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Western Governors University Review [2024] A Review of WGU Online

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Managing Editor
Carrie Sealey-Morris has covered bootcamps, careers, and higher education for College Consensus since 2017. Carrie is a graduate of the University of New Mexico where she earned a B.A. in American Studies. 
Western Governors University

Founded by a coalition of governors and former governors in the western US, Western Governors University has become a leading figure in online education, and one of the most popular online schools. Since its beginnings in 1997, WGU has earned accolades for expanding higher education opportunities for nontraditional students. WGU is entirely online and uses a competency-based learning model to make the process more effective for working adults. But how does it stack up as a university?

Is WGU a Good School?

Overall, yes, Western Governors University (WGU) is a good school. Current and graduate students have positive things to say about their experience, quality of education, and their improved career potential from attending WGU. The educational institution itself has received multiple awards that highlight its ability to deliver educational materials to students online, its value in terms of tuition costs versus the quality of education provided, and how its college degree programs help students become highly effective members of their chosen discipline.

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WGU receives mixed reviews, primarily due to how it presents its educational material. It’s an online-only school that offers the opportunity to earn an advanced degree in an accelerated format, but students can also progress at a slower pace that fits their lifestyle. Students who wish to attend WGU need to be self-motivated and able to meet coursework deadlines. Some courses are geared towards working professionals who have experience in their field and use their education to build upon their existing knowledge. 

Western Governors University Most Popular Degrees

WGU’s most popular programs include Business Administration, Nursing, and Education. The high number of bachelor degree-completion and master’s programs indicates that WGU has a lot of returning students and non-traditional students – a demographic common in business, nursing, and elementary education.

Program of StudyAssociateBachelorMasterDoctorate
Business AdministrationN/A25942623N/A
National Center for Education Statistics most popular degree programs.

Is WGU Accredited in All States?

Yes, WGU has the requisite accreditation for all states. WGU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) which covers seven western states, including WGU’s home state of Utah. It also has accreditation from:

  • Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
  • Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP)
  • Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Commission on Accreditation for Health Infomatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM)
  • Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

WGU also has an academic alignment with The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Accreditation is crucial for federal financial aid and transferrable credits.

Do WGU Credits Transfer to Other Schools?

As a general rule, yes, credits from WGU can be transferred to other schools. WGU’s regional accreditation means all credits are technically transferrable to another regionally accredited school. It’s more difficult to transfer credits to a nationally accredited school. Ultimately, it’s up to the school to accept the credits you wish to transfer. All schools have their own internal policies about accepting credits from other schools, so WGU students considering transferring should contact their prospective school to find out what credits they will accept.

On the other hand, WGU is very generous in accepting transfer credits from other schools, especially for bachelor’s completion programs. WGU also allows working students to earn credits from their work experience, which can make completing a degree exceptionally convenient for busy adults.

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How Does WGU Rank Academically?

While WGU does not typically rank highly in comparison to conventional on-campus schools, it ranks very highly in a number of specific fields. Here’s a look at the rankings WGU has earned from various college ranking indexes:

U.S. News and World Report

WGU has no ranking for regional universities in the U.S. News and World Report’s rankings for higher education. In 2020, the school tied for 12th place for the “Most Innovative Schools” among western regional universities. 


GradReports gives WGU the #1 spot for best online marketing bachelor’s degrees, #6 for best online business bachelor’s degrees, and puts its curriculum and instruction master’s degrees at #23. 

College Factual

College Factual awarded WGU with the #1 slot out of 246 schools for the most popular school teaching English or French, #1 out of 13 for best value in computer and IS security, #1 out of 17 for best value in education and administration, and #1 out of 1,149 for being the best value nationwide. 


Niche ranks WGU at #7 of 270 of the best colleges for information technology in the U.S., #27 out of 762 for the best colleges for nursing in the U.S., and #105 out of 1,498 of the best value colleges in the U.S.

Western Governors University Highest Paying Jobs for Graduates

The highest-paying jobs for WGU graduates, not surprisingly, are in business and technology – IT manager, project manager, and systems administrator, for example. These are managerial positions that often pay much higher with an online master’s degree.

Job TitleSalary RangeAverage Salary
Information Technology (IT) Manager$59k – $126k$93,153
Human Resources (HR) Manager$53k – $92k$73,014
Project Manager$52k – $104k$75,775
Software Engineer$62k – $122k$83,367
Systems Administrator$51k – $90k$67,677
Western Governors University Top Jobs by Salary

Student Reviews of WGU

Students and graduates of WGU consistently report that they’re satisfied with the quality of their education and greatly appreciate the flexibility in attending classes. They like being able to set their own pace and the opportunity to earn an advanced degree in a timeframe that works with their lifestyle and goals. They appreciate detailed resource support pages and program mentors. Others who are more self-motivated may find program mentors irritating

The major complaint among students comes from dealing with administrative headaches. Students frequently report having trouble getting placements in school districts for student teaching and finding clinical trials. Many students encountered a lack of communication and clear direction about the non-classroom requirements for their degree.

Another issue students face is educational material overload. That is, students find a seemingly bottomless amount of material they have to learn and then find it difficult to apply their knowledge to the exams. When it comes to quality of education, some students felt that the instructors were working at WGU as a side job and not putting their best effort into teaching the material. In contrast, many students report having no issues with absorbing the material and completing their degree program at an accelerated pace. 

The overall consensus among WGU students is that it’s a great school if you can make it work for your personal style. Attending WGU requires self-motivation and the desire to push through the material and take advantage of supportive resources. Students who have proficiency in their area of focus have good outcomes when it comes to adding to their knowledge base and earning a degree. Those who are attending WGU for their degree with no prior work experience may find it more difficult to get started, but can eventually thrive and earn their desired degree. 

Can Western Governors University Graduates Pay Back Loans?

WGU has historically had a low default rate – they offer solid degrees for motivated students, usually already working professionals. As of 2020, they had only one graduate in default, effectively making a 0% default rate.

WGU Fiscal Year202020192018
Default rate0%0.7%3.0%
Number in default1253813
Number in repayment37,18731,87326,426
National Center for Education Statistics default rates.

Western Governors University Pros and Cons

There’s a reason people use a “Pros and Cons” list to make an important decision. Of course, you’ll have your own ideas, but College Consensus offers a kick-start to your list. You may want to consider


  • Consistent student satisfaction rankings
  • Accredited in all states
  • Competency-based education
  • Flat-rate tuition/Financial Aid available
  • Bachelor’s and master’s degrees


  • Amount of educational material can be overwhelming
  • Limited majors only in: Education, Business, IT, Health & Nursing
  • Difficulties in scheduling practicum or field work sites

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