Next week,WGU Washington will award nearly 1,900 bachelor’s and master’s degrees to the members of its 2016 graduating class. The nonprofit, online university – which is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year – provides a high-quality, low-cost educational option for Washingtonians, including midcareer professionals and underserved populations.
The diversity among WGU Washington’s student body is evident in the Class of 2016.
The average age of this year’s graduates is 39. While the youngest is 20, the oldest is Mike Brown, a 77-year-old MBA grad from Spokane. Eighty-three percent of students in this year’s graduating class worked while getting their degree, taking new skills and knowledge into their careers in business, education, I.T. and healthcare. In WGU Washington’s unique, competency based model, undergrads earned their degrees in an average of 1.8 years, while the average time to completion for master’s-level students was 1.4 years.
“We are incredibly proud of the academic accomplishments of WGU Washington’s class of 2016,” said WGU Washington Chancellor Jean Floten. “This year’s graduating class are among more than 5,500 WGU Washington alumni who are applying their well-earned knowledge in jobs across our state.”
WGU Washington’s Class of 2016 is roughly 17 percent larger than last year’s class of graduates. In the five years since lawmakers established it as the only legislatively-endorsed, online university in the state, WGU Washington’s enrollment has more than 1,000 percent. Total enrollment now exceeds 9,200 students, making the online university the largest, independent institution in the state.
The commencement ceremony for WGU Washington’s class of 2016 is set for April 16 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.at KeyArena in Seattle.
WGU Washington was established by the State Legislature in 2011 in partnership with nationally recognized and accredited Western Governors University to expand access to higher education for Washington residents.
The state-endorsed, online university offers more than 50 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in Business, Information Technology, Teacher Education and Health Professions, including Nursing. WGU Washington’s competency-based learning model is designed to meet the needs of working adults by providing an affordable, flexible option for earning an accredited, respected college degree. It’s non-profit and receives no money from the state.
Degrees are granted under the accreditation of Western Governors University, which is regionally accredited through the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Teachers College programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and Nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE*).
The university has earned the support of more than 20 leading corporations and foundations. They include institutions such as AT&T, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Lilly Endowment, HCA, Hewlett-Packard, Lumina Foundation, Microsoft, Oracle, SunGard Higher Education and Zions Bank.