A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

What's With Walden University?

I thought I would research Walden University's accreditation status, since Aberdeener has shown such an abhorrence for their master's degree in education. It concerns him that some of our teachers are getting their master's degrees online through Walden. Here is what I've found.

Walden University has been accredited since 1990 by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). NCA was founded in 1895 as one of six regional institutional accreditors in the US and is responsible for nineteen states, including Minnesota, where Walden is based. NCA is recognized by the US DOE and the Council on Higher Education.
According to HLC's accreditation details for Walden, as of 28 August 2009, Walden had 26,615 full time and 5,358 part time master's degree students and in the past year had issued 6,488 master's degrees. The school is roughly 2.5 times the size of Ohio State University, according to HLC's accreditation details for that school. Ohio State had just over 10,000 full and part time master's students and had issued over 2,500 master's degrees in the past year when the statistics were gathered earlier this year. That means that Ohio State issued master's degrees to over 25% of its students, while Walden issued degrees to only 20% of its master's students.

Fast Company magazine, created by two former Harvard Business Review editors, had high praises for Walden in an article back in 1999. The magazine's current issue has an article advocating for-profit universities with online programs. It focuses on Jack Welch's entry into the market, how the business has overcome its diploma mill reputation, and how it will facilitate President Obama's goals for flexible higher education.

Wikipedia says Walden University was established in 1971 and was taken over in 2001 by Sylvan Learning Systems, which became Laureate Education in 2004. Of course, you could rely on the Urban Dictionary for its ribald definitions of Walden.

I received my bachelor's degree in a non-traditional manner through Thomas Edison State College in Trenton, and my employer paid for my master's degree program, including a sabbatical to attend classes in another city, so I'm unlikely to criticize local teachers for reaching out to the Internet for nontraditional and relatively convenient educational opportunities. I hope the BOE will encourage rather than discourage its teachers to seek this sort of development.

It wouldn't hurt, though, for the Board to require applicants for cash awards upon completion of any degree program -- online or otherwise -- to submit samples of complex class projects that demonstrate their achievement. Some of the projects could even be published within the school district for everyone to learn from, a means of giving back to the district.


  1. Pat,

    Here are a couple of additional points:

    1) Walden isn't ranked by a single major publication, meaning it doesn't even crack the top 1,000 schools in America
    2) Walden doesn't have professional accreditation
    3) Walden doesn't verify who's participating in any of the classroom assignments
    4) Walden requires 30 credits for a Masters compared to Seton Hall's online program that requires 39 credits
    5) A Walden masters degree costs a little over $13,000 compared to over $23,000 for a masters from University of Phoenix (40 credits)

    So, we have a school of such low caliber that nobody of significance bothers to rate it, requires a quarter fewer credits than other programs, costs nearly half the price, and is the number one school of choice among our faculty.

    Is this good or bad for our district?

  2. Good post! Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the Academy for Assessment of Student Learning, which is sponsored by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Walden is part of a global network, with over half-million students across, America, Asia, Africa and Europe.