Western Governors University (WGU), a non-profit online university and CSG Associate, signed a memorandum of understanding on March 17 with the North Dakota University System’s five community colleges. The agreement will provide graduates and staff of Bismarck State College, Dakota College at Bottineau, Lake Region State College, North Dakota State College of Science and Williston State College with an affordable pathway to earning their bachelor’s or master’s degrees through WGU. The institution offers over 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs covering business, IT, K-12 teacher education and health professions including nursing.

In addition, students transferring from North Dakota community colleges to WGU will now be eligible to apply for scholarships including WGU’s Community College Partner Scholarship Program and Online Access Scholarship. The Community College Scholarship Program is valued at up to $2,500 and is applied to WGU’s low, flat-rate tuition of about $3,800 per six-month term – making educational expenses even more accessible. Meanwhile, applicants in need who lack access to affordable, high-speed internet can receive a stipend for internet installation, monthly internet access costs for the duration of study and devices.

“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.”

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum first announced the memorandum of understanding between North Dakota Community Colleges’ five presidents and WGU during his 2022 State of the State Address. During his speech, Governor Burgum highlighted the crucial need to provide North Dakotans with access to high-quality education to prepare for in-demand careers that will strengthen and diversify the state’s economy.

“In North Dakota, we’re focused on ensuring that every resident can thrive in the 21st century economy and reach their fullest potential,” Governor Burgum said. “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.”

WGU’s connection to North Dakota stretches back to the university’s founding in 1997, when then-Governor Ed Shafer joined 18 other U.S. governors in a mission to expand access to exceptional, affordable higher education by signing WGU’s charter. Since then, WGU has become the leading national competency-based university, making it possible for students to accelerate degree progress on subjects they know well to save both time and money. The university now serves more than 131,000 students nationwide and has more than 257,000 graduates in all 50 states as a leading influence in changing the lives of individuals and families and preparing the workforce needed in today’s rapidly evolving economy.

More information on the partnership between WGU and North Dakota Community Colleges can be found at: www.wgu.edu/ndcc.

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