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10 Ways We Brought Our Mission to Life in 2023

Written by Anant Agarwal on Dec 21, 2023

Related content: Higher Education, Leadership, Digital Education, Impact and Outcomes

Without a doubt, 2023 was one of the most innovative years for education and tech in a decade, thanks to tremendous advancements in generative AI, a greater embrace of alternative credentials and lower-cost degrees across higher ed, and more learners seeing employers as a vital part of the skill-building equation. In looking back at the many successes we’ve achieved in these and other areas with the edX platform and our partners this year, it’s clear to me that 2U’s founding mission—to eliminate the back row in education—is stronger and more vital than ever.

Through our deep commitment to access, affordability, quality, and innovation, we continued to deliver world-class learning outcomes at scale together with hundreds of leading universities and industry experts. Our global online learning platform now connects over 81 million people from all over the world to thousands of online programs to meet every professional moment, from free to degree. In our vision of the world, learners everywhere have access to flexible pathways to personal and professional achievement, and lifelong learning opportunities at every investment level.

High-quality education has the power to create a better future for all—and in 2023, here are 10 ways that 2U made significant strides toward that goal:

1. We leveraged AI for groundbreaking platform innovations.

At 2U, we firmly believe in the potential that AI has to transform education and make learning more engaging, efficient, and effective. For example, on my LinkedIn, I’ve explained why we should embrace, not fear, AI and imagined the possibilities with leaders from Columbia and MIT. This year, we were one of the first online education companies to create new AI-enabled tools on our platform, aimed at empowering learners and educators to achieve world-class learning outcomes. From our in-platform learning assistant edX Xpert to the edX ChatGPT plugin, learners are actively using these tools to discover career-relevant learning pathways, receive learning assistance, and get real-time support.

2. We propelled our AI content velocity to greater speeds and heights.

With generative AI taking the world by storm in 2023, 2U jumped headfirst into the action by creating innovative online programs designed to rapidly equip learners with the core knowledge and skills they need to excel in the dynamic world of AI. In the alternative credentials space, we launched both AI boot camps and shorter-form AI and machine learning MicroBootCamps™ with several of our partners, ranging from Columbia University to Ohio State University to UNC-Charlotte. Additionally, we launched our own free courses on chatGPT, generative AI, and prompt engineering and announced a $10,000 disruptively priced AI online master’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, which The New York Times called “the first of its kind among elite computing schools.” The edX platform now features over 450 courses and programs centered on AI and machine learning.

3. We gave employers better ways to upskill, reskill, and develop their people.

According to our 2023 research report on AI learning in the workplace, 84% of employees expect their employer to provide the education they need to stay up to date with the changing skill sets in their industries. That’s one reason why over 1,000 enterprise customers use edX For Business as a more holistic way to upskill and reskill their people and drive impact. In 2023, we expanded our enterprise solution to include edX Academies. These curated, cohort-based and self-paced learning programs from the edX catalog—ranging from AI to leadership to sustainability—align with the most vital capability areas that employees need across all organizational levels.

4. We deepened our impact with our fast-growing Access Partnerships.

Earlier this year, we were excited to make Fast Company’s annual list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies. The honor recognized our Access Partnerships, which bring together regionally connected universities, companies, governments, and workforce development agencies to create free or substantially cost-reduced pathways to job-relevant tech skills for groups that have historically been underserved by the traditional education system. Throughout 2023, we continued to add to this initiative through partnerships with Verizon, Drake State Technical and Community College, and Jobs for the Future.

5. We reached 50,000 online degree graduates.

We kicked off the year with a meaningful milestone: over 50,000 graduates from our university partners’ online degree programs. We celebrated building over 180 degree programs with our partners across 29 unique disciplines and high-demand fields of study, including healthcare, business, and technology. And for licensure-based disciplines such as education, nursing, social work, counseling, and physical therapy, our clinical placement team had reached, from inception, supporting over 26.5 million hours of virtual and in-person field placements in all 50 states.

6. We launched hundreds of new open courses.

In 2023, we launched over 700 new open courses on the edX platform. A few of the many highlights included our own free, bite-size Try It courses, a suite of offerings in consciousness and medicine from Dr. Deepak Chopra, and several professional certificates including programs from Lufthansa on aviation technology, AWS on cloud solutions architecture, Tel Aviv University on viruses and pandemics, HP Inc. on esports management, game design, and programming, Osmosis from Elsevier on healthcare foundations, and Intuit on QuickBooks.

7. We expanded affordable degree options with our “flex” university partnership model.

Driven by the unprecedented demand for our “flex” degree model, 2U continued to launch new and expanded partnerships with universities throughout 2023, including adding a Master of Management from the University of California, Davis and a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership from Arcadia University. We also announced that more than 50 new online degrees will be added on edX next year, ranging from four master’s degrees from Hawai'i Pacific University to several undergraduate and graduate degrees from Maryville University in cutting-edge fields such as AI, healthcare management, and cybersecurity. Many of these programs will meet growing student demand with competitive pricing.

8. We continued our commitment to transparently reporting on impact and outcomes.

Released this past summer, our 2022 Transparency & Outcomes Report highlights important metrics and stories in our journey to deliver world-class learning outcomes at scale alongside the world’s top institutions. Following our industry-leading Transparency Framework, the report reflects our continued commitment to publicly sharing key facts, figures, and insights about our partnerships, programs, and the edX platform. The publication combines dozens of data points with several learner spotlights and partner case studies such as George Washington University, Morehouse College, Netflix, the UK Department for Education, and the University of Oxford.

9. We brought hundreds of university leaders together in DC for our edX Global Forum.

In October, 2U convened over 350 academic and industry leaders from over 150 institutions and 17 countries at our 2023 edX Global Forum. This first joint meeting of 2U and edX’s partner networks included over 25 panels and sessions featuring 70 diverse voices in education, business, and the nonprofit sector. At the event, we also presented the 2023 edX Prize for Exceptional Contributions in Teaching and Learning to Curtin University for its online course on Autism and Mental Health.

10. We added passionate, experienced visionaries to our leadership team.

Among the many talented individuals we brought to 2U in 2023, Aaron McCullough, Chief Product Officer joined our leadership team in July and Virginia Fletcher, Executive Vice President, Head of Technology joined in September. This was also the fourth consecutive year that 2U was named to the Bloomberg Equality Index, demonstrating our continued commitment to promoting gender equality and equity throughout the organization and working to build a culture of belonging and respect.

As we close the chapter on a year marked by both exciting achievements and new challenges, it's evident that the landscape of higher ed is undergoing profound change. Amidst this dynamic backdrop, 2U continues to be a pivotal innovator and partner in crafting a better future for all through high-quality online education.

Learn more about us.

At 2U, we’re on a mission—to eliminate the back row in higher education and help partners thrive in the digital age. To learn more about who we are and what we do, follow the links below.