Rio Salado College and American Public University System Partnership Provides Streamlined Path to Bachelor’s Degree


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Friday, January 29, 2021
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Rio Salado College and American Public University System Partnership Provides Streamlined Path to Bachelor’s Degree

American Public University System (APUS) and Rio Salado College today announced a partnership that enables students to earn an online associate degree with seamless admission into selected online baccalaureate programs. 

APUS and Rio Salado share a common mission to promote positive student outcomes through high-quality, relevant distance education that is affordable and accessible. Both schools have a very inclusive and diverse student body of service-focused adults including active-duty military and veterans, and are uniquely positioned to provide education that fits the lives of today’s students. There is a continuing shift in the demographic characteristics of college students – 64 percent report they work while in school and 24 percent have children or dependents, according to the Lumina Foundation. Online learning will continue to be at the forefront of higher education.

“We’re very proud about our partnership with APUS and its focus on providing quality education to our military and public service sectors. Throughout Rio Salado’s history, we’ve put forth learning opportunities for non-traditional students who aim to better themselves for the good of their families and their communities,” said Rio Salado College Interim President Kate Smith. “Now, our students will find additional means to continue their education with a bachelor’s degree in a number of high-demand areas through APUS.”

APUS and Rio Salado look forward to developing additional degree pathways in the future. The partnership was celebrated during a Jan. 28 online event.

“Seamless transfer pathways create real value for Rio Salado students by allowing them to apply their associate degree, and up to 90 credits total, directly to their bachelor’s degree,” said APUS Provost Dr. Vernon C. Smith. “They can then continue working on their degree at an affordable, high-quality partner of their community college who cares about their success.” 

The programs are open to students throughout the United States and aim to expand access to baccalaureate education. Students who pursue additional education will find new doors open to them, with opportunities to expand their career options or grow professionally within their current fields. 

Federal data shows American workers with associate degrees earned a median wage of $54,940, or $17,000 more than those with a high school degree or equivalent, according to the 2019 U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics. Workers with bachelor's degrees earned a median wage of $75,440 in 2019, data shows.

APUS and Rio Salado are both regionally accredited institutions and national leaders in online education, with proven track records in helping students complete the transfer process and earn associate and bachelor’s degrees. Rio Salado has served more than 250,000 students online for over 20 years. APUS, which has over 103,000 alumni, offers over 200 unique online degree and certificate programs, affordable tuition, monthly class starts, and a scholar-practitioner faculty. 


Rio Salado College is one of ten Maricopa Community Colleges and one of the largest online public community colleges in the nation, serving nearly 50,000 students annually with more than 28,000 online in 50 states and internationally. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, Rio Salado offers 600-plus online classes, 135-plus degree and certificate programs and general education courses. The college also provides support for dual enrollment, military and incarcerated students and serves as the largest provider of adult education in Arizona.


American Public University System offers more than 200 online degree and certificate programs through American Public University and American Military University, the #1 provider of education to the U.S. military* and the top university nationwide for veterans using their GI Bill benefit** (based on student enrollment data). APUS is the recipient of the Online Learning Consortium’s (OLC) Gomory Award for Quality Online Education and five-time recipient of OLC’s Effective Practice Award. Over 101,400 alumni worldwide have benefited from APUS’s inclusive, relevant curriculum and flexible online delivery model, APUS is wholly owned subsidiary of American Public Education, Inc. (Nasdaq: APEI). For more information, visit

*Based on FY 2019 DoD tuition assistance data, as reported by Military Times, 2020. **Based on FY 2019 Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) data, as reported by Military Times, 2020.