2U completes the purchase of edX, creating a free grade platform. (2023)

Months after Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shocked the world of education and technology by announcing that they wouldsell an online platform for a non-profit organizationcreated a technological giant, a merger of two entities, 2U and edX,became final today.

Leaders of both companies said the merger would offer a wide range of educational opportunities and become the "preeminent platform company" in education.

The road up to this point has had its bumps. Many scientists who believed in edX's non-profit mission to expand access to science argued that selling it to a for-profit company would inevitably undermine that vocation, and some of those scientists suggested they could get away with it. (Some of edX's original investors and paying university partners also had more practical concerns that they wouldn't get a share of the $800 million 2U agreed to pay Harvard and MIT for edX.)

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After much wrangling and negotiation, 2U and edX leaders say they have won over most critics of the deal, with edX members uniformly joining 2U's university customers to embrace the promise of a combined entity.

"It couldn't have been better in terms of the reception we've had," Christopher (Chip) Paucek, co-founder and CEO of 2U, said in an interview. "All agreed," said Fr.160 edX members.

“And most of it doubles,” added Anant Agarwal, founder of edX, who will become 2U's director of open education.

That doesn't mean everyone feels hot and fuzzy.

"Philosophically, I don't think anyone is going to change their minds - edX has sold itself to the highest bidder," said an official at one of edX's partner universities, who requested anonymity to express personal, non-institutional views. "But in the cold light of realism, edX was primarily a marketing partner and will likely be better paired with 2U."2U completes the purchase of edX, creating a free grade platform. (1)

Indeed, the many steps 2U and edX are taking to announce the end of the deal include launching a multi-million dollar marketing campaign on Wednesday to promote the companies' partner institutions and their academic programs. This is one of many financial measures offered by 2U, including waiving the fees that edX partners pay to join the consortium and investing $1 million to fund the creation of 10 new courses in "essential human skills for the digital".

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(Video) YCBK 189: 2U buys Edx to expand online courses

Other significant elements of the agreement:

  • The combined entity will include approximately 230 university and corporate partners, offering approximately 3,500 degrees, programs and courses to approximately 40 million students.
  • So far, 27 of the approximately 80 2U partners have agreed to join the edX consortium and offer free open courses for the first time. This includes Howard, Syracuse and Vanderbilt Universities, Morehouse College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • Several edX partners are creating new degree programs using the expanded muscle of 2U. Boston University isstarting a new Masters in Public Healthvalued at $24,000, and Google, IBM, MIT and Harvard have re-engaged with edX with new programs.
  • EdX will become the primary brand under which the combined entity operates, with 2U taking a backseat as the parent company name. (Paucek suggested Google/Alphabet as a comparison.)

"This partnership will dramatically increase our ability to expand access to affordable programs that can change people's lives," said Paucek.

The path to big business

Oend of june announcementThat 2U bought edX assets from the rich universities that spawned it, Harvard and MIT, was part education history, part technology history, part business history. Harvard and MIT advertised this as a way to ensure long-term viability by expanding access to the massive platform of open-source online courses they created as a non-profit nearly a decade earlier to provide access to better funding. and marketing.

They also celebrated it as a way to use proceeds from the sale - a rich return on the $80 million they invested together to get started - to fund a non-profit organization dedicated to "reimagining the future of science for people of all stages of life". , addressing inequalities education, and developing state-of-the-art learning experiences and platforms. (Since June, Harvard and MIT officials have said little about the nature of the new organization. However, following the publication of this article, MIT officials released a statement in which the institute's president, Martin A. Schmidt, said "the non-profit successor edX is... working," and that two working groups established in September reviewed various aspects of how the new organization could deliver. your mission.)

For 2U, business and technology analysts focused on how edX's access to an audience of more than 40 million will provide its university partners with a rich new audience of potential students for their degree, job-oriented short courses and other academic programs - and the most cost-effective way of marketing them.

That would put it in direct competition with another major education platform in the space, Coursera, which originally competed with edX as an open course provider but morphed to operate as 2U, helping universities and companies list and sell their programs online.

While the main parties praised the agreement, others worried and even regretted it.

(Video) 2U's Learning Experience Framework (LXF) - Open edX Conference 2022

"I, for one, feel a strong sense of loss, frustration, and, yes, disappointment," says Steve Mintz, professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin (andblogger at Inside Higher Ed),he was writing at the time.

Mintz was an administrator in Texas when he became one of the founding partners of the edX consortium, and like many people, he preferred edX to Coursera and other platforms because of its nonprofit roots. Not a wide-eyed idealist, Mintz became disillusioned with edX long before that, as he struggled to find a viable financial path.

“EdX has promised that high-quality courses taught by the world's best professors will be available worldwide for free. It was intended to boost technological and pedagogical innovation in online education. This was to create an international consortium of educational researchers and innovators,” he wrote in June. "Spoiler alert: no."

Others cited a range of philosophical and practical problems.

In the old camp there were people like Krishna Rajagopal, a theoretical physicist and former dean of distance learning at MIT, whoresigned from an administrative positionto protest the sale of valuable university assets to a for-profit company. Others at MIT pledged to create a new non-profit platform to host their open online courses; ANDbeta version of this siteit's live, with one of six MIT micromaster courses.

Nelson Baker, dean of professional education at the Georgia Institute of Technology, another edX partner (which also works with Coursera), said in an interview in July that edX encouraged Georgia Tech to create a micro-tutor and that the open platform brought some students to the program" that we couldn't attract individually. But in addition to expressing dissatisfaction with Open edX's technology platform, he said he was concerned about "who will take care of the student" when edX becomes part of a for-profit company whose partnerswere criticizedfor driving students into serious debt.

Dhawal Shah, founder of online course portal Class Central, follows the online learning space andevaluated the 2U-edX dealthere in July as "win for 2U" and "risk for edX". Like other commentators, he recognized the shortcomings of edX acting on its own, including the relative inability to convert many millions of students into students within a small number of degree programs and the limitations of the Open EdX technology platform.

But he ended up among those who voiced philosophical objections: “I am very disappointed in this development. For someone who has followed edX and the MOOC space since day one, this feels like surrender,” he wrote on Class Central. “For years, edX has presented itself as a morally superior alternative to Coursera due to its not-for-profit status. But now they have been relegated to the status of a 'marketplace' that could put thousands of students into debt."

Time has not allayed the fears of some of these critics. Texas-based Mintz said via email Tuesday that "many of us are still asking why edX was sold so quickly without consulting relevant departments and university partners" and to "a buyer better suited to edX's mission ?"

Mintz said he and others were "informally told that edX losses were mounting and subsidies were unsustainable," but "as we now know, returns on MIT and Harvard funds were at record levels. There was no urgent need to sell the edX. The phrase "take the money and run" seems appropriate."

(Video) Open edX 2022 - State of Open edX Address and Opening Keynote by Anant Agarwal

He also said it was unclear "how the sale will accelerate edX's original mission of open learning, research and development of tools and online content. This mission was desperately needed but appears to have been abandoned."

alleviating fears

2U and edX took several steps — both during the making of the original deal and in the meantime — to allay fears and build support for the combined company, though Paucek dismisses the complaints as coming from "an extremely small number of critics."

As part of the negotiations, 2U made a number of commitments to ensure that it would be a good steward of edX's assets and traditions. It has agreed to operate edX as a not-for-profit corporation, protect the intellectual property rights of faculty and universities, maintain free audit trails for edX courses, protect student privacy and help develop the Open edX platform, all for five years. Such alliances put people like Georgia Tech's Baker at ease, though he wonders, "Is five years long enough?"

“Mission Alliances was key to the deal and how the partners felt about what was happening,” said Paucek. "It was really important to have them clearly defined, and that's part of why the process went so well."

In the interview, Paucek and Agarwal took turns talking about how joining forces would help the organizations they led.

Agarwal noted that edX has never run a marketing campaign for its partners' programs, has grown just 13 notches in nearly a decade of operation, and will now have access to hundreds. "And we didn't have boot camps - left to its own devices, it would take X years to build executive training and boot camps," he said.

And edX, Paucek noted, is the 934th most visited website in the world, one position below the White House website, with 150 million visits a year.

"I should be [more protective] of the 2U name — I made the logo years ago," he said. “But edX is a worldwide, global consumer brand and we will support it in every way. I'm glad 2U took a backseat."

The 2U name has obviously become a hodgepodge. The company's critics, including those now in the Biden administration, believe it has allowed (if not encouraged) its partners to charge high fees for their online degrees, so some observers will be skeptical when Paucek says - as he often does - that the purchase from edX will allow the company to lower its prices online.

Marketing to edX students will allow 2U and its degree partners to reduce the cost of multiple credentials by up to 25%, and creating more microcredentials – including in the degree field – will further reduce student spending. he said. The tagline for the combined company appears to be "free to degree".

(Video) Keynote Presentation by Anant Agarwal at the Open edX Conference 2023

"We're doing it right," Paucek said, "and that will keep costs down."

Many will attend.


What is 2U and edX? ›

Today, edX is the global online learning platform and primary brand for 2U, transforming digital higher education and expanding access and affordability across the globe.

Is edX owned by 2U? ›

As the parent company of edX, 2U provides over 40 million learners around the globe with access to world-class education in partnership with more than 230 colleges, universities, and corporations.

Who purchased edX? ›

Lanham, Md. and Cambridge, Mass., November 16, 2021 — 2U, Inc. (Nasdaq: TWOU), a global leader in education technology, today announced it has completed its previously announced acquisition of substantially all assets of edX, a world-leading online learning platform and education marketplace.

Who owns 2U? ›

2U was founded in 2008 by John Katzman (co-founder of The Princeton Review), originally naming it 2tor (pronounced "Tutor") after his dog Tor.

Can edX detect cheating? ›


The proctoring software checks that you (as the person taking the exam) are the same person who is taking the course for credit, and detects any attempts to cheat on the exam. Suspicious behavior will be flagged and reviewed within 3-5 days of exam submission.

Is an edX certificate worth it? ›

Is edX worth it? Yes, edX is worth it. Its courses and certificates are designed in partnership with top Universities like Harvard and Berkeley, so you be reassured they are of the highest quality.

Will edX still be free? ›

Courses on the Free Audit Track of edX are free. You need an edX account to access them and you will not receive a certificate or the chance for graded assignments. How much does edX cost? Upgrading to a Verified Track course on edX will tend to cost between $50 and $300.

How much did 2U pay for edX? ›

While mergers and acquisitions in the education-tech space have been red hot, last week's announcement that 2U is acquiring edX for an eye-popping $800 million still caught everyone by surprise.

Do colleges recognize edX certificates? ›

Most edX open courses do not directly award academic credit. Each educational institution makes its own decision regarding credit. Check with your university for its policy. Please note: edX open courses don't currently offer transcripts or proof of registration for the purpose of obtaining credit.

How does 2U make money? ›

Typical revenue-share agreements in the online program management sector call for companies to receive between 40% and 60%. Lawmakers contend these arrangements encourage companies like 2U to aggressively recruit students, as they make money based on tuition revenue from enrollment.

What has happened to edX? ›

Today, Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and edX announced a joint effort with education technology company 2U to further the reach and impact of online learning across the world. Under the agreement, edX will be converted to a public benefit entity that is fully owned and operated by 2U.

Why did edX sell out? ›

Leaders of edX cited the pandemic as a factor that led to the sale. “Covid drove an explosion in remote learning, which spurred huge investments into edX's commercial competitors,” wrote MIT's president L. Rafael Reif, in an open letter today. “This put edX, as a nonprofit, at a financial disadvantage.

What is the controversy with edX? ›

The course has garnered controversy, with some questioning whether the course objectively teaches Mao's theories, strategies, and policies and calling it a reiteration of the Chinese Communist Party ideology. However, others have expressed the belief that edX should not censor course content.

Who are 2U competitors? ›

Top 10 Alternatives to 2U
  • TalentLMS.
  • Udemy Business.
  • 360Learning.
  • LearnWorlds.
  • MemberPress.
  • Tovuti LMS.
  • Mighty Networks.
  • Thinkific Plus.

What does the 2U do? ›

At 2U, we deliver high-quality digital education at scale. With edX, our leading global online learning platform, we partner with non-profit universities and corporate partners to expand access to world class online education and unlock human potential. 2U, Inc.

Do employers respect edX? ›

Yes, employers do care about edX certificates. But students must work hard and apply for jobs that match their expertise and experience.

Does edX give you a grade? ›

edX certificates do not show your final grade. Earning an edX certificate indicates that you completed the course with a passing grade.

Do colleges look at edX? ›

In addition to the usual things colleges look for, such as grades, recommendation letters and the like, they often like to see evidence of your having gone beyond the classroom and having taken other courses on your own. Your edX certificate from the Harvard mcb80x course is a good way to showcase such an achievement.

Is edX accredited in USA? ›

Is edX Accredited? No, edX is not accredited and does not have federal or state accreditation from the department of education. However, there are accredited degree programs on edX offered by many prestigious institutions such as: Harvard University.

Is edX a Harvard certificate? ›

edX is a non-profit, massive open online course (MOOC) provider founded by Harvard and MIT. It offers free online courses from top schools and institutions, with optional paid certificates. You can also enroll in MicroBachelors, MicroMasters, and master's programs.

Is edX or Coursera better? ›

What are the most significant differences between Coursera and edX? Topics: Both platforms offer a diverse range of subjects. However, Coursera focuses more on professional training, for example computer science and business degrees. EdX offers numerous courses in the humanities and the natural sciences.

Are edX free courses legit? ›

Is edX Legit? edX was founded by scientists from MIT and Harvard and has connections with universities across the globe, so there is no doubt that it is a legitimate company. It has a 4.5-star rating on TrustPilot, and 75% of students left 5-star reviews.

What happens if you don't finish in edX? ›

There are no academic penalties associated with not finishing a course on edX. If you cannot complete a course, you have several options. If you are enrolled in the audit track of a course, you can simply stop taking the course. There is no need to unenroll.

Can I get a job with edX certificate? ›

Many people wonder if they can get a job with edX certificates, and the truth is, with hard work, you can. EdX also has various benefits and additional learning materials to make this easier, this includes: Online quizzes and graded assignments.

Are Harvard edX certificates worth anything? ›

Is a Harvard certificate worth it? Yes, it is worth it. Harvard online certificate programs will take you through high-quality education relevant to the interests you pursue.

Is edX owned by Harvard? ›

edX is an American massive open online course (MOOC) provider created by Harvard and MIT. It hosts online university-level courses in a wide range of disciplines to a worldwide student body, including some courses at no charge. It also conducts research into learning based on how people use its platform.

Why did Harvard sell edX? ›

The proceeds from the transaction will be used to fund a nonprofit organization led by Harvard and MIT that will be focused on “transforming educational outcomes” and “tackling learning inequities.” The nonprofit—as yet unnamed—will partner with community colleges and other educational institutions that serve under- ...

Do edX courses affect GPA? ›

Full Member. It most likely will not count. You will need a transcript from the university for it to count towards your calculated GPA and to get that you will need to be directly enrolled in the university, rather than through a non accredited third party like EdX and Coursera.

How do I get a Harvard edX certificate? ›

edX certificates are delivered online through edx.org. edX does not send physical copies of certificates by mail or email. Once the certificate is available, if you earned a certificate you will find a link to view this on your dashboard. A link will also appear in your profile and on the progress page in the course.

Are Harvard free online courses accredited? ›

Answer- Yes, the courses offered by Harvard University are free of charge. However, if you wish to get a verified certificate from the university, there is a small sum of money that must be paid for. The amount is mentioned in the course details for every course.

What happened to 2U? ›

2U stock is down more than 90% from its peak in 2018, showing that the growth opportunity in higher education software may not be as big as investors once imagined. The company's recent results have also given investors pause as revenue grew just 2% in 2022 and fell 3% in the fourth quarter.

How many customers does 2U have? ›

As the parent company of edX, a leading global online learning platform, 2U provides 48 million learners with access to world-class education in partnership with more than 230 colleges, universities, and corporations.

What is the net worth of 2U? ›

2U, Inc. has a market cap or net worth of $445.52 million as of April 30, 2023. Its market cap has decreased by -45.61% in one year.

Do courses on edX expire? ›

Every course on edX.org, including those which are self-paced will have an end date.

Why can't i pay in edX? ›

This indicates that either the billing address that you entered on the form did not match the billing address you have set with your card company or that the short 3 or 4 digit card verification number (CVV or CVN) that you entered on the form from the back of your card does not match what the credit card company has ...

How many people use edX? ›

edX's total registered users grew to 35 million, up from 25 million last year. Cumulatively, these learners have enrolled 110 million times in edX's courses or programs. In 2020, edX added 13 new partners, including Stanford, Cambridge, and Google.

Is edX destructive? ›

The EDX technique is non-destructive and specimens of interest can be examined in situ with little or no sample preparation.

What are the pros and cons of open edX? ›

Open edX tools encourage self-learning, engage students with interactive content, provide customized learning experiences, and automated intervention based on students' performance. Cons: Open edX has limited third-party integrations.

How many employees work at 2U? ›

2U has 3,772 employees.

How many employees does 2U Inc have? ›

A fast-growing organization, 2U has expanded to 12 offices across four continents with more than 5,000 employees.

Is 2U a SaaS company? ›

The company also provides front-end and back-end cloud-based SaaS technology to academic institutes, industry professionals, e-learners and related clients. It operates in the UK and the US. 2U is headquartered in Lanham, Maryland, the US.

What does 2U means? ›

2U means "To You." The abbreviation 2U is a cyber term used in text-based conversations to mean "To You." For example: Happy birthday 2U!

What does stand 2U mean? ›

For electronic equipment racks (e.g., 19 or 23 inches wide), the term 1U is used to define one rack unit of height. 1U equals 1.75-inches (44.45mm) of rack height. Therefore, a 2U rack mount height would be 2 x 1.75", which equals 3.5-inches high.

Who founded 2U? ›

What does edX stand for? ›

Energy Dispersive X-Ray Analysis (EDX), referred to as EDS or EDAX, is an x-ray technique used to identify the elemental composition of materials. Applications include materials and product research, troubleshooting, deformulation, and more.

What is the purpose of 2U? ›

We believe that great universities must redefine higher education to address the critical needs of society. Universities can change more lives for the better if they embrace digital education that is: High Quality: Science-supported online learning experiences that are designed to drive great student outcomes.

What is edX explained? ›

edX is a mission-driven, massive open online course (MOOC) provider. We partner with the world's leading universities and organizations to offer high-quality online courses to learners across the world. To explore our 3,500+ courses, please visit our course catalog.

What is edX known for? ›

edX is a non-profit, massive open online course (MOOC) provider founded by Harvard and MIT. It offers free online courses from top schools and institutions, with optional paid certificates. You can also enroll in MicroBachelors, MicroMasters, and master's programs.

Are edX courses really free? ›

Courses on the Free Audit Track of edX are free. You need an edX account to access them and you will not receive a certificate or the chance for graded assignments. How much does edX cost? Upgrading to a Verified Track course on edX will tend to cost between $50 and $300.

Do edX grades matter? ›

edX certificates do not show your final grade. Earning an edX certificate indicates that you completed the course with a passing grade.

What does 2U and 4U mean? ›

Devices designed to fit into rackmount systems come in a range of heights, from 1U to 4U. A 1U panel is 1 Rack Unit tall, a 2U is 2 Rack Units tall and so on. A 42U rack cabinet has the capacity to fit 42 1U pieces of equipment or 24 2U devices.

Can you put edX courses on resume? ›

Yes, you can use edX certificates on your resume. EdX has many high-quality courses, and it doesn't cost much to earn a certificate on the verified track. Adding edX courses to your resume is a fantastic way to impress potential employers and prove your skills.

How reliable is edX? ›

Is edX Legit? edX was founded by scientists from MIT and Harvard and has connections with universities across the globe, so there is no doubt that it is a legitimate company. It has a 4.5-star rating on TrustPilot, and 75% of students left 5-star reviews.

Who is edX target audience? ›

EdX learners range in age from 7 to 96, distributed as follows: Continuing learners (25+) — 63%. University age students (19–24) — 29%. High school students (13–18) — 8%.

Does edX help with college? ›

You will also have access to comprehensive support from an admissions counselor, an academic advisor, and career services. edX undergraduate credit courses: EdX offers a few individual courses which learners can purchase academic credit after successful completion on the verified track.


1. Open edX Meetup - Advanced Assessment & Open edX Ecosystem
(Open edX)
2. LMS Amplifier: Extending the Horizons of Your Platform Through Automated Integrations
(Open edX)
3. Open edX Product Roundtable
(Open edX)
4. State of Open edX Address
(Open edX)
5. 2U CEO Chip Paucek On How His Company Is Trying To Disrupt Higher Education Forever
(Miami Herbert Business School)
6. Open edX Meetup - Online Learning Solution
(Open edX)
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