National University and Southwestern College Partnership Increases Higher Education Opportunities for Nontraditional, Working, and Diverse Students in San Diego

Renewed partnership between the two Hispanic Serving Institutions reaffirms commitment to remove barriers for more students seeking bachelor’s degrees in San Diego’s South County.

SAN DIEGO, CA (OCT 24, 2023) — National University (NU), a nonprofit serving more than 43,000 students and one of the largest private Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) in the United States, and Southwestern College (SWC), a designated Hispanic Serving Institution with nearly 20,000 students, today announced a renewed educational partnership to further advance a decades-long commitment to increase access to higher education opportunities for the South County community of San Diego.

“More and more nontraditional students need more flexible, low-cost, high-quality options to make higher education possible,” said Dr. Mark D. Milliron, president and CEO of National University, a nationally recognized innovator in serving diverse, working, and military students. “Both National University and Southwestern College are committed to working together to open innovative and easy-to-navigate transfer pathways for these striving students.”

Nearly 70 percent of students served by the Southwestern Community College District are Hispanic, many of whom are first-generation college students and therefore, face additional challenges as they enter into higher education. Through the partnership with SWC, NU – which is one of the top 100 colleges and universities for Hispanic Students, out of over 4,000 nationwide – aims to remove barriers, such as affordability for first-generation students and flexibility for working students to create more seamless pathways to earn a bachelor’s degree for students in South County..

“Southwestern College is focused on removing barriers that would prevent students from achieving their educational goals. We are proud to partner with National University in this shared, student-centered mission” said Dr. Mark Sancez, president/superintendent of Southwestern College.

NU and SWC are part of the California Associate Degree Transfer (ADT) Program that assists students with financial scholarships when they transfer between California community colleges and universities. About one-third of all SWC-to-NU transfer students have benefited from the ADT program, which when paired with other tuition assistance, such as the Pell Grant, students are able to attain a bachelor’s degree for little to no cost.

“As a former community college graduate and transfer student, I know firsthand what a difference dedicated faculty, staff, and leaders can make in helping students attain their educational goals,” said Dr. Gerardo de los Santos, vice president of community college relations at National University and recent inductee into the American Association of Community College Leadership Hall of Fame. “National University is deeply invested in partnering with Southwestern College to prepare next-generation leaders and create accessible—and equitable—pathways for community college students to continue on their educational journey.” 

According to the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), nationally, Hispanic enrollment is expected to exceed more than 4 million students by 2026, surpassing the growth rate of any other ethnic group by over 10 percent. Additionally, STEM degrees conferred to Hispanic students rose from 9 percent to 15 between 2009 and 2020. Hispanic students now receive more than 25 percent of associate degrees conferred, up from 13 percent in 2011. Additionally, Hispanic students earn 16 percent of all bachelor’s degrees, an increase from 9 percent in 2011.

Two-thirds of National University students are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). Additionally, National University ranks third in the U.S. for the number of Hispanic students enrolled in education programs, and Latino students account for almost one-third of NU’s bachelor and graduate degree completers.

The top five transfer programs from SWC to NU are:

  1. BA Psychology
  2. BS Cybersecurity
  3. Bachelor of Business Administration
  4. BS Criminal Justice
  5. BS Computer Science

In addition to supporting striving students through transfer pathways and the ADT program, NU offers SWC employees educational advancement opportunities with bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees to upskill and advance their career with a 25-percent tuition reduction.

NU and SWC share a commitment to provide current and future generations of diverse students with the best opportunities for quality education. NU delivers on this by offering a credential-rich education with industry-relevant degree programs ensuring graduates are well-prepared for real-world challenges. Further, NU’s holistic approach to student support, well-being, and success – called Whole Human Education™ – is about supporting the whole student and provides the financial, academic, emotional, career, and family support students need to successfully attain a higher educational degree.

For more information about National University’s community college transfer pathways, visit

About National University
National University, a veteran-founded nonprofit, has been dedicated to meeting the needs of hard-working adults by providing accessible, affordable higher education opportunities since 1971. As San Diego’s largest private nonprofit university, NU offers over 190+ online and on-campus programs with flexible four-week and eight-week classes and one-to-one graduate education models designed to help students reach their goals while balancing busy lives. Since its founding, the NU community has grown to 130,000 learners served per year—50,000 degree seeking students and 80,000 workforce and professional development students—and 230,000 alumni around the globe, many of whom serve in helping industries such as business, education, health care, cybersecurity, and law and criminal justice. To learn more about National University’s new possibilities in education including next-generation education, credential-rich education, and whole human education, visit

About Southwestern College
Established in 1961, Southwestern College is one of 115 public community colleges in California and the only public institution of higher education located in south San Diego County.

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