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P. Schmidt

Western Governors University (UNITED STATES)
Western Governors University (WGU) was created approximately thirteen years ago through a cooperative agreement of nineteen Western State Governors in the United States. The primary reason for the development of this University was to find ways to provide high-quality undergraduate and graduate education opportunties for residents of the rural Western States in high-need areas such as Teacher Education (with emphases on the preparation of Science, Mathematics, Special Education, and Second Language teachers); Nursing; Information Technology; and Business. From the outset, it was determined that all undergraduate programs would contain strong liberal arts and sciences components and that all master's degree programs would require the completion of a thesis requirement.

From the start, it was determined that WGU should be fully comptency-based. To this end, the University has developed a one-of-a-kind database of all National, State, and Industry standards. From this data set, WGU has constructed sets of competencies for each degree program. From each set of such competency statements, the Universtiy has developed assessments. Students must pass each assessment in their degree program in order to receive the WGU degree.

Each student matriculating at WGU is assigned a Faculty Mentor who is charged with guiding the candidate as s/he proceeds through the academic program. Additionally, each assessment area is aligned with a Course of Study, a web-based document that details for the student how best to prepare, with appropriate Learning Resources, for the required assessments. Each Course of Study is attached to a Course of Study Mentor, a Faculty member whose role it is to assist students academically. The Course of Study Mentors are, in essence, academic coaches. Of particular interest throughout the Science and Nursing Programs is the implementation of online, digital, and home-delivered science laboratories. It is important to note that all Teacher Education and Nursing licensure programs require the successful completion of field-based clinical experiences.

WGU is accredited at all levels, both undergraduate and gradute, by the Northwest Commission for Colleges and University, and is the only fully online university in the United States to be accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. The Nursing Programs are accredited by the Commission Collegiate Nursing Education.