- Al Davis
- Dr. Michael Dunn
- Dr. Justin Guillory
- Dr. Jean Hernandez
- Heather Lewis
- Steven Maheshwary
- Steve Mullin
- Bill Poppy
- Mike Schindler
Dr. Andre Alfred, Partner Group Program Manager at Microsoft
Marty Brown, Retired Executive Director, Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC)
Al Davis, Principal, Revitalization Partners
Dr. Michael Dunn, Superintendent of NorthEast Washington Educational Service District 101
Dr. Justin Guillory, President, Northwest Indian College
Dr. Jean Hernandez, President Emeritus, Edmonds Community College
Heather Lewis, Managing Partner, Red Maple Strategies
Steven Maheshwary, Strategic Partnerships Lead - Underserved Populations, Amazon
Steve Mullin, President, Washington Roundtable
Bill Poppy, Retired Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Virginia Mason Medical Center
Mike Schindler, CEO Operation Military Family Cares and Co-Founder at Integrated Telehealth Solutions WA
WGU partners with hundreds of companies to help increase learning opportunities for every individual. Some of our partners include:
Frequently Asked Questions at WGU
- Tuition and Financial Aid
- Learning at WGU
- Online Learning at WGU
- Admissions & Enrollment
Scholarships are available for new WGU students and returning graduates. This video shows more about scholarship opportunities and how they can help you pay for school. Get information on:
- How to apply
- Eligibility requirements
- Examples of scholarships
- What happens after you apply
- Other financial aid options
WGU's tuition is a flat rate that is charged every six months. You can take as many courses as you are able in that six-month term—with no extra cost. You simply pay for the term and do as much work as you can or want to during that time. This means that finishing faster helps you save money—a major benefit you won't find at most other schools.
WGU offers flexible pacing, meaning you can move through courses at a pace that meets your learning style and knowledge level. Students can go as fast as they can but not as slowly. Students are required to complete a minimum number of competency units per term to meet on-time progress. However, if you choose to study at 3 am daily, that we can accommodate.
Your personal progress will be determined by the extent of your transfer units, your time commitment, and your determination to proceed at a faster rate. Traditionally, without an associate’s degree or equivalent, it will take 2 to 2.5 years. Master's degree programs are designed to be completed within 2 years. However, we work on a competency-based model, which gives you credit for passing assessments and proving you can perform a task or understand a course of study proficiently.
WGU offers competency-based education. Competency-based learning means our online degrees are based on real-world competencies as opposed to seat time or credit hours. Our focus is on ensuring you possess the skills and knowledge you need to be successful, not whether you’ve attended class or not. If you already have knowledge in an area a course covers, you’ll be able to draw upon this experience to complete assessments faster, ultimately saving you both time and money.
WGU students and alumni have access to career services which include professional development, career exploration, and career planning. WGU also has partner employers who share full-time, part-time, and paid internship opportunities.
At WGU we use competency-based education, which measures how well you know the material instead of time you spend in a class. You do assignments and coursework whenever your schedule allows, and when you feel ready you take an assessment that demonstrates your mastery of the material. If you pass, you move on to the next course!
We may be biased, but we believe WGU is truly the best online college. Our unique education model, affordable tuition, and complete flexibility mean that students are truly in charge of their own education.
An online degree helps you learn skills and earn credentials that will boost your résumé and prepare you for a meaningful career. Either a bachelor's or master's degree will be key in helping you be prepared for a new job, promotion, or salary increase. The specific jobs you can be qualified for with an online degree will depend on the specific degree you pursue.
An accredited online college offers the same valuable and respected degrees that an on-campus college offers. The main difference is that online colleges offer you flexibility in your program. For example, you don't have to go to campus and sit in a classroom. You can move faster through courses. You are largely independent in your education. These are benefits that help many students pursue degrees who may not be able to attend an on-campus college.
It depends on the type of degree and online school you choose. Some online bachelor's degree programs will take 4+ years, and some online master's degrees will take 2+ years. However, WGU is designed to help students accelerate their online degrees. Our unique education model allows students to move through courses as quickly as they can master the material. This means that on average students finish bachelor's degree programs in three years or less, and master's degree programs in 18 months or less.
Typically online universities are able to offer less expensive tuition compared to brick and mortar universities. This is often because there are less building maintenance requirements, staffing needs, living expenses for students, etc. At WGU for example, tuition for an undergraduate program is approximately $3,500 for a six-month term. This is much lower than most online and traditional degree programs.
WGU has a generous transfer policy. Our transcripts department can accept official copies of transcripts from your previous educational institutions for a course-by-course evaluation that compares the context of your courses to those in our programs, to tell you what is comparable and transferable.
It depends on the program you are interested in pursuing. Some programs will have additional requirements however, the general admissions process is as follows:
- Complete the enrollment application
- Contact Enrollment at 866-225-5948 to go over the program and admissions process specific to your desired degree program
- Submit official transcripts
- If desired, complete FAFSA form for financial aid
The enrollment process can take approximately 4-6 weeks. Start dates are the first of each month once enrollment has been completed.
Every school sets its own guidelines however, accreditation plays a big part in recognition and acceptance. WGU is institutionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), the highest form of accreditation. WGU graduates go on to continue their education at many colleges and universities. When WGU alumni self-report acceptance into graduate or doctorate programs, we add the university to a list so you can see where WGU graduates are continuing to pursue higher education.