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History

In 1991, retired Marine Corps officer James P. Etter founded American Military University (AMU) and broke new ground by offering career-relevant, distance education for a mobile population of military learners with unique needs. Over the next 10 years, many more undergraduate and graduate programs were added to help prepare students for leadership roles both within the military and for transition into post-military careers.

In 2002, AMU was reorganized into the American Public University System (APUS), and American Public University (APU) was founded to provide the same quality, affordable, and flexible education to a broader audience of motivated working adults.

Today the university system is one of the largest providers of online higher education offering more than 200 academic programs to students enrolled worldwide. The student body is full of ambitious professionals from all fields sharing a common motivation for continuing their education and preparing to reach their career potential.

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    2018

  • Award

    "Best for Vets" 6th Straight Year

    Military Times Best for Vets

    For a sixth consecutive year, Military Times recognizes the university with a “Best for Vets Colleges” distinction. Military Times distributes special reports, including its popular "Best for Vets" lists, in service to the U.S. military, global defense community, and the U.S. federal government.

    View Ranking January 10
  • Award

    6th Year on U.S. News & World Report

    Recognized annually since 2013, APUS celebrates a 6th consecutive year on the U.S. News & World Report's "Best Online Bachelor's Programs" list. The university's programs rank among the 200 best nationally, excelling in areas such as student engagement, faculty credentials, and academic and career support for students.

    View Award January 9
  • Academic

    First Doctoral Degree Programs

    After much research, careful planning, and curriculum development, two doctoral degree programs are launched. Our applied doctoral degrees in Global Security and Strategic Intelligence are the only programs of their kind taught online by a regionally accredited university and backed by decades of experience by highly-credentialed faculty and staff. In January, our first cohort of doctoral students began their journey toward achieving the pinnacle of educational achievement.

    Read Story January 4
  • 2017

  • Academic

    Nursing Programs Recognized by CCNE

    Our Master's in Nursing (MSN) program earns specialized accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), an autonomous accrediting agency contributing to the improvement of the public's health. The Bachelor's in Nursing (BSN) previously earned this specialized accreditation in 2012.

    Read Story November 27
  • Person

    Dr. Wallace Boston Resumes Presidency

    Wallace E. Boston

    Wallace E. Boston, Ph.D., resumes presidency of APUS, marking 15 years of service to the University System. Dr. Boston is also CEO of APUS parent company American Public Education, Inc. (APEI).

    October 15
  • Location

    State-of-the-Art Observatory Debuts

    APUS Information Technology building
    APUS Information Technology Building

    The Planewave CDK24 telescope opens on top of the APUS Information Technology building in Charles Town, WV. The 650-pound optical telescope has a mirror that is two feet across and a highly sophisticated digital camera which acquires images of the Moon, stars, and planets. APUS students anywhere on earth can log in and have hands-on experience with this state-of-the-art optical instrument.

    Learn More May
  • Academic

    Five EDM Programs Earn IFSAC Accreditation

    IFSAC

    Associate, bachelor's and master's programs in fire science and in emergency and distaster managment earn reconition from the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC), following a four-year rigorous self-study and IFSAC site visit. Terri Wilkin, EDM program manager, noted the recognition “reflects our unwavering commitment to serving the men and women who risk their lives daily on behalf of their community and fellow citizens.”

    View Accreditation April 10
  • Award

    Fifth OLC Effective Online Practice Award

    Online Learning Consortium (OLC)

    APUS receives a fifth Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Effective Practice Award for “Applying a Group Coaching and Mentoring Framework to Shift an Organization Culture." This university coaching and mentoring initiative is designed to strengthen the principles and practices of teaching excellence.

    View Award March 15
  • 2016

  • Person

    Dr. Karan Powell Becomes Third APUS President

    In a ceremony held in Charles Town, WV, Provost Dr. Karan Powell is inaugurated as APUS president, making her the first-ever female president of APUS and its third to date.

    Read Story June 1
  • 2014

  • Award

    Fourth OLC Effective Online Practice Award

    Online Learning Commission

    APUS receives an Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Effective Practice Award for “Bringing the Library to Life: Live Librarian Instruction in a First-Year Online Course.” The project was recognized at the annual OLC International Conference on Online Learning, marking an unprecedented fourth time APUS has been honored with the award.

    Read Story October 30
  • Academic

    First Fully-Online B.S. in Electrical Engineering

    Program Director Dr. Colin Doyle discusses the online learning experience in electrical engineering at APUS.

    The innovative Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSEE) program provides engineering students with a strong theoretical foundation through online classes that are integrated with rich hands-on labs. Labs are conducted by students in their own home using specialized hardware and software from National Instruments (NI). This is one of the first fully-online BSEE programs and is unique in terms of the innovative home-based practical lab experience.

    July 14
  • Community

    AMU and APU Student Mascots Revealed

    Jake and Valor
    Valor, the new AMU mascot poses with Jake, the new APU mascot.

    The 2014 APUS commencement celebration included the debut of new university mascots: APU Volunteer, Jake, and AMU Golden Eagle, Valor. The mascots were greeted with smiles, hugs, and high-fives as they mingled, posed for photos, and helped make the celebration of our graduates and their families memorable.

    June 14
  • 2013

  • Award

    Creative Use of Technology Award

    Association for Continuing Higher Education (ACHE)

    APUS receives the 2013 Creative Use of Technology Award from the Association for Continuing Higher Education (ACHE) for its "21st Century New Millennia Textbook Engagement" project. The project involved innovative uses of electronic textbooks, harnessing the online library's resources, and the use of expert faculty as authors in conjunction with the electronic university press.

    View Award November 5
  • Award

    Environmental Excellence Award for Clean Energy

    Brownfield Redevelopment
    “We’re proud to partner with our local, state, and federal governments and other industry officials to the benefit of residents and business owners alike,” states Dr. Wallace E. Boston

    The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection recognizes APUS for its Academic Center and Finance Center buildings and solar array. APUS also received a Phoenix Award in recognition of the new facilities’ central role in the Commerce Corridor Brownfields Revitalization project in Ranson and Charles Town, WV. The awards recognize the University System’s ongoing commitment to new urbanism, sustainable community, and smart growth.

    Read Story June 6
  • Award

    Third OLC Effective Online Practice Award

    Online Learning Commission

    APUS receives an Online Learning Consortium (formerly Sloan Consortium) Effective Practice Award for “Online Learning Contact Hour Calculator: An Adaptive Model for Calculating Contact Hours."

    View Award November 13
  • Location

    Academic Center Earns LEED Gold Certification

    APUS Academic Center
    APUS Academic Center

    The 45,000 square-foot, all-brick Academic Center was built on the site of a vacant metal salvage yard in Charles Town, WV. The architecture of the Academic Center and other APUS buildings blends old and new design elements to preserve and complement the character and history of Charles Town.

    Read Story January 24
  • Award

    First Appearance on U.S. News Report

    Online Learning Commission

    APUS ranks at #22 on U.S. News & World Report’s second annual qualitative ranking of top online schools in the "Best Online Bachelor’s Programs" category.

    Read Story January 16
  • 2012

  • Location

    West Virginia's Largest Solar Array Opens

    APUS Solar Array ribbon cutting
    APUS President Wallace Boston, Ranson Mayor David Hamill, Vice Mayor of Charles Town Don Clendening, Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, and APUS CFO Harry Wilkins cut the ribbon officially opening the APUS Solar Array in 2012.

    The APUS solar array utilizes 1,660 solar panels which generate approximately 50 percent of the Finance Center building’s energy requirements. This is enough electricity to supply 30 homes with electricity for a full year. The array features 14 electric car charging stations for use by employees, visitors, and local residents with electric or hybrid vehicles.

    Read Story April 23
  • 2011

  • Academic

    First ACBSP Specialty Accreditation

    Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)

    The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) grants specialized accreditation for 14 of the university's undergraduate programs and 5 graduate programs in the School of Business. The university continues to add to the list of programs recognized by ACBSP including specialized accounting accreditation for the A.S., B.S., and M.S. accounting degrees.

    View Accreditation May 4
  • Location

    Richard G. Trefry Archives Opens

    As part of the Richard G. Trefry Library, the archives preserve the university's growing institutional heritage. The opening in 2011 recognized the University System's 20th anniversary. The archives contain a large collection detailing the career of retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Richard G. Trefry, an APUS board member since 1995. The Trefry Library is housed in the Academics building in Charles Town, WV, and provides a vast digital resource to students and faculty worldwide.

    Learn More
  • 2010

  • Award

    Second Effective Online Practice Award

    Honored with a second Sloan Consortium Effective Online Practice Award, APUS was the first institution to receive the award in consecutive years. APUS was awarded the 2010 Sloan-C award for employing a repository of content, materials, and learning activities to ensure that courses achieve desired goals and objectives.

    View Awards September 21
  • Academic

    Walmart Partnership Announced

    Walmart manager Anthony Soto discusses his motivation for pursing his degree online at APU.

    APU partners with the retail giant Walmart to offer academic courses and degree programs to Walmart associates and their families. “We share Walmart’s commitment to enhance America’s competitiveness by helping to increase the number of working Americans with college degrees,” said Dr. Wallace E. Boston.

    Read Story June 3
  • 2009

  • Award

    Gomory Award for Quality Online Education

    The Sloan Consortium Ralph E. Gomory Award for Quality Online Education is presented to APUS for "significant contributions to online education through its commitment to assessing and improving the quality of its online education programs.

    View Awards September 29
  • 2007

  • Business

    American Public Education, Inc. Traded on NASDAQ

    APUS parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI), becomes a publicly-traded company on the Nasdaq Stock Market

  • 2006

  • Academic

    Regional Accreditation Awarded

    Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

    APUS earns accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). HLC is approved by the U.S. Department of Education to validate the quality of an institution as a whole, as well as its offerings, governance and administration, mission, finances, and resources.

    Accreditation sets the bar for standards of quality against which all schools are measured.

    View Accreditation
  • 2004

  • Person

    Dr. Boston Inaugurated as Second APUS President

    Wallace E. Boston

    Wallace E. Boston, Ph.D., succeeds APUS founder James P. Etter as president.

  • 2003

  • Location

    APUS Headquarters Relocates to Charles Town, WV

    APUS headquarters moved from Manassas, VA, to Charles Town, WV, becoming an agent for growth and revitalization for the Charles Town community.

  • 2002

  • Business

    American Public University System Established

    AMU was reorganized into the American Public University System (APUS) and American Public University (APU) was founded to bring choice and flexibility to a broader audience of motivated adult learners and to better meet the educational needs of those outside the military.

  • 1999

  • Academic

    First Associate Degree Programs

    New degrees were introduced at the associate level, providing greater educational choices for students beginning their academic journey.

  • 1998

  • Online

    Became an Online University

    AMU embraced and adapted early to the technological advances in the 1990s, transitioning from its traditional distance education framework to become one of the first fully-online universities.

  • 1996

  • Academic

    First Bachelor's Degree Programs

    As the master's program grew, it was clear there was an unmet need for professional military education at the bachelor's level. The decision was made to introduce an undergraduate program consisting of three majors: Military History, Military Management, and Intelligence Operations.

  • 1995

  • Academic

    First AMU Graduation

    AMU awarded Master of Arts in Military Studies degrees to five graduates including two Air Force officers, an active-duty Army reserve officer, a Marine officer, and a teacher.

    May 1
  • Academic

    AMU Awarded National Accreditation

    Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)

    AMU earned national accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), (formerly known as the Distance Education and Training Council). The DEAC evaluates distance education schools for their academic quality, curriculum requirements, faculty, support services, learning and research resources, administrative and financial capacity, and ethical business practices. This accreditation was maintained through 2012 after APUS achieved regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

    January 6
  • 1993

  • Academic

    AMU Launched First Master's Level Program

    Original AMU Logo

    The first AMU class featured students from across the U.S., including active duty and reserve officers and educators working toward a Master of Arts in Military Studies with specializations in four areas: Land Warfare, Naval Warfare, Air Warfare, and Defense Management.

    January 4
  • 1991

  • Business

    American Military University Founded and Incorporated in Virginia

    James P.Etter
    James P.Etter led the university through its major milestones of academic development, licensing, accreditation, and growth.

    What is now the American Public University System began June 11, 1991 as American Military University in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Retired Marine Corps Major James P. Etter founded the institution to provide military personnel with an educational opportunity that would be portable, professionally relevant, and affordable.

    January 4