Udacity Creates the First MOOC Profitable Program: Its Nanodegrees Attract 10K Paid Students

Udacity’s “Nanodegree” program is showing “a glimmer of success”, according to The New York Times. Within one year, 10,000 students have enrolled into the program and the number is growing by one third every month. Hundreds have found new jobs as a result of this workforce certification.

This would be one of the first MOOC programs –if not the first– that proves to be financially successful.

Udacity –a four-year-old MOOC private platform competing with Coursera and edX.org– has developed its nanodegree courses in conjunction with technology companies such as Google and AT&T, interested in hiring people with technical skills mostly in mobile programming, data analysis and web development.

Udacity charges $200 a month for the courses; it gives back half of the tuition when the student completes the course. A typical student earns a nanodegree credential in about five months, for $500. The graduation rate is 25 percent.

Udacity’s founder, Sebastian Thrun, said that after years of trial and error it has hit a model of vocational training than can be scaled up to teach millions of people technical skills and help them find jobs.

“It’s a mistake to think that a single college education can carry you for a lifetime. To keep pace with change, your education has to be done throughout your life,” he says.

To solve the need of one-on-one coaching, mentorship, career counseling and job-interviewing skills, Udacity has created a network of paid graders who asses students’ submitted projects. Graders can earn $50 to $100 an hour.

Udacity achieved profitability in July, according to its founder. This company of 150 employees raised $35 million from investors last year.