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Wal-Mart Offers 1.4 Million Workers College Courses

June 3 (Bloomberg) -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s biggest retailer, plans to offer its U.S. employees the opportunity to earn college degrees in a partnership with American Public University.

Workers will be eligible for grants from American Public totaling 15 percent of tuition, the Charles Town, West Virginia-based online educator said today in a statement. Earning degrees in fields such as security management, employees will receive credit for on-the-job experience, American Public University said. Academic work will be done through online classes beginning in September.

“Our partnership with APU will not only help you build an even better life for yourself and your family, but will help put you ahead in your Wal-Mart career,” Eduardo Castro-Wright, vice chairman and U.S. stores chief, said today in a letter to employees.

Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, employed 2.1 million people worldwide and 1.4 million in the U.S. as of Jan. 31. The retailer’s stock price was unchanged at $51.72 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading at 4:15 p.m. The shares slipped 3.2 percent this year.

APU, part of American Public Education Inc., offers 70 undergraduate and graduate programs through online classes. Undergraduate courses cost $250 per credit hour and graduate classes are $300. Each Wal-Mart employee enrolled in the program will receive grants totaling 15 percent of tuition, the retailer said on its website.

American Public Education increased $1.11, or 2.7 percent, to $42.24 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The shares have jumped 23 percent this year.

Related news and information: Consumer & Retail headlines: {RTOP <GO>} Peer comparison: {WMT US <Equity> PPC <GO>} Relative value: {WMT US <Equity> RV <GO>} Retail sales figures: {RTSL <GO>}

To contact the reporter on this story: Matt Townsend in New York at mtownsend9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jennifer Sondag at jsondag@bloomberg.net

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