The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has joined a consortium of leading universities to announce a new program that will offer online courses for undergraduate students.
Called Semester Online, the program is the first-of-its-kind program to offer online, for-credit undergraduate courses through a consortium of top-tier universities.
In addition to UNC, consortium members include Brandeis University, Duke University, Emory University, Northwestern University, University of Notre Dame, University of Rochester, Vanderbilt University, Wake Forest University and Washington University in St. Louis.
Semester Online will begin in fall 2013. Courses will be available to academically qualified undergraduate students attending consortium schools and other top U.S. schools. UNC is the only public university in the consortium.
“Joining the Semester Online consortium is a natural next step for UNC-Chapel Hill to enhance the access our students have to new ideas and information,” said Ron Strauss, executive vice provost and chief international officer. “The University’s participation, through the Kenan-Flagler Business School, is consistent with our mission of preparing students to become the next generation of leaders for North Carolina, our nation and the world.”
The consortium is partnering with 2U, formerly known as 2tor, to offer the classes through its virtual classroom environment and interactive platform.
Classes will feature many of the same elements that 2U provides to its master’s degree program partners, including professor-led live class sessions that will be limited to 20 students; richly produced, self-paced course materials; and a strong social network that allows students to connect and build relationships with their classmates online.
UNC already offers two graduate degree programs with 2U: MBA@UNC, an online master of business administration program with UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, which started in July 2011, and MPA@UNC, a master of public administration program with the UNC School of Government.
UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School will develop the university’s first classes for Semester Online.
“Our decision to offer MBA@UNC has been strategically important and the program has benefitted our entire school. Just as importantly, our MBA@UNC students are thriving,” said James W. Dean Jr., dean of UNC Kenan-Flagler. “We have demonstrated that online education can be rigorous, provide greater access and flexibility for students, and provide the interaction and strong connections that we value in the on-campus learning experience. Offering courses from our top-ranked undergraduate business program will now help us to meet the strong demand for business courses by college students.”
Information about Semester Online courses and the application process will be available in early 2013. The consortium anticipates adding a small number of institutions prior to the program launch.
Semester Online courses will feature primarily the same faculty and curricula as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, with additional courses designed for the online format in the future. Through a state-of-the-art virtual classroom, students will participate in discussions and exercises, attend lectures and collaborate with peers while guided by renowned professors—as close to the on-campus class experience as is currently possible online.
“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.”
UNC media contact: Allison Adams, , (919) 962-7235
2U media contact: Chance Patterson, cpatterson@2U.com, (301) 892-4414
For more information, please visit semesteronline.org.