Students from around the world will now have access to a Brandeis education without ever having to move to Waltham. The school has joined a consortium with nine other universities to offer online courses for credit. Called Semester Online, the program is being delivered through 2U, formerly known as 2tor.
The first Semester Online courses will debut next fall and primarily feature the same faculty and curricula as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, according to BrandeisNOW. Students will be able to attend lectures and still collaborate with peers through 2U’s interactive, virtual classroom, providing an online experience as similar to the one students receive on campus.
Other founding institutions of the consortium include Duke University, Emory University, Northwestern University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Rochester, Vanderbilt University, Wake Forest University and Washington University in St. Louis.
Brandeis Provost Steve Goldstein told BrandeisNOW:
This is an exciting step forward, not just for Brandeis but for higher education generally. This consortium will expand opportunities for students everywhere and will help us all gain experience and understanding of the broad potential of distance learning. We’re looking forward to this exploration of the online world.
The program is similar to open-source technology platform edX, a joint partnership Harvard and MIT announced earlier this year. The main difference, however, is that 2U classes are more closely related to what students experience on campus. Classes are limited to 20 students per course section, as opposed to the 100,000 students who registered for Harvard’s first online offerings.
Another key factor is price. The per credit cost of Semester Online is comparable to the tuition charged at the consortium schools. Yet, while edX is free, students can only receive credit for their courses at “a modest fee.” So, what students can now receive is a Brandeis education at a Brandeis cost, but with the freedom and flexibility of learning online.