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University Joins Innovative Online Education Initiative

05/09/13
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By Jack Dunn | Director of News & Public Affairs

Published: May 9, 2013

Boston College has joined six other leading teaching and research universities in forming Semester Online, the first education consortium to offer for-credit online courses to academically qualified undergraduate students.

Beginning this fall, Semester Online will offer courses through a consortium of top-ranked universities that includes Boston College, Brandeis University, Emory University, Northwestern University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Notre Dame, and Washington University in St. Louis.

In partnership with 2U, the nation’s leading online education provider, the courses will feature live class sessions with leading professors, self-paced course materials, and a strong social network that will allow students to collaborate and establish personal relationships with peers online and with the host institution’s teaching staff.

Boston College will provide two academic courses when the program is launched this fall: How to Rule the World, taught by Behrakis Professor of Hellenic Political Studies Robert Bartlett; and Vietnam: America’s War at Home and Abroad, taught by Associate Professor of History Seth Jacobs.

“Boston College is pleased to partner with Semester Online in offering this first-of-its-kind service to qualified students who desire to take online courses with some of the best professors at seven of the nation’s leading universities,” said Provost and Dean of Faculties Cutberto Garza. “It is an exciting opportunity to explore this consortial approach to online undergraduate education and share our teaching excellence with a wider audience in partnership with peer schools and the nation’s leader in online education.”

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“By making for-credit online undergraduate coursework a reality for these top schools, Semester Online represents an important milestone for undergraduate education, one that will influence the wider adoption of for-credit online learning across all of higher education,” said Chip Paucek, co-founder and CEO of 2U. “Semester Online demonstrates 2U’s mission to help great schools go online and provide high-quality learning experiences for credit, empowering students to continue their education as they follow their ambitions anywhere.”

Beginning this fall, Semester Online will be available to academically qualified students attending consortium schools and other schools across the country and throughout the world. The regular tuition consortium students pay to their home institutions will cover the cost of taking a class offered through Semester Online during the academic year. Students from external institutions will pay a fee for each course. Unlike the limitless enrollments of so-called Massive Open Online Courses, known as MOOCs, Semester Online courses will be capped, with individual sections limited to no more than approximately 20 students.

Through the online platform created by 2U, classes will combine live and online elements and encourage students to collaborate through virtual classrooms and working groups. Students will be able to learn online through lectures, demonstrations and exercises and will collaborate with peers through online small group sections.

Semester Online will begin accepting applications from students to enroll in the inaugural semester this fall. Students who are currently enrolled in a four-year, regionally accredited institution and are in good academic standing are eligible to apply.  In addition to those being offered by BC, fall 2013 semester online courses include:

Emory University — Drugs and Behavior; Baseball and American Culture; History of Religions in America

Northwestern University — Integrated Marketing Communications

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — Financial Accounting and Reporting; Leading and Managing: An Introduction to Organizational Behavior

University of Notre Dame — Shakespeare and Film; The Rise of Christianity

Washington University in St. Louis — Environmental and Energy Policies

“The two courses we are offering this fall are popular courses offered by two of Boston College’s most respected and imaginative professors,” said Garza. “Students who sign on through Semester Online will enjoy the rigorous learning experience and the opportunity to learn from two dynamic educators who are outstanding scholars in their respective fields.”      

Additional Information about Semester Online courses and the application process is available at www.semesteronline.org.