Walden University

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This article is about the Minnesota-based university. For the defunct university in Tennessee, see Walden University (Tennessee). For the fictional Walden College, see Doonesbury.
Walden University
Walden Seal Color 200px.png
Seal of Walden University
Motto A higher degree. A higher purpose.
Type Private, Public Benefit Corporation
Established 1970
President Jonathan A. Kaplan[1]
Students 48,982 [2]
Location Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. United States
Campus Online
Website www.waldenu.edu
Walden Logo Stacked No Tag 250px.png

Walden University is a for-profit Public Benefit Corporation, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Walden University offers Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, Master of Business Administration, Master of Public Administration, Master of Public Health, Education Specialist, Doctor of Education, Doctor of Business Administration, and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in a number of academic fields.

Walden is a part of a global network of 80 universities across 29 countries owned or managed by Laureate Education Inc.[4] The network includes a mix of both for-profit and public benefit universities, with most of those operations located outside of the United States. The network also includes partnerships with established institutions such as The University of Liverpool (online), University of Roehampton (online), Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (China), and Monash South Africa (South Africa). In 2015, Laureate Education converted to a public benefit corporation. In an effort to measure public benefit performance against an objective third-party standard. Laureate chose to be assessed by B Lab, an independent non-profit organization.


Walden University's former headquarters in the Mill District of Minneapolis.

Walden was established in 1970 by two New York teachers, Bernie and Rita Turner, who created a program for working adults / teachers to pursue doctoral degrees. In the summer of 1971, the first classes took place in Naples, Florida, focusing primarily on school administrators. These initial classes were to allow the students to form dissertation topics with their faculty partners before returning home to work at their respective schools while also working on their dissertations. In 1972, Walden conferred its first degrees: 46 PhDs and 24 Ed.D.s at its first commencement in Naples, Florida.

In 1979, the Minnesota Higher Education Coordinating Board licensed Walden to grant Ph.D.s and Ed.D.s in the state and in 1982 the school moved its headquarters to Minneapolis. In 1990, the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools accredited the University. In 1995, the school expanded its offering with the nation's first fully online master's program in education, offering a Master's in Educational Change and Technology Innovation.[citation needed]

Sylvan Learning Systems, Inc., purchased 41 percent of Walden University in 2001, gaining a controlling interest in 2002. In 2004, Sylvan Learning Systems became Laureate Education, Inc. Former President Bill Clinton, founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation and 42nd President of the United States, was until 2015, an Honorary Chancellor of Laureate International Universities.[5] President Clinton was the keynote speaker at Walden University’s commencement on July 30, 2011. In 2015, Ernesto Zedillo, former president of Mexico and current director of the Yale University Center for the Study of Globalization, succeeded President Clinton as Laureate Education’s Presidential Counselor.

Jonathan Kaplan is the current President and CEO of Walden University. Previously, Kaplan served three years as economic policy adviser to then-President Bill Clinton. Kaplan received his Juris Doctor degree from Boston University School of Law, where he served as an editor of the Boston University Law Review. He later practiced law as an associate at Covington & Burling, a leading international law firm based in Washington, D.C.[6] Laureate’s current Board Advisory Committee on Education also includes such notable individuals as Condoleezza Rice, the former U.S. Secretary of State during the George W. Bush administration.[7]


Walden spent $1,574 per student on instruction in 2009, compared to $2,230 per student on marketing and $1,915 per student on profit. The amount Walden spent on instruction per student was the second lowest of the privately held companies the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee examined; the amount that the privately held companies spent ranged from $1,118 to $6,389 per student per year.[8]

Walden University gets more than 75% of its funds from the U.S. government, including more than $750 million a year for graduate student loans. This is the largest amount for any college in the U.S.[9]

Walden University is under heightened cash monitoring from the US Department of Education.[10]

The U.S. Department of Education’s Cohort Default Rate (CDR) demonstrates an institution’s borrower’s ability to manage their debt against default. Walden’s CDR of 6.8% is below the national average of 11.8% for all U.S. institutions. The average annual federal student loan amounts of Walden graduate degree-level borrowers was not statistically different to the federal loan amounts of students at public and private non-profit institutions from 2011 through 2012. This is according to a recent study by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) analyzing Walden’s loan data and data from the 2011-2012 National Post-secondary Student Aid Survey [11]

Walden students default on loans at lower than average rate, 1.7 to 3 percent from 2005 to 2008, a rate that was dramatically lower than the average not only for-profit universities (17.1-22.6 percent) but also for all U.S. colleges (8.4 to 12.3) [12]

Unlike many of Walden's for-profit counterparts, a Senate committee concluded that, when compared to its online public and non-profit counterparts, Walden is competitively priced. A Master’s Degree in Education at Walden University costs $18,000 (2017 rate).[13] The same online degree at University of Minnesota costs $31,235. An online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree at Walden University costs $62,795 (2017 rate).[14] The same degree at the University of Minnesota costs $56,240.[8]

In 2013, Walden's parent, Laureate Education Inc., together GSV Capital, IFC, Learn Capital and Yuri Milner provided $43M in Series B funding to Coursera in an effort to expand free, high-quality online education.[15]

On April 8, 2016, the Minnesota Office of Higher Education notified Walden University that its renewal application to participate in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA) was rejected because Walden University did not have a US Department of Education financial composite score of 1.5 or higher.[16]


Walden University spends 41% more on marketing than it does on instruction and its students.[17]


Walden University has been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, a regional accreditation agency, since 1990.[18]

Professional accreditation[edit]

Some, but not all, of Walden's degree programs are individually accredited. Walden students are advised that is the student’s responsibility "to evaluate and understand the licensure requirements for the state or international location in which the student intends to work." [19]


Not accredited[edit]


Walden University consists of five colleges:

  • Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership: The Riley College of Education has graduated more than 28,000 educators and currently enrolls over 16,000 students from all 50 states.[27]
  • College of Management and Technology
  • College of Health Sciences
  • The Barbara Solomon School of social work and human services
  • College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Commencment Speaker History[edit]

  • 54th Commencement Ceremony: July 2015, featuring Bill Durden
  • 53rd Commencement Ceremony: January 2015, featuring Edna Aden
  • 52nd Commencement Ceremony: July 2014, featuring Dr. Condoleezza Rice
  • 51st Commencement Ceremony: January 2014, featuring Sarah Chayes
  • 50th Commencement Ceremony: August 2013, featuring Paul Rusesabagina
  • 49th Commencement Ceremony: January 2013, featuring Dr. Tererai Trent
  • 48th Commencement Ceremony: August 2012, featuring Dr. Óscar Arias Sánchez, former president of Costa Rica and 1987 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
  • 47th Commencement Ceremony: January 2012, featuring the chair of Walden University’s Board of Directors Paula R. Singer
  • 46th Commencement Ceremony: July 2011, featuring President Bill Clinton
  • 45th Commencement Ceremony: January 2011, featuring author and education advocate Greg Mortenson
  • 44th Commencement Ceremony: July 2010, featuring Echoing Green President Dr. Cheryl L. Dorsey
  • 43rd Commencement Ceremony: January 2010, featuring Margaret Spellings
  • 42nd Commencement Ceremony: July 2009, featuring equal-pay advocate Lilly Ledbetter
  • 41st Commencement Ceremony: January 2009, featuring Dr. Barbara Solomon
  • 40th Commencement Ceremony: July 2008, featuring the Honorable Lord Mark Malloch-Brown
  • 39th Commencement Ceremony: February 2008, featuring Richard W. Riley
  • 38th Commencement Ceremony: July 2007, featuring Kiva.org co-founders Matt and Jessica Flannery
  • 37th Commencement Ceremony: January 2007, featuring Rear Adm. Carol A. Romano

Political Controversies & Fact Check[edit]

Walden University and its parent company Laureate International Universities have been mentioned, sometimes unfavorably, in articles in the Financial Times, Washington Post, and Washington Times about Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and the Clinton Foundation.[28][29][30]

Republican Advisor Daniel Runde, formerly head of Foundations Unit for the Department of Partnerships & Advisory Service Operations at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private-sector arm of the World Bank Group, formally debunked many of the claims made regarding the Clinton Foundation, Laureate Education, and the IYF.[31] The World Bank currently has invested $150 million in Laureate Education, Walden University's parent company. Fact checkers at the Washington Post concurred, citing the claims as conflated and inaccurate talking point.[32] Fact checkers at PolitiFact.com also found the claims to be false.[33] A story in the Sept 5, 2016 edition of the Washington Post also investigated Clinton's role with Laureate and found many of the hyperbolic political claims to be false.[34]

On August 23, 2016, NBC News has an investigative report with interviews from Walden University student debtors "stuck with debts they can never hope to pay off in their lifetime." Some students said Walden recruiters misled them about the length of time it would take to finish their doctoral degrees. Other students who spoke to NBC News said they had an overwhelmingly positive experience at Walden. In addition, the report stated that according to third-party research, the average student loan amount for graduate students at Walden is comparable to the graduate students who attended non-profit universities.[35]

As noted in the NBC News story cited above, addressing the validity of claims made by any one student can be challenging, due in part to the fact that nationwide, it is currently legal for students to borrow tens of thousands of dollars in excess of their base program and tuition costs. As is the case at many graduate institutions, students with the highest volumes of debt are often those who, for a myriad of reasons, have borrowed the maximum dollar amount available under law, amassing significant levels of additional debt by diverting excess Federal Aid to supplement personal living expenses. Typically, these funds are distributed directly to student borrowers.[36]

Doctoral student retention and graduation rates at Walden remain on par with, and often exceed those of, other intuitions of higher learning. A 2016 article in the Atlantic examined low graduation rates among the nation’s doctoral students. According to their report, and research from the Chronicle of Higher Education, more than 56 percent of doctoral students at traditional colleges and universities nationwide leave their programs prior to receiving their doctoral degrees. An overwhelming number of those interviewed by the Atlantic complained about a lack of quality mentoring, support from faculty, and perceived obstacles to on-time completion—including disagreements with faculty over shifting course completion requirements.[37][38] According to research published in The Guardian, at a number of traditional universities examined, more than three-quarters of doctoral students had not completed their degrees after seven years. The study also noted that older students often took longer than their younger counterparts, due in part to competing personal or career obligations.[39]

In October 2016, NBC News reported that the Minnesota Office of Higher Education was investigating a spike in student complaints.[40]

In December 2016, NBC News reported about a former US Marine who was suing Walden University and said that the school had wasted six years of her life.[41]


Walden University sponsors several peer-reviewed and refereed academic journals.


  1. ^ "About Our Accredited Online University | Walden University". Waldenu.edu. Retrieved 2015-02-26. 
  2. ^ "The Higher Learning Commission". Ncahlc.org. Retrieved 20 January 2015. 
  3. ^ "President Bill Clinton Accepts Role as Honorary Chancellor of World's Largest University Network" (PDF). Elearnimages.com. Retrieved 26 February 2015. 
  4. ^ [1] Archived May 5, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ PR Newswire (2010-04-26). "Page 2 - Walden University Press Release: President Bill Clinton Accepts Role As Honorary Chancellor Of World's Largest University Network - TheStreet". thestreet.com. Retrieved 2014-03-26. 
  6. ^ "Jonathan Kaplan, J.D. - Leadership - Walden University". Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  7. ^ "Board Advisory Committee on Education". Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  8. ^ a b http://www.help.senate.gov/imo/media/for_profit_report/PartII/Walden.pdf
  9. ^ Baylor, Elizabeth (8 July 2015). "As Graduate-Student Debt Booms, Just a Few Colleges Are Largely Responsible". Retrieved 18 November 2016 – via The Chronicle of Higher Education. 
  10. ^ "The surprising list of colleges whose financial management has the government worried". Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  11. ^ http://www.waldenfacts.com/pdf/AIR-Final-Walden%20Report-June-2016.pdf
  12. ^ percent).http://www.chronicle.com/article/A-Damning-Portrait-of/133253/
  13. ^ https://www.waldenu.edu/masters/ms-in-education/tuition-fees
  14. ^ https://www.waldenu.edu/bachelors/bs-in-business-administration/tuition-fees
  15. ^ http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/ABEA-5XHB8Q/0x0x675055/a3335f64-40fc-4808-b67a-3c937cd36bc1/GSVC_News_2013_7_10_General_Releases.pdf
  16. ^ https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/912766/000104746916013340/a2227130zs-1a.htm
  17. ^ "What's a goat farmer doing ranking business schools?". 19 November 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  18. ^ "About Our Accredited Online University | Walden University". Waldenu.edu. Retrieved 2015-02-26. 
  19. ^ "Walden Programs - Psychology - Master's - MS in Clinical Psychology". Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  20. ^ "Walden's Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership Receives NCATE Accreditation | News & Events | Walden University". waldenu.edu. Retrieved 2014-03-26. 
  21. ^ "State by State List of Accredited Institutions". ncate.org. Retrieved 2014-03-26. 
  22. ^ "CACREP Accreditation - M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling". Waldenu.edu. Retrieved 20 January 2015. 
  23. ^ "Directory". CACREP. Retrieved 2015-02-26. 
  24. ^ "Accredited Online University | Accreditation | About Us | Walden University". waldenu.edu. Retrieved 2014-03-26. 
  25. ^ "National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense". Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  26. ^ "PhD Psychology | PhD In Psychology | Doctorate In Psychology | Walden University". waldenu.edu. Retrieved 2014-03-26. 
  27. ^ http://edworkforce.house.gov/uploadedfiles/5.4.10_kaplan.pdf
  28. ^ "Subscribe to read". Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  29. ^ "Laureate, a for-profit education firm, finds international success (with a Clinton's help)". Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  30. ^ http://www.washingtontimes.com, The Washington Times. "Hillary Clinton most bought, paid for candidate". Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  31. ^ Runde, Daniel. "International Youth Foundation and Laureate Education Solve Important Global Problems". Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  32. ^ "Trump campaign's claim that State Department gave $55.2 million to Laureate Education after hiring Bill Clinton". Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  33. ^ "Trump claims Hillary Clinton laundered millions of dollars". Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  34. ^ "Inside Bill Clinton's nearly $18 million job as 'honorary chancellor' of a for-profit college". Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  35. ^ "Hillary blasts for-profit colleges, but Bill took millions from one". Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  36. ^ http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/paying-for-college/articles/2013/07/24/undergrads-blow-it-with-student-loan-refunds
  37. ^ Patterson, Te-Erika. "Why Do So Many Graduate Students Quit?". Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  38. ^ "Ph.D. Attrition: How Much Is Too Much?". 1 July 2013. Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  39. ^ Shepherd, Jessica (2 October 2007). "A race to the finish". Retrieved 18 November 2016 – via The Guardian. 
  40. ^ "Minnesota puts for-profit college once tied to Bill Clinton under review". Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  41. ^ http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/student-sues-walden-university-i-wasted-six-years-my-life-n690706
  42. ^ "Ijamt.org". Ijamt.org. Retrieved 2015-02-26. 
  43. ^ a b c "Publications and Journals". Walden.edu. Retrieved 20 January 2015. 

External links[edit]