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edX Announces Stackable Undergraduate Credit Offering, MicroBachelors

By Henry Kronk
January 08, 2020

On January 8, edX, the non-profit academic and professional training platform, announced a suite of courses that would allow online students to earn and accumulate transferable college credit. The new offering is known as MicroBachelors.

The organization says MicroBachelors are intended primarily for adults who have attended college, but did not graduate. With these online courses, students can make up credits to fill a whole degree.

edX MicroBachelors Will Allow Learners to Pursue College Credit with Industry-Aligned Courses

But they’re also designed to deliver in-demand skills to make professionals better-equipped and more attractive to future or current employers. Two MicroBachelors courses are initially available: IT Career Framework offered by Western Governors University (WGU), the school’s first edX course, and Computer Science Fundamentals from New York University. Plans are set to launch a Professional Writing course from Arizona State University in the near term, and others are expected to follow shortly.

“edX was founded on the mission to increase access to high-quality education for everyone, everywhere and MicroBachelors programs are the next step forward in fulfilling that mission,” said edX Founder and CEO Anant Agarwal, in a statement. “These programs are a significant step towards making a key academic milestone — the Bachelor’s degree — accessible and doing so in a way that positively impacts the members of our workforce most at risk to be displaced by automation and other changes in the workplace. We are thrilled to be able to collaborate with our academic and industry partners to offer these programs that enable continuous, lifelong learning and promise immediately applicable skills and knowledge with a valuable credit-backed credential.”

A group of companies and foundations partnered to fund and support the launch of the MicroBachelors programs. These include Boeing, Walmart, Yidan Prize Foundation, the Lumina Foundation, Truist Foundation, and the Jeremy M. and Joyce E. Wertheimer Foundation.

The edX MicroBachelors program will be supported by a new group, the MicroBachelors Program Skills Advisory Council. The council will be comprised of members of the founding companies and foundations, along with representatives from certain academic institutions.

MicroBachelors courses will cost roughly $166 per credit, ranging in total price from $500 to $1,500 depending on the course.

After Long-Offering Stackable Master’s-Level Credentials, the Organization Brings a Focus to Undergraduate Credits

edX MicroBachelors will be one of the few—if not the only—online courses to pair industry-aligned skill development with college credit at a low cost.

Some stakeholders and industry leaders see huge potential for this model.

“Technologies such as AI are increasingly changing the workforce, so the nature of education will have to evolve accordingly,” said Guillermo Miranda, vice president and head of IBM Corporate Social Responsibility, in a statement. “To give people the right skills and credentials for in-demand positions, and to meet employees where they are, stakeholders now need to offer a spectrum of resources for online and in-person instruction, as well as immersive, experiential learning. MicroBachelors programs are innovative as they can play a valuable role in these offerings.”

edX hopes to soon create enough credit-backed courses to be able to offer full degree programs. The organization already offers numerous online full master’s degrees, along with more stackable master’s-level courses.

Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons.