Online school Western Governors University (WGU) has entered into an agreement with Mercy, a St. Louis-based healthcare provider, which will allow the 40,000 employees there access to bachelor’s and master’s degrees at discounted prices.
Mercy currently has over 700 locations within four states. The agreement will offer employees a 5% discount for up to 2 years of study, and employees may also apply for scholarships of up to $2,500.
“The agreement with WGU provides our co-workers additional access to quality degree programs that accommodate their busy lives,” Cynthia Mercer, Mercy chief administrative officer and senior vice president, said in the release. “A talented and highly-qualified workforce enables Mercy to provide excellent care to all of those entrusted to our care.”
Mercy employees can use the discount for any WGU program in business, education, health care or information technology. Tuition is a flat rate of $3,000 for six months in most programs, and classes begin on the first day of each month.
Established in 2013, WGU has over 49,000 students in all 50 states. Over 11,000 of those students are enrolled in its College of Health Professions. The school runs on a competency-based learning model, which offers working professionals the opportunity to complete the courses on their own time. This type of model allows students to skim through material they are already familiar with and spend more time studying new lessons.
On average, WGU students complete their degree programs in 3 years or less.
The school hosted a mixer for students on August 28, at the Oasis Convention Center in Missouri, giving students, teachers and the chancellor the opportunity to meet face to face.
Twenty-five people were in attendance.
“It’s so rewarding to meet our students in person, and see how supportive they are of each other,” said Angie Besendorfer, WGU Missouri chancellor.
WGU is the only accredited online university in the state, offering degree programs in business, K-12 teacher education, information technology and health services.
The school’s teacher education program offers prospective teachers the opportunity to gain their degrees without spending extra time that they do not have in college classrooms. The school has 20 bachelors and graduate degree programs for teaching and licensure and is “the first exclusively online university to earn accreditation from the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) for its teacher preparation programs.”
The school is currently the nation’s largest supplier of math and science teachers, which has greatly helped the shortage of STEM teachers in Utah.
In a review of 2,400 secondary teacher preparation programs conducted by The National Council on Teacher Quality, WGU Teachers College was found to be the best program in the nation. The college’s elementary program was rated 16th in the nation.
WGU was one of only 10 universities to make it onto both lists.