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History & Vision - Evolution 2086

In 1886, a group of visionary educators and business people saw a need for focused, career-based training in the southeastern United States. American National University was thus born, to fulfill the need for trained business, banking, accounting, administrative, and other professionals.

Through its first century, American National University (known back then as National Business College) steadily developed a reputation for providing men and women with an efficient and effective education preparing them for the world of professional work. Students from many states made the trek to Roanoke, Virginia, to receive a practical education that was more focused and relevant than that offered by other colleges and universities of the time.

As the college's first 100 years drew to a close, however, changes had already been underway that would give the institution a different appearance even as it continued to remain true to its original purpose. The dormitories and large central campus gave way to multiple community-based campuses throughout Southwest Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Business curricula were supplemented by career-focused programs in computers and healthcare. Certificate programs were no longer the norm-students pursued more in-depth study leading to associate's degrees and the college's first baccalaureate programs had been introduced.

Today, American National University has developed into a master's-level career-focused institution offering more than 45 academic programs through 31 community-based campuses in six states. A burgeoning online program serves a growing number of students, while thousands of international students have turned to National for both academic degree programs and English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction. The college's reputation for excellence has been affirmed through numerous awards and acknowledgments; including awards for grassroots student advocacy (Association for Private Sector Colleges & Universities TOPS Award, 2012), support for veterans (Top 15% Military Friendly School, 2010-2014), and a Lifetime Achievement Award (Imagine America Foundation, 2012) recognizing American National University President Frank Longaker's 40 years of service to the career college sector - to name just a few.

The college continues to evolve. In an effort to recognize the college's continuous history of adapting to change in the worldwide economy and provide a vision for our anticipated development to carry us to our 200th anniversary in 2086, we have adopted the theme of "Evolution 2086."

Evolution 2086 guides our development to continue meeting the workforce needs for the 21st century and beyond. Today's workforce demands career education at increasingly higher degree levels, which we will meet with additional master's and doctoral programs. We will serve additional communities in additional states with local campuses. We will expand and explore additional teaching methodologies, including online delivery, hybrid courses, and open-enrollment online courses.

While continuing to focus on the fundamentals of business, computers, and health care, we will expand our offerings in developing fields. We will continue our leadership in health informatics, offering bachelor's and master's degree programs in this important field. New programs in clinical health care, including RN-to-BSN and Master of Science in Nursing programs will be developed. Cybersecurity and information assurance will expand our depth and breadth of offerings in information technology. And we will continue to pursue programmatic accreditation in those fields for which such accreditation is essential as we do for current programs.

The evolution of the institution is reflected in our name: American National University. American, recognizing our role as a leading American institution for career-focused education for students from around the world; National, acknowledging our historical roots and nationwide reputation; University, representing our status as a graduate-level institution offering diverse academic, online, international, ESL, and corporate training programs. Our Virginia and West Virginia campuses made this transition in 2013-2014, and our Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio campuses will make this transition to university status in 2015.

What does not change are the hallmarks of the experience our tens of thousands of graduates have enjoyed since 1886.

With this name change, current students will not see dramatic changes. American National University will continue to offer the career-focused, hands-on learning environment that has characterized our more than 125 years of excellence, while steadily evolving new programs, venues, methods of instruction, and educational fields appropriate to the 21st-century global economy. Students will continue to reap the benefits of our decades of tradition and experience as well as new opportunities and resources.


Success Stories


The Roanoke Valley, Danville, Lynchburg, and Harrisonburg, VA campuses of American National University are accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools to award bachelor's degrees, associate degrees, and diplomas.

All other campuses of American National University are accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools to award associate degrees and diplomas.

ACICS logo

The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, founded in 1912, is listed as a nationally recognized accrediting agency by the United States Department of Education. Its accreditation of degree-granting institutions is also recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

The mission of ACICS is to advance educational excellence at independent, non-public career schools, colleges, and organizations in the United States and abroad. This is achieved through a deliberate and thorough accreditation process of quality assessment and enhancement as well as ethical business and educational practices whereby ACICS attempts to maintain minimum standards, policies, and procedures leading to institutional effectiveness.

The Council’s evaluation and accreditation activities are directed to post-secondary institutions offering non-degree programs and degree programs through the master’s degree level that are designed to train and educate persons for careers or professions where business applications, business concepts, supervisory or management techniques, or professional or business-related applications or disciplines support or constitute the career or professional activity.

American National University is also approved for the training of Veterans and Vocational Rehabilitation students, and is authorized under federal law to enroll non-immigrant alien students. The Virginia campuses are recognized by the State Council of Higher Education.

ACICS Contact Information

Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools
750 First Street, NE, Suite 980
Washington, DC 20002-4241
Tel: (202) 336-6780
Fax: (202) 842-2593
Web Site:

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