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About Capella

University Mission Statement

The mission of Capella University is to extend access to high quality bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, doctoral, and certificate programs for adults who seek to maximize their personal and professional potential. This mission is fulfilled through innovative programs that are responsive to the needs of adult learners and involve active, engaging, challenging, and relevant learning experiences offered in a variety of delivery modes.

University Values

Capella University is a learning-centered community that values:

Our learners.

We foster the success and achievement of our learners by providing an academically rich, outcomes-based education and a value-added customer experience.

Human potential.

We honor the potential of each person. We believe in people, challenge them, and help them achieve their goals; we enable transformations.


The achievement of Capella learners is our measure of success. We’re proud to take accountability for our individual and organizational results.

Decisive collaboration.

As a nimble organization, we foster a culture of decisiveness that is informed by practical collaboration. We empower each other to seek input and constructive debate, then make decisions and move forward.


We value innovation and entrepreneurial risk-taking. We strive for continuous improvement of both the learning experience and our business performance.


We live our values with transparency and high ethical standards. We honor our commitments.

Educational Philosophy

At Capella University, we believe education transforms people’s lives and society—immediately and permanently. The innovative, intentionally designed competency-based education we offer enables adult learners to meet challenges in their careers, lead and make new contributions in their disciplines, and reach their professional and personal goals. Our educational pathways respect existing expertise and allow learners to focus on what is essential, as they gain new competencies and expand on those they already have. The credentials they earn are signs of the professional relevancy, quality, and immediate applicability of their educational experience at Capella University and help to create new opportunities in the future. As partners in their education, we proudly serve the lifelong learning ambitions that allow our learners, alumni, their many communities, and our broader society to thrive.

Diversity and Inclusion Statement

Capella University believes that a diverse learning community is vital to achieving our mission of extending access to higher education. We believe that attracting, engaging, and supporting diverse learners, faculty, and staff strengthens our university. Capella values human potential and is committed to being an inclusive and culturally competent institution. Capella strives to promote equity within and beyond our community through intentional actions and the transformative exchange of ideas. 

Academic Freedom

Capella University is committed to freedom of expression and inquiry and strives to promote an atmosphere in which rigorous academic dialogue is maintained without compromising the university’s commitment to collegiality, civility, and diversity. See University Policy 1.01.10 Academic Freedom.

Capella History

In 1992, Stephen Shank, former CEO of Tonka Corporation, provided the vision, leadership, and a portion of the initial funding for the incorporation of a distance-learning institution of higher education. Shank had observed that adults were under-served by traditional universities, partly because attending classes can be difficult for many working adults, and traditional curriculum may not correspond with the professional goals of mature adults. He envisioned a barrier-free university that people could attend remotely. The Graduate School of America (TGSA), which eventually became Capella University, was established.

In 1993, Dr. Harold Abel, an experienced leader in higher education and a former president of three universities, joined Stephen Shank to serve as founding president and academic leader of The Graduate School of America (TGSA). Dr. Abel assembled a premier faculty, built graduate curricula, and guided the university toward academic accreditation. In 1997, during the presidency of Dr. Bruce Francis, TGSA was accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and became a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). The university’s accreditation was reaffirmed by the Higher Learning Commission in 2008 and in 2015.

The Graduate School of America initially offered master’s and doctoral degree programs in Education, Human Services, and Organization and Management. Two years after receiving accreditation, TGSA became Capella University and went on to establish the schools of Business, Education, Human Services, Technology, and the Harold Abel School of Psychology.

The undergraduate learning experience was enhanced by a reorganization of schools in 2004 to form the School of Undergraduate Studies and the School of Business and Technology. In 2009, to better meet the professional needs of its learners in public service fields, Capella formed the School of Public Service Leadership. Capella’s Harold Abel School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, was established in 2010. Programs from the two former schools, the School of Human Services and the Harold Abel School of Psychology, moved into that school, which housed the Department of Counseling and the Department of Psychology. In 2014, Capella separated its nursing and health care programs from the remainder of the School of Public Service Leadership’s portfolio in order to better serve its learners as they progress toward their professional goals. In 2015, Capella moved the Department of Social Work to the School of Public Service Leadership to better align the social work programs with the school’s human services, leadership, public administration, and public service programs and mission.

In 2013, the Higher Learning Commission approved two competency-based, direct assessment program options, called FlexPath, for the BS in Business, Business Administration specialization and the MBA, General Business Administration specialization. That same year, both offerings were also approved by the Department of Education for federal financial aid eligibility. Since that time, Capella has continued to expand its FlexPath portfolio. In 2020, Capella received Higher Learning Commission and Department of Education approval for the first doctoral-level FlexPath offering.

In 2018, to better serve the professional needs of learners in respective programs, the Harold Abel School of Social and Behavioral Sciences became two schools, reestablishing the Harold Abel School of Psychology and creating the School of Counseling and Human Services. Also in 2018, undergraduate programs and courses within the School of Undergraduate Studies were aligned with their appropriate school creating more integrated schools that include the full range of degree levels and general education courses moved to the Division of Arts and Sciences.

With a goal of building on and continuing previous improvements in learner outcomes and impacts, in 2020, Capella was reorganized into the following four schools: the School of Business, Technology, and Health Care Administration; the School of Nursing and Health Sciences; the School of Public Service and Education; and the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Institutional Accreditation

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an institutional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Professional Accreditation

Select Capella University programs and specializations have received professional accreditations.

Affirmative Action

Capella University is an affirmative action employer.

Ownership of University

Capella University is owned by Strategic Education, Inc.

Access to Learning Resources

Capella University recognizes the need to provide limited access to the online courseroom, Campus, the Capella University Library, and other Capella University learning resources to persons other than Capella learners, alumni, faculty, and staff, as described below.

Courseroom Access

For regulatory, accreditation, and other purposes, the courseroom may be accessed and observed by persons other than Capella learners, faculty, and staff. Access to the courseroom will be authorized by the chief academic officer only after the review of such a request and the determination that access is necessary and appropriate, does not infringe on the activities of learners and faculty, and does not threaten the academic integrity of the courseroom. Although the courseroom is not open to public access upon demand, it is not a private or confidential domain; neither learners nor faculty should assume privacy within the courseroom.

Library and Campus Access

For regulatory, accreditation, and other purposes, access to the Campus, Capella University Library, and other Capella learning resources may be granted to persons other than Capella learners, alumni, faculty, and staff. Access to these resources will be authorized by the chief academic officer only after the review of such a request and the determination that access is necessary and appropriate and does not threaten the integrity of the university.

Background Check Requirements

Learners may be required to pass fingerprint and/or background checks required by a site or state licensing office in order to complete site-based learning requirements (such as practica, internships, or immersion experiences). Learners are responsible for understanding and complying with any applicable background check requirements, including any fees associated with completing the background check (approximately $36–$200 depending on state and/or site requirements). Learners will not be able to complete Capella’s program if site-based learning requirements cannot be completed due to a failed background check. In some cases, a positive background check may result in remediation and/or academic sanctions, including administrative removal from the program. Additionally, fingerprint and/or background checks are required for most professional licenses and many professions. Learners are responsible for understanding how their personal and criminal background may impact their ability to complete the degree program, earn a professional license or secure employment.

Capella's Commitment to Learner Success

Capella University is committed to helping learners succeed. To that end, the university has developed a combination of coursework and support services intended to facilitate a strong start for learners. New learners can expect the following support:

• The University Orientation Seminar provides all new learners with the knowledge, skills, and advice they need to be successful in Capella’s online learning environment. Learners navigate Capella’s online courseroom, take a virtual tour of university support services, and engage in an online discussion with an orientation facilitator and other new learners.

• Learners begin their program with a first course that sets the stage for the rest of their studies.

Course Accommodations

Many courses at Capella include required live web conferencing activities and/or learner audio/video recordings. Learners who require assistive technology or alternative communication methods to participate in these activities should contact Disability Services to request accommodations.

Degree Offerings

Capella University offers Bachelor of Science (BS), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSW), Master of Education (MEd), Master of Science (MS), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Health Administration (MHA), Master of Public Health (MPH), Master of Social Work (MSW), Education Specialist (EdS), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), Doctor of Education (EdD), Doctor of Health Administration (DHA), Doctor of Human Services (DHS), Doctor of Information Technology (DIT), Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), Doctor of Public Health (DrPH), Doctor of Psychology (PsyD), and Doctor of Social Work (DSW) degrees.

Doctoral Candidate Badge

Recognizing Doctoral Learner Achievement

This badge is issued in recognition of the individual’s completion of advanced graduate study. Learners in PhD programs who qualify for this academic badge have successfully completed their required didactic courses and comprehensive exam and have moved into the dissertation phase of their program. For learners in professional doctorate programs, this recognition signifies the completion of their required didactic courses and transition to dissertation or doctoral capstone.


To be eligible for the electronic Doctoral Candidate Badge, a learner must currently be admitted to a doctoral program in any of Capella University’s graduate schools and registered for doctoral coursework. Eligible learners must have completed requirements and coursework as outlined for their program by their school. This typically includes completion of core, specialization, and elective courses and relevant program and residency requirements, including site-based learning, with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Eligible learners will receive an email notification with instructions for claiming their badge.

External Requests

The university maintains a record of external requests for learners’ education records, except for directory information, and of the disposition of the requests. The university may disclose education records to authorized agencies and appropriate institutions as specified in the FERPA policy located on Campus.

Learner Complaints

Learners who have complaints that have not otherwise been resolved through contact with Academic Advising, Enrollment Services, Financial Aid Support Team, University Operations Support, or Technical Support may submit their request to

Learner Contact Information

Learners are responsible for keeping their contact information accurate and current. Learner information may be updated at any time on Campus or via Learner Support. The primary form of official communication from Capella University is through email. Learners are required to maintain active email addresses. To ensure receipt of important communications, learners should make sure that spam filters are set to receive email from Capella University.

Plagiarism and Content Matching

Capella University uses a source matching tool both during University admissions processes and in academic courses. Learners who take courses at Capella understand and agree that all required coursework may be submitted for a textual similarity review. All reviewed coursework will then be included as source documents in the Capella reference database for the sole purpose of identifying plagiarism in future documents.


Most doctoral and clinically focused master’s programs require learners to attend residencies offered in various locations. Residencies provide opportunities for learners to become familiar with Capella University resources, develop or affirm academic skill sets, acquire clinical skill competencies, learn research methodologies, and prepare for the comprehensive examination and dissertation processes.

Through these face-to-face experiences, learners extend participation in Capella’s learning community by networking, focusing on academic success strategies, interacting with peers and faculty, and developing academic competencies that support program completion. Capella believes that the sense of community developed during residencies will endure throughout the program and become an essential part of a successful learner experience. Additional details regarding residency requirements can be found on Campus.

Right to Change Requirements

Neither the Capella University Catalog, nor any of the information and requirements contained herein, constitute a contract or create any contractual commitments between Capella University and any student, any prospective student, or any third party. The information and program requirements contained in the Capella University Catalog are regularly updated and are subject to change without notice. All updates to the catalog will be posted on Capella’s website.

Special Topics

Special topics courses may be available to certain doctoral learners. Special topics courses, in which learners work one-to-one with a faculty tutor, are offered quarterly. Additional details and requirements related to these courses can be found in the University Policies section of this catalog and on Campus.

State Regulatory Information

State Authorization

Capella University is registered as a private institution with the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and is an approved institutional participant in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA).

Capella University is authorized to operate in all SARA member states (, and is registered or authorized to operate in states not participating in SARA, or as required by state educational agencies based on Capella's activities in those states.

California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education

P.O. Box 980818

West Sacramento, CA 95798-0818


Capella University is registered with the Bureau as an Out of State Institution pursuant to the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009.

Student Tuition Recovery Fund (STRF) Disclosure

Student Tuition Recovery Fund (STRF) Fees

Minnesota Office of Higher Education

Capella University is registered with the Minnesota Office of Higher Education pursuant to sections 136A.61 to 136A.71. Registration is not an endorsement of the institution. Credits earned at the institution may not transfer to all other institutions.

Minnesota Office of Higher Education

1450 Energy Park Dr., Suite 350

St. Paul, MN 55108


Tennessee Higher Education Commission

312 Rosa Parks Ave, 9th Floor

Nashville, TN 37243


Capella University is authorized by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. This authorization must be renewed each year and is based on an evaluation by minimum standards concerning quality of education, ethical business practices, health and safety, and fiscal responsibility.

Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission (NCQAC)

Capella University is approved by the Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission to provide practice experiences in the state of Washington for DNP and MSN programs. For more information go to this website link:

Social Media and Service Requests

Learner requests for enrollment and registration changes and other official actions must be communicated to Capella University via e-mail, telephone, or designated form. Requests made via social media platforms are not official and will not be processed.


Learners may request transcripts on Campus or by calling Learner Support at 1.888.CAPELLA (227.3552).

Effective April 1, 2022, Capella University learners can request an official transcript from Capella even if they have outstanding debts to the University.

Transferability of Capella University Credits or Program Points

The transferability of Capella quarter credits or program points to another institution is solely at the discretion of that institution. It is the learner’s responsibility to contact that institution to confirm whether Capella quarter credits or program points will be accepted.