Morehouse Online Faces Growing Pains And Concerns Its A Pipe Dream


In early 2021, a new approach to online learning for one of the top HBCUs sparked promise for students who wanted a Morehouse degree but needed the access and flexibility that comes with remote schooling. In partnership with 2U, a for-profit education software company, Morehouse was the beacon of hope for students to become men of its elite institution at a more affordable price point. However, trouble soon plagued the program that was supposed to be the start of a second chance for many of its first cohort.

In a report by USA Today, Morehouse Online has been stricken with enrollment and financial aid problems. The promises of new degree additions never came to fruition, such as the highly-anticipated computer science major, and unclear deposit deadlines quickly turned into dropped courses. The partnership with 2U, however, is said to lean toward predatory for the school and applicants, as its direct overrun and financial spearheading of the program grants them 60% of the profits.

Online education’s earning potential incentivizes struggling HBCUs to partner with organizations such as 2U, but they often overwhelm the school’s infrastructural and administrative capacity. The lack of federal regulation of educational tech companies also allows them to conduct business as usual, with profits prioritized first, but at a cost to the student’s quality of education.

While the U.S. Department of Education is investigating further overhead insight, 2U has blocked legislation forcing it to abide by governmental standards for educational agencies.

The controversial company is not new to online education, facilitating online degree programs at other esteemed institutions such as Yale and the University of California, Berkeley. However, those Ivy and Ivy-adjacent PWIs do not share in the same struggles that HBCUs face and thus have more agency and ability to ensure students’ online experience results in a diploma.

Those enrolled in classes at Morehouse Online do not share this assurance, writing a letter to the administration expressing concerns about the program’s future. The document addressed the unsustainable class availability, “arbitrary” transfer credit acceptance, and urged for transparency regarding the faculty they speak to about their academic futures, who are often not employed by Morehouse but 2U.

Most importantly, the students urged for a conversation regarding where the program is heading to become a comprehensive online school experience and how it will get there.

Morehouse College Provost Kendrick Brown acknowledged the students’ concerns, signaling that they are hiring program managers to oversee the online division to ensure students are making progress in their undergraduate careers. He also expressed gratitude for their understanding as they navigate the expansion of their virtual course offerings.

However, for students who began their matriculation based on obtaining a degree in computer science, Brown apologized and refunded students for the rushed rollout,

“Morehouse is committed to delivering an exceptional educational experience and was therefore willing to forego offering a degree program to preserve the highest quality experience.”

Of its continuation of Morehouse Online, especially in partnership with 2U, the two entities remain committed to working together to build virtual degree programs that will result in real-life graduates.

Chip Paucek, CEO of 2U, is proud of his company’s strides to bring online degree programs to HBCUs, despite the opposing opinion of the students taking the courses.

“We’re talking about a program that is 50% of the campus cost, creating access for people to attend one of the most important HBCUs … in the United States,” said the CEO. “We hope it scales tremendously to help solve the problem. And we launched it on their timeline with their approval. And I think we did it pretty well.”

While many students disagree, there is still hope and determination, a spirit ingrained within HBCU communities nationwide, to see this opportunity through for the chance to become graduates of their dream schools.

RELATED CONTENT: Morehouse Alum Says No More Financial Fouls For Black Athletes, Launches Firm To Help Secure Long-Term Wealth

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