AU was founded in 1918 by the Sisters of St. Francis in Clinton, Iowa. Originally named Mount St. Clare College, it was intended to serve the higher education needs for residents of Clinton and the surrounding areas. In 2005, Bridgepoint Education, Inc., a higher education company, acquired the institution (then named The Franciscan University of the Prairies) and changed its name to Ashford University.
AU is defining the modern college experience by offering leading-edge technology with degree programs tailored for the on-campus traditional student, as well as for the working adult student learning online, AU is making high quality education more accessible and engaging to a diverse range of individuals. Students may transfer up to 90 approved credits to AU, allowing students to achieve their educational and career goals faster. In 2013, AU and Forbes Media announced an alliance between the University’s School of Business and a subsidiary of the global media company. Ashford’s College of Business and Professional Studies is now known as the Forbes School of Business.
- AU is part of the Bridgepoint Education university system which, as of December 31, 2016, had a total student enrollment of 45,087. This system also includes University of the Rockies, located in Colorado.
- AU students come from all 50 states, as well as from the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and various Department of Defense sites overseas.
- AU's online degree programs can be accessed by visiting the official website at www.ashford.edu.
- AU maintains limited class sizes and a low student-to-faculty ratio to ensure personalized, one-on-one attention for all of its students.
- Students may log in to their classes anytime, 24-hours a day.