Walmart has announced it will be bulking up the program by which it allows full-time and part-time employees to access a college degree for $1 a day — by adding more eligible degrees, college partners and a new path for high school students to its one-year-old program offering.
Joining the list are Southern New Hampshire University, Purdue University Global and Wilmington University — which will now bring the program up to offering a total of 14 associate degrees, bachelor’s and certificate options in technical fields such as cybersecurity and computer science. Guild Education is on the online marketplace through which the program is accessed.
About 7,500 employees participated in the program in its first year, and the goal, according to Walmart spokesperson Michelle Malashock, is to scale up the offering.
“We want to focus on building that talent pipeline and building a bridge into the workforce,” Malashock said, adding that most Walmart employees pursuing the company’s education benefit begin their studies in Guild’s College Start program. That program serves as a general education baseline to help prepare students for a wider array of coursework.
“These courses are more like traditional college courses but are made available for the first time to high school students so that they can understand what does it mean to take a college course, what is the level of rigor, how does it work, etcetera,” said Rachel Carlson, CEO and co-founder of Guild.
When the program’s launched last year, Walmart officials said they expected 68,000 employees to enroll in its first five years.
Walmart is not alone is offering education and an inducement to employees, and it reflects a trend of major employers expanding their education benefits and subsidizing some or all of the cost. Papa John’s announced it was partnering with Purdue Global to offer free associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degrees in February, while last June Discover began offering employees tuition-free online degrees.