Capella University

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Updated September 11, 2020

Capella University was founded by Stephen Shank, the former CEO of Tonka Corporation and Dr. Harold Abel who served as president at five different universities. The two men joined forces in 1993 with the belief that higher education should be accessible to working adults. The two men began by creating the Graduate School of America (TGSA), originally offering master's and doctoral degrees in human services, education and Management.

When the school began, it was met with skepticism and resistance as many people looked at Mr. Shank as the "old toy guy" who was creating a university. Because it was new, many people did not understand how distance learning would work. Even his partner, Dr. Abel, had mixed feelings about starting the new school. Dr. Abel was ending a 40 year career in higher education and at the age of 72, was not sure how the new university setting would work.

With Mr. Shank's knowledge of business and Dr. Abel's knowledge of education, the two worked together, with a radical and exciting philosophy to create something that didn't exist before. The university began with four people and, in the early years, faculty meetings were held at Dr. Abel's dining room table. The university began with a small family atmosphere. Early in the process, whenever a student signed up for classes, staff would ring a bell to signify a new student. At the ringing of the bell, everyone would stop what they were doing and celebrate the registration.

During the first few years, the school was not accredited and there was no guarantee that accreditation would be forthcoming, yet the university created a learner-centered approach with Mr. Shank's vision of keeping their commitment to the student and delivering what they needed in higher education.

In 1995, Bruce Francis became the president of the university and shortly after taking office, he suggested creating an online course as the internet was growing in popularity. In 1997, the university received accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. In 2000, the university added undergraduate degrees.

Today, Capella University still has a learner-centered approach to teaching with strong support for the student. The university offers 53 programs and has enrollment of more than 38,000 students.

Capella University Accreditation Details

Capella University holds the following program accreditations:

  • Mental Health Counseling, School Counseling and Marriage and Family Counseling Programs - American Counseling Association's Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs
  • MS in Marriage and Family Counseling/Therapy Program - Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education
  • Bachelor in IT - Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET
  • BSN, MSN and DNP - Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • BS in IT, IT Project Management, BS in Business, BS in Project Management, MS in Information Systems and Technology Management and MBA in Project Management - Project Management Institute Global Accreditation Center for Project Management
  • BS in Business, MSBA, MS in Human Resource Management, MS in Leadership, PhD in Business Management, Doctor of Business Administration, PhD in Business - Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs

Capella University Application Requirements

In order to apply to Capella University, prospective students must complete an online application with the help of an admissions expert. Capella will require permission to obtain transcripts from any colleges or universities attended. Bachelor's students must have a high school diploma or equivalent. This may be waived for military applicants, veterans and those with at least 24 quarter credits of prior college or university coursework. Masters students must have a Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university while students seeking doctorate level degrees must have a master's degree from an accredited college or university.

Some programs require that students submit licensure, background and work experience documentation. In addition, a student may be required to submit letters of recommendation, a current resume, an extended goal statement and/or an application essay. Students may also be required to submit to a faculty interview. GRE, GMAT, SAT or ACT scores are not required for admission.

Capella University Tuition and Financial Aid

Bachelor's degree tuition at Capella University ranges from $315 to $371 per credit hour while Master's degree tuition is between $387 and $737 per credit hour. Students seeking doctorate level degrees can expect to pay between $2,800 and $5,177 per quarter or $630 to $728 per credit hour. There is also a $1,495 Colloquia fee for doctor's degree programs.

The application fee is $50 and textbooks per quarter are estimated at $135 per quarter. Online students must have a reliable, high-speed internet connection, certain computer software programs and study resources.

Financial aid is available including scholarships, grants and student loans. There are limits on how much federal financial aid can be borrowed so students should review any prior loans before applying through Capella University. The university accepts employer assisted tuition and participates in the Stafford Loan Forgiveness Program for Teachers.

Capella University Online Degrees Available

General Advanced Studies in Human Behavior - Doctor of Philosophy in Advanced Studies in Human Behavior

The Ph.D in Human Behavior provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to advance their career while making a difference in the community they serve. The program is designed for those who wish to purse advanced positions in education, consulting or leadership. The program emphasizes advanced research and leadership theory as well as social influences on human behavior.

The Ph.D consists of four components:

  • Online coursework
  • In-person experiences
  • Comprehensive examinations
  • Dissertation

Although coursework is completed online, students are required to complete three residential colloquia. The colloquia begins with an online course that includes modules, assignments and assessments. Students then participate in a weekend residency experience, followed by a final assessment and development of a plan for the next colloquium track. The first must be completed before the end of your third active quarter of enrollment, the second between Tracks 1 and 3 with one full quarter of coursework between tracks and the final during the last two quarters of coursework. The third colloquial must be completed before you begin your Comprehensive Examination.

General Counselor Education and Supervision Specialization - Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision

The Ph.D in Counselor Education and Supervision prepares students to be leaders in the counseling profession. Students develop the skills and knowledge necessary to be an advocate for inclusion, tolerance and acceptance. Students are able to evaluate current theories and practices of the counseling profession and have the skills to conduct valid, ethical research. Students must complete three residential colloquia experiences that will include online coursework, a four-day residency weekend experience as well as assessment and evaluation.

Capella University, since its inception in 1993, has been dedicated to providing flexible courses in higher education for adult learners with a focus on the learning experience.

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