Capella University’s online format attracts a diverse group of students.

Women, people of color, and  people living in rural areas are just a few of the student populations that have found Capella’s approach to be more adaptable, accessible, and affordable than traditional educational offerings.

What’s more, diversity is woven into Capella’s mission, too. The university is dedicated to promoting diversity by:

  • Creating a collaborative working and learning community.
  • Hiring and supporting a diverse faculty and staff.
  • Recruiting and retaining learners with diverse perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds.
  • Promoting the transformative exchange of ideas—which benefits graduates living and working in a multicultural society.

Those are lofty goals, of course, but how do they play out? Andriel Dees, Capella’s Director of Inclusion, Diversity, Engagement, and Academic Success (IDEAS), heads up the university’s efforts to infuse diversity into every aspect of the Capella experience. Her work is particularly relevant to students because understanding diversity and how it impacts our professional and personal lives is increasingly important in the 21st century.

“Multicultural perspectives come into play on a daily basis for most of us, whether it’s on a personal or professional level,” Dees says. So what does diversity look like at Capella? Dees points to these specifics:


The student body—and the faculty—are diverse.

Capella students come from all 50 states and 48 other countries or territories. The average age is 39, and three-quarters of students are women. More than half are students of color (i.e. self-identify themselves as African –American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian-American, Native American). Nearly 1 of every 6 students lives in a rural area. Capella’s faculty also comes from all 50 states, and nearly two-thirds are female.


Curricula are infused with multicultural viewpoints.

“I think that are our faculty are very attuned to the fact that we have a very diverse learner population,” Dees says, “and diversity is integrated into everyday studies.” Students in a Capella business course may be asked to consider how Ramadan would affect sales of a product. Learners on a counseling track might be urged to think about how their future clients’ ethnic backgrounds or sexual orientation might inform their worldview. Curricula are fine-tuned by faculty so they resonate with learners from diverse backgrounds.


Support tools are designed to meet the needs of diverse populations.

Students with similar interests and backgrounds connect with each other on Capella’s SchoolsApp private community through Facebook.  Additionally, in our virtual community campus, there are groups for learners who are over 50, learners in the military, female doctoral candidates, and many more. Such communities are often a vital source of support for students as they navigate the coursework, research, and writing associated with their degrees.

Additionally, Capella’s Specialized Services office makes sure that individuals with disabilities or students in need of some other accommodation are provided with the resources required to succeed.

Efforts to promote diversity pay off in numerous ways at Capella, Dees notes. But most significant are the ones that teach students to respect and value diversity among their peers. “We want everyone to feel like they’re part of the Capella family,” Dees says. “Encouraging diversity is important to creating a place that serves all our students.”



Learn more about Capella University.