Capella University is a for-profit institution of higher learning in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The school is owned by the publicly traded Capella Education Company and delivers most of its education online.
Within those areas, Capella has 142 graduate and undergraduate specializations and 25 certificate programs with over 1600 online courses. Approximately 36,000 students are enrolled from all 50 states and 61 other countries, with 29 percent enrolled in doctoral programs, 42 percent enrolled in master's programs, and 26 percent enrolled in bachelor's programs. A faculty of 1,488 faculty with 86 percent holding doctoral degrees. Capella faculty live in 48 states and 6 countries.
Capella University was originally established as The Graduate School of America by Dr. Harold Abel and Stephen Shank in 1993. Shank was the former CEO of Tonka. Abel, formerly the president of Castleton State College, Central Michigan University, and Walden University, became the first president of the institution.
In 1997, Capella University received regional accreditation. Two years later the parent company and university were renamed Capella Education Company and Capella University, respectively. In 2000, Capella began to offer bachelor's degree programs. Six years later, in 2006, Capella Education Company became a publicly traded company (NASDAQ: CPLA).
In 2007, Capella was named one of 86 higher education institutions in the United States to have received the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education (CAEIAE) designation by the National Security Agency (NSA). The designation was valid for the academic years 2007 through 2012.
In March 2008, Capella Education Co., longtime occupant of the 225 South Sixth skyscraper in downtown Minneapolis, signed a new lease that expanded its office and renamed the building Capella Tower. The building houses all of the company's 1,150 downtown Minneapolis administrative staff.
In 2009, The Project Management Institute (PMI) Global Accreditation Center for Project Management (GAC) accredited two Capella University online degree programs: the MS in Information Technology with a specialization in Project Management; and the BS in Information Technology with a specialization in Project Management.
In 2009, Capella launched its School of Public Service Leadership.
Until November 2010, Capella University had an open enrollment admission policy, which required applicants only proof of a high school diploma, GED or its equivalent.
In 2010, Capella, along with three other schools, was awarded the CHEA Award for Outstanding Institutional Practice in Student Learning Outcomes by The Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
Undergraduate applicants who do not have any credits eligible for transfer must successfully complete a university-approved examination to be considered for admission.
Capella's enrollment is composed mainly of graduate students including 45 percent MS/MBA students and 31 percent PhD/PsyD doctoral students. The undergraduate population of Capella makes up 23 percent of the student body. Less than one percent are working on certificate programs. The average age of a Capella student is 40. Ninety-five percent of students are enrolled part-time, 74 percent are female, and 54 percent are ethnic minorities.
Capella allows a limited number of credits to be earned through a prior learning assessment program, which can provide college credit for past experiences.
Capella University has regional accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
On 22 October 2010, Capella University's baccalaureate and graduate level teacher education programs were accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.
Capella University's graduate level counseling program is accredited by The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
On 29 October 2011, Capella University's baccalaureate and graduate level nursing programs were accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Capella University's baccalaureate and graduate level business programs have been accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs since 2014.Rafael C. Castillo, PhD, First Editor of ViAztlan: A Journal of Chicano Arts and Letters
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In 2006, the United States Department of Education, Office of the Inspector General (OIG) began a compliance audit of Capella. OIG focused on the university's policies and procedures concerning the return of Title IV funds as required by Federal Law for students who failed to give official notice that they were withdrawing from the school. The OIG found that Capella made accounting mistakes in how it calculated student eligibility for government-subsidized loans, including failing to return all funds disbursed on behalf of students who dropped out before their first day of class. Capella, in a response to the audit, says it recognizes some past shortcomings in its accounting practices and has made changes to ensure that such errors are not repeated.
In 2012, Capella received criticism for its expenditures on marketing, profit, and CEO pay rather than instruction, and its use of aggressive recruiting practices. According to a report issued by Senator Tom Harkin for the Senate Education Committee, approximately 79% of the institution's cash flow comes from US government Title IV payments, including Pell grants. The report concluded that Capella's recruiting and student services were better managed than most other for-profit competitors, especially among graduate degree students. The high withdrawal rate among Bachelor's students, the over-reliance on part-time instructors, and the high relative marketing budget were cited as potential causes for concern.