Bridgepoint Education's Ashford University Announces Record Number of Graduates

SAN DIEGO, May 9 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Bridgepoint Education, Inc. , a leading provider of postsecondary education services, announced today that Ashford University graduated a total of 1,702 students in its May semiannual graduation. Twenty-five associate's, 1,275 bachelor's and 402 master's degrees were awarded in today's ceremonies.

More than 500 Ashford University graduates from 40 states and four countries participated in commencement ceremonies held today at the Clinton, Iowa, campus. It was the largest graduation in the school's history. More than 90 percent of graduates participating in the ceremonies earned their degrees online and came to the campus from out of state. Clinton, Iowa, with a population of less than 28,000, embraced these students, as well as their friends and families, while local hotels and restaurants experienced a surge in conjunction with graduation festivities.

U.S. Olympic gymnastics star Kerri Strug gave the keynote address at each of Ashford's graduation ceremonies. She made Olympic history with her courageous performance during the 1996 Olympic Games when she landed an unforgettable vault on an injured ankle to help the United States clinch its first Olympic gold medal in the team gymnastics competition.

"This is an exciting time in our institution's history, because it's the first time we've needed two ceremonies to accommodate participating graduates," said Jane McAuliffe, Chief Academic Officer of Bridgepoint Education and President of Ashford University. "It's great that so many of our online students chose to come to Iowa to receive their diplomas in person. It's a wonderful way for them to celebrate their educational experience with Ashford."

From New Yorkers to Californians, most of the online students who participated in the ceremonies had never met face-to-face, yet earned their degrees together.

"Online learning is increasingly popular," McAuliffe said. "Technology makes higher education more accessible and more affordable, especially for non-traditional students ranging from working moms to military war veterans, career launchers to career enhancers."

In 2007, Ashford University had 876 total graduates. In 2008, the number increased to 2,567 total graduates. The May 2009 graduating class is the largest in the university's 90-year history.

About Bridgepoint Education

Bridgepoint Education's postsecondary education services focus on offering associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs in the disciplines of business, education, psychology, social sciences and health sciences. Bridgepoint Education's regionally accredited academic institutions - Ashford University and University of the Rockies - deliver their programs online as well as at traditional campuses located in Clinton, Iowa, and Colorado Springs, Colorado, respectively.

About Ashford University

Founded in 1918, Ashford University is a coeducational higher education institution regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, with programs in education, business, accounting, criminal and social justice, computer animation and graphic design, and other areas. The University offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as a range of student activities and athletics, at its Clinton, Iowa, campus. Online degree programs are available in education, organizational management, business administration, and psychology. The University offers high quality yet highly affordable on-campus and online programs, with tuition fees among the lowest in the U.S. compared with other private institutions. Its tagline is: "Higher Education Made Affordable"(SM).

SOURCE: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.