Academic Catalog

University History, Mission, and Goals

Aspen University History

Aspen University has its origins in the International Academy, created in the 1960s to improve the way education was disseminated. The International Academy evolved into ISIM University, with a primary focus on technology and business education. In the late 1980s, operations moved to Colorado and in 1993, the University was successful in acquiring national accreditation with the Distance Education and Training Council, now the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). In 2003, the University underwent a change in ownership, a name change to Aspen University, and a successful re-accreditation review.

In 2011, the University underwent a second change of ownership. Concerned about the financial challenges faced by students and profiled in his book, Let’s Change Higher Education Forever: A Debt-Free Solution for A System Gone Wrong, Michael Mathews, Chairman of the Board of Aspen Group, Inc. (AGI), was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Aspen University. In 2012, it became a publicly traded postsecondary institution (ASPU) and in 2017, AGI was uplisted on the NASDAQ. Aspen University is dedicated to helping students achieve upward mobility and long-term economic success through superior education, financial prudence, and career advancement. Although traditional financial aid is available for those who qualify, Mike Mathews instituted a pioneering Monthly Payment Plan (MPP) for students, offered entirely interest free, making it essentially a no-interest, private student loan, designed to allow the student to achieve their degree and minimize debt upon graduation.

Today, Aspen University offers online certificates, and online associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in three schools: School of Nursing and Health Sciences, School of Business and Technology, and School of Education. The School of Arts and Sciences provides general education coursework in support of the other schools. It retains institutional accreditation with DEAC.


Aspen University Mission Statement

Aspen is dedicated to offering any motivated college-worthy student the opportunity to receive a high quality, responsibly priced distance-learning education for the purpose of achieving sustainable economic and social benefits for themselves and their families.

Aspen University achieves this in two ways:

Aspen’s Academic Achievement Goal is to transition motivated learners to higher levels of productive citizenship by providing a readily accessible education that teaches knowledge and skills of enduring value. A productive citizen is defined as a self-directed, life-long learner who functions successfully in high-performance teams; exhibits professional behavior through leadership, advocacy, cultural competence and ethical conduct; conducts research, using evidence-based practices; leverages technology to produce high-value work products; and achieves and maintains a productive professional career.

Aspen’s Economic Responsibility Goal is to offer tuition rates low enough that a majority of our students will not incur debt through utilization of federal financial aid. Economic responsibility is defined as Aspen offering tuition rates low enough that a majority of students will be able to afford to pay tuition in cash or through a monthly payment plan (maintaining Federal Financial Aid revenues below 50%).


University Mission-Based Outcomes

  1. Ethical Professionalism
    • Exhibits self-directed learning and professional behavior that adheres to the standards of the discipline
    • Behaves in ways that are founded in socially responsible, ethical frameworks
  2. Effective Communication for Creating Change
    • Uses reading, writing, listening and speaking as communication tools to effectively express and comprehend ideas
    • Implements effective communication to function successfully in multiple roles while collaborating on teams
    • Demonstrates cultural competence when interacting with diverse populations through multiple modes of communication
  3. Active Leadership
    • Exhibits a self-awareness of leadership style and personal values
    • Recognizes and articulates leadership theory in real-life contexts
    • Participates in the profession at different levels
  4. Critical Thinking and Analytical Reasoning
    • Demonstrates logical reasoning by using evidence-based paradigms that are anchored in solid research and reliable, valid data
    • Analyzes and evaluates multiple sources of information to draw conclusions and generate plans for solving complex problems
  5. Technological Literacy
    • Leverages technology to achieve goals and produce high- value work products
    • Accesses and uses information ethically and legally
    • Employs technology for effective online collaboration


Diversity and Equity Statement

Aspen University is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in its faculty, administration, and staff hiring practices, employee policies, and student admissions practices and policies. It is committed to non-discrimination in the delivery of its educational services and employment opportunities. The University does not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, veteran status, physical or mental disability, medical condition as defined by law, or any basis prohibited by law.

Land Acknowledgment

Aspen University acknowledges that our classroom learning is taking place throughout the original and traditional territory of hundreds of indigenous cultures and tribal nations. Aspen University acknowledges and honors the original inhabitants of our various regions. As an institution of higher learning, Aspen University encourages our students to continue to examine and research their worldviews, working to help build a community of respect for all individuals.

Aspen University acknowledges that we operate on the traditional territory and homelands of several indigenous peoples. 

  • Aspen University’s Arizona locations operate on the traditional and continued homeland of the Akimel O'odham (Pima) people.
  • Aspen University’s Colorado location operates on the traditional and continued homeland of the Cheyenne, Araphao, Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), and Očhéthi Šakówiŋ (Sioux) peoples.
  • Aspen University’s Florida location operates on the traditional and continued homeland of the Seminole and Tocobaga peoples.
  • Aspen University’s Georgia location operates on the traditional and continued homeland of the Tsalaguwetiyi (Cherokee, East) and the Mvskoke (Muscogee/Creek) peoples.
  • Aspen University’s Tennessee location operates on the traditional and continued homeland of the Tsalaguwetiyi (Cherokee, East), S’atsoyaha, and Shawandasse Tula peoples.
  • Aspen University’s Texas location operates on the traditional and continued homeland of the Tonkawa, Nʉmʉnʉʉ (Comanche), Lipan Apache, Jumanos, and Coahuiltecan peoples.