Leading colleges announce for-credit, online courses
November 16th, 2012
04:20 AM ET

Leading colleges announce for-credit, online courses

By Donna Krache, CNN

(CNN) A consortium of ten major universities announced on Thursday that it will offer online courses for credit in the fall of 2013.

The online education initiative is titled “Semester Online.” According to its consortium, it is the “first of its kind featuring rigorous, innovative, live courses.”

Colleges have offered online classes before, but it’s the rigor of the curriculum and the ability to earn credit for the courses that makes this initiative different.  MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, are open to all free of charge, but typically don’t award college credit.

There are 10 university partners in this effort. They are Brandeis University, Duke University, Emory University, Northwestern University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Notre Dame, University of Rochester, Vanderbilt University, Wake Forest University and Washington University in St. Louis.

Pilot online classes will start in the fall of 2013.  Academically eligible students at these universities will be able to apply for Semester Online this coming spring. The consortium hopes to expand both its course offerings and online student enrollment in the future. The faculty and course materials offered in Semester Online will be the same as those used in the traditional college classes.

The consortium has been working on this for a long time, according to Ed Macias, provost of Washington University in St. Louis. “This is a significant step forward in higher education,” said Macias.

The consortium is partnering with 2U, formerly 2tor, for the technology and platform necessary to create the online learning experience.  2U CEO Chip Paucek called Semester Online “a pioneering effort.”

“It will influence the adoption of for-credit learning online in higher education,” he said.

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soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. brown

    I wonder if an online degree offers the same rigor and quality of education.

    November 21, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Gladdensnoot

      It's rigorous, but not the same. It takes a different level of self discipline.
      Quality of education depends upon the university.

      November 22, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • muhfuh

      If this catches on it spells the end of our credential-based society.

      The focus will henceforth be on competence and mastery at the
      level of the course.

      We won't even be thinking in terms of degrees anymore.

      And it's about time.

      As a wise old professor once advised –

      "F... the degree, get an education"

      Hear, hear

      By the way, if you're queasy about Duke's and UNC's quality
      there's another consortium – http://www.edx.org – already offering
      Harvard, MIT and Berkeley courses with more to come.

      Of course, to practice medicine you're still gonna need that MD.

      But undergrad education is about to be transformed.

      Referring to the EdX initiative, one Harvard administrator says
      that in the future the main function of residential colleges will
      be to help young adults with the transition from 18 to 22 –
      the instruction will be online.

      More and more undergrad libraries already don't even have
      books any more, it's all computers.

      November 23, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  2. Dan

    This is not really looking all that great. 1. They require an application–this is a big limiting obstacle. 2. It is limited to undergraduate coursework. 3. They do not state the costs.

    The real potential of these platforms is to offer courses and degrees without the need for an application to anyone who might enroll for any course at low cost with credits that can be patched together to earn a degree. Nothing about this suggests they are able to do two out of these three, but we will see.

    I hope I prove incorrect.

    November 18, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  3. Brain L.

    Wow it about time welcome to the 21 century. There are manly schools that off credit class already including one of the first schools The University of Phoenix. The on-line class format offers more students a chance to earn their degrees. I look forward to the day when Harvard and Yale offer on-line classes.

    November 17, 2012 at 8:10 am |
    • Wayne

      Actually, Harvard does offer online classes through the Harvard Extension School. While one can not yet get a full degree from Harvard online, there are a number of classes available that, I would assume, will transfer anywhere.

      November 17, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  4. Amir Ali

    Sir i lived in kl malayasia some experience of of crediting to australian universities and some bangladeshis are uk schools and universities..

    November 17, 2012 at 4:07 am |
  5. Elliot O.

    These schools should take a lesson from Thomas Edison State College (NJ). I am currently enrolled in Thomas Edison and they offer extensive courses and programs online for certifications, bachelors and masters degrees. For online education Thomas Edison State College is second to none.

    November 16, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
  6. Kay

    I started an online degree at WSU, not a diploma mill, in 2001 (yes, I graduated and no, employers never ask). This is hardly new. Other Universities already blazed this trail and the Ivy Leaguers are just now catching up ;)

    November 16, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Sadie Boyd

      On-line classes are the bane of education in America.

      November 17, 2012 at 7:50 am |
  7. Kelli B

    This article makes a claim that these universities are the FIRST to do this. As Paige stated above, they are NOT. Please give credit to other universities around the US who have already paved the way so that these (more illustrious) universities can follow. Thank you to Duquesne University (PA) for making online available to assist me in getting my doctorate. The courses are rigorous, innovative and both synchronous and asynchronous.

    November 16, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  8. Lee

    The difference here is that these universities are collaborating to share online courses. It allows universities to offer specialized courses that might normally be available only at one university where the one professor who teaches the course is on the faculty.

    November 16, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  9. richard a.

    what is the tuition?

    November 16, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  10. Ellen

    How is this new? Universities across the country have been offering online credit courses for a number of years. The faculty at the university where I teach work diligently to offer courses in a variety of venues, so we can reach more students–and we have been doing this for at least a decade.

    November 16, 2012 at 11:50 am |
  11. Paige

    These are not the first major universities to offer online courses- though they are welcomed additions. I am finishing a masters degree through Clemson University who not only offers online classes, they offer online, well-respected degrees requiring short visits to campus. Furthermore, I am doing this as an American living in Brazil! Our cohort meets weekly via an online platform, and have further online submissions and discussions throughout the week. Thanks Clemson for making this available!

    November 16, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  12. Alan S.

    It's about time the Major Universities came into play. The only thing that has been available is those questionable dipolma mills that charge both an arm and a leg taking students the remainder of their lives to pay of student loans for a all but worthless education, i.e. Certifications; ? The only other source which is limited to just a few online courses offered by both Community Colleges and State Universities, although enexpensive, the selection in available courses is general limited do to an over flow of classroom courses in order to just meet the needs of students 4 year graduation plan so not to extend their time in school. This is a first Big Step of many to come and I am excited that it has moved the process of education forward. I am a 61 Native American male who has gone back to school to obtain a Doctorate Degree from University of California San Bernardino and then go back into the work force serving my people for the remainder of my life.

    November 16, 2012 at 10:02 am |