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11255 North Torrey Pines Road
La Jolla, CA 92037-1011
p. 800-628-8648
w. www.nu.edu

National University

National University Rating: 4.2/5 (5 votes)

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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.


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


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

Ranks 423rd for the average student loan amount.
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. <http://www.nu.edu/>.

Information Summary

Ranks 168th in California and 2087th overall
See the entire top 2,000 colleges and universities list

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Campus Crime Statistics

  Incidents per 100 Students
Aggravated assault N/A N/A
Murder & Non-Negligent Manslaughter N/A N/A
Rape N/A N/A
Robbery N/A N/A
Arson N/A N/A
Burglary 1 0.01
Larceny N/A N/A
Vehicle theft N/A N/A
Arrest N/A N/A

Demographics – Main Campus and Surrounding Areas

Reported area around or near La Jolla, CA 92037-1011
Surrounding communityLarge city (inside urban area, pop. over 250,000)
Total Population42,603 (42,221 urban / 382 rural)
Households17,660 (2.07 people per house)
Median Household Income$68,691
Families9,424 (2.66 people per family)

Carnegie Foundation Classification

Master's Colleges and Universities (larger programs)
UndergraduateProfessions plus arts & sciences, some graduate coexistence
GraduatePostbaccalaureate comprehensive
Undergraduate PopulationHigher part-time four-year
EnrollmentMajority graduate/professional
Size & SettingLarge four-year, primarily nonresidential

General Characteristics

Title IV EligibilityParticipates in Title IV federal financial aid programs
Highest offeringDoctoral degree
Calendar SystemOther academic year
Years of college work requiredN/A
Variable Tuition
Religious AffiliationN/A
Congressional District649

Special Learning Opportunities

Distance LearningN/A
ROTC — Army / Navy / Air Force  —   /   / 
Study Abroad
Weekend College
Teacher Certification

Student Tuition Costs and Fees

Ranks 3135th for total cost of attendance
  In District In State Out of State
Effective as of 2014-09-19
FT Undergraduate Tuition $12,096 $12,096 $12,096
FT Undergraduate Required Fees N/A N/A N/A
PT Undergraduate per Credit Hour $336 $336 $336
FT Graduate Tuition $10,368 $10,368 $10,368
FT Graduate Required Fees N/A N/A N/A
PT Graduate per Credit Hour $384 $384 $384
Total Cost of Attendance — On-Campus $13,616 $13,616 $13,616
Total Cost of Attendance — Off-Campus w/out Family $27,336 $27,336 $27,336
Total Cost of Attendance — Off-Campus with Family $17,416 $17,416 $17,416

Student Tuition Cost History and Trends

Prior year cost comparison
  In District In State Out of State
Published Tuition & Fees $11,376 $11,736 $11,376 $11,736 $11,376 $11,736
  Cost (regardless of residency)
Effective as of 2014-09-19
Books & Supplies $1,472 $1,480
On-Campus – Room & Board N/A(N/C)
On-Campus – Other Expenses N/A(N/C)
Off-Campus w/out Family – Room & Board $9,656 $9,744
Off-Campus w/out Family – Other Expenses $2,536 $2,528
Off-Campus with Family – Room & Board $2,768 $2,784

Admission Criteria

 = Required,   = Recommended,   = Neither required nor recommended
Open Admissions
Secondary School GPA / Rank / Record N/A /  N/A /  N/A
College Prep. CompletionN/A
Formal competency demoN/A
Admission test scoresN/A
Other testsN/A

Admission Credits Accepted

Dual Credit
Life Experience
Advanced Placement (AP)

Student Services

Remedial Services
Academic / Career Counseling
PT Cost-defraying Employment
Career Placement
On-Campus Day Care
Library Facility

Student Living

First-time Room / Board Required
Dorm CapacityN/A
Meals per WeekN/A
Room FeeN/A
Board FeeN/A

Student Completion / Graduation Demographics

Total 149 436 998 352 24 2,391 405 4,977
Accounting 9 8 32 21 66 9 151
Applied Behavior Analysis 1 4 2 9 10 27
Applied Linguistics
Arabic Language and Literature 1 4 1 6
Architectural Engineering Technology/Technician
Arts, Entertainment,and Media Management, General 1 3 1 5
Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering
Biological and Physical Sciences
Biology/Biological Sciences, General 1 5 9
Business Administration and Management, General 90 44 89 51 4 202 34 543
Business/Corporate Communications
Casino Management 1 1 3 5
Cell/Cellular Biology and Anatomical Sciences, Other 1 1
Chinese Language and Literature
Cinematography and Film/Video Production 2 8 2 12
Clinical Laboratory Science/Medical Technology/Technologist 1 1 2 4
Clinical Research Coordinator 1 1
Communication, General 4 6 2 1 21 3 37
Communication, Journalism, and Related Programs, Other
Community Health and Preventive Medicine
Comparative Literature
Computer Science 17 1 1 10 14 3 48
Computer Software Engineering
Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance 6 5 3 24 3 41
Construction Engineering 3 3 2 9
Construction Management 3 3 1 7
Construction Trades, General
Construction Trades, Other
Counseling Psychology 19 62 7 1 106 23 226
Counselor Education/School Counseling and Guidance Services 12 41 11 40 21 131
Creative Writing 5 1 3 34 4 49
Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement Administration 18 35 6 1 49 2 116
Data Modeling/Warehousing and Database Administration
Digital Communication and Media/Multimedia 2 1 1 4 8
Diver, Professional and Instructor 2 11 14
Drafting/Design Engineering Technologies/Technicians, Other
E-Commerce/Electronic Commerce 1 1
Early Childhood Education and Teaching 9 38 5 41 48 141
Education, General 2 69 169 43 1 492 73 897
Education/Teaching of Individuals in Early Childhood Special Education Programs 2 3 12 2 19
Education/Teaching of Individuals with Autism 5 1 7 1 15
Education/Teaching of Individuals with Hearing Impairments Including Deafness 4 1 6 1 12
Education/Teaching of the Gifted and Talented 1 1
Educational Leadership and Administration, General 11 25 5 1 78 12 135
Educational, Instructional, and Curriculum Supervision 5 2 15 1 23
Educational/Instructional Technology 2 4 9 3 18
Electrical and Electronics Engineering
Electrical/Electronics Equipment Installation and Repair, General
Elementary Education and Teaching 3 1 18 3 26
Emergency Medical Technology/Technician (EMT Paramedic)
Engineering Technology, General
Engineering/Industrial Management 6 2 7 4 13 5 37
English Language and Literature, General 11 15 1 116 7 152
English/Language Arts Teacher Education 2 4 1 3 10
Environmental Science 2 3 5
Environmental/Environmental Health Engineering 1 3 2 1 7
Film/Cinema/Video Studies
Finance, General 1 1 1 8 1 12
Forensic Science and Technology 1 2 5 1 39 1 52
Funeral Service and Mortuary Science, Other
Game and Interactive Media Design 1
General Merchandising, Sales, and Related Marketing Operations, Other
General Studies 13 24 7 1 40 3 98
Geology/Earth Science, General 1 1
Health Services/Allied Health/Health Sciences, General 4 4 6 15 29
Health and Wellness, General
Health/Health Care Administration/Management 3 1 1 4 10
Higher Education/Higher Education Administration
History, General 3 23 2 30
Holistic Health
Homeland Security 10 4 2 24 3 44
Hospitality Administration/Management, General
Human Resources Management and Services, Other 4 4
Human Resources Management/Personnel Administration, General 2 9 23 9 24 4 78
Industrial and Organizational Psychology
Information Technology Project Management 3 7 8 1 26 3 52
International Business/Trade/Commerce 9 2 1 12
International Finance
International/Global Studies 1 4 5
Iranian Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics
Juvenile Corrections
Knowledge Management
Legal Assistant/Paralegal 1 3 4
Legal Studies, General 2 2
Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities, Other
Liberal Arts and Sciences/Liberal Studies
Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse Training 2 2 2 9 4 19
Logistics, Materials, and Supply Chain Management
Management Information Systems, General 3 7 10 9 38 2 75
Management Science
Manufacturing Engineering 1 2 3 5 11
Marketing/Marketing Management, General 1 2 3
Mathematics Teacher Education 1 1 2
Mathematics, General 1 2 1 4
Medical Informatics 1 1 2
Medical Insurance Coding Specialist/Coder
Medical Radiologic Technology/Science - Radiation Therapist
Multi-/Interdisciplinary Studies, General 3 18 1 25 5 54
Multicultural Education 8 27 2 59 12 112
Natural Sciences 1 1
Nurse Anesthetist
Nursing Practice
Organizational Behavior Studies 1 2 2 5
Organizational Leadership 11 21 5 1 53 3 96
Physical Education Teaching and Coaching
Playwriting and Screenwriting 1 2 3
Political Science and Government, General 1 4 3 8
Pre-Law Studies 4 2 1 9 1 17
Pre-Nursing Studies 1 8 1 10
Project Management 1 1
Psychology, General 2 30 76 15 2 125 10 277
Public Administration 1 34 35 9 42 15 145
Public Health, General 4 4 6 2 7 27
Reading Teacher Education 5 13 18
Real Estate
Registered Nursing, Nursing Administration, Nursing Research and Clinical Nursing, Other
Registered Nursing/Registered Nurse 3 17 29 56 2 152 18 293
Rehabilitation and Therapeutic Professions, Other
Rhetoric and Composition
School Psychology 2 19 4 21 7 54
Secondary Education and Teaching 1 1 2
Social Sciences, General
Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education
Sociology 8 11 4 14 2 40
Spanish Language and Literature 4 4
Special Education and Teaching, General 1 22 53 19 2 142 30 279
Special Education and Teaching, Other
Sport and Fitness Administration/Management 3 3
Sports Studies 2 2 1 10 17
Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling 3 3
Sustainability Studies
Systems Engineering
Teacher Assistant/Aide
Telecommunications Engineering 4 1 4 9
Telecommunications Management

Faculty Compensation / Salaries

Ranks 259th for the average full-time faculty salary.
Effective as of 2014-09-20
Tenure system N/A
Average FT Salary $97,030 ($101,366 male / $88,499 female)
Number of FT Faculty 269 (132 male / 137 female)
Number of PT Faculty 1,046
FT Faculty Ratio 0.3 : 1
Total Benefits $10,786,313

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