Adam Braun, CEO and co-founder of MissionU, says he believes traditional higher education is “broken.” While employers may not stretch that far in their assessment, the fact is some high-profile companies see a college education as less necessary or relevant today. Some, such as Google, have removed a college diploma as a requirement for hiring.
Braun’s MissionU doesn’t require a high school diploma for admission and charges no upfront tuition for its nondegree program in business intelligence and data analytics. Instead, through a profit-sharing agreement, students only pay MissionU 15% of their salary for three years once they make $50,000 or more per year; if a student fails to reach that salary threshold within seven years they’re absolved of any debt to the company.
During the one-year program, MissionU students take online classes and work on project assignments for employer partners such as Uber, Lyft, Spotify, Chegg, and Bonobos. Six weeks of the program are devoted to training for the job-interview process and salary negotiation.
Available undergraduate majors are business, arts and humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and computational sciences. There is also a graduate track to earn a master of science degree in applied analyses and decision-making. MissionU began accepting applications for its first sessions in March.
Launched in 2014, Minerva Schools at KGI is a nonprofit, accredited four-year university founded as a partnership between the Minerva Project and Keck Graduate Institute, a member of the Claremont University Consortium. Courses are online, but students also move around the world as they study, undertaking assignments at companies and organizations in Germany, South Korea, Taiwan, India, Argentina, and Britain, as well as in the U.S.
Some critics question whether science can be taught online-only, without labs, or whether employers will seriously consider job candidates coming from programs that don’t yet have an established brand or proven track record. However, if more companies drop the sheepskin from their hiring requirements, that may become less of an issue.