UNDATED -- A large online education company has struck a deal to buy the Rasmussen University system in an effort to expand its nursing program.

American Public Education, Inc. Thursday announced it will acquire Rasmussen University, a private, for-profit college system primarily focused on nursing and health sciences.

American Public Education is the parent company of the Hondros College of Nursing. The Rasmussen system currently has over 8,200 nursing students. American Public Education says the purchase reflects an urgent need to train thousands of nursing students at a time when the U.S. healthcare system is strained, and nurses are in high demand.

“The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 175,000 openings for registered nurses each year on average through 2029,” American Public Education said. “U.S. nursing schools turned away 80,407 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2019 due to insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, and clinical preceptors, as well as budget constraints.”

American Public Education says the acquisition of Rasmussen will result in the number one producer of pre-licensure associate’s degrees in nursing, and will serve over 10,000 nursing students.

Rasmussen University has eight campuses in Minnesota. The St. Cloud campus has an enrollment of just over 4,000 students.