Complete your studies at a traditional university, and you earn a cap-and-gown ceremony with a smiling dean handing you a diploma. Wrap up online instruction, and nothing so thrilling awaits. But Coursera is about to narrow the gap, Forbes reports.

The Mountain View, Calif., company will start awarding  Specializations for students who have mastered a series of closely connected online courses — and are willing to pay $250 to $500 for validation of their work.

Coursera’s latest initiative is further blurring what used to be a very sharp distinction between full-fledged universities and the anything-goes ethos of massively open online courses...

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