Western Governors University, an online-only private university, enrolled its first students in 1999. Nineteen governors of western states joined to form the innovative university, with a goal to serve students who might not have access to a quality higher-education experience as a result of geographical constraint, full-time work, or active-duty military status. The online degree programs at WGU have expanded during its 12-year history, and the school now enrolls more than 20,000 students, adding 1,000 each month.
Western Governors University Online Degree Programs
According to Patrick Partridge, WGU Vice President of Marketing and Enrollment, the typical WGU student is "a working adult, with a family, who has completed some college coursework or a bachelor's degree at some time in his or her life. The average age of our students is 36, but the actual range is very broad, from 20 to 60+. In many cases, our bachelor's students enroll at WGU because they want to finish a degree they started earlier in their lives."
This describes Jennifer Shaft, a non-traditional student working on an online teaching degree for grades 5-12: biological science education certification at WGU. "After I graduated with my high school diploma, my plan was to get a degree in education. I ended up putting that aside because the cost was prohibitive. WGU is so much more reasonable in regards to tuition, plus they are NCATE accredited, which was a huge deal to me."
Accredited online degrees at Western Governors University include bachelor's degrees and master's degrees, but the structure of the college's curriculum is unique. Students do not enroll for specific courses for credit, but rather for semesters of six months.
During those six months, students work to demonstrate competency in specific areas targeted for their online degree program. "The university's competency-based model allows students to study on a schedule that doesn't conflict with their work and family obligations. With the personal guidance of a faculty mentor, each student can move through his or her degree program at a pace that fits his or her busy life," says Partridge.
For instance, if a student with some work experience and some college credits enrolled for an online bachelor's degree in information technology, working toward professional certifications such as MCSE or A++ could convert into actual college credit at WGU.
Online Bachelor Degrees at WGU
Many adult learners come into the online bachelor's degree programs at WGU with prior credits, or even associate degrees. "WGU conducts a personal evaluation of incoming students' transcripts from colleges they have attended in the past. Based on the transcript evaluation, students may be able to clear significant portions of the degree requirements," Partridge explains.
"Incoming students with an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degree from an accredited school should clear all or most of the lower-division general education requirements for most bachelor's degree programs. Students who have earned an A.A.S. or other applied associate's degree may be able to clear a significant portion of WGU's lower-division degree requirements."
The university offers online bachelor degrees in four primary fields: teacher education, business, information technology, and health care.
Online Master's Degrees at Western Governors University
Students seeking an online master's degree at Western Governors need to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. WGU does not accept transfer credits for master's degree programs.
Students can earn M.A., M.S., M.Ed. and M.B.A. degrees in education, business, IT and health-related professions, including nursing. All online nursing degrees are accredited by the Commission for Collegiate Nursing Education, or CCNE.
Tuition and Fees at WGU
While the average public university in the United States costs more than $7,020 per year, according to the 2009-2010 College Board Trends in College Pricing survey, WGU's tuition for two full semesters is just under $6,000. "Students who can commit additional time to their studies may be able to accelerate, completing their degrees sooner, and saving tuition costs," Partridge notes.
Why Should Adult Learners Choose WGU?
With 1,000 new students enrolling at Western Governors every month, why choose an online bachelor degree or online master's degree program at this school? "WGU is both regionally and nationally accredited -- its Teachers College was the first and only exclusively online provider of teacher education to receive accreditation from the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). WGU's nursing programs have earned accreditation from the Commission for Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)," Partridge points out.
"WGU surveys employers of our graduates regularly, and in the most recent survey, 95% agreed that WGU graduates meet or exceed their expectation, and 94% said that they would be willing to hire another WGU graduate. The university is focused on ensuring that our degree programs prepare students for the workforce."
To learn more about accredited online degrees at Western Governors University, visit their website or call 866-225-5948.