By Nikhil Sinha, Chief Business Officer
For many people, a master’s degree from a top university is critical to make a significant career change. Coursera and our partners are committed to making these high-value credentials more accessible to learners around the world. Today, we’re excited to announce two new additions to our expanding degrees catalogue:
- Master’s in Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OMIE) from HEC Paris; one of the top business schools in the world and our first degree with an international partner.
- Master’s of Accounting (iMSA) from the University of Illinois; one of the top two accounting programs in the US.
As The Economist pointed out in a special report earlier this year, lifelong learning is becoming an economic imperative. Rigorous, flexible, and affordable online master’s programs are an essential part of this new education paradigm. Degrees on Coursera – those launching today, and the University of Illinois’ business and data science degrees, which launched last year – are designed with diverse lifelong learners in mind. Every one of these programs offers:
Stackable certificates – Unlike traditional degrees, which are an all-or-nothing endeavor, the degrees that we offer on Coursera empower learners to earn valuable micro-credentials as they progress. We’re pioneering this model with our partners because we know that for lifelong learners, life sometimes intervenes – and a student who completes 90% of a degree curriculum shouldn’t come away with no credential at all. The OMIE and iMSA will be as selective as these school’s other degrees, but they will also be flexible, allowing prospective students to start learning immediately on Coursera with open enrollment courses and Specializations. Once admitted, students can apply their course certificates towards their degrees.
Admissions for non-traditional students – When students are admitted, their progress in open-enrollment courses and Specializations is applied to the program requirements. This gives students an opportunity to “sample” the degree before making a commitment to the full degree – a model that is especially beneficial for learners with non-traditional educational backgrounds or who may lack necessary foundational knowledge. For example, students admitted into the Illinois iMBA are older on average than typical full-time on-campus MBA students. In the Illinois Master’s of Computer Science in Data Science, 38 percent of the first admitted class does not have an undergraduate computer science degree. We are excited for the potential of open online courses to enable academic performance to play a larger role in degree admissions.
Affordability – Cost is often the biggest barrier to a master’s degree. Online degrees can be offered more affordably than equivalent on-campus degrees, without sacrificing academic rigor or instructional quality. Additionally, because of the role that inexpensive open-enrollment courses and Specializations play in these programs, students don’t have to commit financially to the full degree to gain access to a significant amount of the degree content.
Global recognition – Both of the degrees launching today come from world-renowned universities:
- The University of Illinois is one of the world’s 30 most powerful university brands, and currently offers one of the top two accounting programs in the US. Whether you are working for a big four accounting firm, or want to pursue an independent career as a CPA, their Master’s in Accounting (iMSA) degree will give you an edge in a complicated and competitive field.
- HEC Paris is a 135 year-old institution known for producing world-class innovators and entrepreneurs. Whether you’re an innovator working on your own startup idea, or an intrapreneur incubating an idea in a large company, their Online Master’s in Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OMIE) degree will accelerate your impact through collaborative projects and mentoring by seasoned entrepreneurs.
Master’s degrees are one of the most coveted academic accomplishments, and often a critical credential for many who want to significantly improve their career prospects. Yet they remain expensive and exclusive, reaching very few. By expanding our degree offerings, we hope to give people the broadest possible choice of education opportunities with the lowest possible barriers.17