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2U Signs 15-year Extension with Simmons U; Adds Short Courses with GWU and Yale

Online program manager 2U has signed a 15-year contract extension with one institutional client and announced a new suite of online "short courses" with two others. According to its latest financial reporting, the company operates 48 graduate degree programs and expected to double that in 2021. And next year, 2U will launch its first international graduate program, a master of business administration with University College London (UCL).

The contract extension with Boston-based Simmons University covers multiple master's programs and will last through 2039. The Nursing@Simmons agreement includes an online master of science in nursing (MSN), a doctor of nursing practice and the registered nurse to MSN. In the school of social work, 2U co-delivers the SocialWork@Simmons master of social work. Also encompassed is the "enterprise model," which aggregates several smaller degree programs: a master of business administration, an MBA in healthcare, a master of science in behavior analysis and a master of public health.

According to Simmons President Helen Drinan, the OPM has helped the university "scale" its programs, "bringing the unique Simmons experience to students across the globe and enabling us to remain a leader in transforming the nature and delivery of higher education."

2U has provided admissions and technology support and content development to the university. Courses are developed by faculty, who work with course design experts within 2U.

Under the new agreement, 2U has "provided economic consideration," according to a company statement, that will "reduce 2U's effective revenue share" over time.

On the short course side of the business, which began with its 2017 acquisition of GetSmarter, 2U said it was expanding its partnership with George Washington University and will launch a new set of courses with the Yale School of Management. Short courses represented about 16 percent of the company's revenue in its latest quarter.

At George Washington U, the agreement encompasses launch of 10 short courses in several professional disciplines. The company already works with the university on full degree programs in public health, medical informatics and health administration.

The short courses for Yale are expected to launch in spring 2019 and will cover topics of interest to "mid-career and experienced professionals looking to gain essential business and leadership skills to strengthen their organizations and navigate an increasingly complex and competitive business world." 2U already works with the institution to deliver its online master of medical science degree in the School of Medicine for students who aspire to become physician assistants.

The agreement with UK-based UCL to develop an online MBA was first referenced earlier this year by both organizations. That program was expected to launch in 2019.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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