Howard University will launch Howard University Online (HU-Online) in Fall 2014.

Private historically black colleges and universities have struggled in recent years to make progress when it comes to online education. But one private HBCU is hoping to step up its game, partnering with the learning company Pearson to add 25 new programs to its offerings over the next few years.

Howard University, located in Washington, D.C., will launch Howard University Online in Fall 2014. The initiative will create the largest fully online learning program at any HBCU in the country.

“This is one aspect of a bigger strategy for us to really enhance our instructional environment and our capacity of what we offer overall,” said Wayne A.I. Frederick, Howard’s provost and chief academic officer. “Obviously, the way current students coming from high school and community colleges are learning, this kind of initiative helps us provide the most contemporary and state-of-the-art environment for them.”

According to a study released in June 2013 by the Digital Learning Lab at Howard University, only six of the 55 private universities designated as HBCUs offer blended and online degree programs. That number hasn’t changed since 2010.

There are currently 120 online programs offered by both public and private HBCUs. Howard’s offerings, once fully implemented, would account for more than 20 percent of online HBCU programs in the United States.

See Page 2 for what Pearson and Howard hope the partnership will accomplish.

Frederick said the 25-program goal is not set it stone, however. The number of programs could increase or decrease as Pearson and Howard go forward.

“We want to be flexible as we move on this,” Frederick said. “We have some established online programs already, and we’re going to start with expanding those we already have.”

While Frederick said the university hopes that the partnership will allow better access for more non-traditional students around the country, the initiative is also designed to expand Howard’s reach abroad.

Don Kilburn, vice chairman of Pearson Higher Education, said the partnership is designed to accomplish both goals.

“To remain competitive in today’s environment, institutions increasingly need to offer high-quality online degree programs to reach students who need flexibility,” Kilburn said. “This HU-Online partnership will do just that.”

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