Warren National University, of Wyoming, announced in February that it will no longer accept online students. Warren National, originally known as Kennedy-Western University, began offering online degrees in the 1980s. The online college operated from California and Idaho before migrating to Wyoming in an effort to keep ahead of changing state laws on diploma mills.
The online university encountered problems when it was cited as a "diploma mill" after awarding degrees based on life experience and work experience to high-ranking federal government officials. The federal government's 2004 sting operation specifically cited Kennedy-Western University as a "degree mill." In 2007, after relocating to Wyoming, the college changed its name to Warren National University, citing the first governor of Wyoming, Francis Warren, as its inspiration.
Many believed Kennedy-Western University changed its name in an effort to escape the notoriety that came from being formally identified as a degree mill in the U.S. government report and sting operation targeting online education fraud, which made international news.
In June 2005, Warren National University applied to the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the Northcentral Association of Colleges and Schools, a regional accrediting agency, for an academic review in hopes of qualifying for regional college accreditation. Regional accreditation is the type of accreditation held by the majority of residential degree-granting colleges in the U.S.
In December 2007, WNU was granted eligibility status from the HLC. This led to an an onsite accreditation visit in October 2008. In December 2008, WNU was informed that it did not receive the review team's recommendation for college accreditation candidacy. According to the accreditation committee, Warren National failed to prove it provided reliable and credible academic instruction at the level required for regional accreditation.
The Wyoming legislature passed a law in 2007 that required all colleges in that state to either obtain accreditation from a recognized agency or cease operation. Failing to achieve regional accreditation, Warren National has announced that it will cease operation.
Warren National online students are being referred to Preston University, of Montgomery, Alabama. Alabama does not require college accreditation by a recognized agency, and is seen by many as the next "safe haven" for online college degree mills. Preston University, like Warren National, operates as a distance learning only online college.