Warren National University was established as Kennedy-Western University in California in 1984. Its founder was Paul Saltman. The name was officially changed to Warren National University on January 1, 2007. According to the institution, the new name was selected in honor of the first governor of Wyoming, Francis E. Warren, and reflects the university's strong ties to the state of Wyoming. In 2003 the Encyclopedia of Distributed Learning cited Kennedy-Western University as an example of an unaccredited, profit-making online university that had "achieved reported economic success."
Over the university's history, it had offices in, Hawaii, Idaho, and finally to Wyoming, while keeping headquarters in California until December 2007. As of December 14, 2007, WNU closed its administrative offices in Agoura Hills, California, centralizing its operations in Wyoming.
In 2002 The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that KWU was licensed in California up to 1991, "But Kennedy-Western chose not to renew its license after California enacted the Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education Reform Act, a 1989 law that aimed to rid the state of diploma mills." In the same article the Chronicle quoted the school's director of admissions as saying the new California regulations would not have permitted KWU "to offer college credit for work experience and a more flexible self-paced model."
In August 2008, WNU announced that it was suspending new student admissions and reactivation of students in order to focus resources on current students. On January 30, 2009, WNU announced that their attempt to achieve accreditation had failed. Therefore, in compliance with Wyoming state law they would cease operations on March 31, 2009. It was also mentioned that future university registrar services would be provided by Preston University.
On June 5, 2009 a civil suit was filed by former students alleging that WNU had misrepresented itself to the students.