- National University, a private nonprofit institution that caters to working adults, announced Monday it is combining with Northcentral University, an institution that offers online graduate degrees.
- The accreditor for the two institutions, the WASC Senior College and University Commission, approved the merger at a June meeting. The combined institution will retain the name of National University and be headquartered in San Diego.
- The merged institution will enroll more than 45,000 students, according to the announcement. The merger with Northcentral University will also expand National University’s graduate offerings.
National University was established in San Diego in 1971 to serve working adults and student-veterans. Over the next few decades, it expanded its reach with online programs and new campuses in California.
Today, National University has about 30,000 students, the majority of whom take most of their classes online, according to the merger announcement. The university is part of the National University System, a network of nonprofit institutions.
Northcentral University was founded in 1996 as an online-only institution, with a focus on graduate degrees. The National University System acquired Northcentral University in 2019, bringing the institution into its fold as an affiliate and converting it from a for-profit into a nonprofit. Northcentral University currently has about 10,000 students.
After the merger, National University will become a fully online university, according to the announcement. It will offer both undergraduate and graduate programs, with an emphasis on microcredentials and workforce training programs built with the help of employers.
National University’s and Northcentral University’s leadership plan to create an academic structure for the combined institution in the coming months. The merger is expected to be official by the end of September.
The two institutions collectively have about 160 programs. They don’t have immediate plans to phase out specific programs, but they expect to evolve them to fit workforce and student needs, a National University spokesperson said in an email.
“The union of these two institutions will make it possible for us to offer workforce-relevant, in-demand programs — almost entirely in an asynchronously online format — to adult learners in all fifty states,” Michael Cunningham, interim president of National University and chancellor of the National University System, said in a statement.
Going forward, the institution will be led by a single president and system chancellor. Cunningham will be National University’s interim president while the board searches for the institution’s next leader.
Current Northcentral students will be able to select which university name they would like to have on their degrees — either National University or Northcentral University. Students will also be able to access new programs through the merger, the spokesperson said.
Because they are part of the National University System, the institutions already have a shared services model for financial aid, student support and advising, and instructional design, the spokesperson said in an email. The spokesperson said that no employees would be laid off as a direct result of the merger.