2U partners with universities for online for-credit courses, master’s degree program

Baylor University, Southern Methodist University and Temple University have joined 2U’s Semester Online initiative.

Three top-tier universities in May dropped out of a partnership with the company 2U that would have allowed the schools to pool together their resources to offer for-credit online courses to students. It was a high profile snag in much-publicized deal that had included 10 universities in total.

Three other universities have filled those vacancies, 2U announced on July 30.

Baylor University, Southern Methodist University, and Temple University joined Semester Online as “Charter Affiliate Partners,” according to the announcement.

The news came on the heels of 2U partnering with University of California at Berkeley to offer a fully online master of information and data science degree program.

“Semester Online’s teaching institutions provide distinctive course offerings for undergraduates in an online learning experience that matches the rigor and richness of on-campus classrooms,” Ed Macias, chair of the Semester Online Consortium, said in the announcement. “Through the Affiliate program, more students will now be able to continue their coursework while pursuing opportunities or commitments away from campus.”

The eleven courses will be taught by faculty from other members of the consortium including Boston College, Brandeis University, Emory University, Northwestern University, the University of North Caroline at Chapel Hill, University of Notre Dame, and Washington University in St. Louis.

See Page 2 for details on 2U’s partnership with Berkeley.

Like massive open online courses (MOOCs), the courses will involve students watching recorded video lectures from professors. Unlike MOOCs, however, Semester Online’s courses will be limited to students in the partner universities, and the number of participants will be capped at 20.

2U’s partnership with Berkeley will take a similar approach, incorporating live video and small class sizes into an online program to allow students to earn a Master of Information and Data Science degree. The program will consist of 27 units and focus on machine learning, data storage, privacy, and ethics.

“This new degree program is in response to a dramatically growing need for well-trained big data professionals who can organize, analyze and interpret the deluge of often messy and unorganized data available from the web, sensor networks, mobile devices, and elsewhere,” said AnnaLee Saxenian, the dean of Berkeley’s School of Information.

The program will begin in January 2014. The Semester Online courses will start this fall.

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