Washington establishes a new online university offering bachelor’s and master’s degree programs designed to meet the needs of working adults

Introducing WGU Washington

In 2011, the Washington State Legislature passed “An act establishing the first Washington nonprofit online university,” which created a partnership with regionally and nationally accredited Western Governors University to establish WGU Washington. In the Act, the legislature provided its rationale for creating WGU Washington, “The key to Washington’s economic prosperity over the past twenty years has been a thriving employment sector for workers who have high levels of education ... by 2018, 67% of all jobs in Washington will require some postsecondary education ... and between 2011 and 2018, the number of Washington jobs requiring postsecondary education will increase by 250,000...Citizens of Washington will not have access to the jobs Washington firms are producing unless the state dramatically increases postsecondary educational opportunities for them. The legislature further finds that increasing the numbers of Washington graduates to meet the needs of the state’s citizens and businesses demands innovative institutions and educational delivery systems.

The legislature intends to partner with Western Governors University, a regionally and nationally accredited nonprofit and independent university, to establish Western Governors University – Washington [WGU Washington]. WGU Washington will offer online, competency-based degrees and provide enhanced access to postsecondary education for all Washington students, including dislocated workers and place-bound students. The legislature further intends that the institution be recognized as a Washington baccalaureate degree-granting institution that is self-supporting and does not receive state funding. It is the intent of the legislature that the higher education coordinating board, the state board for community and technical colleges, and the other institutions of higher education in Washington include the institution in policies and agreements regarding the efficient transfer of credits and courses between institutions.”

With the passage of this legislation, a new university was created in Washington. WGU Washington is the only state-endorsed, all online, competency-based university in Washington. Created to expand access to higher education for Washington residents, nonprofit WGU Washington offers busy working adults an affordable, flexible option for earning an accredited college degree. The university’s four colleges, Business, Information Technology, Teachers College, and Health Professions (including Nursing), offer more than 50 accredited bachelor’s and master’s degrees, many with industry-specific certifications.

Accreditation and Recognition

WGU Washington is regionally, NCATE, and CCNE* accredited. WGU is also a USDLA Best Practices in Distance Learning Award recipient.

*The bachelor's and master's degree programs at WGU are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (One Dupont Circle NW, Suite 530, Washington, DC 20036, 202-887-6791).

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Student and Grad Success

Through competency-based learning, WGU Washington grads earn a degree that represents proven knowledge. Because they finish their programs having become truly competent in the skills and subjects employers value most, WGU Washington graduates are ready to excel in their careers. It's why WGU Washington grads get jobs that more than pay for their education in just a few years.

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A Washington-Approved University Created to Fill a Gap in the State’s Higher Education Opportunities

The mission of WGU Washington is to expand access to affordable higher education for Washington residents through online, competency-based degree programs that address key workforce needs.

WGU Washington offers residents of the state another means to further their education:

  • Quality college degree programs for non-traditional students. WGU Washington’s challenging online degree programs are accredited, career-relevant, and nationally recognized.
  • Affordable tuition. Nonprofit WGU Washington's tuition is among the lowest in the state, comparing very favorably to Washington's public colleges and universities. Terms are six months long, and you pay one rate per term, regardless of the number of courses you complete.
  • Competency-based learning. Designed to meet the needs of adult learners, this approach allows students to move quickly through materials they have already mastered, enabling them to focus on new learning.
  • Flexibility. Students complete courses through mentor-guided independent study, so they can schedule their studies to fit their lives, not the other way around.
  • One-on-one support. Faculty members provide individualized mentoring to each student from enrollment through graduation. Our students report a higher level of student/faculty interaction than students at traditional colleges and universities. Based on the National Study of Student Engagement (NSSE).
  • Superior learning resources. WGU Washington students have 24/7 access to online learning modules, electronic textbooks, web-based tutorials, and simulations for each course of study.
  • An online community for Washington students and access to Western Governors University’s national student community. You'll be able to connect and interact with other students both within Washington and from all over the country.
  • The University of You. At WGU Washington, we believe everyone has the right to earn a college degree. And we believe the path to that degree should be accessible, flexible and affordable. We believe life experience should count for something, independent learning should be celebrated, and focus and determination rewarded. We believe in you. Read more about The University of You.

A Proven Academic Model from a Nationally Recognized University, Customized for Washington

WGU Washington is the state’s only competency-based university, leveraging an innovative approach to education pioneered by our parent institution, Western Governors University. Western Governors University was founded in 1997 by 19 U.S. governors, including Washington Governor Mike Lowry.

Curriculum, learning resources, faculty mentors, and student services for WGU Washington are provided by Western Governors University through its partnership with the State of Washington. WGU Washington degrees are granted under the current accreditation of Western Governors University, which is 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 bachelor’s and master’s programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 530, Washington, DC 20036, 202-887-6791).

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"The university offers students access to higher education wherever they are, whenever they need it, at a price they can afford." Timothy J. Lowenberg,
Major General (Ret.)
NBC Reports on how WGU works.
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About WGU Washington’s Faculty

Student learning is the primary focus of the faculty at WGU Washington and the parent institution Western Governors University. Because of our unique student-centric, competency-based approach, faculty serve in different roles compared to traditional schools and other online schools. Read more.

Learn more about employment opportunities at WGU Washington

Questions and Answers

Select a question from the left, see the answer to the right.

Why would I choose WGU Washington?

Because your professional success is our goal. If you’re seriously considering an online degree program, you want high-quality academic content that’s relevant to your career, tuition that’s affordable, flexibility that fits your lifestyle, and a strong support system to help you stay on track. These are the critical attributes of WGU as a nonprofit university founded by the governors of 19 U.S. states to expand educational access for the working adult.

Why is "competency-based" important?

The "competency-based" approach benefits you in two ways. First, you know you’re being trained to be competent in your field. You want high-quality academic content that’s relevant to your career. We make sure you know your stuff. Second, the approach lets you advance as quickly as you can demonstrate your competence through our rigorous assessments. It really is a "Show me what you know" approach that lets you take advantage of knowledge you already possess. You can use this knowledge, work hard in your program, and accelerate your time to completion. You could save both time and money. An Enrollment Counselor can explain this approach further.

What is WGU’s Mission Statement?

"The principal mission of Western Governors University is to improve quality and expand access to post-secondary educational opportunities by providing a means for individuals to learn independent of time and place and to earn competency-based degrees and other credentials that are credible to both academic institutions and employers."

What is WGU’s Promise Statement?

"We help our students achieve their dreams for a degree and career success by providing a personal, flexible, and affordable education based on real world competencies."

Is WGU Washington a good fit for you?

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