National American University (NAU) has been a cornerstone of higher education in western South Dakota since its humble beginnings in 1941. Originally known as National School of Business, the institution first opened its doors in downtown Rapid City with offerings in specialized business training that centered primarily on its secretarial and accounting programs.
Anticipating a post-war demand for business education, the college’s administrators designed a business administration curriculum that featured new classes in accounting, marketing, and management. When the demand came, the institution was ready with programs geared toward the educational needs of returning veterans, and other men and women who wanted business training and sought an expanded role in the developing business world.
It was in late 1960 that the university, now nearly two decades old and growing rapidly, moved its operations to its new facilities at 321 Kansas City Street in downtown Rapid City, where it existed for more than 50 years. The expanded campus location included a new two-story brick building that housed classrooms, administrative offices, the library, and the university bookstore. Three years later, construction of the new student residence hall was completed, which resulted in a significant influx of students from outside of the region. Students arrived from all corners of the United States, and from all around the world, creating a vibrant student population that was unusually diverse and energized.
With the dramatic increase in student enrollment, the number of faculty and staff increased as well. As National American University's stature in the educational community grew, the university soon expanded its base of programs, as well as its campus facilities. Throughout the late 1960’s and the early 1970’s, the university added several new buildings, including a library, a gymnasium, as well as additions to the classroom/administration building and the student residence hall.
In 1996, NAU began to develop online courses to be offered through the emerging resource of the World Wide Web. Since that time, the university’s distance learning program has created a thriving virtual campus offering degree programs in a number of academic areas. With the addition of online course offerings and degrees, National American University students have access to learning 24 hours a day from anywhere the Internet can be accessed.
In May of 1997, the university changed its name from National College to its current name of National American University to reflect its standing as a multi-campus institution offering postgraduate programs. Today National American University continues to offer quality business-related degree programs to students from all walks of life through its affiliations with colleges and universities throughout the United States and from around the world. NAU offers a Master in Business Administration program, a Master in Management program, and a Master of Science in Nursing program for students wishing to extend their education beyond a bachelor’s degree. The university has also expanded its program offerings to include allied health and nursing programs. More recently, an educational doctorate was added to support administrative interests in community colleges.
For more than 70 years, National American University has been a recognized leader in academic excellence. Students from all over the globe are enrolled in NAU’s master’s, bachelor’s, associate degree and diploma programs. With dedicated staff and faculty guiding these students to their ultimate goals, it is easy to recognize that from National School of Business in 1941 through National American University in 2014-15, the university has experienced a dramatic and perhaps unprecedented evolution as an academic institution.