By Helena Tavares Kennedy
Founded as American Military University in 1991 by a U.S. Marine Corps officer to educate those who serve, American Public University System (APUS) today is the #1 accredited provider of higher education to the U.S. military, with more than 200 fully online, affordable, undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs.
With nearly 100 employees at its Manassas location and most staff located in nearby Charles Town, West Virginia, APUS, consisting of both American Military University (AMU) and American Public University (APU), is not your standard university. “Our classes are taught by recognized experts in their fields, start monthly and run eight or 16 weeks, offering the utmost flexibility for working adults,” said Brian Muys, associate vice president of public relations. “We stand apart from many online programs and have been recognized as such for quality online education and effective practices by the likes of the Online Learning Consortium.”
More than 70,000 alumni worldwide have benefited from APUS’s career-relevant curriculum, with three
of their most popular programs being business, criminal justice and intelligence studies. Other noteworthy offerings include innovative B.S. programs in electrical engineering, natural science and entrepreneurship, all offered fully online.
“Our flagship School of Security and Global Studies (SGS) offers reputable programs with the mission of preparing industry professionals to address the complex challenges facing our national security and intelligence communities,” said Muys. “These degree programs provide quality academic grounding for those seeking to make a difference through the study of geopolitical, economic and social cultures. Many of our faculty members are highly-credentialed and active leaders in their fields, while many of our students serve in related roles in intelligence services and private business.”
The SGS program offers key specialization areas ranging from competitive intelligence to intelligence analysis and studies. New Doctor of Global Security and Doctor of Strategic Intelligence programs opened to admissions this summer, and the first cohort will begin January 2018. APUS also recently introduced its new Momentum™ competency-based bachelor’s programs in criminal justice and public safety for students to learn at their own pace without attending structured classes.
“Being completely online, we offer a lot of flexibility that allows our students to overcome some of the challenges faced by students trying to work and raise a family while attending college at a traditional school,” said Dr. Danny Welsch, associate dean and professor at APUS’s School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
While APUS serves students and military personnel stationed globally, they currently have about 7,200 total students enrolled in Virginia and 10,500 in the greater Washington, D.C.-metro area.
“Our students are unique because they are highly motivated and bring a ton of unique experiences to the classroom,” said Welsch. “I teach geology, and many of our students have been around the world with the military and can share photos and stories about some of the different geologic environments to which they have been exposed. Our job is to help put all that experience into a formal academic context, which allows them to take advantage of their rich experiences. APUS is unique because we have a laser focus on academic quality and student success. We really understand our students and work hard to help them reach their goals.”
APUS’s dedication to its students goes beyond their studies and into the community. “We provide degree programs that are relevant to the greater D.C.-metro area, such as strategic intelligence, homeland security and public policy,” said Welsch. “With the considerable number of federal facilities in the Prince
William region, students can take advantage of their proximity and get a degree to help them strengthen their qualifications to begin or advance their public service careers.”
Joseph Neiberger, an AMU graduate with a masters of public administration and concentration in emergency and disaster management, and current battalion chief for the Fire Rescue Department of City of Manassas Park, said that one of the most valuable things about AMU for continuing his education was its flexibility and the quality of instruction.
“A peer of mine was working on the same degree as I was, but through a local brick-and-mortar university, and our curricula matched exactly,” said Neiberger. “The only difference was I didn’t have to drive through Northern Virginia traffic, which was a major plus. Having completed my bachelor’s degree in 1990 through a traditional university and now attending school online for my master’s degree, it’s clear that AMU has taken the quality and discipline of a traditional education and blended it with the
modernity and convenience of today’s computer-based society.”
The best part of earning his degree at AMU was that he “gained greater confidence in decision-making capabilities in the field,” said Neiberger. “Administratively, I gained a better understanding of how local government operates, which provided me the ability to help those whom I supervise to better understand how and why decisions are made by my supervisors and the local governing officials. Having seen the immediate impact of students and graduates putting their education to work on the streets that they serve, the university raises the quality of first responders and helps advance the quality of public safety for all served by them.”