Nonprofit National University System to Acquire Northcentral University, a Leading Academic Provider of Online Graduate Degrees

The National University System announces an agreement to acquire Northcentral University, known for its innovative online “one to one” teaching model with a focus on master’s and doctoral level degrees; NCU expected to become the System’s fourth university affiliate, expanding the System’s reach to 45,000 students across every state in the nation

San Diego, Calif. – Addressing a demand for quality graduate-level degrees and college affordability, the private, nonprofit National University System is pleased to announce the finalization of an agreement to acquire Northcentral University (NCU), a leader in online master’s and doctoral degrees in high-demand fields. Northcentral University – which serves about 10,000 students through a unique “one-to-one” online learning model – is expected to join the San Diego-based National University System as an independent university affiliate and be converted to a nonprofit in alignment with the System’s nonprofit mission. The integration of NCU as the System’s fourth university affiliate will allow the National University System to offer a comprehensive suite of academic programs from the pre-college to doctoral level, and expand the National University System’s size to more than 45,000 students in all 50 states, with additional students in more than 40 countries.

The acquisition of the WSCUC-accredited NCU, which is subject to customary closing conditions including regulatory and accreditor review and approval, complements the more than 130 programs already offered through the San Diego-based National University System, which currently includes three universities, pre-college programs and the Sanford programs. The System’s three other accredited universities  – National University; John F. Kennedy University; and City University of Seattle — share a similar focus serving adult and lifelong learners and are also piloting projects to reduce the cost of a degree through advanced technologies and other approaches consistent with the organization’s non-profit mission.

The addition of Northcentral University, which offers 19 doctoral programs and 20 master’s degree programs, reinforces the National University System’s historic commitment to advancing educational opportunities for adult learners as the demand for advanced degree holders in the workforce continues to grow. Northcentral University’s programs are 100 percent online, and all of the University’s professors hold a doctoral degree. NCU provides a “one-to-one” online learning experience by driving engagement between each student and experienced professors.

“The National University System is pleased to welcome Northcentral University as our newest affiliate as we expand our reach nationally to offer lifelong learners new opportunities to pursue a quality education through the doctoral level,” said Dr. Michael R. Cunningham, Chancellor of the National University System. “The programs offered by Northcentral University allow us to enhance and strengthen our academic pathways while offering personalized approaches to online education that align with the System’s direction as a nonprofit network dedicated to re-investing in our students and lowering the cost of a college degree. We look forward to welcoming the exceptional faculty, staff and students to the NUS family in the near future.”

George Burnett, president of Northcentral University, added: “Northcentral University is proud to continue serving students globally in their aspirations to pursue and obtain an advanced degree through our innovative approaches to the student experience. The National University System shares this vision, and as an affiliate, Northcentral will have a terrific opportunity to grow, diversify degree offerings, and deliver superior student outcomes in the coming years.”

As part of its mission to serve adult learner students, which is shared by NCU, the National University System has put much focus and investment of resources into researching and developing new approaches to offering personalized learning online, and to acquiring and enhancing externally-developed technological platforms.  Just last week, the National University System introduced FlexCourse?, a teaching and learning platform that is initially being integrated through one of its affiliates, John F. Kennedy University, and which offers faculty-supported, pace-flexible online degree programs at an affordable price point of $8,500 annual tuition.

Other affiliates have been developing projects that aim to address this same need for greater college affordability, accessibility and flexibility through a variety of approaches aimed at supporting adult learners. City University of Seattle has innovative programs in management and leadership that recognize prior work training and experience, which can be stacked into degrees at both the bachelor and masters levels. National University has been focusing its efforts on personalized learning approaches through a comprehensive research and development project called Precision Education, which is being guided by the Precision Institute at National University.

Wells Fargo Securities, LLC served as exclusive financial advisor to National University. Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP acted as legal counsel to the company and Hogan Lovells acted as regulatory counsel.

About the National University System
National University System was established to meet the emerging challenges and demands of education in the 21st century. The System is uniquely aligned to connect a diverse population of students to a network of innovative educational programs that are relevant to their lives, careers, and the marketplace and are delivered in a format that respects competing life priorities. The affiliates of the System include National University; John F. Kennedy University; City University of Seattle; and the Division of Pre-College Programs. The System also includes the national Sanford Programs: Sanford Harmony and Sanford Inspire, which provides educators with comprehensive lesson plans and activities to support PreK-12 student development and success; and the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy, which offers educational and training programs for frontline nonprofit fundraisers. For more information, visit

About Northcentral University
Founded in 1996, Northcentral University is a regionally accredited, private, online and graduate-focused university serving professionals globally. With no physical residency requirements, courses are taught one-to-one by an NCU professor with a doctoral degree. NCU offers doctoral, master’s and bachelor’s degrees in business, education, and psychology, as well as doctoral and master’s degrees in marriage and family therapy, technology and health sciences. Northcentral University is regionally accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).