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Western Governors University is a true university without borders having been founded and supported by 19 United States Governors. The idea was proposed by Mike Leavitt, who was then Governor of Utah at an annual meeting of the Western Governors Association in 1995. In 1996, the university was officially proposed and founded. Each signing state governor agreed to commit $100,000 toward the launch of a competency-based university with the seed money coming from governmental sources.
In 2010, the first state-established offshoot of the university began when Mitch Daniels, Governor of Indiana founded WGU Indiana. In 2011, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provided $4.5 million in funding not only for WGU Indiana, but to establish WGU Texas and WGU Washington. Governor Bill Haslam started WGU Tennessee in 2013 and that same year Governor Jay Nixon established WGU Missouri.
When Governor Leavitt established the university, he realized that distance learning technologies would be the answer to the growing population in the Midwest that was placing a burden on limited public funds for education. Once the university was established, they enlisted the assistance of the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems to design the new university.
WGU is mission driven with the goal of delivering higher education through online, competency-based degree programs. The founders required that the university remain affordable, flexible and student-based. The student body at WGU includes minorities, first-generation college students, those with modest incomes and people with social, work or family obligations that prevent them from attending traditional colleges and universities.
Western Governors University Accreditation Details
WGU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. In addition, the WGU Teacher's College is accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the first online university to receive accreditation for its degree program in that field. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education accredits both the bachelor's and master's level programs at WGU, while Health Informatics is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education.
In addition to the accreditations, WGU has been awarded the 21st Century Award for Best Practices in Distance Learning by the United States Distance Learning Association in 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. The following faculty have also received the Outstanding Leadership by an Individual in the Field of Distance Learning:
- Dr. Janet Schnitz – 2008
- Dr. Robert Mendenhall – 2010
- Dr. Phillip Schmidt – 2011
Dr. Mendenhall was also awarded the McGraw Prize in Education for outstanding work in post-secondary education.
Western Governors University Application Requirements
In order to be admitted to Western Governors University, students must have a high school diploma or GED. They must submit official transcripts of all prior academic work of all community colleges, colleges or universities and must be at least 16 years of age. Potential students must also interview with an enrollment counselor.
Graduate students must submit official transcripts verifying receipt of a bachelor's degree form a recognized, accredited college as well as official transcripts from all other colleges or universities attended. They must be at least 16 years of age and submit to an interview with an admissions counselor.
Applicants to the Teachers College must pass a state-specific basic skills test for the state in which they live prior to student teaching. For those seeking graduate degrees in teaching, applicants must provide a copy of a valid teaching license and official transcripts documenting that they have earned a bachelor's degree from a recognized accredited university. Additional enrollment requirements may be needed for specific teaching degree programs.
Students who wish to enter master's level programs at the College of Business must submit a transcript verifying they hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution as well as a resume demonstrating at least three years' experience in business, industry or nonprofit organizations.
Admission to the College of Information Technology requires applicants to provide a copy of a high school diploma and demonstrate IT experience through the completion of an associate's degree, high-level IT coursework taken in the past five years, hold transferable IT certifications earned within the last five years or a resume showing three-plus hears of IT work experience.
In order to apply to the College of Health Professions for the bachelor level program requires an associate's degree or diploma in nursing and a current, unencumbered registered nurse license. In addition, applicants must submit to a criminal background check and must be working in a position that require the use of nursing knowledge. California residents must also provide proof of immunizations.
To apply for the Master's in Nursing Education Leadership program, students must hold a bachelor's degree in nursing as well as the requirements for applying for the bachelor's level nursing program.
Western Governors University Tuition and Fees
WGU has not raised tuition rates since 2008 and charges a flat-rate per term. The flat-rate covers all coursework completed in that time so that the more courses you complete in one term, the less the degree costs. Each term is six months long and begins on the first of any month. The costs are:
- Nursing Programs (BSN and MSN) – $3,250 per term
- B.S. Nursing (Pre-Licensure) – $4,250 per term
- Business Master's Programs – $3,250 per term
- Business Bachelor's Programs – $2,890 per term
- Information Technology Programs – $2,890 per term
- Teacher's College Programs – $2,890 per term
There is a $145 resource fee per term and an application fee of $65, both of which are non-refundable. In addition, there are fees for specific programs, such as:
- Science Lab Fee – $350 one-time fee – Students pursuing degrees in Science Education for the establishment of a home science lab.
- Consolidated Nursing Program Fee – $350 one-time fee – For nursing students to cover additional expenses such as lab work, third-party exams and selected learning resources.
- Demonstration Teaching (standard) – $1,000 – For students enrolled in programs that require student teaching and is due prior to in-classroom teaching practicum.
- Educational Leadership Practicum – $1,000 one-time fee – Required for students pursuing the M.S. in Educational Leadership in order to complete their practicum experience.
Financial aid is available for all students attending WGU. Federal financial aid in the form of Pell, Supplemental Educational Opportunity and Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education grants are available as well as federal direct subsidized and unsubsidized student loans. All programs are approved for Tuition Assistance for active-duty, reserve and National Guard service members as well as veterans under the Montgomery GI Bill. Students may also pay through corporate reimbursement or self-pay.
Western Governors University Teacher Licensure Degree Programs
Bachelor of Arts Interdisciplinary Studies (K-8)
The Bachelor of Arts Interdisciplinary Studies (K-8) program at WGU is an online elementary education degree program that provides the skills and knowledge to become a certified elementary school teacher. It is designed for unlicensed substitute teachers, people looking for a career change, retired military personnel, paraprofessionals and others whose goal is to teach at the elementary school level.
Bachelor of Arts Special Education (K-12)
The Bachelor of Arts Special Education (K-12) is designed for those who wish to obtain special education certification, providing the skills and knowledge necessary to become a special education instructor for students with mild to moderate disabilities. It is a cross-categorized model for initial certification and, in some states, may lead to dual licensure in Elementary and Special Education.
Bachelor of Arts Mathematics and Science (5-9 or 5-12)
WGU offers a variety of online degree programs that will allow students to earn a Bachelor of Arts in either science or mathematics geared toward older children. The Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics with either a grade 5-9 or a 5-12 focus prepares students to teach math to students in upper grade levels. In addition, students may choose from the following focuses, all taught exclusively online:
- Bachelor of Arts Science – Grades 5-9
- Bachelor of Arts Science – Chemistry – Grades 5-12
- Bachelor of Arts Science – Physics – Grades 5-12
- Bachelor of Arts Science – Biological Science – Grades 5-12
- Bachelor of Arts Science – Geosciences – Grades 5-12
In addition to the bachelor's level programs offered at WGU, students may also choose from a wide range of post-baccalaureate teacher licensure programs as well as many master's level courses that are all offered entirely online.
Western Governors University offers a wide range of courses in education, business and information technology at a flat-rate that makes their offerings more affordable than other colleges.