American Public University

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Updated August 7, 2020

American Public University is a major comprehensive private for-profit online higher education institution that's wholly owned by American Public Education Inc. First founded in 1991 by retired USMC Major James P. Etter, APU initially focused on educating military personnel in specialized intelligence fields. Since then, APU has shifted its mission to include teaching civilians interested in building public service careers. Of the total enrollment of over 100,000 students, around 20 percent are enrolled in APU's graduate programs. American Public University is headquartered in Charlestown, West Virginia, but its six distinct academic schools cater to virtual learners across the globe.

Thanks to their commitment to high-quality distance education, APU has been recognized by the U.S. News and World Report for having the 27th best online bachelor's programs in the United States. APU has received the Online Learning Consortium's (OLC) "Effective Practice Award" four times, which is more than any other institution. The Association of Continuing Higher Education (ACHE) honored APU with the "Creative Use of Technology Award." American Public University was also granted the National Defense Transportation Association's (NDTA) Distinguished Service Award. APU is one of the approved "Military Friendly" schools according to GI Jobs magazine for enrolling veterans in quality programs too.

American Public University Accreditation Details

American Public University has been formally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (NCA), one of the six regional accrediting bodies accepted by the U.S. Department of Education. Furthermore, several of its academic programs have pursued discipline-specific accreditations. Business degrees meet the standards of the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACSBP). Nursing programs are given the stamp of approval from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Health sciences programs are affiliated with the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and management degrees are aligned with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

American Public University Application Requirements

Although open enrollment is offered by several APU programs, you'll still need to meet certain admissions criteria before starting your first online class. Graduate students seeking to enroll in one of the online master's programs at American Public University must have a bachelor's degree from a four-year regionally accredited institution. Certain programs will mandate that incoming applicants have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75. It's possible to transfer a maximum of 15 credit hours into the online master's degrees. Satisfactory scores on the GRE or GMAT aren't required, but can help with admissions. International students must display their English proficiency by earning at least 550 on the paper-based TOEFL test.

Applicants are judged on a combination of performance, work experience, personal character, and academic rigor. During the rolling admissions, interested students can submit an application to American Public University online at any time with the following supporting materials:

  • Official college transcripts
  • A degree completion letter
  • Standardized testing scores via code 5315
  • Two to three references
  • Financial aid forms

Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition at APU is approximately 37 percent less for graduate students than the average in-state total costs at other accredited public colleges. For pursuing an online master's degree, graduate students can expect to pay $350 per credit hour regardless of their residence. Military-affiliated graduates in the Armed Forces, National Guard, Reserves, or related to active duty members can receive a tuition cap at $325 per credit hour. Full-time graduate students who take 18 credits each academic year should budget for $7,275 annually. In addition to textbooks, students must also pay the $50 technology fee, $50 learning tracks fee, and $250 graduate comprehensive exam fee.

At American Public University, the average financial aid package is $3,894. 57 percent of students have their financial need met. Borrowing money through Direct Subsidized loans, Direct Unsubsidized loans, and Direct PLUS loans is possible, but students should limit this to avoid mountains of debt. Financially needy students can receive money that won't be repaid through the Pell Grant, TEACH Grant, FSEOG Grant, or Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. Many APU online learners afford their education through employer vouchers and benefits. Scholarships are also abundant, such as the Boren Scholarship, Presidential Management Fellowship, and Workplace Recruitment Scholarship. APU's Career Stimulus Package also grants 15 full-tuition academic scholarships annually.

Online Degrees Available

With an average class size of 19, American Public University delivers more than 190 degrees 100 percent online at the associate's, bachelor's, master's, and certificate levels. Online classes start every month and run in convenient eight or 16-week terms for flexible scheduling. Nearly 89 percent of APU's student body is comprised of busy working adults. Courses are delivered in an asynchronous format with engaging discussion boards, forums, and library resources. The accredited online master's programs at APU include the:

M.S. in Sports Management

Featuring a dynamic 36-credit online curriculum, the M.S. in Sports Management program is designed for graduate students interested in advancing their managerial capabilities for coaching and administration jobs. Based on career goals, students can tailor their studies with a concentration in Coaching Theory and Strategy or Sports Administration. Courses will delve into topics on law, marketing, promotion, economics, finance, public relations, broadcasting, leadership, and organizational behavior specifically in the sports arena. A culminating practicum experience or integration project is required.

M.A. in Entrepreneurship

Fully accredited by the ACSBP, the M.A. in Entrepreneurship program at APU is structured in a 36-credit curriculum for current working professionals looking to pursue their own business ventures or manage an entrepreneurial enterprise. Students develop the practical knowledge and skills needed by budding entrepreneurs in today's competitive market. Courses will cover topics like managerial analysis, business plan development, ideation, small business law, eCommerce, entrepreneurial marketing, small business funding, and organizational behavior. Most students finish this program and its required capstone within two years full-time.

M.A. in Homeland Security

For qualified graduate students seeking to arm themselves with the strategic skills to avert our nation's major security threats, the M.A. in Homeland Security is offered fully online with a 36-credit curriculum. Student engage in stimulating discussions on terrorism, border control, immigration, cyber attacks, and other homeland security issues. Along with the general track, there are concentrations in Business Administration, Emergency Management, Counter-Terrorism Studies, Cyber Security, Intelligence Studies, Public Health, and Transportation Security. Before graduating from American Public University, students must complete an applied capstone project showing their expertise in national defense.

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