Degrees May Become More Affordable

Some students and administrators from online universities are claiming that their courses allow for students to advance through their education at their own pace by allowing them complete assessments that measure their understanding and competency level. Western Governors University, a nonprofit online university, has created an educational model that allows for students to work through curriculum they already understand so that they can focus more on the areas of coursework where they are experiencing difficulties. Various performance and objective tests are used to help measure the student's level for advancement while they are attending the online school.

Ninteen United States governors actually founded the university in 1997 with the goal of being able to offer affordable options to educational systems that don't require the use of state money. The university is aiming to make high education more affordable, easy to access, and reliable for those who are working professionals. The tuition costs $6000 a year, which is a price that the university has offered for the past five years. The students range in age from 16 to 83. Most of them work full time jobs. They are able to take graduation assessment tests when they feel that they are the most prepared. The university also works together with employers to help define the level of competency and understanding that graduates should have in order to work within certain industries. Most WGU students graduate on average within three years instead of five. One student received 14 certifications along with her degree in May.

The university offers around fifty bachelor's and master's degree programs in teacher education, business, information technology, and healthcare. Since the classes are online, students generally don't meet their peers and faculty unless they choose to attend the commencement ceremony in Utah when they graduate. Most students develop close relationships with faculty and a mentor because they are in contact with them every week, however. There are around 40,000 students that are enrolled at WGU in all 50 states throughout the country and around in the world in the US military. Around 25,000 students have graduated since the university was originally established.

Colleges such as University of Phoenix, Kaplan University, and Sawyer Business School at Suffolk University are providing students with online degree programs that may fit into their schedule well if they are a working professional. However, these schools use the traditional model for higher education and do not allow for students to work at their own pace. Western Governors University's goal is to be able to continue meeting the needs of students who are working adults, have attended some college, and have yet to earn their degree. The goal is to provide them with a means to be able to get their degree at an affordable price while offering the convenience of an online program and faculty who understand the importance in allowing students to learn their curriculum in the way that best meets their own learning style.