- Papa John's is partnering with Purdue University Global to cover all tuition costs for its 20,000 corporate employees for undergraduate and graduate degrees earned through the online college.
- The Dough & Degrees program is open to eligible employees for any of Purdue Global's associate, bachelor's or master's degrees, including business, information technology, cybersecurity, finance and accounting. The company hopes the program will be a draw for job seekers and help existing employees improve their skills.
- The pizza maker's roughly 70,000 franchise team members are also eligible for "significant" tuition and fee reductions in graduate and undergraduate degree programs, according to a Purdue Global spokesperson.
Papa John's is the latest in a long line of companies to partner with colleges and universities, particularly through distance education, to upskill current employees, attract new hires and increase the knowledge base of their staff.
Online learning has opened access to training for workers at all levels, and businesses are collaborating with schools to offer this benefit to their staffs. Companies want training programs to reflect the current market. In turn, colleges and universities have stepped up to offer their services.
Such efforts to provide free or heavily discounted education to employees mark a shift from the longtime practice of reimbursing employees for tuition expenses, The Wall Street Journal recently reported, acknowledging that having to front the cost can prohibit employees from using the benefit.
Walmart last spring rolled out a program giving employees access to online degree programs in business and supply chain management from the University of Florida, Brandman University and Bellevue University.
Participating employees pay $1 each day toward the program, which a company spokesperson said was developed in response to requests for educational opportunities beyond traditional workplace skills training.
Financial services company Discover recently began covering the cost of tuition, books, fees and supplies for its employees to earn online degrees from Wilmington University, the University of Florida and Brandman. That's in addition to tuition reimbursements for degrees at other colleges.
Arizona State University Online, meanwhile, has grabbed headlines for high-profile partnerships with Starbucks, Uber and the NBA for employees to earn degrees on its platform. On its website, Purdue Global lists technology firm ManTech, Goodyear, Lowe's and several health care providers among its corporate education partners.
These programs tend to be tailored for working adults, who have been a growing share of the college population and a focus of online degree programs. Colleges in general are paying more attention to this group of learners, who may have already completed some postsecondary education and be tight on time and funds due to responsibilities outside of class, such as work and family.