Western Governors University (WGU) and the five community colleges within the North Dakota University System have signed a memorandum of understanding that will provide their graduates and staff with an affordable pathway to earning their bachelor’s or master’s degrees from WGU.
Additionally, under the terms of the agreement, those who enroll in any of the online, nonprofit university’s 60-plus undergraduate or graduate degree programs in business, IT, K-12 teacher education or health professions – including nursing – will now be eligible to apply for scholarships offered through the university’s Community College Partner Scholarship program.
Students graduating from Bismarck State College, Dakota College at Bottineau, Lake Region State College, North Dakota State College of Science and Williston State College will be able to seamlessly transfer their credits to WGU. The university offers North Dakota Community College graduates and staff a competency-based approach to learning that allows them to use their prior education, training and experience to quickly move through material they already know so they can focus on what they still need to learn. Students complete their programs by studying on schedules that fit their lives, advancing as soon as they demonstrate they have mastered the subject matter. While WGU’s degree programs are rigorous and challenging, competency-based learning makes it possible for students to accelerate their progress and graduate faster, saving both time and money.
“The partnership provides students with additional opportunities beyond the more than 300 online graduate and undergraduate degree programs currently offered by the institutions of the North Dakota University System,” said NDUS Chancellor Mark Hagerott.
The MOU between North Dakota Community Colleges’ five presidents and WGU was first announced during Gov. Doug Burgum’s 2022 State of the State Address. During his remarks, Burgum highlighted the state’s recent efforts to address North Dakota’s workforce challenges and grow and diversify the economy, reinforcing the crucial need to provide residents with access to high-quality education to prepare them for in-demand careers. While North Dakota signed the original charter for WGU 25 years ago under the leadership of then-Gov. Ed Schafer, Burgum asserted that the state looks forward to rekindling its partnership with WGU to enhance educational offerings for students of all ages and backgrounds.
“In North Dakota, we’re focused on ensuring that every resident can thrive in the 21st century economy and reach their fullest potential. To be successful, we must be better at aligning our degree offerings with the needs of North Dakota businesses. This new partnership with Western Governors University will provide North Dakotans with seamless access to one of the nation's most innovative higher education institutions to continue their education as they pursue their career goals and pathways to opportunity," Burgum said.
Under the terms of the agreement, students transferring from the North Dakota Community College system to WGU will also be eligible to take advantage of scholarships to make tuition even more affordable. The Community College Partner Scholarship is valued at up to $2,500 and applied to WGU’s already-low, flat-rate tuition of about $3,800 per six-month term. Recipients of the scholarship will receive a $625 tuition credit each term, renewable for up to four terms based on academic performance. Applicants who lack access to affordable, high-speed internet will also be eligible to apply for the WGU Online Access Scholarship, which covers internet installation and monthly access costs for the duration WGU students who qualify are active and in good standing. The program also provides devices to students who are in need.
“We are delighted to provide continuing education options to the graduates and staff of North Dakota Community Colleges,” said Dr. Angie Besendorfer, Regional Vice President of Western Governors University. “WGU values the important role community colleges play in upskilling the workforce and is pleased to provide North Dakota residents with pathways to higher education and career advancement.”
For more information on the partnership between WGU and North Dakota Community Colleges, visit www.wgu.edu/ndcc.
Established in 1997 by 19 U.S. governors with a mission to expand access to high-quality, affordable higher education, online, nonprofit WGU now serves more than 131,000 students nationwide and has more than 257,000 graduates in all 50 states. Driving innovation as the nation’s leading competency-based university, WGU has been recognized by the White House, state leaders, employers and students as a model that works in postsecondary education. In just 25 years, the university has become a leading influence in changing the lives of individuals and families and preparing the workforce needed in today’s rapidly evolving economy. WGU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, has been named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies, and has been featured on NPR, NBC Nightly News, CNN and in The New York Times. Learn more at www.wgu.edu.
About North Dakota Community Colleges
The North Dakota University System is a unified system of higher education governed by the State Board of Higher Education. Organized in 1990, the system includes two research universities, four regional universities and five community colleges. The mission of the State Board of Higher Education and the Chancellor of the North Dakota University System is to unleash the potential of higher education in the state to enhance the quality of life and the social and economic vitality of all served by its public colleges and universities.