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The University of California, Berkeley, is to become the latest university to deliver an online masters degree in partnership with 2U, the US technology company. Berkeley’s School of Information selected 2U’s interactive learning platform over the university’s own alternative for its new master of information and data science.
The programme will use the same technology that has been in the 2U-supported MBA@UNC degree launched by the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School in 2011, and which graduated its first class this month.
The company’s proven record was pivotal to Berkeley’s decision to partner, according to the school’s dean, AnnaLee Saxenian, who praised the live sessions that recreate a classroom environment. “Our students need to be comfortable working in an online environment, so it is a natural application for us,” she says.
The degree has been launched in response to the proliferation of data and the growing need for professionals who can organise and analyse it. “Every company and organisation today has more data than they know what to do with,” says Prof Saxenian. “Any graduate who knows what to do with [data] will be in great demand.”
The first students will enrol on the one-year programme, which has tuition fees of $60,000, in January 2014. Applicants are expected to come from working professionals with backgrounds in either computer science or the humanities, as well as directly from undergraduate degrees.
Like other 2U-supported degrees, class sizes will be no more than 20. The school’s goal, according to Prof Saxenian, is to have several cohorts per year.
2U, which was founded in 2008, now partners with 10 US universities to deliver online graduate degrees, each in a different academic field. Revenues generated from their programmes are shared between the company and partner universities, although details of these agreements have not been disclosed.
The first courses provided through Semester Online, a joint venture between 2U and seven US universities, will begin this August. The online platform coordinates for-credit undergraduate programmes among its member institutions, which include Northwestern University and the University of Notre Dame.
However, since Semester Online’s announcement last November, four of the original ten members - Duke University, the University of Rochester, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest - have walked away from the nascent consortium. In a vote of confidence for the project, however, Boston College signed up in May.