Capella University

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Capella University
Capella logo ed.jpg
Established 1993
Type For-profit university (NASDAQCPLA)
President Scott Kinney[1]
Administrative staff
Students 35,889[2]
Location Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
Campus Online

Capella University is an American for-profit institution of higher learning located in Minneapolis, Minnesota that delivers most of its education online. The school is owned by the publicly traded Capella Education Company. Capella University offers bachelor's, master's (MS and MBA) and doctoral (PhD, PsyD, and DBA) degrees in business, information technology, education, psychology, public health, public safety and human services.

Within those areas, Capella has 141 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 30% enrolled in doctoral programs, 42 percent enrolled in master's programs, and 25 percent enrolled in bachelor's programs. A faculty of 1,519 faculty with 86 percent holding doctoral degrees. Capella faculty live in 48 states and 8 countries.[2]

Capella has received criticism for its expenditures on marketing, profit, and CEO pay rather than instruction, and its use of aggressive recruiting practices. According to the US Senate's Harkin Commission, approximately 79% of their cash flow comes from US government Title IV payments, including Pell grants. [3]


What is now Capella University was established as The Graduate School of America in 1993 by Dr. Harold Abel and Stephen Shank, former CEO of Tonka. Abel, formerly the president of Castleton State College, Central Michigan University, and Walden University[4][5] became the first president of the institution.[6]

In 1997, Capella University received regional accreditation. Two years later the parent company and university were renamed to Capella Education Company and Capella University, respectively. In 2000, the Capella University began to offer bachelor's degree programs. Six years later, in 2006, Capella Education Company became a publicly traded company (NASDAQ: CPLA).[6]

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 is valid for the academic years 2007 through 2012.[6][7]

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.[8][9]

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.[10]

In 2009, Capella launched its School of Public Service Leadership.[11]

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.[12]

In 2013, The U.S. Department of Education approved Capella University's innovative FlexPath programs, making it the first university to offer competency-based bachelor's and master's degree programs that utilize an approved direct-assessment learning model as opposed to the traditional credit-hour standard [13]


Entrance to Capella at Capella Tower (formerly 225 South Sixth) in Minneapolis

Capella University had an open enrollment admission policy until November 2010, which only required proof of a high school diploma, GED or its equivalent[14] for undergraduate admission. Currently, undergraduate applicants who do not have any credits eligible for transfer must successfully complete a university-approved examination to be considered for admission.[15]

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.[2]

Learning environment[edit]

Capella provides applicants opportunities to earn a limited number of credits through a prior learning assessment program, which can provide college credit for "experience-based learning".[16][17]


Capella University is ranked number 246 (out of 277) in U.S. News & World Report's High School Counselor Rankings.[18] The survey of high school counselors asked high school counselors to rank U.S. colleges on a scale of one to five for their quality of undergraduate education. It was conducted in spring 2011 and spring of 2012.

Capella University ranked number 23 (out of 30) in Guide to Online's 2012 Online College Rankings.[19] The rankings compare admissions rates, retention rates, student feedback and cost of online colleges.

According to the 2010 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), Capella exceeds the national average among colleges and universities in the level of academic challenge offered to its students, and in providing a supportive campus environment.[20]


Capella University has regional accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.[21][22]

Capella participates in the North Central Associations (NCA) Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP).The normal accreditation review process is every ten years, member schools that participate in the AQIP program have their accreditation reviewed yearly. AQIP is a form of lean management or process improvement for education.[23]

Capella University's baccalaureate and graduate level teacher education programs were accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education on October 22, 2010.[24]

Capella University's graduate level counseling program is accredited by The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).[25]

Capella University's baccalaureate and graduate level nursing programs were accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education on October 29, 2011.[26]

Notable people[edit]

The following is a list of notable Capella University alumni:


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.[27] 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.[28] 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.[28]


  1. ^ Capella University. "University Mission & Leadership". Retrieved March 31, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Media Fact Sheet". Capella University. 2013. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Harold Abel New CMU President". The Argus-Press. June 16, 1975. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Capella University Co-Founder Dr. Harold Abel Dies at Age 75". Capella University. 2002. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c "The History of Capella University". Capella University. 2013. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  7. ^ NSA Press Release, June 28, 2007
  8. ^ Sam Black, Capella lease to rename 225 South Sixth, Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal, March 20, 2008.
  9. ^ "Prominent Minneapolis office building to be renamed Capella Tower with renewed and expanded lease by Capella Education Company". Capella University. 2008. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Project Management Institute (PMI) Global Accreditation Center for Project Management (GAC) accredits two Capella University online degree programs". Capella University. 2009. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Capella University Enters New Public Service Leadership Market; Launches Five New Public Service Educational Offerings". Capella University. 2009. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Four Colleges and Universities to Receive 2010 CHEA Award". Council for Higher Education Accreditation. 2010-01-08. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  13. ^ . Capella University. 2013 Retrieved May 1, 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  14. ^ "Capella University". Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  15. ^ "Capella University Admission Requirements". 
  16. ^ "College Navigator - Capella University". Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  17. ^ "Capella University - Earn credit for prior learning and transfer credits". Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  18. ^ "High School Counselor Rankings". US News & World Report. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  19. ^ "2012 Online College Rankings". Guide to Online Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  20. ^ "Capella University, an accredited online university, exceeds the national average among colleges in the level of academic challenge provided, according to the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE)". Capella University. 2011. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  21. ^ Council For Higher Education website
  22. ^ The Higher Learning Commission website
  23. ^ Academic Quality Improvement Program website
  24. ^ "USDE Accreditation Database". U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ "USDE Accreditation Database". United States Department of Education Accreditation Database. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  27. ^ "Capella University’s Compliance with Selected Provisions of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and Corresponding Regulations: Final Audit Report" (PDF). 
  28. ^ a b "Capella University Overcharged Student Lenders $588,000, Audit Finds". Retrieved 2008-03-14. 

Coordinates: 44°58′35″N 93°16′07″W / 44.976275°N 93.268583°W / 44.976275; -93.268583