2U Annual Report

An Integrated Platform

Enabling great colleges and universities to bring their degree programs online to transform the way higher education is delivered.


Through our integrated Platform, a fusion of cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology and technology-enabled services, 2U, Inc. provides schools with the comprehensive operating infrastructure they need to attract, enroll, educate and support students globally.

Blending live face-to-face classes, dynamic course content and real-world learning experiences, 2U’s No Back Row™ approach ensures that all qualified students have access to a high-quality university education that matches or exceeds the on-campus experience for the most successful outcomes.

1. Attract

At 2U, we believe that successful student outcomes begin by matching the right students to the right programs at the right schools.

Our program marketing team employs a data-driven approach to evaluating potential schools and programs and to acquiring students for the programs we support. We seek relationships with universities committed to academic excellence and degree programs that are in high demand. We work with each of our university clients to attract not just any students, but the right students for their programs.

Proprietary Program Selection Algorithm

2U uses a proprietary program selection algorithm to forecast enrollment for various programs offered by potential university clients. The algorithm draws on key market variables, including the existing market size for a degree, potential student demographics and university client characteristics. Incorporating data into our process for identifying new programs and clients allows us to systematically identify degrees at colleges and universities that we believe have the highest probability of succeeding. Not only does this process enable us to invest capital with greater confidence, it also provides our clients with greater assurance of, and visibility into, each program’s potential success.

Marketing and Student Acquisition

2U leverages our customer relationship management (CRM) applications and other technology within our Platform to devise unique marketing strategies that maximize student acquisition for each program. We provide dedicated program marketing services to drive student applications for each client program, and our marketing team develops creative assets, such as banner advertisements and vertical-specific websites, with the aim of cost-effectively reaching prospective students. We also employ search engine optimization and other demand generation tools to find the right prospective students at the optimal time in their search.

2. Enroll

2U’s Platform is integrated into our university clients’ existing systems, allowing us to work with universities and prospective students to facilitate seamless application and enrollment processes.

Application Advising

2U’s program-dedicated teams work with prospective students as they consider and apply to our client universities’ programs using our proprietary application system, the Online Application and Recommendation System (OARS). We have integrated OARS with the primary marketing site for each program, allowing us to directly funnel prospective students into each university’s existing application process and automate workflow for that process. Once a candidate has submitted a completed application package through the OARS portal, the system routes the candidate’s application to the university’s admissions office. University staff and faculty then review the application within our portal and render the final admission decision.

Customer Relationship Management

2U configures customer relationship management (CRM) tools for each client program. These tools are used as a centralized data hub to facilitate work flow items such as scheduling, student acquisition, the admission application, faculty admissions reviews, enrollment and student support. Our university clients and our staff, as appropriate, can review, maintain and track relevant information to ensure that all operational functions are properly coordinated.

3. Educate

2U’s innovative online learning environment, which we refer to as Online Campus, enables our university clients to offer high-quality asynchronous educational content together with instructor-led classes that are held in a live, intimate and engaging setting.

Live classes in 2U-enabled programs are accessible through proprietary web-based and mobile applications. This virtual classroom experience is enhanced by extensive social networking capabilities that allow students and professors to benefit from ongoing interaction and collaboration.

This approach enables our clients to provide a personalized learning environment for faculty and students, while also supporting a large and robust online educational community.

Virtual, Live Classes and Groups

Small-group online class sessions are held through a live video feed with the instructor and his or her students. Each student has a front row seat in the virtual classroom and is face-to-face with his or her peers and instructor. Instructors can lead group discussions, customize the virtual classroom to their individual teaching styles and display documents, images, charts, notes and videos.


Average number of students per live class session in 2014

Approximately 153,000

Number of live classes hosted Inception to date, as of 12/31/14

The classroom also features tools that facilitate collaboration in live sessions, such as breakouts for group work and student discussions. Every live class is recorded, archived and made available to faculty and students for future reference.

Watch the live classroom experience

High-Quality, Engaging Content

2U works directly with our university clients’ faculty members to translate course curricula into engaging, dynamic online course content. Working with faculty, we build highly interactive course lectures, video, individual and group assignments, and assessments that can be delivered online.

Watch the lightboard lesson

We have developed technology solutions to augment our content delivery capabilities, including our Bi-Directional Learning Tool™ or BLT™, a technology initially created to facilitate teaching law using the Socratic method. This technology enhances interaction between faculty members and students, both individually and as a group, by blending course assignments and real-time feedback in the online environment.

Dynamic Social Networking

Online Campus features an intuitive social interface that connects students to members of their university community, including faculty, classmates and administrators. The interface supports customizable social profiles, multimedia postings, and dynamic communication and notification tools designed to supplement the live classroom experience and promote meaningful relationships.

Real-World Learning Experiences

Practice-based learning is a pillar of every 2U enabled program; all programs have a real-life, in-person learning requirement.

2U supports programs, such as social work or teaching, that require students to complete on-site clinical placements. Leveraging a geo-location database, our placement team works closely with faculty members to identify and approve placement sites that meet program-specific curriculum requirements and are in or near each student’s own community.

Our placement team has facilitated more than


individual field placement

At nearly


placement sites around the world Inception to date, as of 12/31/14

Programs that do not require fieldwork feature in-person immersions. Immersion experiences offer students a chance to learn outside of the online classroom. Students meet in person with their classmates and professors in cities around the world to network, learn and hear from leaders in their field. We assist many of our university clients in the immersion delivery, providing both operational support and on-site execution.

4. Support

2U’s commitment to successful student outcomes continues throughout a student’s time in his or her program, and our dedicated support services are a central pillar of our bundled service offering.

Satisfied Users
Graph comparing the Net Promoter Score of the iPad (67%), Netflix (54%), 2U Programs (68%), and Amazon (65%)
Our measure of student and faculty satisfaction (Net Promoter Score) rivals industry giants such as Amazon, Netflix and Apple iPad.

We are committed to delivering technology and services that ensure every student and faculty member is fully supported throughout the life of each program.

Student and Faculty Support

2U supports each student’s academic experience by assigning a dedicated advisor to act as a non-academic resource.

We piloted a new student coaching service during 2014 to identify at-risk students and ensure they are given the support they need, which resulted in increased retention. This program will be rolled out more broadly across our program portfolio starting in 2015.

Students may also access our technical support team, which supports and trains students as they acclimate to the online platform. We also train university administration and faculty to use our platform to facilitate outstanding live instruction online.

Accessibility Services

2U supports the learning of all students, and the educational experience delivered through our Online Campus is accessible to students with disabilities. The Online Campus can support screen reading, captioning, and subtitling technology. Voice-over descriptions are available for video coursework, and live classes can include sign language interpretation and real-time captioning.