When Yale announced it last week that it would offer its first fully online degree, the backlash was almost immediate. Students and alumni of of the physician assistant program that Yale will offer online vocally opposed the move, urging the university to reverse the decision and stoking a letter-writing campaign. At a meeting in the wake of the announcement, they warned that offering an online degree would devalue the program, the profession, and the university.
On the student newspaper’s article about the move, the most popular comment read simply: “This seems like an unbelievably bad idea.”
But the idea received a much more positive response from another group: investors in 2U Inc., the online education company that is partnering with Yale to offer the degree. 2U’s stock is up 24% since the announcement, and its market capitalization is now just shy of $1 billion — a rapid rise for a company that had flown relatively under the radar since it went public last April. It is not yet profitable, but revenues have grow steadily , and it expects to turn a profit by 2017.