Post University, a for-profit college in Connecticut, plans to acquire the for-profit American Sentinel University, the Colorado-based online nursing school announced Monday.
American Sentinel will become Post's college of nursing and health sciences. The two institutions did not disclose the financial terms of their agreement.
The deal, which is pending regulatory approval, highlights for-profit colleges' growing interest in healthcare programs.
Although Post is absorbing American Sentinel, the latter will continue to offer the same programs, as well as retain its faculty members and accreditation, according to the announcement.
Post, which enrolled around 10,000 students in 2019, will benefit from adding fully online nursing and health care programs, the release noted. In return, American Sentinel, which had about 2,700 students in 2019, will gain access to "enhanced support, expertise and resources," the release said.
The for-profit sector appears on the rise after years of tumbling enrollment. Enrollment climbed 5.3% year over year at four-year, for-profit colleges in the fall, even though all other institution types saw declines or remained flat, data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center shows.
Early in the pandemic, for-profit colleges targeted advertising to laid-off workers and grew their recruiting teams, The Associated Press reported in April. Many of them specifically promoted their healthcare programs.
For-profit college operators have been looking to expand their healthcare offerings. Adtalem Global Education announced in September that it plans to buy Walden University from Laureate Education for $1.5 billion in cash. More than three-quarters of Walden's students are in health sciences programs, a spokesperson said this fall, and healthcare-focused programs account for around three-quarters of its revenue, according to a recent SEC filing.
Although activist investors are urging Adtalem to back out of the deal, the company recently issued a statement reaffirming that the acquisition could help the company meet the growing demand for healthcare workers.
Strategic Education, the parent company of two for-profit colleges, also bid on Walden, according to an open letter from the investors. The company expanded its healthcare offerings during the pandemic, launching a competency-based version of a nursing program at one of its universities in September.