Capella University was the inspiration of Stephen Shank, former CEO of Tonka Corporation, who felt that many adults were underserved by traditional universities. He envisioned a high-quality university that people could attend from any location.
In 1991, Shank established the corporate entity that would become Capella Education Company. In 1993, Dr. Harold Abel, an experienced leader in higher education and former president of three universities, joined Shank to found The Graduate School of America, now called Capella University. Originally, the university offered online master's and doctoral degrees in management, education, and human services.
Today, Capella University offers more than 1,250 online courses and 39 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in 129 specialized areas of study. Capella's nearly 34,000 learners include a diverse group of adults from all 50 states and 52 countries.
Leading the Way for Quality Online Education
In 2000, Capella University became the first online academic institution to become a charter participant of the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) of the NCA. AQIP participants commit to a program of continuous quality improvement (CQI) similar to initiatives practiced in other industries.
AQIP provides an alternative model of accreditation maintenance with The Higher Learning Commission. Instead of the traditional 10-year review cycle, AQIP participants adhere to an ongoing annual review regimen. By participating in AQIP, Capella is required to analyze its operational processes and measure outcomes within each of nine different quality criteria, and to set ambitious performance goals, such as converting all its courses to an outcomes/competency-based model.
National recognition for excellence
Capella courses and programs have gained national recognition and awards for excellence from a variety of organizations.
* WebCT Exemplary Course Award
* National University Telecommunications Network (NUTN) 2006 Distance Education Innovation Award
* WebCT Exemplary Practice Award
* National Center of Academic Excellence designation from the National Security Agency and U.S. Department of Homeland Security
What is now Capella University was established in 1991 by Dr. Harold Abel and Stephen Shank, former CEO of Tonka, who believed adults were an academically underserved population by traditional universities.
In 1993, Dr. Harold Abel, a former president of three universities, became the first president of the Graduate School of America. This school was later renamed Capella University.
In 1997, Capella University received regional accreditation.
In 1999, 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 for the first time.
In 2006, Capella Education Company became a publicly traded company (NASDAQ: CPLA).
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.
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 effective March 2009. The building houses all of the company's 1,150 downtown Minneapolis administrative staff.
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.
In 2009, Capella University launched its School of Public Service Leadership.
In 2010, Capella University, 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.