WUSTL leads effort to launch transformative Semester Online program

Washington University in St. Louis has taken a leadership role in helping to shape the future of online education by being a catalyst to bring together a consortium of the nation’s leading colleges and universities that plans to launch Semester Online.

This program is transformative and a new model for online education, offering undergraduate students the opportunity to take rigorous online courses for credit from consortium schools.

“WUSTL has been deliberate in its approach to online education, looking for an opportunity that extends the reach of our academic offering, while providing a learning experience that is as rich and robust as our in-classroom experience,” says Edward S. Macias, PhD, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at WUSTL and leader in organizing the consortium.

Semester Online will be a first of its kind, offering credit toward a degree and the very latest in online education technologies and techniques.”

In addition to WUSTL, consortium members include Brandeis University, Duke University, Emory University, Northwestern University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Notre Dame, University of Rochester, Vanderbilt University and Wake Forest University.

Beginning in fall 2013, Semester Online will be available to academically qualified students attending consortium schools as well as other top schools across the country.

Information about Semester Online courses and the application process will be available in early 2013. The consortium anticipates adding a small number of institutions prior to next year’s launch.


“All consortium schools will be working with their respective faculty, staff and students to operationalize the program prior to launch next fall,” Macias says. “There are some details to finalize, however, it is tremendously exciting that this group of leading institutions has come together and is committed to moving forward the concept of Semester Online.”

Initial Semester Online courses will feature primarily the same faculty and curricula as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, with additional courses designed for the online format to be included in the future.

Through a state-of-the-art virtual classroom, students will participate in discussions and exercises, attend lectures and collaborate with peers while guided by renowned professors — as close to the on-campus class experience as is possible online.

Semester Online will offer students unprecedented opportunities for curricula enhancement. They will have the chance to take advantage of unique course offerings from some of the most prestigious institutions in the country, courses they would not otherwise have access to.

They will be able to work, travel, participate in off-campus research programs or manage personal commitments that in the past would have meant putting their studies on hold.

Semester Online also provides exciting opportunities to consortium faculty members. Participating professors will have the chance to take part in a first-class online learning experience and engage with the best and brightest students across the country.

The consortium is partnering with 2U, formerly known as 2tor, the leader in creating online academic experiences for top colleges and universities.

Semester Online will feature many of the same elements that 2U offers its prestigious master’s degree program partners, including live class sessions that connect students and professors; compelling, richly produced, self-paced course materials; and a strong social network that allows students to connect and build relationships with peers online.

WUSTL School of Law is working with 2U to offer @WashULaw, an online Master of Laws in U.S. Law for Foreign Lawyers set to begin classes next semester.

“By making for-credit online undergraduate coursework a reality for these top schools, Semester Online represents an important milestone for undergraduate education, one that will influence the wider adoption of for-credit online learning across all of higher education,” says Chip Paucek, co-founder and CEO of 2U.

Semester Online demonstrates 2U’s mission to help great schools go online and provide high-quality learning experiences for credit, empowering students to continue their education as they follow their ambitions, anywhere.”

For more information, visit semesteronline.org. For a related story, click here.

Additional information about Semester Online courses and the application process will be available in early 2013.