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EdX Partners with Microsoft, GE to Provide Subsidized Courses

Anant Agarwal
Anant Agarwal, an MIT computer science professor, has served as CEO of edX since its establishment in 2012.

Digital learning platform edX is partnering with Microsoft and General Electric to provide Massachusetts residents with subsidized online courses and guaranteed job interviews.

In a November press release announcing the new partnership, edX CEO and MIT professor Anant Agarwal said the program would expand career prospects for residents of the Commonwealth, giving them “the tools they need to gain knowledge in the most cutting edge fields, including Data Science, Cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence.”

Founded in 2012 by Harvard and MIT, edX is an online education platform. The company offers over 16,000 massive open online courses and has enrolled approximately 15 million students, according to edX Vice President of Business Development Lee Rubenstein.

Microsoft will subsidize course fees for Massachusetts community college students taking edX’s introductory Computer Science Professional Certificate course. For six months, starting on May 1, Microsoft will cover tuition for the final segment of the three-part course for students who successfully complete the first two parts.

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In addition, the company is offering 500 coupons for Massachusetts residents to enroll in any Microsoft-developed edX certificate course free of charge.

“By providing students and Massachusetts citizens with the necessary skills to bridge gaps in the tech industry, it helps them open new opportunities and be successful in their careers,” Chris Roy, a senior director at Microsoft, said in a press release.

GE, which began relocating its headquarters from Connecticut to Boston in 2016, is also offering 100 free edX certificates to Massachusetts residents. The company has promised that any Massachusetts resident completing and passing edX MicroMasters programs in Supply Chain Management, Cloud Computing, Cybersecurity, or Artificial Intelligence in 2018 will be offered an interview for either an internship or full-time position.

Announcing the partnership late last year, Governor Charles D. Baker ’79 simultaneously unveiled a Commission on Digital Innovation and Lifelong Learning, tasked with identifying ways to partner with industry and higher education to increase access to online education.

“We appreciate our local employers and higher education institutions creating more online programming to help address the diverse and changing needs of employers and students, including non-traditional learners and young people,” Baker said.

While Rubenstein said the new partnership’s reach cannot be measured until late summer, he said that edX’s collaboration with Microsoft and GE could expand in the future, and that other companies might sign on to similar partnerships.

“All signs are pointing to lots of interest from lots of corporations in students who have completed the MicroMasters courses. They are anxious to find people with these credentials,” Rubenstein said.

In the meantime, Rubenstein said he was optimistic that the program would help advance edX’s mission: to expand access to educational opportunities.

“For many people, they may find a path forward by taking these courses,” Rubenstein said. “This partnership, it’s a table leveler.”

— Staff writer Cindy H. Zhang can be reached at cindy.zhang@thecrimson.com.

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