American University in Cairo Offers First Blended Degree in the Region, With MIT

Press release
Published February 13th, 2018 - 12:21 GMT
The university is the first in the world to collaborate with MIT in recognizing credits for an online program on Data.
The university is the first in the world to collaborate with MIT in recognizing credits for an online program on Data.

Pioneering new pathways in education, The American University in Cairo (AUC) is now the first University in the region to offer a blended degree, pairing with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to grant MITx MicroMasters online learners credits that would count toward the completion of a full master’s degree at AUC.

AUC is the first University in the world to collaborate with MIT in recognizing credits for this particular online program on Data, Economics, and Development Policy (DEDP), offering a possible pathway to earning a full master’s degree from AUC in economics in international development. The Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, one of the largest privately funded philanthropic education initiatives in the world, will fund eligible Arab students for the DEDP.

This move was instigated following the launch of a program, led by the foundation in collaboration with MIT to build the capacities of AUC and the American University of Beirut (AUB) faculty and instructional designers/staff in blended learning. The broader goal of the program is to develop and promote quality online learning in the Arab world.

“I am thrilled that AUC is the first University in the region to take on the exciting challenge of formally adopting blended learning,” said Maysa Jalbout, CEO of the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education. “This is a visionary move and one that will encourage other universities in the region to follow suit and to open up a new world of higher education opportunities for Arab youth.

MIT offers several online MicroMasters credentials through its online course database, MITx. Participants who complete the online program are given the opportunity to use their earned credentials to complete a master’s degree in person at MIT. With AUC now in the fold, online learners who complete the MITx MicroMasters in DEDP will be able to earn nine graduate credit hours toward completion of the AUC master’s degree in economics in international development in the School of Business, if accepted into the program. This opportunity will be available to potential applicants to the AUC program in economics in international development starting September 2018. 

 “This collaboration is both a reflection of the quality and rigor of AUC’s graduate programs, as well as a great opportunity for wider visibility of AUC globally,” said Adham Ramadan ’91, dean of graduate studies at AUC.

Mona Said, associate professor and chair of AUC’s Department of Economics in the School of Business, added, “Such a collaboration with MIT helps achieve one of our department’s goals of enhancing teaching innovation and serves to emphasize the rigorous study of development economics and evidence-based development policy analysis in our curricula. In addition, the MicroMasters program focuses on the practicalities of running randomized evaluations to assess the effectiveness of social and economic programs and provides students with hands-on skills in this growing area of importance in data analysis.”

This collaboration comes as AUC continues to position itself as a hub for innovation in the region, leading the way in the implementation and support of online and blended learning initiatives such as the MITx MicroMasters program.

“We are excited that AUC will offer credit towards their own master’s programs to students who complete the DEDP MicroMasters credential and pass the AUC admissions process,” said Krishna Rajagopal, dean of digital learning at MIT. “We believe that their collaboration will advance the education and careers of many learners who would not otherwise have been able to complete master’s degrees.”

To earn the online certification of the MITx MicroMasters in DEDP, a student must complete five intensive courses and take in-person proctored exams. With the objective of broadening access to higher education, these courses are open to anyone around the globe, with no outlined prerequisites.

MIT has seen immense interest in its MITx MicroMasters programs since launching the initiative more than a year ago. In evaluations and feedback collected from learners who have engaged in the programs, students report a tremendous interest in continuing their education. This points to the promise of heightened interest among learners as AUC begins to admit MITx MicroMasters participants into its program.

“We have had over 1,000 learners from the Middle East and North Africa region enrolled in the DEDP courses in eight months,” said Tracy Tan, director of the MicroMasters program and open learning at MIT. “There is a talent pool in the region for AUC to embrace. It is very innovative for AUC to attract talents through the pathway from MITx MicroMasters.”

Background Information

American University of Cairo

Founded in 1919, AUC is a leading English-language, American-accredited institution of higher education and center of intellectual, social and cultural life of the Arab world. Its community of students, parents, faculty and staff, trustees, alumni and other generous sponsors represent more than 60 countries. The University stands as a crossroads for the world’s cultures and a vibrant forum for reasoned argument, spirited debate and understanding across the diversity of languages, facilities and human experiences.

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