Brittany Wagner
Funnyman Owen Wilson describes the University of Phoenix as "the Harvard of Internet colleges" during an interview with Google in the film, The Internship.

"That reputation hasn’t made it out here," responds the Google executive.

While online universities haven’t exactly obtained an “Ivy league” status, they certainly are impacting the education market.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), such as Udacity and edX, provide free access to lectures, readings, and coursework. Participants can receive a certification or credit, which may be used for educational or professional purposes. In January, San Jose State announced a partnership with Udacity to offer remedial courses to incoming freshmen.

Last week, Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO) announced it would explore another type of online model, competency-based education. The model is based on Western Governors University (WGU), which is basically “all-you-can-eat.” Students pay one flat rate per term. This allows students to skip ahead by testing out of modules. It would be possible to earn a degree in one year for under $6,000.


While the quality of these programs and the acceptance by employers is debatable, MOOCs and competency-based programs are competition for state universities like SEMO and San Jose, who have had to adapt to attract students looking for a flexible, low-cost college experience.

About the Author

Brittany Wagner
Education Policy Research Assistant

Brittany Wagner was an education policy research assistant at the Show-Me Institute.