Thomas Edison State University will be a provider of college credit for the newly announced MicroBachelors™ Programs created by edX.org, the trusted platform for learning. These programs will be the first credit-backed stackable credential, marking a significant milestone in online learning and will deliver immediately transferable skills to meet the real-world needs of employers, while providing a pathway to a full Bachelor’s degree.
MicroBachelors programs are designed for adults without a college degree who believe they need additional education to advance in their careers. This group, like the majority of Americans, cannot afford a traditional Bachelor’s degree and cannot take the time away from work to pursue one. Additionally, the rate at which technological change is affecting the global workforce means that adults need immediately transferable skills that can be delivered in months, not years.
“Thomas Edison State University was founded to create innovative ways to deliver flexible, high-quality collegiate learning. We are proud to collaborate with edX to continue this tradition and play a key role in expanding access to high-quality undergraduate education for nontraditional students and workers with edX’s MicroBachelors programs,” said Dr. Merodie A. Hancock, president, Thomas Edison State University. “By recognizing MicroBachelors programs for credit, we are creating yet another diverse and alternative method to gain access to a relevant and affordable undergraduate education.”
Breaking down the barriers of time and money, MicroBachelors programs are affordable, priced between $500 and $1,500 (roughly $166 per credit), and can be completed fully online, allowing working adults to complete the coursework on their own schedule. The programs are independently valuable as the rigorous content is created by academic institutions with input from industry leaders to deliver immediately transferable skills for the workplace. In addition, since the programs are backed by credit, once earned, learners can elect to apply credit from one of edX’s university credit partners toward a full Bachelor’s degree. MicroBachelors programs fit into edX’s vision to transform the delivery of education in a modular, stackable way.
The first MicroBachelors programs are IT Career Framework from Western Governors University (WGU), which is recognized for credit by WGU and Computer Science Fundamentals from New York University (NYU), which is pending recognition for credit by TESU. Additionally, Arizona State University will be offering Professional Writing, with further offerings to be announced.
Corporations like IBM see value in new kinds of programs such as these to meet workplace upskilling and employability needs.
“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. "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.”
Development of MicroBachelors programs is funded by Boeing, Lumina Foundation, SunTrust Foundation (now Trust Foundation), Walmart, Jeremy M. and Joyce E. Wertheimer Foundation and Yidan Prize Foundation. This diverse group of supporters recognize the importance of addressing the global workforce education challenges that companies and workers face.
“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. “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.”
edX is also launching the MicroBachelors Program Skills Advisory Council — a groundbreaking group of select foundations, corporations and academic institutions that will work to identify the core skills and learning pathways that MicroBachelors programs should deliver on.
edX will be announcing additional MicroBachelors programs and new credit pathways that stack into full degree options in the future. To learn more about MicroBachelors programs on edX, visit www.edx.org/microbachelors.