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American Public University System Celebrates 30th Anniversary of Educating Those Who Serve

Founded as American Military University in 1991, APUS Proudly Celebrates Approximately 90,000 Current Students and Over 108,000 Alumni Who Inspire Student-Centered Education and Innovation

Charles Town, WV—June 11, 2021 – Thirty years ago, retired U.S. Marine Corps Major James P. Etter had the vision and determination to create a university that broke new ground by providing affordable, relevant distance education to active-duty service members. 

Over the next decade, American Military University (AMU) became a pioneer in higher education. It added numerous undergraduate and graduate programs for highly mobile students with irregular work schedules and deployments. In 1999, AMU shifted all of its undergraduate programs fully online, with graduate programs moving online a year later.

Today, American Public University System (APUS) celebrates its 30th anniversary with largely the same mission: to provide high-quality, student-focused higher education with emphasis on educating military and public service communities by offering respected, relevant, accessible and affordable online programs that prepare students for service and leadership. APUS, through AMU and American Public University (APU), offers over 200 online degree and certificate programs in numerous relevant fields including homeland security, business management, criminal justice, and environmental science.

“Years ago I met with the faculty in my living room,” said APUS Board of Trustees Chairman Gen. Alfred M. Gray, the 29th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, who has been involved with the University for almost 25 years. “Today it would take an auditorium!”

APUS, which counts over 108,000 alumni worldwide and has almost 1,800 full-time and part-time faculty members, is the #1 provider of higher education to the U.S. military and veterans. It has repeatedly been named a “Best for Vets” school by Military Times (online and non-traditional category)*.

“We are proud of our purpose-driven beginnings and rich heritage, and we are excited about our future,” said APUS President Dr. Wade Dyke. “Over three decades, we have delivered an accessible and affordable online education to service-minded adults, active-duty military, veterans and beyond. We have seen again this past year how needed it is, and we intend to keep building on our track record for many years to come.”

To mark this significant milestone, APUS has planned several 30th anniversary commemorations, including:

  • Debuting a special three-part podcast series on the future of education;
  • Hosting a virtual invite-only event for student and alumni ambassadors hosted by Dr. Dyke, Dr. Wallace E. Boston, President Emeritus, and Frank Ball, Member Emeritus, APUS Board of Trustees;
  • Issuing a commemorative challenge coin, which is being distributed on a limited basis.

APUS is proud of numerous significant milestones, including the following:

1991 – AMU is founded in Manassas, Va., by retired U.S. Marine Corps Major James P. Etter.

1995 – The University conducts its inaugural commencement ceremony with five graduates: two Air Force officers, an active-duty Army reserve officer, a Marine officer, and a teacher.

1998 – AMU’s first online courses appear as it transitions to become one of the first fully online universities in the nation.

1999 – All of AMU’s undergraduate classes and programs go fully online.

2000 – All graduate programs go online.

2002 – AMU is reorganized into APUS and American Public University (APU) is founded to better meet the educational needs of those outside the military.

2003 – APUS relocates its headquarters to Charles Town, West Virginia, marking the first step to becoming a top employer in the state. AMU also commits to help revitalize the community through its re-use of several 19th-century historic buildings that it transforms into modern offices.

2006 – APUS achieves regional accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
2009 – APUS receives the Online Learning Consortium’s (OLC) Ralph E. Gomory Award for Quality Online Education (OLC was formerly known as The Sloan Consortium, or Sloan-C).

2010 – A 45,000 square foot Academic Center opens and later receives LEED Gold-Level Certification, by converting a former “brownfield” site.

2011 – APUS receives HLC reaccreditation and elevates to a 10-year review cycle as a “mature” institution of higher education; it also receives its first specialty accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

2012 – APUS receives specialty accreditation by Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for its Bachelor in Nursing (BSN) program.

2012 – As the first online university to sign onto the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, APUS opens the 105,000 square-foot Finance Center, which attains LEED Platinum Certification, the highest green rating, and is internationally recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council.

2013 – APUS receives The Environmental Excellence Award for Clean Energy from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

2017 – APUS receives its fifth Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Effective Practice Award.

2017 – APUS receives specialty accreditation from three separate accrediting agencies:

2017 – The state-of-the-art APUS Observatory, featuring the Planewave CDK24 telescope, debuts atop the Information Technology building.

2018 – APUS is named a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

2019 – APUS ranks in the top 2% for a return on educational investment compared to 4,500 colleges and universities nationwide, according to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

2020 – APUS receives initial accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) for its Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management (BS HIM) program.

2020 – AMU launches the Freedom Grant®, which saved 78,500 eligible students over $34.1 Million in 2020 alone (all U.S. active-duty service members, National Guard members, Reservists, their spouses and dependents are eligible for the Grant)**.

About American Public University System

About American Public University System American Public University System, recipient of the Online Learning Consortium’s (OLC) Gomory Award for Quality Online Education and five-time recipient of OLC’s Effective Practice Award, offers more than 200 online degree and certificate programs through American Military University, the #1 provider of higher education to the U.S. military and veterans,* and American Public University. Approximately 110,000 alumni worldwide have benefited from APUS’s accessible, relevant curriculum and flexible online delivery model. APUS is a wholly owned subsidiary of American Public Education, Inc. (Nasdaq: APEI). For more information, visit

*Based on FY 2019 Department of Defense tuition assistance and Veterans Administration student enrollment data, as reported by Military Times, 2020.

**Zero-out-of-pocket tuition may be possible when the Freedom Grant is combined with other forms of financial assistance, such as military TA or federal Pell grants.

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Frank Tutalo
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