Nonprofit Spotlight: WGU | A new type of U: WGU Nevada makes its mark in the Silver State
For some, education has many hurdles, two big ones being time and money. WGU Nevada tackles these obstacles as a new type of university for a new you.
WGU Nevada is an online, competency-based university designed to expand access to higher education for Nevada residents. Established by the state of Nevada in partnership with Western Governors University (WGU), WGU Nevada offers more than 50 accredited bachelor’s and master’s degrees in high-demand career fields such as business, K–12 teacher education, information technology and health professions, including nursing.
“WGU Nevada is a practical higher ed option for today’s professional workforce,” said Spencer Stewart, chancellor of WGU Nevada. “Because our online platform is more readily available and affordable than traditional universities, students are able to achieve their education success on their own time and often for less money.”
By relying on the flexibility and speed of online coursework, students can complete their education at their own discretion. At WGU Nevada, students leverage the power of online learning to make their program as flexible as they need it to be. This means being able to balance work, family and community obligations while completing their studies.
WGU Nevada turned today’s traditional education model on its head by creating a competency-based system where students are not stuck in minimum credits or a minimum amount of seat time. Instead, students can gauge their educational success by working on competencies and completing evaluations to show they have mastered the idea or skill rather than complete a course or a module in a specific time constraint.
At WGU Nevada, students are celebrated for what they know, expediting the learning process and helping those students enter the workforce or advance in their current positions.
“The way WGU Nevada’s courses are delivered, with group webinars and additional online resources, helps me absorb a large amount of information very quickly,” said Dennis Hall, a North Las Vegas resident studying for B.S. in Information Technology. “In addition, the online proctoring is much friendlier than I thought it would be. I wish more classes were based on completing projects and developing skills instead of memorizing information.”
WGU Nevada is taking a bold step in trying to grant Nevadans access to nationally recognized bachelor’s and master’s degrees that are rigorous and relevant to the needs of Nevada employers. This means students can enter higher education for the first time or come to WGU Nevada with some education, but no degree. Often, students who have graduated with their bachelor’s degree come back for their master’s degree or additional certifications.
Whatever the situation, students can be assured that they are getting a quality education that is based on real-world competencies—the skills and knowledge students need to be successful in their career. Each degree program is developed by a council of experts in the field who help define the competencies that form the curriculum. This combination of expertise in both industry knowledge and academia guarantees that each degree is relevant to the chosen field.
Moreover, the degree one earns from WGU Nevada is an affordable one. As a nonprofit university, WGU Nevada’s tuition is among the lowest in the state, comparing favorably to Nevada’s public colleges and universities.
And if that is not enough, WGU Nevada offers its students access to scholarships to help pay for the price of college. A full list of general scholarships, partner scholarships and military scholarships are available online under Tuition and Financial Aid at Nevada.wgu.edu, or individuals can call 877-217-7005.
“We at WGU Nevada have a long history of giving back and showing our appreciation to students,” Stewart said. “We hope to continue that tradition by helping Nevadans get the quality education they need and deserve.”
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.