Walden University

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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]


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 EdDs at its first commencement in Naples, Florida.

In 1979, the Minnesota Higher Education Coordinating Board licensed Walden to grant PhDs and EdDs 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,[5] gaining a controlling interest in 2002.[6] In 2004, Sylvan Learning Systems became Laureate Education, Inc. Former US President Bill Clinton, was until 2015, an Honorary Chancellor of Laureate International Universities.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9]


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.[10]

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.[11]

Walden University is under heightened cash monitoring from the US Department of Education.[12]

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[13]

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)[14]

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).[15] 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).[16] The same degree at the University of Minnesota costs $56,240.[10]

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.[17]

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.[18]


Walden University has been nationally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, a regional accreditation agency, since 1990.[19]

Accredited professional programs[edit]

Unaccredited professional programs[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

Notable alumni and faculty[edit]

Sharon T. Freeman, PhD Applied Management, Author[28]

Shana Jugler, MS Psychology

Austin Lane, EdD, PhD Psychology[29][30]

Political controversies[edit]

Walden University and its parent company Laureate International Universities have been mentioned, sometimes unfavorably, in articles in the Financial Times, The Washington Post, and The Washington Times about Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and the Clinton Foundation.[31][32][33]

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.[34] 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.[35] Fact checkers at PolitiFact.com also found the claims to be false.[36] A story in the Sept 5, 2016 edition of The Washington Post also investigated Clinton's role with Laureate and found many of the political claims to be false.[37]

In October 2016, NBC News reported that the Minnesota Office of Higher Education was investigating a spike in student complaints.[38]


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. ^ Our Network Archived May 5, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ "Sylvan Ventures invest $32.8 million in school". bizjournals. Feb 5, 2001. 
  6. ^ "Sylvan Gains Controlling Interest in Walden.(Sylvan Learning Systems Inc. has controlling interest in Walden University) | HighBeam Business: Arrive Prepared". business.highbeam.com. Retrieved 2017-08-10. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ "Jonathan Kaplan, J.D. - Leadership – Walden University". Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  9. ^ "Board Advisory Committee on Education". Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  10. ^ a b http://www.help.senate.gov/imo/media/for_profit_report/PartII/Walden.pdf
  11. ^ 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. 
  12. ^ "The surprising list of colleges whose financial management has the government worried". Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  13. ^ http://www.waldenfacts.com/pdf/AIR-Final-Walden%20Report-June-2016.pdf
  14. ^ percent).http://www.chronicle.com/article/A-Damning-Portrait-of/133253/
  15. ^ "Tuition and Fees – MS in Education (MSEd) – Walden University". www.waldenu.edu. 
  16. ^ "Tuition and Fees – BS in Business Administration – Walden University". www.waldenu.edu. 
  17. ^ http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/ABEA-5XHB8Q/0x0x675055/a3335f64-40fc-4808-b67a-3c937cd36bc1/GSVC_News_2013_7_10_General_Releases.pdf
  18. ^ https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/912766/000104746916013340/a2227130zs-1a.htm
  19. ^ "About Our Accredited Online University | Walden University". Waldenu.edu. Retrieved 2015-02-26. 
  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. ^ "10 Famous and Successful Alumni of Online Colleges". 
  29. ^ "University of Alabama HEA Graduate Named College President". 
  30. ^ "Accomplishment Archives - Alumni - School of Psychology - Walden University". www.waldenu.edu. 
  31. ^ "Subscribe to read". Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  32. ^ "Laureate, a for-profit education firm, finds international success (with a Clinton’s help)". Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  33. ^ http://www.washingtontimes.com, The Washington Times. "Hillary Clinton most bought, paid for candidate". Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  34. ^ Runde, Daniel. "International Youth Foundation and Laureate Education Solve Important Global Problems". Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  35. ^ "Trump campaign’s claim that State Department gave $55.2 million to Laureate Education after hiring Bill Clinton". Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  36. ^ "Trump claims Hillary Clinton laundered millions of dollars". Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  37. ^ "Inside Bill Clinton’s nearly $18 million job as ‘honorary chancellor’ of a for-profit college". Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  38. ^ "Minnesota puts for-profit college once tied to Bill Clinton under review". Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  39. ^ "Ijamt.org". Ijamt.org. Retrieved 2015-02-26. 
  40. ^ a b c "Publications and Journals". Walden.edu. Retrieved 20 January 2015. 

External links[edit]