AUC Offers First Blended Degree in the Region, Pairs with MIT

Pioneering new pathways in education, AUC is now the first University in the region to offer a blended degree, pairing with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to grant MITx MicroMasters online learners credits that would count toward the completion of a full master’s degree at AUC.

AUC is the first University in the world to collaborate with MIT in recognizing credits for this particular online program on Data, Economics, and Development Policy (DEDP), offering a possible pathway to earning a full master’s degree from AUC in economics in international development. The Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, one of the largest privately funded philanthropic education initiatives in the world, will fund eligible Arab students for the DEDP.

This move was instigated following the launch of a program, led by the foundation in collaboration with MIT to build the capacities of AUC and the American University of Beirut (AUB) faculty and instructional designers/staff in blended learning. The broader goal of the program is to develop and promote quality online learning in the Arab world.

“I am thrilled that AUC is the first University in the region to take on the exciting challenge of formally adopting blended learning,” said Maysa Jalbout, CEO of the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education. “This is a visionary move and one that will encourage other universities in the region to follow suit and to open up a new world of higher education opportunities for Arab youth.”

Online Education Counts

MIT offers several online MicroMasters credentials through its online course database, MITx. Participants who complete the online program are given the opportunity to use their earned credentials to complete a master’s degree in person at MIT. With AUC now in the fold, participants will be able to apply these credits toward completion of a master’s degree at the University. “This collaboration is both a reflection of the quality and rigor of AUC’s graduate programs, as well as a great opportunity for wider visibility of AUC globally,” said Adham Ramadan ’91, dean of graduate studies at AUC.

Mona Said, associate professor and chair of AUC’s Department of Economics in the School of Business, added, “Such a collaboration with MIT helps achieve one of our department’s goals of enhancing teaching innovation and serves to emphasize the rigorous study of development economics and evidence-based development policy analysis in our curricula. In addition, the MicroMasters program focuses on the practicalities of running randomized evaluations to assess the effectiveness of social and economic programs and provides students with hands-on skills in this growing area of importance in data analysis.”

Spearheading Blended Learning

This collaboration comes as AUC continues to position itself as a hub for innovation in the region, leading the way in the implementation and support of online and blended learning initiatives such as the MITx MicroMasters program. In a recent panel discussion held at AUC, the two universities joined together with the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education to discuss the importance of pioneering online and blended education in Egypt and the region.

Watch experts from MIT and the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education discuss the benefits and impact of online and blended learning at universities.

The AUC community sees great potential for this program and is eager to be at the forefront of this growing educational movement. “Being an online program, MITx MicroMasters offers educational accessibility to wider global, regional and national audiences,” reflected Ramadan. “This is, I hope, the first step in an evolving collaboration with MIT’s MicroMasters programs and online learning.”

Full-Fledged Master’s  

With AUC offering a pathway for credit opportunities, online learners who complete the MITx MicroMasters in DEDP will be able to earn nine graduate credit hours toward completion of the AUC master’s degree in economics in international development in the School of Business, if accepted into the program. This opportunity will be available to potential applicants to the AUC program in economics in international development starting September 2018. For more on AUC’s admissions process, click here.

As AUC’s master’s program in economics in international development encompasses interdisciplinary elements, students of diverse backgrounds are able to apply for the degree, even if they do not have an undergraduate degree in economics. For these non-economics applicants who are admitted to AUC, two of the online DEDP courses would count toward the prerequisite courses required for the master’s degree.

“We are excited that AUC will offer credit towards their own master’s programs to students who complete the DEDP MicroMasters credential and pass the AUC admissions process,” said Krishna Rajagopal, dean of digital learning at MIT. “We believe that their collaboration will advance the education and careers of many learners who would not otherwise have been able to complete master’s degrees.”

To earn the online certification of the MITx MicroMasters in DEDP, a student must complete five intensive courses and take in-person proctored exams. With the objective of broadening access to higher education, these courses are open to anyone around the globe, with no outlined prerequisites.

MIT has seen immense interest in its MITx MicroMasters programs since launching the initiative more than a year ago. In evaluations and feedback collected from learners who have engaged in the programs, students report a tremendous interest in continuing their education. This points to the promise of heightened interest among learners as AUC begins to admit MITx MicroMasters participants into its program.

“We have had over 1,000 learners from the Middle East and North Africa region enrolled in the DEDP courses in eight months,” said Tracy Tan, director of the MicroMasters program and open learning at MIT. “There is a talent pool in the region for AUC to embrace. It is very innovative for AUC to attract talents through the pathway from MITx MicroMasters.”