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Coursera More than Doubles Number of Degrees on Its Platform

Online education platform Coursera has announced six new online degrees with major universities, more than doubling the number of degrees offered on its platform.

The new degree programs, all expected to launch later this year or in 2019, will bring the number of programs offered on the platform to 10. The new programs are:

Degrees offered through Coursera are based on the same curriculum and delivered by the same faculty as the equivalent on-campus degrees at each university, the company said.

The syllabus for each online course may differ slightly from the on-campus course, as the Coursera platform takes advantage of opportunities unique to the online environment. Courses include short videos interspersed with quizzes, targeted assignments and discussion forums. Most courses have regular start dates and are self-paced, with suggested deadlines to keep learners on track to reach their goals. The diploma students graduate with on Coursera is identical to the diploma received by on-campus students, while the cost is typically a third of the cost of related in-person degrees, the company said.

In an e-mail Q&A with Campus Technology, Deanna Raineri, Coursera's chief academic strategist, said that learners enrolled in the University of Illinois iMBA program (launched on Coursera in 2016) report deeper engagement with classmates and professors than in on-campus courses they've taken in the past.

Most of the new degree programs announced are in computer science, but two involve public health. Raineri noted that healthcare has become the nation's largest employer, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and there is more need than ever before for qualified professionals.

"Both Imperial College and the University of Michigan offer leading degrees in public health and wanted to find a way to scale those programs to reach as many people as possible," she said. Coursera doubled down on computer science, she added, because there's a huge need to make those programs more accessible. "There are currently more than 500,000 open computing [jobs] in every sector, from manufacturing to banking, from agriculture to healthcare, but only 50,000 computer science graduates a year, according to the Computer Science Education Coalition."

Raineri added that the business model for institutions offering degrees on Coursera involves a uniform minimum revenue share agreement with the degree partners. "If a degree partner wants Coursera to provide more support, the revenue share will change," she said.

Previously, Coursera had announced the Online Master's in Innovation and Entrepreneurship from HEC Paris as well as three degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: a Master of Computer Science in Data Science, a Master of Science in Accountancy, and a Master of Business Administration, which had its first class graduate in December 2017.

Coursera said the the momentum for this type of degree program is growing rapidly. "We believe that this type of degree — high-quality, modular, affordable and interactive — represents the future of professional learning," Raineri said.

About the Author

David Raths is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer focused on information technology. He writes regularly for several IT publications, including Healthcare Innovation and Government Technology.

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