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WGU News – For Immediate Release


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Legislature Establishes New Online University for Washington State

Governor Gregoire signs bill creating WGU Washington


Olympia, WA (April 22, 2011) – On April 22, the state of Washington established its first nonprofit, online university when Governor Chris Gregoire signed HB 1822, creating WGU Washington. The new university, developed through a partnership with Western Governors University, will be recognized as a state baccalaureate and master’s degree-granting university. WGU Washington will offer online, competency-based degrees and provide enhanced access to postsecondary education for Washington residents, including dislocated workers and placebound students. Washington’s newest university will be self-supporting and will not receive state funding.


WGU Washington is a wholly-owned subsidiary of nationally and regionally accredited Western Governors University. The online college offers more than 50 bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Business, Teacher Education, Information Technology, and Health Professions, including Nursing. WGU Washington’s academic model is unique—rather than earning degrees based on credit hours or time spent in class, students are required to demonstrate competency in degree subject matter. They advance by writing papers, completing assignments, and passing exams that demonstrate their knowledge. This allows students to move quickly through areas where they have prior work or academic experience and focus on the areas they still need to learn. Learning is individualized and guided by the one-on-one support of faculty who serve as mentors. Online Degree programs are rigorous and challenging, but designed to allow students to schedule their studies to accommodate work and family obligations. Tuition is affordable, approximately $6,000 per year for most degree programs, and federal scholarships for online degrees is available.


Sponsored by Senator Jim Kastama for the Senate version of the bill and by Representative Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney in the House, HB1822 highlights the need to increase the number of college graduates in the state. According to the bill, by 2018, two-thirds of Washington jobs will require at least some postsecondary education.


“Once again, Washington State is becoming a national leader by creating a virtual state university that offers full accreditation and accessibility to working adults,” Senator Kastama said. “My hope is to make our state the global innovator in quality online education.”


“I was pleased to sponsor this important bill in the House,” said Representative Kenney. “Establishing this new university for Washington is truly a win-win—we’re making it possible for more of our residents to get the online college degrees they need to build their careers and improve their lives, and we’re doing it without adding to the burden on our higher education budget.”


“WGU Washington offers our residents another option for finishing a bachelor’s or master’s degree,” said Governor Gregoire. “This new university, with its flexible, innovative learning model gives those with work and family obligations the opportunity to get the education they need.”


Sam Smith, President Emeritus of Washington State University has long been associated with WGU and played a key role in its development. “As one of the founders and as a member of WGU’s Board of Trustees since the university’s inception, I highly recommend WGU Washington as a quality institution,” said Smith. This new university provides the state of Washington with another quality higher education alternative—one that takes advantage of 21st century technology and a new learning approach designed to address the needs of working adults.”


The first students will begin at WGU Washington on July1, 2011, with new students beginning on the first day of each month following.  Tuition is charged for six-month terms at a flat rate of $2,890 per term for most online learning college degree programs, regardless of the number of courses taken.


For more information on how to apply to online college, visit the WGU Washington website, http://washington.wgu.edu/.


About WGU Washington and Western Governors University


WGU Washington has been established by the state of Washington as an online, competency-based university to expand access to higher education for Washington residents. Formed through a partnership with Western Governors University, WGU Washington is open to all qualified Washington residents. The university offers 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Business, Education, Information Technology, and Health Professions, including Nursing.


Degrees are granted under the accreditation of Western Governors University, which is regionally accredited through the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) and nationally accredited through the Distance Education and Training Commission (DETC). 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 the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, AT&T, Dell, the Lilly Endowment, HCA, Hewlett-Packard, Lumina Foundation, Microsoft, Oracle, Qwest, SunGard Higher Education, and Zions Bank.


For more information, visit the WGU Washington website, http://washington.wgu.edu/.

by 2018, two-thirds of Washington jobs will require at least some postsecondary education

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