Western Governors University (WGU) is a private, nonprofit, American online university with more than 24,000 students across all 50 states. WGU is a competency-based university, and offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Business, Teacher Education, Information Technology, and Health Professions, including Nursing. The University was founded in 1997 by a bi-partisan group of 19 governors of states in the western United States. Its mission was to improve quality and expand access to post-secondary educational opportunities. WGU enrolled its first student in 1999. WGU offers a competency-based learning model in which students earn their degrees by demonstrating competence in subject matter rather than by accumulating credit hours by spending time attending classes. Students can use their work, academic, and life experience (combined with learning new skills) to earn a college degree. Learning resources, including standard textbooks, simulations, and webinars, are made available to help students develop the new skills and competencies they need to advance in their degree programs. In many cases students are able to accelerate their time to degree completion.
While the university receives grants from state and federal agencies as well as large corporations and foundations, it is self-sustaining on tuition and does not rely on state or federal funding for its operations. Corporations and foundations supporting WGU include AT&T, Dell, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Lumina Foundation for Education, Sun Microsystems, HCA, HP, Microsoft, Qwest, American Express, Simmons Media Group and Zions Bank.
The University accepts students only living in the United States and select geographic areas of Canada. (The exceptions are U.S. active-duty military personnel and their families stationed at overseas installations, and individuals living in Guam, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands.) There is no minimum high school grade point average for admission, and no minimum score on the SAT or ACT. All applicants must pass an admissions examination administered by the university.
The administration is based in Salt Lake City, Utah and Dr. Robert Mendenhall serves as university president. The University also operates an office in Phoenix, Arizona and Indianapolis, Indiana. All academic operations are virtual. WGU has over 1,200 staff and faculty members located throughout the U.S; many work from virtual offices. In 2010, WGU Indiana , a wholly owned subsidiary of Western Governors University opened to expand access to higher education for Indiana residents .