Dr. Siebert Irving Strayer founded Strayer's Business College in Baltimore, Maryland in 1892. Strayer established the college to teach business skills to former farm workers, including shorthand, typing and accounting. Thomas W. Donoho joined the school in 1902. In its first decade of operations, enrollment at the school gradually increased, attracting students from other states, and in 1904 Strayer opened a branch of the school in Washington, D.C.
Enrollment further expanded as demand for trained accountants grew after the passage of the Revenue Act of 1913 and World War I increased the need for government clerks with office skills. During the 1930s, the college was authorized to grant collegiate degrees in accountancy by Washington, D.C.'s board of education. The school founded Strayer Junior College in 1959, when it was given the right to confer two-year degrees. In 1969, the college received the accreditation needed to grant four-year Bachelor of Arts degrees and was renamed Strayer College.
From the 1980s to the late 1990s, Strayer College grew rapidly; enrollment increased from approximately 1,800 in 1981 and 2,000 in 1983, to around 9,000 by 1997. The college expanded the range of degree programs and courses it offered to include subjects such as data processing management and health care management. In 1987, the college was given authorization to grant Master of Science degrees. During the 1990s, the college began to focus on offering information technology courses. According to The Washington Times, high demand for computer training due to the increased use of computers in offices and movement toward "knowledge-based" employment led to higher enrollment at Strayer. In addition, Strayer began providing training programs in computer information systems for companies including AT&T Corporation and government agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service. In 1996, the college launched Strayer Online to offer classes via the Internet.
In 1998, Strayer College was granted university status by the District of Columbia Education Licensure Commission and became Strayer University. An increased demand for college degrees among working adults led to Strayer's continued expansion during the early and mid-2000s, establishing its first campus locations outside of Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Florida. According to the university's website, Strayer University now operates additional campuses in Delaware, New Jersey, West Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Texas.
Sondra Stallard was named the thirteenth president of Strayer University in May 2007. Stallard had been dean since 1996. Stallard previously served as dean of the school of continuing and professional studies at the University of Virginia.
Strayer enrollment grew dramatically in the decade 2001–2010, from 14,009 in the fall of 2001 to 60,711 in the fall of 2010. Enrollment dropped to 42,975 by 2015.
In December 2011, the university acquired the Jack Welch Management Institute from Chancellor University for about $7 million. The institute offers a fully online Executive MBA program, as well as certificate programs. In 2012, Michael Plater was named fourteenth president of Strayer University. Previously, he served as provost and chief academic officer. Before joining Strayer, Plater was dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at North Carolina A&T State University.
In October 2013, the university initiated a major change in its physical operations by announcing the closure of its 20 Midwest campus locations. All students currently enrolled in programs in the Midwest were able to continue their education through Strayer's online only program offerings.
Comedian and game show host Steve Harvey was a spokesperson for Strayer and has appeared in several advertisements. and spoke at Strayer's commencement ceremony in May 2015. In August 2014, Strayer opened its largest campus in Suitland, Maryland. The building is 37,500 square feet. Most Strayer campuses are only 12,000 square feet. The new building includes 28 classrooms.
In 2015, Brian Jones, who had previously been Strayer University's General Counsel, was named the university's fifteenth president. Prior to joining Strayer University, Jones was a lawyer and higher education entrepreneur. He served as General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Education from 2001 until 2005.
In February 2015, Strayer partnered with Daily Mail to produce a new section of the Daily Mail site named Strayer Business News. As part of the deal, Daily Mail would co-produce education and business content for its new business section.
More than half of the students enrolled at Strayer University take all of their courses online, and the entire bachelor's and master's degree programs can be completed via the Internet. As of February 2013, of the 48,000 total students, approximately 29,000 took 100 percent of their courses online. Students can also take a fully campus-based program, or take a combination of online and campus-based courses.
Strayer Education, Inc. is headquartered in Herndon, Virginia with campus locations mainly in the eastern and southern U.S., including the university's home campus in Washington, D.C. The university has 78 campuses in both cities and suburban areas located in 15 U.S. states and Washington D.C.
The admissions requirement for undergraduate degree programs at Strayer University is a high school diploma or its equivalent. For graduate degrees other than the Executive MBA, admissions requirements include a bachelor's degree from an accredited college. Graduate students must meet at least one of the following criteria: a minimum 2.75 undergraduate grade point average during junior and senior years of the degree; a minimum score of 450 on the Graduate Management Admission Test; a minimum score of 1,000 on the Graduate Record Examination; or demonstration that they are of "graduate potential". Admissions requirements for the Executive MBA program include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate grade point average from an accredited university, five years of management experience and completion of an admission application.
The university focuses on providing higher education to working adult students. Its class schedules and campus locations are designed to be accessible for this group. Strayer University's academic programs include undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The courses offered by the university are practical and business-focused, including courses in business administration and information technology. Degrees can be earned in subjects such as accounting, business administration, criminal justice, education, health services administration, human resource management, information technology and public administration.
Strayer University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (part of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools), one of the six regional accrediting bodies recognized by the Department of Education. In addition, Strayer University holds the necessary licensing and approvals to operate and grant degrees in each state where its campuses are located, according to the university's website.
The Jack Welch Management Institute, acquired by Strayer University in 2011, was established by Jack Welch after his retirement from General Electric. The institute offers executive MBA degrees and executive certificates covering business-related topics. The acquisition added an online Executive MBA to Strayer University's existing MBA program. The Jack Welch Management Institute was ranked as the most influential education brand according to LinkedIn in January 2016, and one of Poets and Quants' top 10 Business Schools to Watch In 2016. In September 2016, it was announced that the Jack Welch Management Institute was ranked on Princeton Review's list of Top 25 Online MBA Programs of 2017.
Strayer announced the launch of [email protected], a new performance improvement solution for businesses in May 2015. As part of the launch, Strayer also announced a partnership with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) to offer free college degrees to all participating FCA dealership employees. FCA dealers pay a monthly fee to send employees to Strayer. Employees who have worked at a participating dealership for over thirty days receive free tuition in any program through Strayer University. Strayer has educational arrangements with approximately 300 Fortune 1000 companies.
Strayer University's total number of students is nearly 43,000. Since the early 2000s, Strayer University has had a high proportion of minority students. The college has had more women students than men since the late 1990s. According to the university, two thirds of Strayer's students are women and over half are African American or Hispanic. The average age of students at the college is approximately 33, and the majority work full-time. Many students receive financial assistance from federal government financial aid programs or education assistance programs operated by the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; U.S. federal government sources accounted for 84.9 percent of Strayer's 2010 revenue. In addition, about one-quarter of students have tuition assistance from their employers. In 2010 the U.S. Department of Education, reported that the repayment rate of federal student loans at Strayer University was 25%. Strayer claimed its loan repayment rate to be 55 percent. Strayer University's official three-year cohort default rate for 2012, the most recent year released by the Department of Education, was 11.6 percent, which fell below the national average for all colleges and universities. In 2013 USA Today listed Strayer University of Washington D.C. as a "red flag" institution for posting a student loan default rate that surpassed its graduation rate.
Strayer has higher rates of student retention than other for-profit schools. Among students first enrolled in 2008-9, by mid-2010 slightly less than one-third had withdrawn without completing their degree programs. Withdrawal percentages ranged from 17.9 percent for master's degree students to 48.8 percent for students seeking an associate degree. In 2011 the Washington Post claimed that Strayer had a 15 percent graduation rate, while Strayer claimed the graduation rate for its full cohort of bachelor's students was 33 percent.
In 2012, a United States Senate committee reported that, as of 2010, 83 percent of Strayer's 2,471 faculty members were employed part-time, and not required to do research to focus on teaching.
Noteworthy alumni of Strayer University include the following:Gen. Robert Magnus, retired Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps
Charles Mann, businessman and former NFL football player
Carolyn Wright, American lawyer, jurist and the Chief Justice of the Fifth Court of Appeals of Texas
Don Watkins, author, columnist, and fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute
Irina D. Franca, singer and songwriter
Strayer Education Inc. is a publicly traded corporation, established as a holding company for the college and other assets in 1996. The company was created to take what was then Strayer College public and raise capital for expansion. Its corporate headquarters are in Herndon, Virginia. Karl McDonnell has been CEO since May 2013. McDonnell joined Strayer in July 2006, and was previously president and COO. Previous CEO Robert S. Silberman, who took the position in March 2001, was named executive chairman of the board.
Between 2001 and 2005, the company's main owners were New Mountain Capital and a private equity unit of Deutsche Bank, DB Capital.
In 2009, Robert S. Silberman had total compensation of $41.5 million, a large portion of which was restricted stock that does not vest until 2019. This was the highest compensation in the for-profit education industry and led in 2010 to the Washington Post naming him the most highly compensated CEO in the Washington, D.C., area. His annual compensation in 2010 was $1.5 million.
Strayer stock has dropped more than 60% since its peak in 2010. For the second calendar quarter of 2012, the company reported net income of $21.2 million from total revenue of $146.3 million. Revenue was 11 percent lower and income 28 percent lower than the same quarter of the previous year.
On 9 August 2012, the syndicated comic strip Doonesbury described Strayer's unusually high executive compensation as part of a series of satirical strips on for-profit education. In addition to reporting Silberman's 2009 compensation (which it described as fifty times more than Harvard's president), the strip said that in the same year that Strayer spent $1,300 per student on instruction, it spent $2,500 per student on marketing and returned $4,500 per student in profit.
In July 2013, Strayer University contacted HSI Sterling to report suspicious activity surrounding academic transcripts and coursework. In 2014, a former Strayer University admissions official was convicted of large-scale immigration fraud. From about November 2012 to October 2013, a Strayer University admissions official with two co-conspirators who worked for private company Integrated Academics were involved in a conspiracy to fraudulently create at least 58 official Strayer University transcripts so that foreign students would appear eligible to retain their student visas in the United States. The conspirators were ordered to forfeit nearly $300,000 of proceeds from the fraud to the United States government.