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Semester Online, a program that will offer for-credit online courses to undergraduate students, announced this week that Baylor University, Southern Methodist University and Temple University have joined its initiative as Charter Affiliate partners.
As participants in Semester Online, undergraduates at Baylor, SMU and Temple will engage in rigorous online courses taught live from a consortium of top colleges and universities. These include Boston College, Brandeis University, Emory University, Northwestern University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Notre Dame and Washington University in St. Louis. Duke University, which originally announced plans to participate, withdrew from its contract with 2U.
"Semester Online's teaching institutions provide distinctive course offerings for undergraduates in an online learning experience that matches the rigor and richness of on-campus classrooms," said Ed Macias, chair of the Semester Online consortium and Provost Emeritus of Washington University in St. Louis, in a statement.
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Students who participate in Semester Online courses at Charter Affiliate partner schools will combine the online courses with their regular on-campus classes. They will receive full academic credit for courses they complete through Semester Online, which will count towards the completion of their degrees.
The company behind this initiative is 2U. Since it was founded in 2008, 2U has transformed on-campus classes into Web-based courses and provided educational solutions for adult learners, primarily for graduate school programs. 2U will provide the technology, infrastructure support and instructional design for Semester Online.
Because the undergraduate market is sensitive, 2U took the time to plan a program that it anticipates will be successful with younger students. With Semester Online, the company intends to target students aged 18-24, the typical age of undergraduates who live and study on college campuses. 2U hopes to provide a high-quality online education to a younger audience, in particular to students who need to take time off for health reasons or want to travel abroad.
"We think we will build international and abroad opportunities with Semester Online," said Chip Paucek, co-founder and CEO of 2U, of the program's global reach.
Semester Online is set to launch this fall with eleven online courses. Additional courses for the spring 2014 semester will be announced in September. Students participating in Semester Online through Baylor, SMU and Temple, as well as future Charter Affiliate partners, may register for classes after they receive administrative approval from their universities.