Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam launches new online university for state

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam launches new online university for state

July 9th, 2013 by Andy Sher in Local - Breaking News

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam

Photo by Tracey Trumbull/Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - Gov. Bill Haslam today launched a new online, "competency-based" university he said will help expand access to college for Tennesseans.

The governor was joined by Western Governors University President Robert W. Mendenhall as he signed a memorandum of understanding that officially establishes the university in partnership with WGU, a nonprofit online university created in 1997 by a group of western governors.

"We think this is a significant day in the state of Tennessee," Haslam said during the news conference.

There are some 800,000 Tennesseans who have completed some college but have no degree, Haslam said, and WGU Tennessee will be there to offer lower-cost, high quality education.

WGU Tennessee will give adult students with some college credits to "earn a degree," Haslam said. "Today in Tennessee, only 32 percent of our citizens have a two-year degree or higher, and our goal is to raise that number to 55 percent by 2025. We're calling it the 'Drive to 55,' and WGU Tennessee will play an important role in our success."

The program is aimed at working adults who want to complete a bachelor's or master's degree to advance their careers. WGU Tennessee offers accredited degree programs in business, K-12 teacher education, information technology and health professions, including nursing.

Students learn through interactive online courses and utilizes a competency-based model where students receive credit for skills they learn instead of the number of hours spent in a classroom. The program uses faculty members who serve as student mentors, course mentors who serve as subject matter experts and independent evaluators who objectively grade student work.

Average tuition will be about $3,000 per semester and $6,000 per year. Courses are offered online.