Wal-Mart Stores is offering online college degrees at a 15 percent discount to its employees through an agreement with American Public University, a for-profit accredited online university.
In total, the retail giant expects to pay $50 million over the next three years for tuition assistance to eligible employees.
American Public University, which also operates American Military University, has been named a Best Buy by GetEducated.com for its relatively low-cost accredited online degrees.
Wal-Mart chose APU over 80 other educational institutions for several reasons, said a store spokesman. Low pricing was one factor; another was its online education delivery—two-thirds of Wal-Mart employees in a survey said they prefer online college. Also, APU offers online degree programs in retail management and transportation logistics handling, both of which are especially relevant to Wal-Mart employees.
As part of the agreement, APU will provide online course credit for Wal-Mart employees' on-the-job training. APU will allow up to 45 percent of the credit required for a degree based on what they've learned in their jobs, according to a press release from Wal-mart Stores.
After the Wal-Mart discount is applied, an online college degree from American Public University at the associate level will cost $11,700 and a bachelors degree $24,000. By comparison, GetEducated.com research shows that the average price for an online bachelors degree in business management in 2009 was $43,000.
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