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The American Public University System (APUS) is a private, for-profit, online learning institution of higher education that is composed of the American Military University and the American Public University. APUS maintains corporate and academic offices in Charles Town, West Virginiamarker, administrative offices in Manassas, Virginiamarker, and offers associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees through its two constituent universities. APUS is wholly owned by American Public Education, Inc., a publicly traded corporation .


The American Public University System (APUS) traces its history to June 11, 1991 with theestablishment of American Military University (AMU) in the Commonwealth of Virginia. AMU wasfounded by retired Marine Corps Major James P. Etter as a graduate school of military studies for thepurpose of providing military officers an opportunity to earn an advanced degree in a disciplineassociated with their profession of arms.

The University began operations and accepting students in January 1993 at offices in Manassas,Virginia, with 18 graduate students registering for 22 courses in Land, Naval, or Air Warfare. AMU’scurriculum was gradually expanded to include related disciplines such as Unconventional Warfare,Civil War Studies, Intelligence, Defense Management, and National Security Studies.In June 1995, AMU achieved initial accreditation with the Accrediting Commission of the DistanceEducation and Training Council (DETC). With this national accreditation, AMU students becameeligible for Department of Defense Tuition Assistance Programs, the Veterans AdministrationEntitlement Programs, and federal and corporate tuition reimbursement benefits.

In January 1996, AMU introduced its undergraduate program with three initial areas of study: MilitaryHistory, Military Management, and Intelligence Studies. These programs were intended to providemilitary personnel an opportunity to earn a relevant baccalaureate degree. Later, AMU began offeringan Associate of Arts degree in General Studies to fulfill the needs of service members seeking a two year degree. The University continued to expand its curriculum in response to the needs of itsstudents and the military. Accordingly, programs such as Criminal Justice, Management, InternationalRelations, Homeland Security, Security Management, Transportation and Logistics Management,Sports Management, Emergency and Disaster Management, and, later, a full range of liberal artsprograms were introduced to meet the diverse interests and aspirations of the University’s growingstudent body. With these new degree programs, AMU began attracting students from professionsoutside the military, primarily those in public service with law enforcement, fire and rescue, emergency planning, government, and defense contractors.

In 1998, AMU began transitioning its programs and services from a correspondence format to onlineto leverage the accessibility of online electronic classrooms, administrative services, and learningsupport facilities. At this time AMU also outsourced its bookstore and textbook fulfillment services to an industry leader and began developing its proprietary student information system, Partnership At a Distance, or PAD. This system enabled students to apply for admission, complete an onlineorientation, register for courses, check degree progress, and apply for graduation from theconvenience of their home or office with constant access to these online services.

In 2002, AMU expanded into the American Public University System and established American PublicUniversity in West Virginia to serve the educational needs of the public service community. Adopting the slogan of “Educating Those Who Serve”, the APUS Mission expanded “to serve the nation’s military and public service community with superior, relevant, and affordable distance learning programs which prepare them for leadership and service in a diverse, global society.” With this organizational and mission expansion, the University System continued to expand and refine its curriculum to meet the special educational needs of its diverse student body. In 2006, APUS was granted regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.


American Public University System (APUS) is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and nationally accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council. The university system also holds specialty accreditation for the following academic programs:

*Emergency and Disaster Management program from the Foundation of Higher Education
*Child and Family Development program from the National Council on Family Relations
*School of Business from the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (candidate).

Academic Schools and Faculty

The universities of APUS offer more than 70 different degree programs across seven academic schools which include the: School of Arts and Humanities, School of Business; School of Education; School of Management; School of Public Safety and Health; School of Security and Global Studies; and the School of Science and Technology. In addition, The Center for Graduate Studies at APUS offers the following degree programs: Master of Arts, Master of Science, Master of Education, Master of Business Administration, Public Health, Public Administration & Post-Bachelor Certificates.

Faculty combine relevant theory with real-world experience. Academic credentials include such institutions as the University of Chicago, University of Notre Dame, Stanford University, Cambridge University, and Harvard University. Many are executives in government, business and non-profit organizations, including the United Nations, the State Department, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.


Enrollment is about 74% undergraduate and 26% graduate students. AMU students are active, working adults in the military, public safety and national security sectors, and beyond. Founded to provide relevant and affordable education to the military, AMU today serves a variety of students seeking liberal arts and professional studies degrees, and places special program emphasis on programs in homeland security, national security, intelligence, and emergency and disaster management. Everyone associated with the University shares a passion for providing curriculum, class delivery, and service uniquely designed to meet the needs of those who serve others in their communities.


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