Our History

The Road to Becoming a Premier Online Graduate University

It is said that President James A. Garfield once described the ideal University as “[a renowned teacher] on one end of a log and a student on the other.” Founded in 1996, Northcentral University replaced the 19th-century log with the 21st-century Internet to connect faculty to motivated students seeking a quality education that is accessible, professionally relevant and applicable in today’s diverse global society.

Inspired by the Oxford Learning Model, Northcentral adopted a one-to-one teaching model, partnering one student with one faculty member in each course. Like the log idea, the goal was to create a more personalized learning experience where each student has the benefit of working directly with an expert faculty member who can pass down his or her valuable knowledge and experiences.

In 2003, Northcentral University was accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and remains accredited to this day. In addition, Northcentral’s business programs in the School of Business and Technology Management are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). NCU was one of the first online universities to have ACBSP accreditation across bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs.

In 2009, Northcentral University received certification from the United States Department of Education to participate in Title IV Financial Aid Programs. While committed to providing competitively priced degree programs, NCU wanted to ensure that all students have the opportunity to learn without worrying about paying for their education out-of-pocket. NCU students can apply for all applicable federal student aid programs, including Unsubsidized Federal Stafford loans, Subsidized Federal Stafford loans, Federal PLUS (Parent) loans and Federal Pell Grants. Visit our Financing page for more information.

Recent Enhancements and Achievements

With each passing year, Northcentral continues to make strides in fulfilling its Mission and realizing its Vision in becoming a global leader in providing unprecedented access to U.S. regionally accredited higher education.

  • Northcentral University offers an accelerated track options for its MBA and MEd programs. 
  • The Marriage and Family Therapy master's (MA) and doctoral (PhD) degree programs at NCU were designed to follow the Educational Guidelines of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). Additionally, the Master of Arts program in MFT was the first program that uses distance education to be awarded accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). 
  • Northcentral University is a Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.) for Project Management Institute (PMI)® and Project Management courses can be recognized for academic credit. 
  • Northcentral’s Applied Computer Science, Computer Information Security, and Management Information Systems majors can be recognized by the Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS). 
  • The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has acknowledged that NCU's Bachelor of Business Administration/Human Resources Management specialization and its Master of Business Administration/Human Resources Management specialization fully align with SHRM's HR Curriculum Guidebook and Templates, which were developed by SHRM to define the minimum HR content areas that should be studied by HR students at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
  • In 2013, nine PK-12 specializations in the Master of Education (MEd) program received five year initial accreditation through the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC), including the PK-12 Principal Leadership specialization, which was approved by the Arizona Department of Education and is the School of Education’s first certification preparation specialization.