Ivy League Education Online

Despite the fact that a majority of college presidents feel that current online class offerings offer the same quality of education as campus-based programs, some people still cling to the belief that online learning is less legitimate than traditional learning.

These individuals may be surprised to learn that the Ivy League schools are getting increasingly involved in online education, including some very exciting Open Courseware options.

Brown - Columbia - Cornell - Dartmouth - Harvard - Princeton - UPenn - Yale

Brown University

Brown offers a number of online programs. Of note is the school's pre-college online course programs, designed for college-bound high school students. Brown's offerings are dynamic and meant to appeal to the student's future aspirations. Their "So you wanna be a doctor" course program discusses medical science, and allows students to evaluate virtual patients. It also discusses the med school admissions process. Other available pre-college programs discuss engineering disciplines and making a video essay.

Working professionals can also find useful online programs at Brown. Brown has partnered with IE Business School to offer the IE Brown Executive MBA through online classes combined with traditional face to face courses. The ethos behind this program is one of "liberal arts meets business school"--along with the MBA core, students take classes in liberal arts, globalization, entrepreneurship, decision making, and leadership.

It takes 15 months to complete the degree program. Besides the Executive MBA, Brown will be launching an online executive master's degree program in the fall of 2012. These degrees will take 2-4 years to earn and will be aimed at mid-career professionals who would like to expand their skill set. Master's programs will be available in business operations analysis, technology and innovation, and healthcare systems.

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Columbia University

This New York City based Ivy has online classes, certificates, and degrees in four subject areas. Columbia has partnered with web-based school Cardean University to offer an online MBA degree; Columbia's business school has contributed several courses to Cardean's MBA program. For those looking for a shorter program, the school has non-credit e-seminars that students can use to improve their business skills in specific areas.

Columbia's school of online education offers three professional certificates for teachers, as well as a hybrid master's program that leads to a teacher's license. Certificates are available in cognition and technology, designing multimedia interactive instruction, and teaching with technology. Columbia's medical school offers continuing education classes to current physicians who want to stay up to date on the latest trends in medicine. Programs are currently available in basic and clinical neuroscience, as well as dementia. These programs take 4-8 weeks to complete and result in a certificate.

Those interested in more philosophical career areas should check out the online master's degrees from Columbia's Jewish Theological Seminary. There are also non-credit seminars available in religion and philosophy; religion in America, the intellectual and cultural history of the U.S., and America and the Muslim world are some available topics.

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Cornell University

Cornell currently offers a number of professional development certificates and individual classes through their eCornell online learning program. The professional certificates focus on business areas: human resources, hospitality and food management, leadership, project leadership, financial management, healthcare, marketing, and management essentials. A personal fulfillment certificate is also available in plant-based nutrition. These certificate programs usually consist of around 5 professional development classes.

In many of the available certificate areas, students have the option of specializing their educational program even more. For example, within the hospitality and food management certificate, students could choose hotel management, food service, or customer service. The human resources management certificate offers specializations in selection and staffing, employee relations, strategic human resources, international human resources, or HR directing.

Within the leadership management certificate there are specializations in change leadership, executive leadership, business leadership skills, high performance leadership, or managing for execution. Cornell's HR certificate is accredited by the Human Resources Certification Institute, and their project management certificate is accredited by the Project Management Institute.

Along with these online professional development programs, Cornell also offers resume and job change professional help. They offer packages which include resume critiquing and editing and career coaching; other packages include job search plans and interview consultations.

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Dartmouth College

This Ivy nestled in the snowy New Hampshire woods is also in the online game, although their available programs are rather scattered across their website. For anyone looking to brush up on their latest technology skills, check out Dartmouth's free online tutorials in technology subjects. You can use these tutorials to learn how to manage spreadsheets, build a website, and more.

Those looking for more structured educational programs in health sciences should head over to The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. This Dartmouth school offers several professional development classes for current health administrators, policy makers, and clinical practitioners.

Online classes are currently available in shared decision making in patient-centered care, healthcare finance, healthcare ethics, environmental health issues, care improvement, outcomes research, and statistical measurement and analysis. The online courses take about 6-8 weeks to complete, and will take about 3-4 hours of work a week. They are designed for employees of organizations that are implementing a value-based care system. The classes use live discussions, collaborative projects, and personal learning assignments to cover the material.

For those in the business world, Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business offers an online bridge program in business. This program is aimed at liberal arts graduates that wish to develop pertinent business skills in order to make their skill set more attractive to employers. The program consists of 25 condensed courses in 4 areas: finance, financial accounting, managerial economics, and marketing.

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Harvard University

Harvard's extension school offers over 150 courses in a variety of subjects. These courses are available in synchronous and asynchronous formats. Synchronous classes are facilitated through live web conferences, whereas asynchronous classes have recorded lectures available at any time.

The extension school's online offerings enroll students in the fall and spring of each year and operate on a semester schedule. About a quarter of the courses offered are taught by Harvard faculty, and the rest are taught by faculty of nearby universities or by industry professionals. Students who enroll in the online classes also have access to thousands of online books and journals, tutoring help, and career workshops.

Currently, online classes are offered in nearly every discipline, from anthropology to engineering. However, some subjects only have one or two online classes, while others have a wider selection. Management, computer science, environmental science, and expository writing are some subjects with a large number of distance learning classes.

While it would be difficult if not impossible to complete an entire degree through the sporadic online courses offered, these classes can be used towards a degree through Harvard's extension school. The school currently offers associate's, bachelor's, and master's degrees, as well as professional certificates. Many of the on-site classes are offered in the evening, which can make these programs more flexible for working professionals.

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Princeton University

Princeton is one of the Ivies with a surprisingly limited amount of online learning options. There are no online degree options or continuing education programs that can be completed online. If you're in the Princeton area, you may be eligible for free course auditing, however.

While Princeton doesn't have much in the way of formal online classes, they do have some free and useful online course material. Their web media site archives past audio and video lectures in a variety of subjects that you can listen to online. The available media includes everything from course lectures to talks by eminent alumni in their current area of expertise.

For example, you can stream a talk called "The Life of a Circuit Judge: From Megan's Law to Bernie Madoff" by Denny Chin, a Princeton alumnus; also available are talks on math, neuroscience, diplomacy, materials science, public policy and healthcare.

There are also recordings of talks by visiting artists. Patti Smith recently visited and gave a talk about her National Book Award winning memoir Just Kids. Among other recent visitors is Errol Morris, the famed documentary filmmaker and producer of the movie The Thin Blue Line. There are currently dozens of these podcasts available for downloading; this should be enough cultural enrichment to keep you busy for a little while.

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University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania is a great place to check out if you're a current professional looking to further develop your abilities. They offer a surprising number of online continuing education and professional development classes. Current Penn undergraduates have the opportunity to take a select number of classes online, through the College of Liberal and Professional Studies.

Penn's dental school offers continuing education classes, as does its medical school. These individual classes or certificate programs can be useful for maintaining professional licensure or for just keeping up to date on the latest procedures and research developments. Nurses looking to take advanced classes or obtain continuing education credits can check out the professional development program in Penn's nursing school.

International students and professionals who need to brush up on their English or advance their skills can take one of Penn's online English language programs. Penn currently offers tailored programs for business professionals, or for students looking to study in America. These programs vary in their intensity, from the fully immersive to less-intense, refresher programs.

Business professionals can pursue a number of professional certificates or professional development classes through Wharton, Penn's famed business school. There are open-enrollment online professional certificates in over a dozen focuses. These programs are offered through synchronous classes, and are designed to be as immersive as traditional ones. Students may opt for video participation, or audio participation if they are traveling.

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Yale University

Perhaps most exciting in Yale's online offerings is their jump into the Open Courseware movement. Pioneered by MIT, this open courses movement has colleges and universities across the world putting their course materials online, so that individuals can have access to this knowledge for free, from any location.

Yale's Open Courses site currently has classes in over a dozen subjects. Their course materials are great for individuals looking for free liberal arts classes, as many other free online classes tend to be technology-focused. Classics, English, art history, music, philosophy, and political science are just some of the social science and humanities offerings on Yale's open courses site.

Also unique about Yale's free online classes is that they only post courses for which a full set of video lectures exist; you won't have to wade through dozens of course listings that only have limited class materials available. Along with video lectures, most classes also offer course notes, study guides, or other background materials.

Besides their Open CourseWare offerings, Yale's online programs are rather limited. Select schools offer continuing education programs for current professionals. For example, the school of medicine offers online continuing development classes, for current physicians who need to maintain their license or learn the latest in the field.

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