State-endorsed university celebrates surpassing 4,000 enrolled students

NASHVILLE – WGU Tennessee – the nonprofit, online university launched as part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s Drive to 55 effort – has reached 4,000 enrolled students after less than five years in the state, making it the fifth-largest private, nonprofit college in Tennessee (based on full-time enrollment).

The number signifies a 400 percent increase in enrollment since WGU launched in Tennessee in July 2013.

“Reaching 4,000 enrolled students is a major accomplishment for WGU Tennessee,” said Dr. Kimberly K. Estep, WGU Tennessee chancellor. “Governor Haslam brought us on board to make higher education more accessible in our state, and we’re doing just that.”

WGU Tennessee has reached several other milestones, including:

  • Exceeding 2,700 graduates statewide
  • Having active students in 92 of 95 counties
  • Awarding more than $1.5 million in scholarships to Tennesseans
  • Establishing partnerships with more than 50 corporate and nonprofit organizations, including all 13 Tennessee community colleges, to increase access and affordability for their members

In addition to these accomplishments, WGU Tennessee has stayed true to its student-focused principles by providing a flexible and affordable option to working adults who want to return to school. WGU Tennessee aims to alleviate the financial burden of higher education for its students – making it unique among higher education institutions in Tennessee.

In July, the university will celebrate its five-year anniversary, which coincides with the five-year anniversary of Drive to 55. The initiative, which seeks to equip 55 percent of Tennesseans with postsecondary certificates by 2025, is two years ahead of schedule, according to Haslam.

WGU Tennessee is an online, nonprofit, competency-based university established to expand Tennesseans’ access to higher education throughout the state. Formed through a partnership between the state of Tennessee and nationally recognized Western Governors University, WGU Tennessee is open to all qualified Tennessee residents. The university offers more than 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the high-demand career fields of business, K–12 teacher education, information technology, and health professions, including nursing.

Degrees are granted under the 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 programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

In addition to WGU Tennessee, there are six other WGU state-based, state-endorsed universities: WGU Indiana, established in June 2010; WGU Washington, established in April 2011; WGU Texas, established in August 2011; WGU Missouri, established in February 2013; WGU Nevada, established in June 2015; and WGU North Carolina, established in October 2017.

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