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Graduates sing the alma mater during a University of North Texas graduation ceremony in May at the Murchison Performing Arts Center. A new online program at UNT allows students to pursue a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree.

Online learners will be able to earn a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas through the online learning platform Coursera this fall thanks to a new partnership.

The Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree that will now be offered through Coursera isn’t new for the university, but is new to the Coursera platform.

The degree program was developed in the 1970s and redeveloped in 2013 to target people who had some college completed and wanted to finish a degree program, said Adam Fein, vice president for digital strategy and innovation. By offering the pathway on Coursera, it expands the university’s reach beyond what their marketing could do for the program, he said.

“We really think that, while it’s not true for all, the top of the funnel the market for this degree is huge,” Fein said. “There are 36 million people who have started college and haven’t finished, and that’s a failure on the part of higher education if you ask me.”

In addition to accepting college credits, the program also accepts military credits and Career and Technical Education Credits, setting the program apart, he said.

Enrolling the program is the same as enrolling in the program at UNT, so students will apply to UNT and pay $330 per semester credit hour, whether living in state or out of state. The courses and coursework will be hosted on Coursera’s platform and the degree will come from UNT. Applications for the first cohort open on Feb. 26, with classes starting in August, Fein said. Graduates will still even be invited to walk the stage at graduation.

“Coursera really handles two major things for us, and that’s marketing and recruitment,” Fein said. “Also they help us with student services and they have the platform where content lives.”

Coursera currently offers more than a dozen master’s degree programs, and UNT is just the second bachelor’s degree, following a computer science bachelor’s degree from the University of London. It has a network of 47 million users taking MOOCs — massive open online courses — from universities around the world for fun, certificates and degrees.

In a statement, Dil Sidhu, the chief content officer at Coursera, said he’s excited for the degree to help people who have wanted to finish their bachelor’s degree but haven’t been able to.

“We understand that students are often juggling work and family life, in addition to their educational pursuits, so we’re excited to bring the Bachelors of Applied Arts and Sciences program to Coursera and offer learners everywhere a flexible online path to earning their degree,” he said. “The program, which also accepts military learning credits, will prepare learners to take on new challenges and build careers they’re passionate about, and we’re looking forward to the impact it will bring.”

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @jennafduncan.

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