National American University

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National American University
National American University seal - gold.png
MottoQuality higher education in a caring and supportive environment.
TypeFor-profit college (NASDAQ: NAUH)
PresidentRonald L. Shape (CEO)
LocationRapid City, South Dakota
ColorsRoyal Blue and White

National American University (NAU) is a for-profit university owned by National American University Holdings, Inc., a publicly traded company (NASDAQNAUH). Headquartered in Rapid City, South Dakota, NAU operates approximately 24 locations in the United States and an online division.[1] It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

According to the Rapid City Journal, NAU is cutting 34 of its 128 programs and will be laying off workers. [2]



Total student enrollment has declined 47 percent from 2015 to 2018, from 9,519 students to 4,974. In 2018, NAU had 4,342 students enrolled in its online programs, 724 students enrolled on-campus, and 582 students enrolled through hybrid learning. [3]


National American University offers a variety of undergraduate programs, including Bachelor of Science degrees, Associate of Applied Science degrees, and diplomas in academic areas such as accounting, applied management, business administration, allied health, criminal justice, healthcare management, health and beauty management, nursing, legal studies, and information technology. Graduate degree programs available include an M.B.A., a Master of Management degree, and a Master of Science in Nursing. Degree offerings vary by location.


National American University was established in 1941 as a one-year secretarial school by Clarence Jacobson. It was called National College of Business and was located in a downtown Rapid City building. In 1960, Jacobson had the building that now houses administration for the Rapid City campus constructed at 321 Kansas City Street and moved National College to that location.

In 1962, NCB was acquired by Harold D. Buckingham and members of his family. Shortly after the Buckinghams purchased the school, a period of growth began which led to the construction of the classroom buildings, dormitories, a library, gymnasium, and an auditorium.

NCB was granted collegiate accreditation as a junior college by the Accrediting Commission of the Association of Independent Colleges and Schools in 1966. Senior college accreditation was granted in 1970.

The 1970s brought another period of growth, this time with the addition of several branch locations in the Midwest and Rocky Mountain regions. This trend toward reaching out to other communities resumed in the 90s with the addition of more campuses nationwide and continues today (See below for a complete listing of National American university campuses).

In 1985, NCB earned accreditation by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (now called the Higher Learning Commission) and in 1997 the university name was changed to National American University.

The university made its first foray into the world of online education in 1996 and currently offers many classes and several degrees completely online through its Distance Learning campus.

In 2012, the main Rapid City location was moved to its current location on Mount Rushmore Rd., south of Rapid City. This location also houses the central administration offices of the university.

In 2017, National American University purchased Henley-Putnam School of Strategic Security. [4]

In 2018, Robert Gravely, a former NAU official, filed a lawsuit alleging that the school defrauded the United States government out of millions of dollars in a student aid program, unlawfully paid bonuses to university employees for recruiting students and rigged the accreditation for its medical assisting program. [5] NAUH also mortgaged real property for $8 million in loans. [6] In 2018, more campus closings were also planned. [7]

In September 2018, the Rapid City Journal detailed NAUH's declining enrollment and financial difficulties. [8] On September 28, 2018, NAUH received a delisting warning from NASDAQ.[9]


Campuses are located in Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas.

Campus closings[edit]

NAU has closed 8 of their 32 campuses and are in the process of closing several more. [1]

Distance learning[edit]

In 1996 National American University began to develop online courses and degree options for students across the United States as well as internationally. Online programs include associate’s, bachelor's and master's degrees in accounting, business, information technology, and health care. Students are also provided access to classes and extensive campus resources including learning resource center services, tutoring services, counseling services, and computer support through a student portal.

In 2012, 53 percent of NAU's students were studying online, while an additional 17 percent were taking some classes online.[10]

In 2018, 77 percent of NAU's students were studying online, while an additional 12 percent were taking some classes online.[11]

Graduate program[edit]

In August 2008, NAU's graduate studies program was renamed the Harold D. Buckingham Graduate School, in honor of the late owner of the university. Degrees currently offered are the Doctor of Education in Community College Leadership, a Master of Science in Global Supply Chain Management, a Master of Science in Human Resource Management, a Master of Science in Nursing, a Master of Business Administration degree, and a Master of Management degree with a variety of emphasis areas. Graduate degrees are offered primarily online.


NAU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.[12] Several NAU programs are separately accredited by multiple national, educational and professional associations. NAU's baccalaureate and master's degree programs in nursing are also accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education [13]

Student Outcomes[edit]

According to the College Scorecard, NAUH students have a median income after graduation ranging from $19,500 to $34,800. The graduation rate varies between 10 percent and 52 percent. [14]

National American University Holdings, Inc[edit]

National American University Holdings, Inc., is a publicly traded corporation (NASDAQ: NAUH) holding company for NAU and other assets. The corporation was established in 2009 and is located in Rapid City, South Dakota.[15]


  1. ^ a b "EDGAR Pro".
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  10. ^ "For Profit Higher Education: The Failure to Safeguard the Federal Investment and Ensure Student Success". U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. pp. 671–692. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 July 2012. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
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  12. ^ "Higher Learning Commission".
  13. ^ "Home". 9 September 2016.
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  15. ^ "National American University Holdings Inc".

External links[edit]