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Online Education Goes Ivy League

Feb 22, 2010 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

Online education has come a long way. Although some more traditional fields and industries still prefer to see a traditional school on employer resumes, students are flocking to the flexibility and affordability offered by online degree programs—and traditional higher education has had to adapt.

Now, you can find online classes at the best schools in the country. At some schools, you can earn an Ivy League degree without ever setting foot on campus. Here are a few schools that offer online classes, hybrid degree programs, and entire Associate’s, Masters and Bachelor’s degrees online.


This school offers a variety of classes and professional certification programs online under its “eCornell” program. The program is somewhat limited—you can’t get an entire degree online at Cornell, and the online classes don’t apply toward a traditional degree at Cornell. But you can get a range of professional certifications at this prestigious school. And the courses do
count for professional education credits.

The online certification programs are mainly geared toward working adult learners looking to advance their careers, with programs in project management, human resources, finances, leadership and strategic management. They also offer certifications in hospitality. They are accommodating to military personnel and allow people in active deployment to defer classes. And their online programs are accredited by organizations including the Project Management Institute, the Human Resource Certification, Institute, and the American Council on Education.


Harvard’s Extension School is geared toward nontraditional learners. The classes are not offered completely online as of this writing; they combine on-campus and online classes, so you’ll have to be located in the Boston area. However, these hybrid courses can be applied toward an online Associate’s, Bachelor’s or Masters degree at Harvard. You can also take the classes individually without the need to enroll in a degree program.


This school offers over thirty options for Associate’s, Bachelor’s and Masters degrees entirely online. In this program, the classes are fairly structured—you’ll have to make assignment due dates every week—but you also don’t have to meet instructors or classmates at a set time at any point.  Online degrees you can earn at Columbia range from a Bachelor of Arts in History to a Master of Arts in Teaching.


Dartmouth offers online classes geared toward business and executive leadership through its Online Bridge Program, offered through the Tuck Executive School. The program offers 25 business classes designed to educate executives and companies, recent Bachelor’s graduates, Ph.D’s and others.

University of Pennsylvania

Penn offers a selection of courses that are designed both for continuing education for recent grads and for current students to apply toward a traditional degree. Online classes include nursing, medical and dental classes, English language classes for international students, and even an entire MBA degree from Wharton Business School—the “eMBA” degree. The Wharton degree is billed as an online degree program, but it does require some classroom attendance either at Philadelphia or San Francisco campuses.


Yale does offer Open Courseware in a variety of subjects, but its offerings for real, instructor-guided online instruction that applies for credit toward a degree have been thin. Still, Yale is slowly starting to experiment with some form of online education, and you can take a few classes there besides the Open Courseware offerings.

Yale has tentatively begun to offer online course content for continuing education credit to doctors through its YaleCME (Continuing Medical Education) program. The classes can be applied toward a physician’s lawfully required continuing education credits, and mainly consists of multimedia offerings such as video lectures, webcasts and newsletters, and other content.

Higher education is extremely conservative and slow to change—and it’s traditionally been hesitant to accept online education as relevant or legitimate. However, student demand for online classes is very real—and even the Ivy League schools are starting to recognize it. Some Ivy League schools are just barely starting to offer traditional classes with online components and continuing-education classes for professionals online. Others have begun to administer programs that let students earn an entire degree online.

Whether you earn your degree online, traditionally or in a hybrid classroom setting, however, the degree you earn at these schools is sure to be highly respected by employers and graduate programs.




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