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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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2020

    • Location

      Dr. Wade Dyke Assumes Presidency

      Dr. Wade Dyke

      Rhodes Scholar and White House Fellow Wade Dyke, PhD, assumes the presidency of APUS, upon the retirement of Wallace E. Boston, EdD. Dr. Dyke had been CEO of Great Hearts Academies prior to joining APUS.

      Read Story July 8
    • Academic

      Health Information Management Program Earns Specialty Accreditation

      The university’s Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management receives initial accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).

      Read Story April 13
    • Award

      Best for Vets

      Military Times Best for Vets

      Military Times recognizes the University with a “Best for Vets Colleges” distinction. The university has been honored since 2013. 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 2020

2019

  • Academic

    Project Catalyst Gets Fully Underway

    Project Catalyst Gets Fully Underway The institution begins to update all of its major IT systems, including adoption of a new learning management system designed to create more individualized learning paths and student engagement.

    Read Story December 10
  • Person

    Angela Selden Becomes CEO for APEI

    Angela Selden

    American Public Education, Inc. (APEI), parent company of American Public University System and Hondros College of Nursing, announces its selection of Angela Selden as CEO of APEI. Dr. Wallace E. Boston, who held the role along with the presidency of APUS, continued as APUS president and announced his intention to retire in 2020.

    Read Story August 22

2018

  • Award

    APUS Named National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education

    The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security designate APUS as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE). APUS joins an elite group of just over 200 institutions to earn this honor.

    Read Story March 4
  • Award

    Best for Vets

    APUS was named a “Best for Vets College” by Military Times, from whom it has received the distinction annually since 2013

    View Ranking October
  • Award

    6th Year on U.S. News Ranking

    Recognized annually since 2013, APUS celebrates a 6th consecutive year on the U.S. News & World Reports "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 disaster management earn recognition 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

        APUS Academic Center
        “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 Famed Colleges List

        U.S. News & World Report Best Online Bachelor’s Program badge

        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. Appearance on the list is maintained for 6 consecutive years.

        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

        ACBSP Global Business Accreditation badge

        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

        Sloan Consortium 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

      Sloan Consortium Ralph E. Gomory Award

      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