Four Ways Universities Make Money From Online Courses

Four Ways Universities Make Money From Online Courses

HOW UNIVERSITIES PROFIT FROM MOOCS: “How do MOOCs make money?” is a question often directed to companies like Coursera and edX that help deliver them. But the query is just as appropriate for universities as they decide whether they want to join the MOOC-wagon. After all, is it worth it?

A white paper from Extension Engine outlines four revenue models, based on a survey of 136 US colleges and universities. The most popular revenue source, used in 71 percent of the schools in the survey, comes from offering for-credit online courses that students pay for. Fifty-eight percent of schools compete for grants to support research on new online pedagogy and course delivery, but the report says “expenditures on these efforts are typically high and go largely unrecouped.”

The less popular—but more “novel”—strategies, according to the report, involve the use of MOOCs as a recruiting tool for pre-matriculated students, and as a new way to maintain an active alumni community (and generate more donations).

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