By Nicola Wenz
Pepperdine University has partnered with 2U, Inc., an education technology company, to offer online degrees for both the Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology (GSEP) and the Pepperdine University School of Law.
Both the School of Law and the School of Education and Psychology launched their first online courses Sept. 5. This included the Master’s in Legal Studies and the Master of Arts in Psychology. Two other courses are offered by GSEP: The Master of Arts in clinical psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy, which is planned to launch Oct. 2, and the Master of Science in behavioral psychology, which is planned to launch in October 2018.
Rick Marrs, provost and chief academic officer for the University, said 2U only partners with what they consider, “elite universities.” Pepperdine, alongside Yale, USC, Berkeley, Harvard and other top universities, was offered to be part of this program. According to Marrs, 2U has better online productions than any other platform.
“We had people take a look at different online courses,” Marrs said. “2U is the most sophisticated and professional compared to a typical online course you would take. For example when you look at a screen, you can see everyone in your class. All the course materials, video clips, everything can be accessed online.”
Marrs continued by saying the courses are mainly designed by Pepperdine faculty and are then delivered through the 2U platform. They fly the teachers to production studios around the nation to produce these courses. In this case, the initial three instructors for the online program at Pepperdine University will be Dennis Lowe, LaTonya Wood and David Levy.
Levy, professor of Psychology at GSEP, said he is eagerto start the online courses.
“It’s exciting to be on the cutting edge of our next venture,” Levy said.
As a former professional actor and working alongside a media consultant with CNN and CBS, Levy said he is comfortable with working in front of the camera.
“If we try to look around the corner, this is the future of higher education,” Levy said. “It’s good that Pepperdine is getting a jump on this.”
Marrs said he personally visited the 2U offices in the District of Columbia before signing off the partner agreement. He said the company itself consists of young workers who are driven and passionate about their platform. They are also trained to know everything about the university they are offering services to, ensuring professionalism and quality.
According to the 2U website, Pepperdine is now among 24 other universities who also joined the platform since the start of 2U in 2008.
Robert deMayo, associate dean and professor of Psychology, said the courses are open to anyone willing to receive a masters degree.
Through the online program, alumni who are in the professional field can connect to the courses and therefore add to the classroom environment, providing students the liberty and opportunity to ask questions or go through scenarios to help the students gather more knowledge.
According to Levy, the advantages are that there are a lot of students who can’t show up to campus because they live in rural areas or because of their schedule. In this way, they can get on their laptops and do the live components from wherever they may be.
Tuition for the online psychology degree is set to $1,495/unit, which is the equivalent to the regular Malibu on-campus degree. The evening option charges $1,195/unit. DeMayo said, the differences to these two rates are related to infrastructure costs of running the respective programs.
Both Marrs and deMayo say the value of the online degree is of equal value to the degree received on campus.
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