Significant Milestones

Founded in 1970 by two educators, Walden University established a way for working professionals to pursue their doctoral degrees. Bernie and Rita Turner laid the groundwork for the university, in collaboration with Harold “Bud” Hodgkinson, a faculty member at the University of California, Berkeley. One year earlier, Hodgkinson had published “Walden U.: A Working Paper,” an article that initiated the concept of a student-centered university. Brought together by a shared vision of a new kind of institution for higher education—one that focused on positive social change and allowed professionals to continue working while earning a degree—the educators named their institution “Walden University.”

1971
The first Walden classes convene in Naples, Florida, during the summer of 1971. They focus on helping students form their dissertation topics.

1972
Walden awards its first degrees at a ceremony held in Florida. Dubbed the Ceremony of Honor for New Holders of Doctoral Degrees, 46 PhDs and 24 EdDs were awarded.

1979
The Minnesota Higher Education Coordinating Board approves Walden to grant doctoral degrees, just the second institution in Minnesota to earn this approval.

1982
Walden moves its headquarters to Minneapolis, Minnesota.

1984
Walden's mission of social change is formally integrated into curricula across the institution.

1990
The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA) of Colleges and Schools grants accreditation to Walden.

1992
Bernie and Rita Turner retire from Walden, satisfied the university is well on its way.

1995
Walden begins offering the nation’s first fully online master’s program in education.

2004
Walden joins the Laureate Education network, becoming its flagship online institution.

2006
Walden is ranked top granter of master's degrees and doctorates to minority students in the U.S. by Diverse magazine.

2010
The Walden University Alumni Association is formed.

2013
Walden receives reaffirmation of regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, which grants accreditation to Walden for 10 more years, the longest term possible.

2015
Walden named a Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education.

2017
Walden founds the Center for Social Change.

2019
Dr. Ward Ulmer, a Walden alumnus, is named president of Walden.

2020
Walden celebrates its 50th anniversary.

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