Fielding Graduate University was founded in March, 1974, in Santa Barbara, California, the realization of the vision of three founders: Frederic Hudson, Hallock Hoffman, and Renata Tesch—all distinguished higher education administrators and educators. Each contributed an essential ingredient to the establishment of the university. Many others, through their diligence, hard work, and firm belief in the national need for mid-career professional education, gave substance to the dream.
The founders envisioned a nationally recognized graduate school that would serve mid-career professionals wanting to pursue an advanced degree but whose educational and professional objectives could not be met by traditional institutions of higher education. Their success was predicated on two basic, rather advanced, notions:
Changing demographics were altering the world of higher education.
The founders speculated students seeking advanced degrees would be mid-career adults who wanted to enhance already well-established academic and professional skills; who would be committed to effecting a mid-life career change; and all of whom, by the nature of their quest for a quality graduate education at mid-life, would be interested in being part of a lifetime-learning community.
Adults learn in ways that are significantly different from adolescents and young adults.
The traditional pedagogical method of education—active teacher, passive learner—would not be appropriate to this new experiment in adult professional education. To accommodate and capitalize upon the learning styles of its students, Fielding developed a rigorous, supportive learning model that today remains flexible, adult-centered, self-directed, task-oriented, and competence-based.