Why is this the best path forward for 2U and edX? Why now?

This is a pivotal moment for higher education. Today, only 2% of education worldwide is digital, and the next decade is set to bring a massive shift toward online education. Learner needs and preferences are expanding and evolving, and universities must be prepared for a more digital future.

Together with MIT and Harvard, edX has built one of the world’s most recognizable online education brands and largest global communities of learners, while 2U has led the industry in delivering high-quality online education. 2U and edX’s combined scale, reach, capabilities, marketing efficiency, and relationships will unlock unprecedented opportunities to reach and serve more learners, universities, and employers worldwide.

What is the size of the deal?

2U will acquire substantially all edX assets, including the edX brand, website,
and marketplace, for $800M in cash. Proceeds of the transaction will flow to the nonprofit that will continue under the leadership of Harvard and MIT dedicated to reimagining the future of learning for people at all stages of life, addressing educational inequalities, and continuing to advance next generation learning experience platforms.

I’m an edX learner. How does this impact me?

Nothing will change in the immediate future. Learners’ current course enrollment and experience will remain the same, and you’ll still have access to great online programs–including free courses–from the world’s top universities and organizations. Going forward, learners will have even more options to achieve their learning goals, including more short courses, boot camps, and degrees. Note that the two organizations will continue to operate as separate entities until the transaction closes. Learn more at https://support.edx.org.

How will this impact university partners?

The combined capabilities of 2U and edX are expected to provide university partners with new opportunities to accelerate online growth and innovation, deliver exceptional student outcomes across their lives and careers, and continue bending back the cost curve of higher education.

  • edX partners will continue to benefit from edX’s global reach, commitment to research, as well as the open source Open edX platform, while gaining access to 2UOS, 2U’s industry leading, comprehensive tech-enabled services and support in areas like marketing, field placement, career services, and digital learning design.
  • At the same time, edX's thriving marketplace will enable current 2U partners to efficiently reach a larger audience of global learners, offer a wider array of offerings to meet changing learner needs, and expand the impact of their institutions.

When will the deal be complete?

The acquisition has been approved by 2U and edX’s boards of directors, as well as the boards of MIT and Harvard. The transaction is expected to close within approximately 120 days, subject to customary closing conditions and certain regulatory and governmental approvals.

Why will edX be run as a “public benefit entity”?

Fulfilling a commitment to preserve and advance the edX mission, 2U plans to operate edX as a public benefit entity, a class of purpose-driven organizations that balances the interests of shareholders with other stakeholders. 2U has also committed to continuing to pursue the edX mission by, among other things:

  • guaranteeing affordability through the continuation of a free track to audit courses;
  • protecting the intellectual property rights of faculty and universities that contribute massive open online courses;
  • ensuring that participating colleges and universities may continue under their standing agreements with edX;
  • protecting the privacy of individual data for all learners who use the edX platform; and
  • contributing to the ongoing development of the fully open source and independent platform Open edX, owned by the new nonprofit led by MIT and Harvard.

What will be the nonprofit’s primary focus?

Guided by the efforts and insights from Harvard and MIT research on the dynamics of learning, the nonprofit will collaborate with educational institutions, governments, and other organizations to:

  • develop and evaluate new approaches to learning and pedagogy;
  • invest in new learning models that combine the best of online and in-person;
  • promote the adoption of best practices across the education continuum; support innovation in lifelong learning; and
  • advance Open edX.

This work will seek to improve educational outcomes and reduce inequities in education by expanding reach to historically underserved communities and preparing all learners for success.

The nonprofit will also support investment in next-generation platforms to continue to advance learning experiences, as well as ensure that the Open edX platform is continually improved, remains open source, and powers a vibrant open source community.

Who will lead the nonprofit?

The nonprofit will be led by Harvard and MIT.

What will happen to the Open edX platform and community?

The nonprofit will ensure that the Open edX platform remains open source and powers a vibrant open source community. Following the closing, 2U expects to be a significant contributor of code to the Open edX platform, and the transaction is expected to increase the impact that Open edX can have in supporting learning outcomes around the world.