Air University, ASU partner to transform online professional military education

Air Force's eSchool of Graduate PME programs and curriculum transition to enhanced ASU learning environment

An F-16 taking off

On April 15, Air Force students crossed a digital threshold by logging in to a new, custom Squadron Officer School portal made possible by an innovative collaboration.

Air University partnered with Arizona State University to transform the distance learning experience for Air Force officers and civilians worldwide.  

By the first week of May, 1,650 Squadron Officer School students had successfully onboarded and embarked upon their new educational journey, completing 760 courses in the ASU environment, an enriched digital learning environment marked by enhanced accessibility, reliability and support. 

This partnership, an integral part of the Air Force’s efforts to enhance online learning, was a long time in the making. Following a full year of dialogue and collaborative exchange of ideas, the two universities signed an intergovernmental support agreement in September 2019. This agreement integrates, sustains and transitions the AU eSchool of Graduate Professional Military Education (PME) programs and curriculum to the enhanced ASU learning environment.

This is the first time a U.S. military service utilized a civilian university partner to enable the delivery of officer PME.

“Air University is committed to providing quality, relevant education anywhere at any time. This partnership with Arizona State University strengthens and demonstrates our resolve to honoring that commitment,” said. Lt. Gen. James Hecker, Air University commander and president. “This is a unique partnership for the U.S. military, and I believe our students will truly benefit from the enhanced online educational experience it provides.”

Air University’s PME programs will still be developed, managed and taught by eSchool faculty, but will be delivered through the ASU Enterprise system and enhanced with access to over 130 digital learning technologies. In addition, ASU’s Experience Center will supplement the AU Help Desk, providing 24-hour support to students enrolled in the online Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College, Air War College and the Online Master’s Program. A combined 13,000 students are currently engaged in these eSchool programs.

This is a first for Arizona State University as well. The school has entered into numerous other partnerships, but none where the partner brought their entire curriculum to ASU to help deliver it to their students.

“This partnership represents the link between two commitments very important to Arizona State University — our support and engagement with those who serve in our military and our ongoing efforts to make higher education accessible to everyone who wants it regardless of where they are in their life or in the world,” ASU President Michael M. Crow said. “We are very pleased to be of service and to be a resource for the students of Air University.” 

For the past five years, ASU has been ranked as the “most innovative” university in the nation by academic leaders at peer universities, according to a leading national news magazine’s ranking of academic institutions.

The SOS distance learning program already is nested in the ASU learning environment; the other programs start transitioning this summer.

Get more information on specific transition timelines, recommended student actions and the AU-ASU partnership.

Written by Air University Public Affairs; top photo courtesy U.S. Air Force

More Arts, humanities and education


An image of colorful video game equipment and screens in a photo credited to Stewart A. Elrod / Brandon Skeli on Flickr.

The future is a story

If there was one word reflecting the zeitgeist of today’s media environment, it might be “storytelling.” From its documented role in political conflict to its ubiquitous presence in influencer…

A vintage maroon school desk floating on a flat ASU gold background

AI's role in enhancing education

Editor's note: This feature article is part of our “AI is everywhere ... now what?” special project exploring the potential (and potential pitfalls) of artificial intelligence in our lives. Explore…

A shopping cart with a calculator, paintbrush and gear on a flat ASU maroon background

How AI is helping tailor the student experience at ASU

Editor's note: This expert Q&A is part of our “AI is everywhere ... now what?” special project exploring the potential (and potential pitfalls) of artificial intelligence in our lives. Explore…