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Leading Universities Team Up to Transform Online Education

Students will be able to take online courses for credit at any of the consortium schools

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November 15, 2012

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University has joined a consortium of leading universities to launch an innovative education program that will transform the current model of online education, according to an announcement from the schools’ provosts.

Semester Online, the new program, will be the first of its kind to offer undergraduate students the opportunity to take rigorous, small, online courses for credit from a consortium of universities. The program will be delivered through a virtual classroom environment and interactive platform developed by 2U.

The consortium is partnering with 2U, formerly known as 2tor, a leader in delivering selective graduate degree and undergraduate for-credit programs online.

“Students from all over the country, or even from abroad, will be able to attend these online classes in real time -- classes of about 15 to 20 students taught by professors at some of the nation’s leading universities," said Daniel Linzer, Northwestern University provost.

Besides Northwestern, consortium members include Brandeis University, Duke University, Emory 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.

“These courses will expand curricular options for students and will enable consortium schools to work collaboratively to develop the most innovative and successful ways to utilize new learning technologies,” Northwestern Provost Linzer said.

Initial Semester Online courses will feature primarily the same faculty and curricula as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, with additional courses designed for the online format to be included in the future. Through a state-of-the-art virtual classroom, students will participate in discussions and exercises, attend lectures and collaborate with peers while guided by renowned professors -- engaging in as close to the on-campus class experience that is currently possible online.

Beginning in the fall of 2013, Semester Online will be available to academically qualified students attending consortium schools as well as other top schools across the country. Information about Semester Online courses and the application process will be available in early 2013. The consortium anticipates adding a small number of institutions prior to next year’s launch.

Students will have unprecedented opportunities to take advantage of course offerings from some of the most prestigious institutions in the country, including unique courses that they would not otherwise have access to. At the same time, students will be able to work, travel, participate in off-campus research programs or manage personal commitments that in the past would have meant putting studies on hold. 

Faculty members participating in Semester Online also will have an unprecedented online learning experience as they engage with the best and brightest students across the country.

“There isn’t any question that online education is an important and impactful extension of our academic offering,” said Ed Macias, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs of Washington University in St. Louis and catalyst for organizing the consortium. “The challenge has been developing a Web-based program that mirrors the richness and robustness of the in-classroom experience and applies credit toward earning a degree. Semester Online does just that. The program will be a significant step forward.”

“This is another way to test, learn from and benefit from the opportunities and challenges the online and digital worlds provide for us. We’re doing this to offer our students even better options to enrich their education,” said Peter Lange, provost of Duke University.

“Now, no matter where they are in the world, students will have the opportunity to engage in internships and work experiences, travel or manage personal commitments while continuing their collegiate academic journey,” said Earl Lewis, Emory University provost.

Semester Online will feature many of the same elements that 2U offers its prestigious master’s degree program partners, including live class sessions that connect students and professors; compelling, richly produced, self-paced course materials; and a strong social network that allows students to connect and build relationships with peers online.

“By making for-credit online undergraduate coursework a reality for these top schools, Semester Online represents an important milestone for undergraduate education, one that will influence the wider adoption of for-credit online learning across all of higher education,” said Chip Paucek, co-founder and CEO of 2U. "Semester Online demonstrates 2U’s mission to help great schools go online and provide high-quality learning experiences for credit, empowering students to continue their education as they follow their ambitions, anywhere.”

"All of us will be working with our respective faculty, staff and students to operationalize the program and develop guidelines for our students prior to launch next fall," Macias said. "There are further issues to resolve, however, it is tremendously exciting that this group of leading institutions has come together and is committed to moving forward the concept of Semester Online." 

For more information, please visit Semester Online. Additional information about courses and the application process will be available in early 2013.

Contact Chance Patterson at cpatterson@2U.com.

Northwestern University media contacts: Storer (Bob) Rowley at storer.rowley@northwestern.edu or Pat Vaughan Tremmel at p-tremmel@northwestern.edu

 

About Semester Online

Semester Online is the first-of-its-kind program to offer for-credit undergraduate courses through a consortium of top-tier universities that includes Northwestern University, Brandeis University, Duke University, Emory 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. In partnership with 2U, formerly known as 2tor, Semester Online offers rigorous, online, for-credit courses to college students from anywhere in the world. For more information, please visit semesteronline.org.

 

About 2U, Inc.

2U, Inc., formerly known as 2tor, Inc., partners with top-tier universities to deliver rigorous, selective graduate degree and undergraduate for-credit programs online. Founded in 2008 by John Katzman and a team of education veterans, the company provides universities with the technologies, infrastructural support and capital they need to transform their on-campus programs into high-quality, Web-based programs. 2U is one of the highest-funded education technology start-ups in the United States. 2U has partnered with prestigious colleges and research universities to deliver the following groundbreaking online programs:

  • USC Rossier Online: Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Arts in Teaching –TESOL and Master’s of Education in Advanced Instruction from the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education
  • MSW@USC: Master of Social Work (MSW) from the University of Southern California School of Social Work
  • Nursing@Georgetown: Master of Science Degree in Nursing from Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies
  • MBA@UNC: Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Kenan-Flagler Business School
  • MPA@UNC: Master of Public Administration (MPA) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Government
  • @WashULaw: Master of Laws (LL.M.) in U.S. Law from Washington University School of Law
  • MPH@GW: Master of Public Health (MPH) in International and Rural Health from the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services
  • Semester Online: For-credit undergraduate program through a consortium of leading universities 
Topics: University