Lanham-Based 2U Acquires EdX to Expand Affordable Higher Education Globally

Together, 2U and edX plan to disrupt the higher education sector with more affordable options for lifelong learners.

Written by Charli Renken
Published on Nov. 17, 2021
Lanham-Based 2U Acquires EdX to Expand Affordable Higher Education Globally
edx elearning platform is acquired by 2u
A student sits at a laptop taking notes while on the edX website. | Photo: edX

Lanham-based edtech company 2U announced the closure of its acquisition of nearly all of eLearning company edX’s assets.

According to the Washington Business Journal, 2U purchased the assets for $800 million. While 2U will serve as the parent company, edX will operate as its own brand. Together, the edtech companies will serve more than 230 partners, including 19 of the top 20 ranked universities in the world. 

With the $1.7 trillion student debt crisis looming over college-age individuals, traditional higher education isn’t accessible to everyone. For those who want to pursue a degree, online education is often a more affordable option because the classes don’t have the same fees as on-campus classes. Virtual learning platforms like 2U and edX also offer the flexibility for students to work while pursuing their degrees, something not always feasible for in-person programs. 

“There is an urgent need across society to make learning affordable, accessible and equitable for all learners, at every stage of life. Meeting that mission made edX a global brand and a top destination for learners everywhere,” 2U co-founder and CEO Christopher “Chip” Paucek said in a statement. “That’s the mission we now advance together — helping higher education institutions and employers build a sustainable future, offering the continuum of high-quality learning experiences people need to enhance their lives and careers and making all of it possible on one of the world’s most comprehensive free-to-degree online learning platforms.”

2U offers both paid and “free-to-degree” courses to over 40 million learners worldwide. The company is dedicated to serving lifelong learners whether they’re seeking a traditional undergraduate or graduate degree, or mid-career professionals looking to build new skills.

2U’s university partners include Arizona State University, Amherst College, Georgetown University, Harvard, John Hopkins University and more. Students can either pay for classes or audit classes for free from many of these universities. 

For non-degree-seeking learners, the company also offers professional and executive education, tech bootcamps and “MicroBachelors” and “MicroMasters” career advancement programs. These are great options for those looking to level up in their profession or even switch careers without having to go back to school.

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To show its commitment to affordable higher education, 2U agreed to a number of legally binding terms as part of the acquisition. Cambridge, Massachusetts-based edX will continue to operate as a public benefit company and offer free track to audit courses. 2U will contribute to the ongoing development of edX’s non-profit owned, open-source platform Open edX.

Additionally, the acquisition also adds several edX leaders to 2U’s executive team. EdX Founder and CEO Anant Agarwal has been brought on as chief open education officer, edX CTO JP Beaudry has been appointed as 2U’s new CTO and edX VP of product Lauren Holliday will now serve as managing director of open courses and marketplace at 2U.

“[2U and edX’s] synergy creates choice. We will be able to create all of the experiences and modalities that learners care about. And we will do so on one of the most comprehensive learning platforms available, with a unified experience that lets learners focus on learning, faculty and course creators focus on pedagogy, and all of us focus on impact. We will be part of every learner’s life journey,” Agarwal said in a statement.

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