Walden University is the flagship online university in the Laureate International Universities network—a leading global network of accredited online and campus-based institutions.
Walden and Laureate share a commitment to broadening access to professionally relevant higher education. Through their unique, multinational educational community, Walden is creating opportunities for people everywhere to advance their lives and the communities they serve.
The Laureate International Universities network includes:
Nearly half a million students worldwide
More than 42 institutions in 20 countries
Through the Laureate network, students and alumni at Walden have access to:
Residencies in Spain, Chile, and England (doctoral and some master’s programs)
A growing number of cross-cultural opportunities
Walden University History
1970 Walden is founded by two New York teachers, Bernie and Rita Turner, who sought a way for adults in the workforce to pursue doctoral degrees and develop into leaders committed to the betterment of society. Harold “Bud” Hodgkinson, a faculty member at the University of California, Berkeley, publishes “Walden U.: A Working Paper” in the journal Soundings. The article critiqued the higher education system and initiated the concept of a university that was truly student-centered.
1971 The first Walden office opens in Naples, Florida, and the first Summer Session residency is held at the Cove Inn there. Most students are education administrators who have completed doctoral work but not their dissertations.
1972 Walden confers 46 Ph.D.s and 24 Ed.D.s at its first commencement, in Naples, Florida.
1977 Walden implements a formal curriculum called the Guided Independent Study Program, focused on “social change agentry.” The first university-based Summer Session is held at the University of Rhode Island.
1979 The Minnesota Higher Education Coordinating Board approves Walden’s request for licensure. Walden is allowed to grant Ph.D.s and Ed.D.s in Minnesota.
1982 Walden’s academic offices move from Naples, Florida, to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to begin seeking accreditation in a region that is open to nontraditional post-baccalaureate education.
1984 The curriculum is restructured to emphasize how professions are affected by social change.
1986 With accreditation through the North Central Association in mind, Walden introduces the Knowledge Area Module (KAM). With the KAM, students demonstrate competency by completing an individualized program of study within a curriculum.
1988 Central Michigan University president Dr. Harold Abel becomes the second president of Walden University.
1990 Walden is accredited through the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
1991 Walden partners with Indiana University to provide access to its research library and campus during Walden’s Summer Session. Walden is accepted as a member of the Council of Graduate Schools, and Glen Drake becomes the third president. Enrollment: 550.
1992 Bernie and Rita Turner sell Walden to Don Ackerman, a Florida businessman, who assumes the position of chair of the Board of Directors.
1994 Walden brings email and listserv applications to its students. Lt. Gen. Dave Palmer, former superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, becomes the fourth president.
1996 Sociologist Amitai Etzioni receives the university’s first honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Walden begins offering National Public Service Fellowships to doctoral students. Enrollment: 1,000.
1997 Walden introduces the Web-based Ph.D. program in Professional Psychology. The first cyberspace chapter of the education society Phi Delta Kappa (PDK) is formed at Walden. Adult learning theorist Malcolm Knowles receives an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
1998 The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools reaccredits Walden for seven years. The vice president for academic affairs and former dean of the graduate school at the University of Rhode Island, J. Kent Morrison, becomes the fifth president. Jim Dixon, former president of Antioch University, receives an honorary degree.
1999 In its review of online schools, Fast Company magazine gives its only A grade to Walden.
2000 Walden becomes the first distance-learning university to be categorized “research intensive” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Walden’s first dean, Harold “Bud” Hodgkinson, and Frank Dilley, a longtime faculty and board member, receive honorary doctorates.
2001 Sylvan Learning Systems, Inc., purchases 41 percent of Walden University. Walden introduces a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Public Administration, plus a Ph.D. program in Public Policy and Administration. U.S. News & World Report calls Walden “well regarded” and lists it among the “Best of the Online Grad Programs.” Enrollment: 2,000.
2002 Former president of the U.S. Army War College Robert Scales Jr. becomes the sixth president. Sylvan Learning Systems acquires a controlling interest in Walden. Four schools encompassing all Walden degree programs are formed: School of Management, School of Health and Human Services, School of Psychology, and School of Education.
2003 Paula Peinovich, Walden’s vice president for academic affairs and former vice president for academic affairs at Excelsior College, becomes the seventh university president. Former Minneapolis mayor Sharon Sayles Belton receives an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Walden offers its first bachelor’s completion program, a Ph.D. in Public Health, and a Master of Public Health. Enrollment: 8,000.
2004 Walden celebrates the 150th anniversary of the publication of Walden by honoring The Thoreau Society. Sylvan Learning Systems, Inc., changes its name to Laureate Education, Inc., and acquires the remaining interest in Walden University as part of its new focus on higher education worldwide. Enrollment reaches 13,000 students in 17 degree programs. More than 6,000 degrees have been conferred since 1970.
2005 Walden celebrates 35 years of Inquiry for Social Change. National Technological University, the nation’s largest online engineering master’s degree university, merges with Walden, creating the NTU School of Engineering and Applied Science.
2006 Walden is reaccredited by the North Central Association, and its M.S. program in Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Accreditation.
2007 Jonathan A. Kaplan named the eighth president of Walden University, after five years of strong leadership within the organization. Commencement keynotes are given by Rear Adm. Carol A. Romano, chief professional officer for the nurse category in the U.S. Public Health Service (winter), and the founders of the micro-lending nonprofit Kiva (summer). Walden hosts a residency in Chile. Walden sponsors a new online, peer-reviewed journal, the Journal of Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences. Enrollment: More than 28,000, with more than 25,000 alumni.
2008 The College of Education renamed The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership in honor of the former U.S. Secretary of Education. Walden launches full bachelor’s programs in business administration, child development, and psychology. Walden sponsors the Presidential Youth Debate with John McCain and Barack Obama.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association, www.ncahlc.org; 1-312-263-0456.
The Higher Learning Commission is one of six regional accrediting bodies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. When evaluating credentials, employers and universities often look for applicants who earned their degree from an accredited university.