Bold New Initiatives from the Coursera Conference

Duke Learning Innovation recently returned from Coursera’s annual Partners’ Conference, held at Arizona State University March 6–8, 2018. At the conference, Coursera announced several bold new initiatives. Below, we summarize the big announcements and what they mean for the evolving world of online higher education.

Nine Coursera Degree Programs—Including Coursera’s First Bachelor’s

Coursera announced they would be offering nine degree programs from six universities, signaling a continued move toward deeper, more extended learning experiences.

Building on the success of their iMBA program, the University of Illinois is adding a Master of Computer Science in Data Science, a Master of Computer Science and a Master of Science in Accounting. The University of Michigan is launching a Master of Applied Data Science and  Master of Public Health degrees. Arizona State University will also be offering a Master of Computer Science degree. HEC Paris is currently offering a Master’s in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the Imperial College London is offering a Global Master of Public Health degree.

The University of London announced it will offer a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science—Coursera’s first Bachelor’s degree.

To enhance personalization and interactivity, Coursera announced that they’re incorporating the webinar platform Zoom and the collaboration tool Slack into their degree courses.

Campuses Trying Out Free Courses For Their Students

Coursera for Partners is a pilot program that will allow universities who create courses for Coursera to give their students free access to those courses. It builds on the success of Coursera for Duke, which has been piloting the program since the fall of 2017 and has seen participation from over 600 learners in the Duke community so far.

MasterTrack: High-Touch Learning at a Higher Price Point

Coursera is encouraging university partners to consider a new type of online sub-degree credential offering called a MasterTrack. A MasterTrack, like a Coursera Specialization, is focused on a series of short courses on a topic. MasterTracks differ from Specializations in that they will be longer and provide smaller class sizes, “high-touch” services (such as synchronous Zoom sessions), and teaching assistant support—at a higher cost. Learners can also use MasterTracks to earn 20–25% of the credit toward a Master’s degree at participating institutions.

Continued Support for the UN Sustainable Development Goals

While promoting a variety of new and expanded initiatives, Coursera confirmed its support for its partners’ ongoing work offering courses that support the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Seventeen partner institutions offer such courses; the University of Leiden will continue to lead this initiative through 2018. Leiden will also initiate an ongoing post-course community to encourage partnership and community-building. A highlight of the conference was a keynote by Mariam Kakkar of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on how Coursera’s project management courses have helped the UNDP work more effectively.

Do any of these initiatives resonate with you? If you have any questions or would like more information about a specific program mentioned above, please contact us at