Customer Stories / Education
WGU Prepares Students for Industry Success by Working with AWS Education Programs to Bolster Cloud Computing Degree
Western Governors University (WGU) boosted the industry relevance of its cloud computing degree by working with AWS Education Programs and offering AWS Certifications as part of the program.
The demand for cloud skills in the workforce is growing, and Western Governors University (WGU) wanted to prepare its students to meet cloud computing demands in the business world. The global cloud computing market is expected to exceed US$791.48 billion by 2028—more than tripling its 2020 market value. This growth is especially relevant in North America, which has the most mature cloud computing market because so many enterprises have an advanced IT infrastructure and access to expertise.
WGU turned to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and worked with AWS Education Programs—which works hand in hand with organizations, education institutions, governments, and private sector companies to empower individuals to upskill, reskill, and prepare for high-quality jobs—to update its curricula, resulting in the bachelor of science in cloud computing (BSCC) degree program. Through this program, WGU equips students with in-demand skills for careers in the cloud. “At WGU, our goal is to equip students with the skill sets they need to get employed and create value immediately,” says Dr. Andy Igonor, academic program director and associate dean at College of Information Technology, WGU. “It’s not just about getting the jobs; it’s also about doing the jobs well, and AWS helped us achieve that.”
Opportunity | Facilitating a Wholly Online Cloud Learning Experience
WGU is a nonprofit university that is based in Salt Lake City, Utah. The university has more than 130,000 students across its four colleges, including the College of Information Technology. All WGU’s degree programs—including the BSCC program—are competency based and fully online, and students progress through the curriculum at their own pace.
In 2019, WGU launched the BSCC program, which had been designed in collaboration with AWS Education Programs. Teams from WGU and AWS meet regularly to verify that course materials reflect the most up-to-date AWS services. In addition to content alignment, these meetings help WGU consistently deliver high-quality learning experiences for its students. WGU educators have also obtained training certifications. To date, six educators have completed the training and certification process with more to follow.
At WGU, our goal is to equip students with the skill sets they need to get employed and create value immediately. It’s not just about getting the jobs; it’s also about doing the jobs well, and AWS helped us achieve that.”
Dr. Andy Igonor
Academic Program Director and Associate Dean at College of IT, Western Governors University
Solution | Equipping Students for Success in Cloud Computing
Since launching in 2019, the BSCC degree program now has more than 2,300 students. On average, BSCC students take about 35 months to finish the degree program, including two AWS Certification examinations. Up to 20 percent of students in the BSCC program graduated ahead of schedule, and 16 percent secured jobs in roles related to cloud computing, such as cloud solutions architect, DevSecOps engineer, senior network engineer, and more. “I am glad WGU gave me the opportunity to complete my degree without needing to miss a day of work,” says Armando Martinez, graduate of the BSCC degree program. “Only 1 year into my degree program at WGU, I had earned seven industry certifications and was promoted to lead technology specialist. Now, I also have a bachelor’s degree.”
Graduates of the BSCC program earn two AWS Certifications as part of their degree. Earning the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner—Foundational certification validates cloud fluency and foundational AWS knowledge. The certification is intended for anyone who has basic knowledge of the AWS Cloud, including basic understanding of IT services and their uses on the AWS Cloud, knowledge of core AWS services and use cases, and 6 months of experience. The second certification, AWS Certified SysOps Administrator—Associate, demonstrates experience deploying, managing, and operating workloads on AWS. It is intended to validate technical skills used by system administrators in cloud operations roles. The exam is recommended for users with at least 1 year of experience using AWS technology, and it covers skills such as deploying, managing, and operating workloads on AWS; implementing security controls and compliance requirements; and an understanding of the AWS Well-Architected Framework and AWS networking and security services. By including these industry-recognized certifications in the BSCC degree, WGU increases the employability of its graduates.
Students in the BSCC program gain hands-on experience in using AWS during their course of study. WGU uses AWS Academy, a service for higher education institutions to prepare students for industry-recognized certifications and careers in the cloud. WGU uses AWS Academy Learner Labs—long-running hands-on lab environments where educators can bring their own assignments using select AWS Services—to provide students with experience.
Outcome | Preparing the Next Generation of Cloud Talent
Looking ahead, WGU has plans to integrate additional certifications into the program: AWS Certified Solutions Architect—Associate, which validates the ability to design and implement distributed systems on AWS, and AWS Certified Developer—Associate, which validates the ability to write and deploy cloud-based applications. WGU also plans to introduce two stand-alone microcredentials based on AWS Certified DevOps Engineer—Professional, validating the ability to automate the testing and deployment of AWS infrastructure and applications, and AWS Certified Security—Specialty, validating expertise in securing data and workloads in the AWS Cloud. Students will be able to complete these microcredentials in 6–12 months.
About Western Governors University
Western Governors University is a private, nonprofit, fully online university based in Utah. Established in 1997 by a group of 19 US governors, WGU aims to change lives for the better by creating pathways to opportunity.
AWS Services Used
AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner
Earning AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner validates cloud fluency and foundational AWS knowledge.
AWS Certified SysOps Administrator–Associate
Earning AWS Certified SysOps Administrator–Associate demonstrates experience deploying, managing, and operating workloads on AWS.
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Empowering higher education institutions to prepare students for industry-recognized certifications and careers in the cloud.
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