History of NAU

accounting majorsIn 1941, the university, then known as National School of Business, opened its doors in South Dakota to students who desired specialized business training. Located on a Rapid City main street, the school offered primarily secretarial and accounting classes and programs.

Through World War II and the Korean War years, the university remained in its original location. Ground was broken at 321 Kansas City Street, Rapid City, South Dakota, in the latter part of 1960 for a new two-story brick building containing classrooms, a bookstore, a small library and administrative offices. In 1963, the construction of a student residence hall, the College Inn was completed.

Anticipating a post-war demand for business curriculum, the university was ready with new classes in accounting, marketing and management.  The programs were geared toward the educational needs of returning veterans who sought an expanded role in the business world.

Faculty and staff increased in number and, with National American University's growing stature in the educational community, new and transfer students from across the United States and foreign countries came to study. The university soon expanded its base of programs.

What started in Rapid City has expanded to campuses in Centennial, Denver, Colorado Springs and Colorado Springs South, Colo.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Overland Park, Wichita and Wichita West, Kan.; Bloomington, Brooklyn Center, Burnsville, Rochester and Roseville, Minn.; Lee's Summit, Independence, Weldon Spring and Zona Rosa (Kansas City), Mo.; Bellevue, Neb.; Albuquerque and West Albuquerque, N.Mex.; Tulsa, Okla.; Tigard, Ore.; Sioux Falls, S.Dak.; Austin, Austin South, Georgetown, Houston, Lewisville, Mesquite and Richardson, Texas.  There is also a graduate center in Austin, Texas, an extension center at Ellsworth AFB, S.Dak. and education centers in Minnetonka, Minn., and Watertown, S.Dak.


In 1998 National American University developed online courses to be offered through the emerging resource of the World Wide Web. Since that time the NAU Distance Learning program has created a virtual campus offering degree programs in several academic areas. With the addition of online course offerings and degrees, students have access to learning 24-hours a day from anywhere that the Internet can be accessed.

The curricular offerings include degrees in accounting, general education studies, information technology, paralegal studies, medical assisting, medical administrative assistant, management, business administration, therapeutic massage, health care management, nursing, organizational leadership, veterinary technology, and many others.