Coursera’s First Ivy League Degree: An Online Master’s From the...

Higher Education

Coursera’s First Ivy League Degree: An Online Master’s From the University of Pennsylvania

By Tina Nazerian     Jul 25, 2018

Coursera’s First Ivy League Degree: An Online Master’s From the University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania has offered MOOCs on Coursera for several years, but now, it’s giving the online learning platform its first Ivy League degree. The two have partnered to offer a fully-online Master’s degree in Computer and Information Technology.

The online degree is also a first for the University of Pennsylvania, which until this point has not offered any fully online degree programs. The university already offers online courses (some of which are MOOCs on Coursera), but Vijay Kumar, dean of Penn Engineering, says Penn decided to widen its offerings in order to increase access to more students. Kumar says Penn considered other online providers, but went with Coursera because the company “has a history of supporting the development and delivery of programs at scale.”

The move could be a signal that Ivy Leagues are warming up to Coursera and other so-called disruptors in the education space. Part of that may have to do with a “maturing” that Kumar and Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda both believe is happening in the space.

“Schools have been offering online courses for over a decade,” Maggioncalda says. “But now, the richness and quality of the experience for students is really enticing universities, even the best universities in the world, Ivy League schools, to say, ‘we can deliver the quality that we’ve always been known for at a level of access and costs that’s never been available before.’”

The new degree is designed to take two years, though Maggioncalda says students can finish at their own pace. According to a press release, the curriculum is composed of both computer science theory and applied, project-based lessons.

The first cohort of students enrolled in the degree will begin coursework in January. Kumar says the university will admit one hundred students in that first cohort, and later cohorts could expand to admit several hundred students.

Penn’s online master’s degree in computer and information technology costs $26,300, a significantly lower price than its on-campus version, which costs about three times more. Students can apply for financial aid, but scholarships won’t be available for the first cohort. A spokesperson for Coursera says that will hopefully change in the future.

Like the on-campus version of the degree, the online degree doesn’t require applicants to have a bachelor’s in computer science, though applicants are required to have an undergraduate degree in some field.

Penn is not the first Ivy League university to offer a fully online Master’s degree. Columbia University has several fully online Master’s programs, including one in computer science. But the program with Penn marks a first Ivy League for Coursera, which also began offering online bachelor's degrees though partnerships with universities for the first time this year.

Coursera is far from the only platform that teams up with universities to help them offer online graduate degrees. Take Noodle Partners, which has worked with Claremont Graduate University and Tulane University’s School of Social Work, among others, to develop online graduate degrees. There’s also 2U, which recently expanded its partnership with Fordham University to include graduate degree programs in law and business. And Udacity has collaborated with AT&T and Georgia Institute of Technology to provide an online Master's degree in computer science.

Coursera currently claims to have about 150 university partners on its platform, including Penn.

There is a "global base of learners" already learning on Coursera, Maggioncalda says. “MOOCs become a gateway to taking online degrees.”

Learn more about EdSurge operations, ethics and policies here. Learn more about EdSurge supporters here.

More from EdSurge

Get our email newsletterSign me up
Keep up to date with our email newsletterSign me up