Outlier.org, based in Brooklyn, NY, is a university-level online education platform founded in 2018. The company offers introductory college-level courses on subjects such as Calculus I and Introduction to Psychology. Each student who completes a course with a passing grade receives 3 transferable credits from the University of Pittsburgh.
Outlier.org was founded in 2018 by Aaron Rasmussen, co-founder and previous creative director of MasterClass. The company was founded with the mission to make college-level courses affordable and accessible without losing the structure of traditional schooling. The University of Pittsburgh is the first university to partner with Outlier.org to accredit students for their work with transferable credits upon successful course completion.
Outlier.org is a for-profit corporation that has raised $16 million in total funding with $11.7 million coming from its Series A round led by GSV Ventures with participation from Harrison Metal, Tectonic Capital, and Jackson Square Ventures and announced in January of 2020.
Outlier.org is partnering with the University of Pittsburgh to provide transferable credits for its online classes by having university officials review the syllabi and course content. The University of Pittsburgh is also assisting Outlier.org on expanding its course selection to provide students with more opportunities to complete introductory-level college courses at a much lower cost.
Outlier.org courses are created solely for online presentation. All resources and materials needed to successfully take the class are included in the $400 course fee: access to lectures, problem sets, and assessments, an online textbook, assigned slack (software) groups for student interaction, and student-support via tutoring services. If students complete the class with a passing grade, they will receive transferable college credits from the University of Pittsburgh. If students do not complete the class with a passing grade, they will receive a full refund for the course.
In 2019, Outlier.org launched courses in Intro to Psychology and Calculus I, with plans to expand its course offerings. Calculus I is taught by Hannah Fry of University College London, Tim Chartier of Davidson College and John Urschel of MIT. Introduction to Psychology consists of 19 topics and are taught by Paul Bloom of Yale University, Jay Van Bavel and Marjorie Rhodes of New York University, and David Pizarro of Cornell University, and a handful of other instructors and guest lecturers.
Outlier.org has been the subject of articles written about the change in today’s education system. With national student debt on the rise and the imperative need for universities to embrace education-based tech solutions, Business Insider notes that Outlier.org is shaping the future landscape of online education by offering flexible and affordable courses, without jeopardizing quality. Similarly, Engadget has confidence that Outlier.org “could erode the final barrier to making distance learning as good as the real thing.” In April 2020, Outlier.org was also recognized as a finalist in the education category of Fast Company’s 2020 World Changing Ideas Awards as a company that “helps inspire better and more equitable learning."
In the media
- "Outlier.org Raises $11.7M Series A to Offer Online Courses for College Credit". EdSurge. January 9, 2020. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
- "MasterClass founder launches Outlier, offering online courses for college credit – TechCrunch". TechCrunch. August 13, 2019. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
- "MasterClass co-founder's new educational startup Outlier raises $11.7M – TechCrunch". TechCrunch. January 9, 2020. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
- Lederman, Doug (August 21, 2019). "New online ed start-up aims at community college market -- with University of Pittsburgh's backing". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
- Outlier.org (January 7, 2020). "Following a Successful Fall Semester, Outlier.org Announces Extended Pilot with the University of Pittsburgh for 2020". PR Newswire. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
- Outlier.org (August 13, 2019). "Outlier.org Launches World-Class, For-Credit College Courses for $400". PR Newswire. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
- Hess, Abigail (December 30, 2019). "Student debt increased by 107% this decade, Federal Reserve data shows". CNBC. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
- GmbH, finanzen.net (August 13, 2019). "Outlier.org Launches World-Class, For-Credit College Courses for $400". markets.businessinsider.com. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
- "The co-founder of Masterclass wants people to try college courses online". Engadget. August 13, 2019. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
- Clendaniel, Morgan (April 28, 2020). "World Changing Ideas Awards 2020: Education Finalists and Honorable Mentions". Fast Company. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
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- MasterClass co-founder's new educational startup Outlier
- MasterClass founder launches Outlier, offering online courses
- Following a Successful Fall Semester, Outlier.org