SEATTLE, May 17, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- WGU Washington awarded more than 1,000 bachelor's and master's degrees – a record number for the three-year old university – to students from across the state today at its commencement ceremony. Students, family members, mentors and community supporters packed McCaw Hall to celebrate the online university's largest class of graduates yet and recognize the university's increasing role in strengthening the state's workforce with career-ready graduates.
The 2014 graduating class is nearly double the size of last year's class of 550 graduates. In the three years since state lawmakers endorsed WGU Washington as an affordable, higher education option for students, the university's enrollment has grown rapidly and now exceeds 6,000 students – making it one of the largest universities in the state.
"We are incredibly proud of the academic accomplishments of the WGU Washington class of 2014," said WGU Washington Chancellor Jean Floten. "The record number of graduates reaffirms that our online, competency-based model is an effective and practical way for working adults to achieve their higher education goals in the state of Washington."
On Saturday, more than 330 graduates of the 2014 class walked in the Seattle ceremony for the university, which serves students online from across the state. Other students personally celebrated their graduation accomplishment in their home communities. A live stream of the ceremony was available online at washington.wgu.edu/commencement.
CenturyLink Northwest Region President Brian Stading delivered the keynote address at the ceremony. In addition, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Tim Lowenberg presented challenge coins to 16 military graduates in the 2014 class. Lowenberg served as the Washington Adjutant General and commanded all Washington Army and Air National Guard forces from 1999 to 2012.
The university offers career-focused degrees for a flat-rate of $6,000 per year for most programs. Of the school's 6,000 full-time students, more than 2,500 are enrolled in science, technology, engineering or math related programs. STEM fields, as they're known, are vital to our state's economy. WGU Washington awarded more than 400 degrees in STEM fields to graduates this year – nearly half of the graduating class is receiving a STEM-related credential.
WGU Washington was established by the State Legislature in 2011 in partnership with nationally recognized and accredited Western Governors University to expand access to higher education for Washington residents.
The state-endorsed, online university offers more than 50 bachelor's and master's degree programs in Business, Information Technology, Teacher Education and Health Professions, including Nursing. WGU Washington's competency-based learning model is designed to meet the needs of working adults by providing an affordable, flexible option for earning an accredited, respected college degree. It's non-profit and receives no money from the state.
Degrees are granted under the accreditation of Western Governors University, which is regionally 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*).
The university has earned the support of more than 20 leading corporations and foundations. They include institutions such as AT&T, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Lilly Endowment, HCA, Hewlett-Packard, Lumina Foundation, Microsoft, Oracle, SunGard Higher Education and Zions Bank.
* One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 5380, Washington DC 20036, 202-877-6791
SOURCE WGU Washington