Mission, Purpose, Vision & History


At NAU, our mission—and commitment—start and end with you.

Our Purpose

We create opportunities. We empower people. We transform lives.

Our Vision

An innovative university transforming your future.

Our Mission

National American University provides innovative learning experiences in a caring and supportive environment for individuals of diverse backgrounds, cultures, and abilities, preparing them for success in competitive technical and professional fields.

Our History

National American University’s rich history of providing quality higher education spans eight decades.

In 1941, businessman and attorney Clarence Jacobson and his wife, Katherine, founded National American University (then known as National School of Business) in Rapid City, South Dakota, just 20 miles from Mount Rushmore, which was completed that same year. He taught business courses to an inaugural class of 13 students.

In 1962, Harold D. Buckingham acquired the school and guided its growth for many years. A successful businessman, Mr. Buckingham had aspired to be a teacher and was a passionate advocate for higher learning, believing that quality educational opportunities should be available to all. More than 50 years later, the Buckingham family continues to be actively involved in the university.

NAU was a pioneer in the development of online education and now offers online certificate, diploma, associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs through the university’s

Today, the university continues to be an innovator in quality online education by utilizing new technologies to provide our students even greater convenience, including the ability to access our courses, learning tools, and all support services via mobile technology.

While NAU has grown and expanded our programs throughout the years, we remain true to our mission to offer high quality technical and professional career programs in a caring and supportive learning environment.