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Welcome to the NAU 75th Anniversary Page!

History of National American University

Success is made, not born. In 1941, NAU opened its doors to students in Rapid City, South Dakota who desired specialized business training. Located on a Rapid City main street, the founder of the university, Clarence Jacobson, strived to bring unique opportunity to fulfill a need. This vision continued to grow with the university and evolved with Harold D. Buckingham who acquired the school in 1962.

Anticipating a demand for business leaders after World War II and the Korean Wars, 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.  NAU believes that a university should be built around the needs of its students— that’s why we spent decades cultivating opportunities like this to meet those needs. And as NAU continued to expand in both its geographical locations and its faculty and staff, the focus remained on Harold D. Buckingham's belief in providing everyone the opportunity to pursue their education.

In 1998, NAU developed online courses to once again fulfill a need and continue to provide learning as a powerful pathway for working adults. Today the university includes 35 campuses across 10 states offering degrees in today’s top growing industries including business, accounting, information technology, healthcare, criminal justice, and more.

And because caring for a student is as important as educating them—we offer degree options that meet their goals, flexibility for their lifestyles and a personal advisor to help them the whole way through.

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