I attended Walden University to get a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. The school caters to working adults and its degrees are applied in nature. If you study education you would expect less critiquing of John Dewey and more lessons about how to manage a classroom for instance. The school calls this the “scholar-practitioner” model. It is the correct method of disseminating information to tired people at the end of the long day, but it is not for everyone. I had a great deal of communication with other students and to be fair most of them felt that Walden was a positive force in their lives. My negative experience was atypical though I feel you should be aware of the problems I noticed with Walden during my studies.
Walden markets itself as a university built on social change and largely lives up to its promise; you’ll go through your entire program with the same cohort unless someone drops out. Though your group is bound to be diverse it will comprise mostly government officials, military members, teachers, and managers in the nonprofit world. The group will be decidedly liberal because of the population it comes from and if you are not vigilant this can reduce the value of your education. The mind benefits when it comes into contact with competing sets of ideas. One conservative classmate of mine was often berated for his viewpoints. Despite this you’ll find the students to be very friendly, and you are likely to make some professional contacts along the way.
The instructors are intelligent but generally not very enthusiastic. Out of my eleven classes only three teachers did more than the minimum. One professor repeatedly failed to respond to my e-mails and I called her every few weeks to ask when she was going to submit my grades. You are extremely lucky if you get constructive feedback on your papers. A few adjuncts simply gave me a perfect grade for every assignment despite the admittedly varying quality. The grade inflation means it’s impossible to stand up above the crowd in a meaningful way. If you go to Walden you are going to get a sheepskin but not a life-changing academic experience. To be fair they never oversold their Ivy League pedigree.
The curriculum was watered-down. The school, as a for-profit institution, has every incentive to implement a curriculum that everyone can handle. The formula the marginal student a great chance to succeed but the pace can seem to move at a crawl if you’re a little more bookish. Walden is fine if you force yourself to do 150 percent of the minimum work required. Term papers in my Master of Public Administration program were only required to be 8-10 pages long. This is insufficient for graduate level scholarship.
The library has an extremely limited set of articles to choose from. If you want to do meaningful research you will have to go to get journals at a local university. If you have the time then you might consider taking the GREs and going there instead. I can almost guarantee your nearby state college will cost half of what your tuition might be at Walden. If you call the school’s phone number saying you’re interested in attending they’ll call you in five minutes with great gusto. I never knew an institution of higher learning that needed you to enroll that quickly. School’s with a great reputation still spend advertising dollars but it is not the blitz that we usually see from Walden.
To conclude I would certainly recommend Walden to active duty military who cannot easily keep a set class schedule. Walden’s flexibility of due dates was very helpful to me. The real social change the school fosters is allowing access to education for a part of the population that might not otherwise have enrolled in school. While this is extremely important I hope that the American underclass does not think it has to accept the scraps of the college system; separate but equal is not actually equal.