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NCU Joins National University System Family

Written by Judy Tierney

The start of 2019 ushered in an exciting new era of transformation for Northcentral University as it officially became the newest member of the nonprofit National University System (NUS), based in La Jolla, California. NCU joins other NUS affiliate universities – including National University, John F. Kennedy University and City University of Seattle – and pre-college programs that collectively enroll more than 45,000 students in all 50 states and more than 40 countries.

Dr. David Harpool

While NCU will continue to operate as an independent university within the system, its affiliation with NUS provides significant advantages for both organizations. For NUS, the addition of NCU addresses a demand for greater access to quality graduate-level degrees and the opportunity to expand its offerings from pre-college to the doctoral level. NCU will benefit from its new nonprofit status, with a strong commitment by NUS to invest in lowering student costs while providing the highest-quality degree programs.

“Becoming part of NUS is a significant next step in the evolution of NCU and our vision of serving working professionals globally to obtain an advanced degree,” says NCU President, Dr. David Harpool. “This affiliation will give NCU access to greater resources to enhance and demonstrate the quality of our academic programs and faculty so that we can offer a premier educational experience for students well into the future.”

NUS and NCU Share a Pioneering History
In 1971, Dr. David Chigos, an executive at General Dynamics, recognized a need to assist Vietnam veterans who were transitioning from war back to civilian life in the U.S. Armed with logistical experience, skills and competencies from the war, many veterans still lacked the degrees and credentials they needed to get a job. Dedicated to his cause, Chigos left his job and founded National University, developing a night program in which veterans took one class per month on a manageable path to earn their degree.

“This affiliation will give NCU access to greater resources to enhance and demonstrate the quality of our academic programs and faculty so that we can offer a premier educational experience for students well into the future.”

—Dr. David Harpool, NCU President

NCU also started with the idea that “there has to be a better way to earn a degree” when a young professional named Donald Hecht, balancing his job, family life, coursework, and a 35-mile commute to night classes, committed himself to starting a new education model. His first venture, Southern California University for Professional Studies (SCUPS), transformed education by providing courses and degree studies to adult learners. Almost 20 years later, in 1996, with advances in technology and the Internet, SCUPS created NCU as a separate online university, specializing in graduate higher education for distance learners.

Today, NCU offers 22 doctoral programs and 25 master's degree programs with coursework that is 100 percent online. All of the University’s professors hold a doctoral degree.

Common Commitment to Innovation in Education
In addition to a history of blazing new trails, NCU and NUS also share common values, including a commitment to academic innovation. In fact, NCU’s innovative one-to-one learning model – the University’s unique approach that drives engagement between students and each of their professors – was one aspect of the University that was of particular interest to NUS because of its strong focus on building relationships with students.

NUS is pursuing a number of its own innovations across its affiliate institutions including FlexCourse℠, a teaching and learning platform in use at John F. Kennedy University; programs in management and leadership that recognize prior work training and experience at City University of Seattle; and personalized learning approaches through a comprehensive research and development project called Precision Education, which is being guided by the Precision Institute at National University. Going forward, NUS plans to share best practices across all its affiliates.

“Transitioning from for-profit to nonprofit status means that, going forward, we will be evaluated on the quality of our academic offerings rather than our tax status.”

—Dr. David Harpool

What Does the Acquisition Mean for NCU Students and Alumni?
The move is great news for the NCU community overall. Because NCU will continue to operate as an independent university, any immediate behind-the-scenes changes should be seamless to students and alumni. Over time, NCU anticipates that the affiliation will have a positive impact on the quality of education, cost of tuition and the overall value of an NCU degree.

“Transitioning from for-profit to nonprofit status means that, going forward, we will be evaluated on the quality of our academic offerings rather than our tax status,” says Harpool. “And being part of a bigger system provides us with opportunities to enhance our brand and create stronger awareness of our programs. As we gain access to the ranking system and achieve more recognition, I feel confident that the value of an NCU degree will be even greater than it is today.”


For more information about National University Systems, visit www.nusystem.org.

For more information about NCU, visit www.ncu.edu.