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The nonprofit National University System announced today that it plans to acquire the for-profit Northcentral University, which specializes in online education in graduate and doctoral-level programs.

Officials within the private system, which oversees National University, John F. Kennedy University and City University of Seattle, did not disclose the purchase price, and the acquisition is subject to regulatory and accreditor approval.

"This is very mission-driven for us when we think about affordable, accessible, quality education to the masses," Michael Cunningham, chancellor of the National University System, said in an interview with Inside Higher Ed. "Our mission is about giving folks an opportunity to increase their station in life and to meet them where they need to be met at a cost affordable to them and their family."

Northcentral serves about 10,000 students and would become the San Diego-based National University System's fourth affiliate institution. The system has more than 45,000 students globally. Northcentral offers 19 doctoral and 20 master's degree programs. Cunningham said acquiring Northcentral would help the system meet the needs of working adults seeking graduate degrees.

"Northcentral University is proud to continue serving students globally in their aspirations to pursue and obtain an advanced degree through our innovative approaches to the student experience," said George Burnett, president of Northcentral. "The National University System shares this vision, and as an affiliate, Northcentral will have a terrific opportunity to grow, diversify degree offerings and deliver superior student outcomes in the coming years."

National's conversion of Northcentral into a nonprofit follows a recent trend of for-profit institutions undergoing a status change. Grand Canyon University, a Christian for-profit institution, is the most recent college to successfully convert to nonprofit status. Last year, for-profit Kaplan University was acquired by Purdue University, and Bridgepoint Education is seeking to convert Ashford University into a nonprofit.