National University


For students looking for a convenient campus-based college experience in California or Nevada, or an online degree from a respected institution, National University has the programs and the credentials to meet your needs. National University was founded in 1971 by David Chigos, a retired Navy lieutenant commander and General Dynamics employee who wanted to found an institution of higher learning to serve working students above the traditional college age. The college’s earliest courses were held in a variety of spaces in the San Diego area, and its first class only had 27 students. By 1988, the university had more than 7,000 students and campuses in California, Nevada and Costa Rica.

National University is a private non-profit university that offers many of its programs online. Many news stories in recent years have raised concerns about private colleges and universities offering online degree programs, as some of these organizations have turned out to be “diploma mills,” that is, institutions offering bogus degrees. However, most of these institutions are for-profit, private colleges. National University’s status as a non-profit, and its many accreditations by education organizations ensures that the degrees issued by this university are legitimate and recognized by other educational institutions and employers.


Information Summary

Ranks 324th in California and 3525th overall. See the entire top 2,000 colleges and universities list
Overall Score (about) 41.8
Total Cost On-Campus Attendance $15,024
Admission Success rate N/A
Student Ratio Students-to-Faculty 29 : 1
Retention (full-time / part-time) 50% / 24%
Enrollment Total (all students) 16,930


National University offers more than 100 degrees and certificate programs at its campus sites. Through its online program, students can earn one of 60 degrees. National University offers undergraduate degrees, master’s degrees, and specialized teaching degrees.

The university’s programs are divided into six colleges, letters and sciences, media and communication, health and human services, education, engineering and technology and business management. The most popular degree programs at National University include the university’s business administration and education programs.

National University has an Institute for Policy Research, which is essentially a public policy think tank. The institute examines the impact of various policies on California, primarily the San Diego area. Much of the institute’s research appears to concern education.

Online College

National University’s online programs allow students to learn through streaming videos, real-time discussions, multimedia learning material such as DVD-ROMs and other programs and other forms of online communication. The online program makes getting a college education possible for many non-traditional students, whose family and work schedules might otherwise preclude attending courses in a traditional setting.

Awards and Recognitions

The university has also been commended for its service to the men and women serving in the military. National University’s online programs and multiple campus locations have enabled many military servicemen and women to earn degrees while serving in far flung locations around the world. The university in 2003 won the Ray Ehrensberger Award, which is given to institutions of higher learning that provide high quality services to the military student community.

The university also gets plaudits for the strength of its education program, and is a major producer of new teachers in the state of California.


National University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, which accredits schools in California and Hawaii, and the U.S. territories of Guam, American Samoa and Northern Marianas Islands. American schools in other parts of the Pacific Rim may also be accredited by the association. The university also has accreditations from a variety of other professional and academic organizations. Students of National University don’t have to worry about their degrees not being recognized by employers thanks to these many seals of approval.

Most Popular Fields of Study


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university :: National University


National University has a fairly liberal admissions policy and just about all students who apply are accepted. Students must have a high school diploma or GED to be admitted. Students without these credentials may be admitted on a case-to-case basis. Students applying to the college should submit high school transcripts and standardized test scores. All new students will take a placement test to determine whether they will need to take remedial courses.

Students transferring to National University from another college or university must have a grade point average of at least 2.0 for admission. Students with lower GPA may be admitted on a conditional basis.

Students applying to the college’s graduate school programs must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. The student must have graduated the college or university with at least a 2.5 GPA. Students with a GPA between 2.0 and 2.49 must take the GRE.

The college has no deadline for applications, however, for consideration for scholarships, new students are encouraged to get their applications in as soon as possible.

As of May 2011, the university charges an application fee of $60.

Financial Aid

Federal Grants and Student Loans

Students applying to National University are eligible for federal grants and student loans. There are also a number of grants and scholarships offered by the state of California, the college and other organizations that students may be eligible for. The college awards millions in scholarships and other financial aid each year.


For example, Presidential Scholarships are available to students who are of groups underrepresented in college that have at least a 2.3 GPA and meet income requirements. The scholarships are for $2,500 per year. The university also offers a number of scholarships to students transferring from community colleges in California. The Military Tuition Scholarship awards incremental awards of $500 up to $2,500 to military personnel, their spouses or dependents who have a demonstrable financial need. Students are urged to apply for scholarship aid early, as many scholarships are first come, first served.

Financial Aid Assistance

The college’s office of financial aid also stands ready to help students find other grants and scholarships they may be eligible for. The school’s website is not particularly helpful in terms of finding scholarships, so a call to the financial aid office may be your best bet in finding aid.

Student Financial Aid Details

Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in California.


Enrolling more than 26,000 students at 28 campuses and, through its online programs, campuses all over the world, National University students are a diverse mix of different races, beliefs and backgrounds brought together by the common goal of better living through education.

Recognizing the demands of family, work and/or military service, the university has a unique program that allows students to take one course per month. Organizing the work load this way makes it easier for students to focus their attention on one subject at a time, rather than getting bogged down trying to take multiple courses at once.

To better accommodate its students schedules, most of National University’s classes at its on campus sites are scheduled on nights and weekends.

Because of its population and distributed campus set-up, National University does not offer many of the student activities and clubs that other traditional universities offer. National University does offer a number of programs at its campus locations to help students prepare for careers or job seeking. The university also has a math tutoring center set up to help students improve their math abilities and provides services to disabled students and students who are military veterans.

However, one campus in the National University System, John F. Kennedy University, does have more of a traditional set up and does offer student government and some other traditional activities.

National University has won some plaudits for its diversity programs. According to the publication Diverse Issues in Higher Education, the university annually awards more master’s degrees in education to minority students than any other institution of higher learning in the state of California, as well as more master’s degrees of all types to Hispanics and African Americans. The university is among the top 10 institutions in the nation with regard to awarding master’s degrees to women.

Student Enrollment Demographics

Student Graduation Demographics


As a far-flung campus primarily devoted to the needs of non-traditional college students above the usual athletic age, National University has no athletic teams. School colors are blue and light gray.

The university does have one interesting sports-related link, however. National University has a golf academy which offers courses related to golf management and sports psychology.


Again, because of National University’s status as a non-traditional college program, the university does not have the sense of place or tradition that other more traditional college campuses may enjoy.


Currently, it is estimated that there are more than 127,000 National University Alumni working in various career fields around the world. One service the university provides to alumni is membership in the university’s libraries. For $50 per year, alumni may borrow books from the university’s collection and have access to the university’s online books and journals.

Additional School Information

In the mid-90s the university ventured into offering online programs. The result was an increase in enrollment. By 2000, the university had more than 17,000 students enrolled in its programs. In the early 2000s, to better handle its many locations and programs, the university established a new administrative framework, the National University System.

Today, the university enrolls more than 26,000 students and is the 16th largest non-profit, private university in the U.S. The National University System is currently headquartered in La Jolla, Calif.

The university also has a high degree of satisfaction from its employees, earning a designation as one of the best colleges to work for from the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2010.


  • The College Board College Handbook, 2010 . 47th ed. New York: College Board, 2009. Print.
  • McGrath, Anne. Ultimate college guide 2010 . 7th ed. Naperville, Ill.: Sourcebooks Inc., 2009. Print.
  • “National University • Accredited Online, On-Campus College Degrees for Adults in Continuing Education, San Diego.” National University • Accredited Online, On-Campus College Degrees for Adults in Continuing Education, San Diego. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 May 2011. <>.

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