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Newcomer I

Online Universities - How Flat rate works

For anyone who is thinking about attending online classes and hasn't made the leap, allow me a few minutes of your time to tell you how flat rate universities work. For transparency, allow me to give these facts:

  • I have been attending Western Governors University online for 4 months now in the Cybersecurity Bach program
  • I reviewed online universities both flat rate and traditional tuition programs for 7 months before choosing WGU as my University

With that said, let's get into things. What I'm going to say will apply to flat rate universities in general (I reviewed 3 of them for my decision making). However, some pieces of my info might be related to WGU only.


WGU offers 6 month terms for about $3180. During that 6 months, you can complete as many classes as you can, regardless if it takes you a day or weeks. You go at your own pace. 


Many of the WGU classes end with a finals exam that isn't your traditional test you'd see in a school. Instead it's a certification from a vendor that you would take at a PearsonVue testing location. However, what is VERY awesome and unique to WGU is that each cert exam voucher is INCLUDED in your flat rate tuition AND you get a total of 3 attempts at each test (all included). For the Cybersecurity degree, you end up with 9 industry certifications, which taken out of pocket, the tests would equal about $3K on their own (not counting retakes). 


You get many freebies from tech vendors from being a student from free Windows 10 licenses, Office licenses and many other software licenses. You also get access to some nice tech discounts on "things" such as computers and other good stuff.


Online Universities these days have as much credibility as a brick n mortar school regardless of what any school recruiter tells you. If the school is appropriately accredited, it has value. If that wasn't the case, how come schools such as MIT, Stanford, Harvard, etc all offer online coursework? So don't think of online schools as some sham. 

WGU requires some interesting testing conditions. As a student, they send you a webcam and a whiteboard dry erase board. When you take an exam for a course that isn't a PearsonVue type of test, you schedule your test with a live proctor. They will remote into your camera and watch you take the test. You'll use the camera to show them the surroundings in your space, so they can see someone else isn't in there giving you answers. They can see your desktop through the camera to make sure you're not googling answers or looking at crib notes you've made. So while it's not impossible to cheat (you can even cheat in school lol) they do all they can to keep the testing environment secure and the integrity of the testing valid.


I hope this helps you make a decision. I know you're going to ask who I looked at, and the serious efforts I took were WGU, SNHU (Southern New Hampshire Univ), and Northern Arizona Univ. There is also the Univ of Minnesota at Crookston. However, the WGU tuition, ability to self pay, make monthly payments etc were by far the most affordable. 



David Howard, CISSP, C|EH, MCSE
2 Replies
Viewer III

Thanks for the write up.  I know many people have negative thoughts regarding some online programs but if you think back 30 years ago there were little to no options for a college education once you entered the job market.  Schools like University of Phoenix and Capella University have allowed many people to continue working their educational goals while still providing for a family. Sure there have been some shady practices along the way, but overall non-traditional higher education has been a blessing for the IT Industry and advancement of Technology as a whole.


The idea of a flat rate tuition is great, but if life happens in the middle of your program can you take time off to deal with it?


I like the concept of getting certificate level knowledge during the course of the program.  In my opinion a healthy mix of Skills, Education, and Certification is the perfect mix to qualify you for the most job roles.


David Starling | CISSP

Sr. Security Analyst

Contributor I

I stumbled across this post...and I am SO glad I did!  I have been considering a Cybersecurity-focused degree and WGU stood out for me.  My cause for pause was that I wan't able to find someone in my professsional circle, especially up here in Can-eh-da, that had studied thru WGU and could provide a review...until now!


Thanks @DaveTheITGuy for this write-up and @CraginS for the kudo on this post that caused me to take a look-see 🙂