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The web push: Universities begin to offer credits for online courses

Posted on February 27, 2013 | by Klein Aleardi

Courtesy of NYU


The world of online education is rapidly changing and universities are playing a key role by partnering with various sites to offer these courses to students of all ages and levels around the world.

NYU spokesperson Philip Lentz explained that professors can put their lectures or lessons online as a course, but whether a student can receive credit for the course varies among departments.

A few NYU programs do offer degrees online. For instance, graduate degree programs are available at the School of Continuing Professional Studies, and the Polytechnic Institute of NYU offers master’s and certificate programs online through NYU-ePoly.

Furthermore, there are currently nine free, non-credit courses offered online through NYU Open Education. By clicking on the course, anyone can view taped lectures, some available in approximately 40 languages. Students can also join study groups to communicate with other people taking the course.

Other universities have partnered with Massive Open Online Courses providers to make their lectures available for free on the internet. Although NYU is not officially partnered with the organization, Stern professor Aswath Damodaran, who has taught online classes for 20 years, is one of many professors currently posting his corporate finance and valuation courses online through MOOC provider Symynd.

“My courses are for anyone who wants to learn, whether it’s a 75-year-old investor who wants to learn why his portfolio is doing so badly or a high school student who is fascinated with stocks,” Damodaran said.

Tom Huntingford, a student who has attended professor Damodaran’s online courses, found the online class to be more effective than those offline.

“I assimilated the curriculum better than through a normal class as I could do it when it was convenient and could repeat sections I did not understand,” Huntingford explained.

There are many other MOOC providers that partner with universities to make more and more online courses available.

Udacity, one of these MOOC providers, is passionate about making affordable higher education available for anyone. Last December, Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun was among 12 educators who met to draft a bill of rights to protect the interests of online students.

“Our broad goal is to inspire an open, learner-centered dialogue around the rights, responsibilities and possibilities for education in a globally connected world of the present and beyond,” said Clarissa Shen, vice president of business development and marketing at Udacity.

As of January, San Jose State University offers three for-credit courses through Udacity called San Jose State Plus. These courses will cost $150 each.

“San Jose State University must and will take a leading role in leveraging technology to transform [higher education] with the goal of making a college degree affordable and accessible to all,” said SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi in a press release.

While NYU has not made commitments to provide credit for online courses, its future in online education could be changing.

“The university is currently evaluating possible opportunities and challenges of online learning,” said biology professor of biology Mark Siegal, whose genomes and diversity lectures are on NYU Open Education.

A version of this article appeared in the Feb. 27 print edition. Klein Aleardi is a contributing writer. Additional reporting by Nicole Brown. Email them at


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