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Our History

The History of Capella University

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Capella University was born out of a belief that quality higher education should be broadly accessible to working adults. For the past 20 years, Capella has lived up to this founding ideal by developing a truly innovative approach to education that extends access to a larger population of students.

Capella's 20th anniversary

1993

TypeThe Graduate School of America Is Founded

Driven to bring higher education to an underserved adult population, Stephen Shank, former Tonka Corporation CEO, joins forces with Dr. Harold Abel, a former president of 3 universities. Together they started The Graduate School of America (TGSA), which originally offered online master's and doctoral degrees in Management, Education, and Human Services.

Steve Shank

This was about trying to create something great, something that did not exist.

1995

TypeINTERNET HISTORY:

Amazon.com Launches

1997

TypeTGSA Accreditation

The Graduate School of America earns accreditation from The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA). TGSA offers MS and PhD programs in Organizations and Management, Education, Human Services, and Interdisciplinary Studies.

HLC, NCA Logo

TypeFirst Students Graduate

14 students graduate from TGSA with 9 MS degrees and 5 PhD degrees.

1998

TypeINTERNET HISTORY:

Google.com Launches

1999

TypeCapella University Is Born

TGSA is renamed to Capella University after the brightest star in constellation Auriga.

Type10th Degree Program Offered

Type1,000th Student Enrolls

Type100th Student Graduates

2000

TypeBachelor's Degrees Added

Capella expands its offerings to include a BS in Information Technology, followed by a BS in Business.

Mark Reid

My parents did not go to college. I come from basically a blue collar area...So, I'm the first graduate in our family...I want my kids to see how important it is to get a Bachelor's, to go on to post secondary or some type of post high school education...So as much as it was for me, I like to think it was also for my family.

Mark Reid, Senior Program Administrator

BS in Information Technology, 2004 Graduate

2001

TypeINTERNET HISTORY:

Wikipedia.org Launches

2002

Type1,000th Student Graduates

2003

TypeFirst CACREP Accredited

The Mental Health Couseling specialization in the School of Human Services receives accreditation by the American Counseling Association's Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP). This is the first of several CACREP accreditations Capella will receive.

CACREP Logo

2004

TypeINTERNET HISTORY:

Facebook.com Launches

Type500th Faculty Member Hired

Type10,000th Student Enrolls

Deborah Moore

After 9/11, the 20-page paper I wrote [for a Capella assignment] became a department manual on stress management techniques.

Deborah Moore

PhD, School of Public Service Leadership, 2004 Graduate

2005

TypeINTERNET HISTORY

YouTube.com Launches

2006

TypeAQIP Review Successful

Capella receives high marks and all accreditation stipulations are removed after the first comprehensive Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) check–up. AQIP participation requires members to analyze operational processes, measure outcomes, and set ambitious performance goals.

aquip logo

2007

Type1,000th Faculty Member Hired

Type10,000th Student Graduates

Dewain Lee

I got so much out of my experience at Capella and I'm so grateful. I will pass that on—through my work, through consulting, and maybe teaching one day—any way I can.

Dewain Lee

PhD in Human Resource Management, 2007 Graduate

2008

TypePMI Accredits IT Programs

Capella's Project Management specializations of both Bachelor's and Master's in Information Technology programs receives accreditation from the Project Management Institute (PMI) Global Accreditation Center from Project Management(PMI–GAC).

Type20th Degree Program Offered

2009

TypeCapella Receives Excellence Awards

The IMS Global Learning Consortium presents Capella with the Learning Impact Award in the same year that the university receives the WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) award from the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET).

Type30,000th Student Enrolls

Type30th Degree Program Offered

2010

TypeNCATE Accreditation

Capella receives accreditation from the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). The U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation recognize NCATE–accredited programs for the preparation of P–12 teachers and other professional school personnel.

ncate logo

TypeCapella Honored for Outstanding Work

Capella receives the 2010 CHEA Award for Outstanding Institutional Practice in Student Learning Outcomes by The Council for Higher Education Accreditation. In the same year the National University Telecommunications Network presents Capella with the NUTN Distance Education Innovation Award.

Type20,000th Student Graduates

Type35,000th Student Enrolls

Type40th Degree Program Offered

2011

TypeABET Accreditation

The BS in Information Technology program receives accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

ABET Logo

Type1,500th Faculty Member Hired

Type25,000th Student Graduates

2012

Type30,000th Student Graduates

George Anderson

Capella was incredibly understanding and supportive each time I was recalled to active duty.

George Anderson

PhD in Organization and Management, 2012 Graduate

2013

TypeSuccessful Past, Promising Future

After 20 years of growing and success, Capella continues to lead in the field of higher education.