More than 4,200 online and campus-based students celebrated their graduation as part of Kaplan University’s August 2010 Commencement. Held in Chicago, Illinois, it was attended by approximately 730 students, many of whom had earned their associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degrees entirely online. Although these students had never met their classmates or instructors in the flesh, they came from across the country and even from overseas to take part in their commencement.
Former U.S. Representative, Harold Ford, Jr., (D-TN) served as keynote speaker and delivered a stirring address on education and civic responsibility. “Graduates like you must use your education and skillset to make this a stronger, more vibrant, and dynamic nation,” Ford told the graduates. “It takes courage and determination to improve your own life and the lives of those around you,” he added.1
Nearly 27,000 online students have graduated from Kaplan University since it began offering online degrees and professional certificates in 2001.1 Enrollment has risen at both its campus-based and web-based programs. At last count, Kaplan University had over 45,000 degree-seeking students, 90 percent of whom complete their coursework on the Internet.2
Even after the shift to a more web-centric platform, the University kept the commencement tradition alive. In fact, they hold two commencements each year—one for the winter class and the other for the summer class. And if turnout is any indication, both online and campus-based students appreciate the opportunity to accept their certificates and degrees in person.
Nearly 1,400 graduates traveled to Miami, Florida for Kaplan University’s March 2012 Commencement, which was the largest graduation the school had hosted in its 75-year history.3 The class itself was over 10,000 students strong!3