Company bankrolls online health degree

Clarification appended
GW will launch its first online public health master’s degree after collecting a multi-million dollar investment through a partnership with an education startup.

2U, an education startup co-founded by alumnus Chip Paucek, has picked up about $100 million in capital investments in its first four years and is targeting one university per degree area to lift above the competition as online graduate programs multiply across the country.

It will funnel a chunk of that cash back into the School of Public Health and Health Services’ online degree program, just like it has with programs at schools like University of North Carolina and Georgetown University.

The company has invested $10 million up front in each of those programs, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

But the amount GW will receive will depend on the number of students recruited, said Stacey DiLorenzo, the school’s executive director of communications. The public health school is targeting about 50 students for its first cohort, which will start classes in May.

The degree, announced Tuesday with the official name MPH@GW, will use interactive videos and employ top public health school faculty to allow students to take classes at home with weekly video and chat sessions with professors and their peers.

“Through the use of video and interactive technologies, the MPH@GW degree will provide students with a much more robust educational experience, more like a ‘virtual campus’ than a series of online course offerings,” DiLorenzo said.

Students will pay as much for that virtual campus as they would for attending classes on the physical campus, with tuition for the online program equaling the offline fee of $56,160 for 45 credits. DiLorenzo said the program will help students save money by allowing them to earn a GW degree without moving to D.C. or paying the city’s cost of living.

The school’s top faculty will teach the program, maintaining a 10-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

Developing online graduate programs also helps the University build up tuition dollars by sliding under the city-regulated enrollment cap, which limits the number of students that may take classes on the Foggy Bottom Campus.

The University has looked increasingly toward online graduate programs and programs called hybrids that mix online and classroom time. The GW School of Business will launch four online programs with the education company Pearson, which will serve similar functions as 2U will with the public health school.

This article was updated Feb. 8,2012 to reflect the following:
A previous version of this article attributed the $10 million 2U investments to Stacey DiLorenzo, the School of Public Health and Health Services’ executive director of communications. That information has been appropriately attributed to the Chronicle of Higher Education. We regret this error.

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