Westwood College, owned by Alta Colleges Inc., is an American for-profit institution of higher learning with 14 campus locations in five states and online learning options. Westwood is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). Since its inception in 1986, Westwood has graduated more than 37,000 students.
Westwood has more than 5,000 current students and offers career-focused diploma, associate, bachelor's and master's degree programs through its Schools of Business, Design, Justice, Technology, Healthcare, and Automotive Technology.
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Westwood College was founded in Denver, Colorado, in 1953. For many years, the school was known as Denver Institute of Technology, offering diploma and degree programs in a variety of technical fields. As the school expanded into other industries, the name was changed to Westwood College.
Today, Westwood College is part of Alta Colleges Inc. (Alta), a system of for-profit higher education institutions that also includes Westwood College Online and Redstone College (once known as Colorado Aero Tech in Denver). Currently, there are 14 Westwood College campuses located in five states.
Westwood College Online offers 25 degree programs. Coursework is completed entirely over the Internet via audio/visual technology designed to mimic an actual classroom. The virtual classrooms are supplemented with real textbooks.
Westwood College has established partnerships with several public school districts to provide technology, support and money. The partnerships include Atlanta Public Schools, "A Better Chicago" and the Crushers Club—providing Chicago's youth with athletic, artistic and work-related activities as an alternative to gangs—and the KidsTek program to help Denver Public Schools.
Westwood College's campus locations are nationally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). Each campus is approved to operate by the appropriate state regulatory bodies.
Westwood College Online is accredited with the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).
In addition to its Westwood College Online program, Westwood College has locations in:
- California: Anaheim, Upland, Los Angeles (Mid-Wilshire), and Los Angeles (South Bay).
- Colorado: Denver North (unincorporated Adams County) and Denver South.
- Georgia: Atlanta (Midtown) and Northlake (unincorporated DeKalb County).
- Illinois: Chicago Loop, Woodridge (DuPage), Chicago O'Hare Airport, and Calumet City (River Oaks).
- Virginia: Annandale (unincorporated Fairfax County) and Arlington (unincorporated Arlington County).
Westwood College operates on a term schedule. Degree programs start five times a year, and courses are offered year-round during the day, evening and online. Depending on the degree program in which they are enrolled, students can earn an associate degree in as little as 20 months or a bachelor’s degree in three years.
Westwood College's degree programs are organized under six schools: School of Business, School of Design, School of Justice, School of Technology, School of Healthcare and Automotive Technology. Each campus has a different program focus and some programs are not available at certain locations, depending on the regional economic variables and demand.
Students who have graduated from Westwood can return for tuition-free retraining, which allows them to evaluate and review courses that were within their degree program. Westwood alumni can audit a class they took during their tenure, take an updated course after graduation and continue to learn about new equipment and software.
New students are allowed to take classes for 30 days with no financial obligations. The school is also offering an "Employment Pledge" to help eligible graduates financially if they are unable to find employment after graduation.
Admissions and financial aid
Westwood has an open admissions policy. Applicants are eligible for both Pell grants and federal student loans. In an August 4, 2010 report from the Government Accountability Office, Westwood College was named as one of 15 institutions that "encouraged fraudulent practices" when meeting with undercover investigators posing as applicants. Fraudulent practices cited in this report included encouraging applicants to overstate financial need and hide assets. During a congressional hearing to present the report, testimony by a former Westwood admissions representative was disproven by tapes of conversations, and it was reported that this representative's comments were edited by attorneys who were suing Westwood, and inappropriately coached by Sen. Harkin staffers who organized the hearing.
In May 2009, Westwood settled a federal lawsuit over misrepresentation of its graduation statistics for $7 million, without admitting wrongdoing.
Westwood faced a class action arbitration in 2009, challenging its admissions and financial aid practices. The suit against Westwood was dismissed because a judge found that it did not warrant class action status. The court ruled that the student who led the class-action suit derived “most if not all, of his knowledge of the case from his attorneys” and appeared to be little more than a bystander to the suit.
In 2010, Westwood College faced further regulatory difficulties in Texas, Wisconsin, and Colorado, all of which were resolved.
The Colorado Attorney General's office reached a settlement with the college in 2012, following a two-year investigation. As part of the agreement, the college did not admit any liability and agreed to pay the state $2 million in penalties, restitution and attorneys fees and costs. Westwood also will credit another $2.5 million in restitution directly to students who financed their tuition with the school’s institutional financing program.
In 2011, the Veterans Administration disqualified three Westwood College Campuses from the GI Bill Program. The VA took this step after finding, "erroneous, deceptive, and misleading advertising and enrollment practices at these institutions." In late 2011, Westwood stopped enrolling students in their Texas campuses.
On January 18, 2012 Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, filed a lawsuit citing misleading job opportunities for its criminal justice program.
On its website, Westwood has responded to many of the allegations against it. Regarding credit transfer, Westwood acknowledges that in most cases its credits will not transfer to other colleges or universities.
- Distance education
- Online education