2U is expanding its partnership with the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) to create seven online bachelor's degree programs, the company announced Tuesday.
The degrees — which include the previously announced data science and business analytics program — are geared toward adult learners, cost roughly $26,000 for international students and take three to four years to complete.
The new degrees will expand 2U's footprint in the undergraduate market as the online program management (OPM) company makes moves to offer a wider variety of credentials.
The University of London and its member institution LSE are transforming seven of their existing correspondence-style programs into interactive online degrees. They include programs that cover economics, business and management.
"Students will now be able to log on to a laptop or mobile device from anywhere to engage with courses designed by LSE's world-renowned faculty and earn an undergraduate degree from the University of London," 2U CEO Chip Paucek said in the announcement.
The news comes six months after the company announced it was partnering with LSE to create an online bachelor's degree in data science and business analytics. That program, which is expected to launch in October 2020 and just recently began accepting applications, marked 2U's entry into the undergraduate market.
Andrew Hermalyn, 2U's president of global partnerships, told Education Dive last month in an email that the company expects demand to grow for "flexible and career-focused" undergraduate programs due to the large share of students who are working during college, as well as the expanding use of online education.
"[C]ompared to ten years ago, we see a much greater level of acceptance that the technology is where it needs to be to deliver high-quality, engaging learning experiences online, especially among Generation Z," Hermalyn said.
Three more programs will launch this year, according to the announcement. Details for the remaining programs were not yet available.
The new programs are not the first partnership between LSE and 2U. Through GetSmarter — an online short-course provider that 2U acquired in 2017 — the university offers a suite of online certificates in topics such as public policy, cryptocurrency and data analysis.
The GetSmarter acquisition and the new undergraduate degrees help diversify 2U's offerings. The company has built its brand on producing high-end graduate degrees.
As more colleges look online, it has become harder to grow enrollment simply by launching a new distance learning program, notes a 2019 report from consultancy Entangled Solutions. 2U grappled with that reality last summer, when its stock nosedived after company officials told analysts they expected to add new graduate programs at a slower pace.
But the company had for several years been making plays to branch out. In early 2019 it partnered with fellow OPM Keypath Education to provide smaller and lower-cost programs. A few months later, it snapped up boot camp provider Trilogy Education Services, adding 32 university partners in the process.