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About NAU

The American Way

Everyone has a right to a college education

That’s why we offer numerous opportunities to help you earn your degree whether online, at a campus, or both. After all, your career ambitions are uniquely your own. And with our flexible study plans, relevant degree programs and personal advising from day one, so are your options. Because we believe you should get the opportunity you deserve. That’s the American Way.

Relevant degree programs for real-world success

Earning your degree is about more than just pursuing your passions. You want an education that will not only help you reach your goals but also prepare you for success in your real-world career. We offer over 60 degree programs to help prepare you for today’s top growing industries, including business, information technology, healthcare, and more. And because we understand that education is only as valuable as your instructor,— ours bring real-world experience and success to the classroom and your education.

A personal advisor from day one

After decades of service to our students, we know how to help you succeed. That’s why our support starts before you enroll—and continues until graduation day. Let a personal advisor help you find the degree program that matches your career goals.

A university built around you

Life is busy. We understand. We provide you with options that make sense for your life with a variety of classes offered online or on-campus that help you start building your career skills from day one. We also work hard to make sure you get the credit you deserve by accepting credits earned from other colleges, and grant credit for qualified military training and other real-world experience.

photo-about-nauOur Mission

National American University welcomes students of diverse interests, cultures and abilities and prepares them for careers in technical and professional fields by providing quality higher education in a caring and supportive environment. The university builds learning partnerships with students and other institutions and organizations locally, nationally and internationally through its private, regionally accredited system of campuses and education centers offering courses in traditional, accelerated and distance learning formats. As a comprehensive technical and professional institution of higher learning, the university responds to the changing needs of students, employers, and their communities by providing undergraduate and graduate programs and continuing education opportunities to serve an evolving global society.

Core Values

  • Offer high quality instructional programs and services.
  • Provide a caring and supportive learning environment.
  • Offer technical and professional career programs.


  1. Offer quality technical and professional degree programs, as documented by institutional and academic assessment processes at the associate, bachelor’s and graduate level, diplomas, certificates and adult degree completion programs to traditional, adult and international learners.
  2. Provide a general education program to build awareness, abilities and interests to empower lifelong learners as knowledgeable citizens of the global community.
  3. Provide a collegiate experience through instructional and support services that creates a stimulating, caring and supportive learner-centered environment in which students are encouraged to achieve the educational goals established by the university.
  4. Promote a learning and working environment by providing new technologies, methodologies and practices that enhance and extend quality programs and services.
  5. Prepare students to provide leadership and services for the employment needs of business, industry and government worldwide.
  6. Pursue communication, cooperation and alliances with educational institutions, organizations and associations on a local, regional, national and international basis.
  7. Respond to the ever-changing societal demands for personal and professional development and continuing education through flexible scheduling and convenient access via traditional, accelerated and distance delivery methodologies.
  8. Assist students in the development of ethical values and behaviors.
  9. Foster an environment that encourages involvement by employees in the innovation and solution-seeking processes and provide an opportunity for personal and leadership development while promoting diversity in culture and perspective.
  10. Provide a stable institutional environment where human, financial and physical resources are sufficient to accomplish its educational and institutional goals as a sound basis for continued growth and development.

Adopted by the National American University Board of Governors, January 2012

The NAU Story

In 1941, National American University, then known as National School of Business, opened its doors to students in Rapid City, South Dakota, 20 miles from Mount Rushmore, which was completed that same year. Founder Clarence Jacobson, a local businessman and attorney, began offering business courses to an inaugural class of 13 students. 

In 1962, Harold D. Buckingham acquired the school and guided its growth for many years. The seventh of eleven children, Mr. Buckingham grew up in rural western Nebraska. He worked different jobs to finance his college education, including delivering gasoline and kerosene to local residents in a 1926 Model T Ford truck. His goal was to become a teacher, but he was unable to find a teaching position during the depths of the Great Depression. Although he went on to become a successful businessman, Mr. Buckingham remained a passionate advocate for higher learning. He firmly believed that quality educational opportunities and a better quality of life should exist for every person who desired them. Even later in life, Mr. Buckingham did not forget his dream to become a teacher, but remarked, “At 80 years of age, it may be too late!” The Buckingham family continues to be actively involved in the university. 

As the institution expanded both academically and geographically, its name evolved throughout the years, from National School of Business, to National College of Business, to National College, and finally to National American University.

Today, National American University is a multistate institution of higher learning offering associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs in traditional, online, and hybrid formats through the university’s:

  • College of Business, Accounting, and Technology
  • College of Health and Sciences   
  • College of Legal Studies   
  • College of Military Studies   
  • School of Nursing   
  • Harold D. Buckingham Graduate School within the Roueche Graduate Center 

The university’s Rapid City campus and Central Administration continue to be located in Rapid City, South Dakota.

National American University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, 230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500, Chicago, IL, 60604,, (800) 621-7440. In addition, several programs are separately accredited or approved by national educational and professional associations.

National American University is guided by its Board of Governors, which determines the mission, core values, and purposes of the institution and establishes policies to achieve its educational goals.

The university is owned and operated by Dlorah, Inc., a South Dakota corporation, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of National American University Holdings, Inc., a Delaware corporation. National American University Holdings, Inc. is a publicly traded company with its principal office located at 5301 Mount Rushmore Rd., Rapid City, SD 57701.

Although the university has changed dramatically since its humble beginnings, it remains true to its commitment to offer high quality technical and professional career programs in a caring and supportive learning environment.

"The success of our past greatly inspires us toward success in the future." 

~ Harold D. Buckingham

You deserve an education. We provide the opportunity. That’s the American Way. 

Download our NAU Milestones book here today! 

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