Truly a university without boundaries, Western Governors University Online is a non-profit online university founded and supported 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.
The idea for WGU was born in 1995 at a bipartisan meeting of the Western Governors Association (hence our "western" name). Going into the meeting, the chair of the association—Utah governor Mike Leavitt—had the foresight to realize that distance learning technologies had the power to tackle one of the western states’ most pressing problems: rapid population growth confronted by limited public funds for educational services.
The governors decided then and there to create their own university. They agreed that this new university would make maximum use of distance learning technologies, would be collaborative among the western member states, and would use competencies rather than seat time as the measure of its outcomes.
To do this, the governors enlisted the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE) and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) to help design the newly envisioned university. Five themes remained central to the effort:
Responsiveness to employment and societal needs.
A focus on competency-based education.
Development of a technology infrastructure.
WGU was chartered in 1996, was incorporated as a private, non-profit university in 1997, and began accepting students in 1999.
WGU is very mission driven. Created to expand access to higher education through online, competency-based degree programs, WGU’s mission has remained one of helping hardworking adults meet their educational goals and improve their career opportunities.
To fulfill the mission, the founding governors also insisted that WGU be affordable, flexible, and student-focused. Hence, WGU strives to serve as many students as possible—including minorities, first-generation college students, those with modest incomes, and others whose lives or geographic locations do not allow them to attend traditional, campus-based colleges.
WGU has flourished into a national university, serving over 12,000 students from all 50 states, yet remains non-bureaucratic and innovative. It continues to receive praise for its academic model and to enhance its reputation with employers for the emphasis on graduating highly competent professionals.
One of the best values in online education, the Western Governors online university provides a convenient and cost-effective way for self-directed, hardworking adults like you to earn your degree and get ahead. Here’s what ultimately sets WGU apart:
Tuition costs across the nation are going up significantly every year. But not at WGU. A major part of Western Governors University’s mission as a non-profit university is to keep tuition low. So low, in fact, that their tuition is typically half what other reputable online universities and traditional colleges charge.
You don’t just save on rates alone; you can also be rewarded for your hard work. Western Governors University charges tuition at a flat rate every six months, so you’re simply paying for the time you need to prove your competence. If you can complete your program in less time, you only pay tuition for the time it takes. Essentially, the faster you progress, the more you save—a big incentive to work hard that you won’t find at other major schools.
TIME Magazine called WGU "the best relatively cheap university you've never heard of."
Western Governors University is Competency-Based and Not Credit Hour Based
Western Governors University’s online degrees are based on real-world competencies as opposed to seat time or credit hours. Their focus is on ensuring you possess the skills and knowledge you need to be successful, not whether you’ve attended class or not. ("Show us what you know, not how long you’ve been there.")
You’ll be able to take advantage of what you already know. After all, your progress is determined by whether you can "prove" you know your stuff. If you can prove it sooner than later because of prior experience and education, perfect! You’ll be able to draw upon this experience to complete assessments faster, ultimately saving you both time and money.
Western Governors University is Flexible
Online learning "WGU style" is quite flexible, even compared to other online universities. Your program is personalized to your schedule in several ways, providing you the flexibility you need to be successful in all areas of your life, not just in school.
In fact, many of their graduates have commented on how nice it was to work their education around their jobs and family, not the other way around.
Western Governors University Support System
You will never feel alone as an online student at WGU. Western Governors University won’t leave you on your own to figure out what resources are available to you. You’ll have a dedicated partner in your education: a mentor committed to connecting you to what you need to succeed. Your mentor will work with you until you graduate. You’ll get to know your mentor as an advisor, a coach, a cheerleader—even a friend.
When you enroll, you become so much more than a student — you become part of a community of students, faculty, mentors, and staff all united under one common goal: your success.
Nationally and Regionally Accredited
Western Governors University is nationally accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). WGU is also regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, one of the major accrediting commissions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
Regional accreditation is considered the highest form of accreditation given to institutions. The Northwest Commission is also responsible for the accreditation of other major institutions such as the University of Washington, University of Oregon, Gonzaga University, University of Utah, University of Idaho, and Brigham Young University, to name just a few.
The WGU Teachers College is the first and only exclusively online provider of teacher education to receive accreditation from the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). The NCATE accrediting team extensively reviewed the entire WGU Teachers College curriculum to ensure that "candidates have the knowledge and skills to be effective in helping all students learn." NCATE is the premier specialized accrediting body for teacher preparation and is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. It accredits colleges of education that produce over two-thirds of the nation’s new teacher graduates annually.
WGU’s nursing degree programs are now accredited by the Commission for Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
USDLA Recognized Institution
WGU was presented the 2008 International Distance Learning Awards in two categories by the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA):
The 21st Century Award for Best Practices in Distance Learning, awarded in recognition for WGU's achievements as the nation's first competency-based online university and its success in expanding access to higher education for adults seeking bachelor's and master's degrees.
Outstanding Leadership by an Individual in the Field of Distance Learning, awarded to Dr. Janet Schnitz, the former executive director of the WGU Teachers College.
These awards are in recognition of WGU’s achievements as the nation’s first competency-based online university and their success in expanding access to higher education for adults seeking bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
WGU has the distinction of being the only university to receive regional accreditation simultaneously from four regional accrediting commissions. In part because of their founding by the governors of 19 U.S. states, which encompass a wide geographic region, WGU was simultaneously reviewed by a special committee—the Inter-Regional Accrediting Committee—comprised of representatives from four regional accrediting commissions. In February 2003, the committee awarded WGU accreditation in all four regions, an extraordinary recognition that had never before nor since occurred. The Northwest Commission is considered WGU’s “home” accrediting body because the university’s main offices are located in Utah, which falls under the review of the commission. WGU still continues to be an institution with a broad focus and a mission to expand access to higher education. The university serves students in all 50 states and military installations abroad