Strayer University

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Strayer University
Former names
Strayer's Business College
Strayer College
Motto Only the driven.
Type Private, 4-year, for-profit university
Established 1892 (1892)
President Brian W. Jones
Students ~40,000
Location United States
Campus online, and 76 U.S. campuses

Strayer University is a United States-based private, for-profit higher education institution. The university enrolls about 40,000 students through its online learning programs, and at 76 campuses located in 16 U.S. states. The university specializes in degree programs for working adults and offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in subjects such as accounting, business administration, criminal justice, education, health services administration, information technology and public administration. It was founded in 1892 as Strayer's Business College and later became Strayer College, before being granted university status in 1998. Strayer University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.


Foundation and early history[edit]

Dr. Siebert Irving Strayer founded Strayer's Business College in Baltimore, Maryland in 1892.[1] Strayer established the college to teach business skills to former farm workers,[2] including shorthand, typing and accounting.[3][4] 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.[1][4]

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.[4] During the 1930s, the college was authorized to grant collegiate degrees in accountancy by Washington, D.C.'s board of education.[4] 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.[4]

Expansion in late 1980s and 1990s[edit]

From the 1980s to the late 1990s, Strayer College grew rapidly; enrollment increased from approximately 1,800 in 1981 and 2,000 in 1983,[5][6] to around 9,000 by 1997.[3] The college expanded the range of degree programs and courses it offered to include subjects such as data processing management and health care management.[5] In 1987, the college was given authorization to grant Master of Science degrees.[7] During the 1990s, the college began to focus on offering information technology courses.[8] 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.[3] 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.[9] In 1996, the college launched Strayer Online to offer classes via the Internet.[9][10]

Recent history as Strayer University[edit]

Strayer University, Miami Florida

In 1998, Strayer College was granted university status by the District of Columbia Education Licensure Commission and became Strayer University.[11] 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.[12][13][14] According to the University, Strayer now operates additional campuses in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey, Texas, and West Virginia.[15]

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.[6]

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.[16][17][18][19]

In October 2013, the university initiated a major change in its physical operations by announcing the closure of its 20 Midwest campus locations. Strayer reported total enrollments dropped 17 percent, while new enrollments dropped 23 percent. All students currently enrolled in programs in the Midwest will be able to continue their education through Strayer's online only program offerings.[20][21]

Comedian and celebrity Steve Harvey is a spokesperson for Strayer and has appeared in several advertisements.[22]



More than half of the students take all of their courses online, and the entire bachelor's and master's degree programs can be completed via the Internet.[23][24][25] As of February 2013, of the 48,000 total students, approximately 29,000 took 100 percent of their courses online.[25] Students can also take a fully campus-based program, or take a combination of online and campus-based courses.[26]


Strayer University in Morrisville, North Carolina.
Strayer University in Morrisville, North Carolina.

The university's headquarters are in Herndon, Virginia[27] with campus locations mainly in the eastern, southern and Midwestern U.S.[26] The university has 76 campuses[28][29] in both cities and suburban areas[30][31] located in 16 U.S. states.[29]



The university focuses on providing higher education to working adult students[31] and its class schedules and campus locations are designed to be accessible for this group.[13] The courses offered by the university are practical and business-focused, including courses in business administration and information technology.[8][19]

Academic programs and accreditation[edit]

Strayer University's academic programs include undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and certificates in subjects such as accounting, business administration, criminal justice, education, health services administration, human resource management, information technology and public administration.[32]

Following Jack Welch's retirement from General Electric, he established the Jack Welch Management Institute; this was acquired by Strayer University in 2011. The institute offers executive MBA degrees and other programs for professionals. Welch is involved in preparing the curriculum for the program[citation needed] and appears in videos focusing on business current events. The acquisition added an online Executive MBA to Strayer University's existing MBA program.[19]

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.[33][34] In addition, Strayer University holds the necessary licencing and approvals to operate and grant degrees in each state where its campuses are located, according to the University's website.[29]


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".[35] 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.[36]

Faculty and students[edit]

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.[6] Strayer's faculty are not required to do research but are encouraged to focus on teaching.[37]

Strayer University's total number of students is approximately 40,000.[29][38] According to the university, two thirds of Strayer's students are women and over half are African American or Hispanic.[39] 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.[9][13] The average age of students at the college is approximately 33, and the majority work full-time.[33] 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% of Strayer's 2010 revenue. In addition, about one-quarter of students have tuition assistance from their employers.[6] 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%.[40][41]

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% for master's degree students to 48.8% for students seeking an associate degree.[6] In 2011 the Washington Post claimed that Strayer had a 15% graduation rate, listing it among the lowest college graduation rates in the Washington, D.C., area. Strayer claimed the graduation rate for its full cohort of bachelor's students was 33%.[42] 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.[43]


Noteworthy alumni of Strayer University include the following:

Strayer Education Inc.[edit]

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.[7][45] Karl McDonnell has been CEO since May 2013. Previous CEO Robert S. Silberman was named executive chairman of the board.[46]

Between 2001 and 2005 the company's main owners were New Mountain Capital and a private equity unit of Deutsche Bank, DB Capital.[6]

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.[47] In 2009, slightly more than one-third of company revenues had been allocated to profit.[6]

In 2009, former CEO Robert S. Silberman had total compensation of $41.5 million, consisting almost entirely of restricted stock grants to pay out in full after a ten-year period, subject to Silberman meeting certain objectives.[6][48][49] 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.[6][50] His annual compensation in 2010 was $1.5 million.[6]

This level of compensation led Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings to write a letter to Silberman questioning if the company's executive compensation was appropriately tied to student performance. He went on to express his concern that the majority of Strayer's revenue came from taxpayer dollars, while dedicating only 49% of its operating expenses to educational costs.[51][52]

Strayer stock has dropped more than 60% since its peak in 2010.[citation needed]

In popular culture[edit]

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.[53][54][55] 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.[6][55]

Governmental lawsuits and investigations[edit]

In 2014 a Strayer University admissions official was convicted of large-scale immigration fraud. From about November 2012 to October 2013, the Strayer University admissions official was 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.[56]


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External links[edit]