Academic Partnerships Teams with Universities to Launch MOOC Degree Initiative

Compiled by Jamar Ramos
January 29, 2013

Certain grocery store chains have employees who stand around and offer customers free samples of items, in an effort to entice them to buy the product. It may cost a little money in the short term to open a package and distribute it for free, but if enough customers like what they receive they’ll end up buying it.

This is the new route that some public colleges and universities are taking in order to bring more students to their institutions. Academic Partnerships, a company that helps schools build their online programs, has teamed with some of its clients to provide credit for students who complete a massive open online course (MOOC).

The new initiative is titled MOOC2Degree. Each school will have different guidelines, but the gist of the partnership entails schools offering an online course for free. If the student enjoys the course and applies for admission to the school, then the credits will transfer free of charge and count toward a degree. Universities typically charge students several hundred dollars per credit hour, and courses typically carry three credit hours.

“Making the first course in an online degree program a MOOC brings real value to both the student and the university,” said Randy Best, founder and chairman of Academic Partnerships. “The free start is just the encouragement many working adults need to enroll in a degree program that will have a big impact on their future success. For universities, MOOC2Degree will potentially attract larger numbers of qualified students into their degree programs.”

There have been trial runs of this particular idea at certain schools, and anywhere from 72 to 84 percent of students ended up taking a second online course at the same school. If this model can expand to more public colleges and universities it may help them compete with private and for-profit universities.

Some of the schools involved in the venture include the University of Arkansas system, the University of Cincinnati, Cleveland State University, Florida International University, Lamar University, the University of Texas at Arlington College of Nursing, Utah State University and the University of West Florida.

Additional schools will join the initiative throughout the year, once they work out the details for providing their own MOOCs. Each course will include the same academic content, and will be taught by the same instructors, as the courses that are currently being offered at participating universities.


“Academic Partnerships Launches MOOC2Degree Initiative,” prnewswire.com, January 23, 2013

“Universities Try MOOCs in Bid to Lure Successful Students to Online Programs,” chronicle.com, January 23, 2013, Steve Kolowich