- MOOC provider edX on Wednesday announced a new degree path that lets students count credits earned in a set of short courses from one university toward a full degree with another.
- Students who want to apply to the new supply chain management master's degree from Arizona State University on edX must first pass a 12-credit, six-course MicroMasters program from MIT, also offered through edX.
- The offering is something of a next step in online education providers' work to develop courses and programs that can be rolled into full degrees and certificates.
EdX is positioning its MicroMasters as a funnel into its full master's programs, and a way to make sure students are cut out for them. It also serves as a non-degree option for students to gain the skills and knowledge needed to change or move up in their job.
"This allows learners to start engaging with master's-level curriculum right away in order to determine if both the online learning experience and the subject matter are a fit, before the master's application deadline," Melanie Andrich, senior director of degree programs at edX, told Education Dive in an email.
MIT's supply chain course set launched in October 2015 as edX's first MicroMasters program. It rolls up into 31 degree programs hosted by MIT or other universities. So far, 1,592 learners have successfully completed it.
Last fall, edX added nine master's degrees to its platform in topics such as analytics, cybersecurity and data science. All edX master's degrees have or will have a MicroMasters component, though not all require one prior to applying for the full degree, Andrich said.
EdX isn't alone in thinking of its offerings as building on each other.
After acquiring boot camp provider Trilogy earlier this year, 2U indicated it would look to embed that company's skills training across its offerings. To start, 2U is working with the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School to incorporate a coding boot camp into an MBA program.
Coursera, which like edX started as a MOOC provider, is also looking at how its programs feed into each other as it expands them in number and type. In January, it announced plans to partner with 15 universities to offer 100 courses, 30 specializations and two master's degrees. And a five-course certificate developed with Google for IT professionals has taken off across higher ed, with more than two-dozen colleges offering credit.
The company is particularly interested in master's-track certificates — similar to MicroMasters — that students can complete as they go and put those credits toward a certificate or a master's degree, CEO Jeff Maggioncalda told Education Dive in an interview last month. He also said the short courses allow colleges "to take one step" toward an online degree without going all-in on one.
"We really see this as a system, and these open courses, as well as master track certificates, are different ways to create much broader access," he said.