Cabrini announced in February that it has joined the global edX network to bring two of the school’s graduate programs to the platform. The school is also weighing several prospective partnerships with other institutions.
edX is an online university course platform founded in 2012, with the intention of expanding access to higher education. According to their website, the platform has since garnered 42 million users and more than 110 million enrollments. In November 2021, it was purchased by a similar service called 2U.
According to a release issued by Cabrini, the two graduate programs coming to edX are the school’s Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Master of Education in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment.
“What it will do is increase enrollment in these two programs over time,” said Dr. Michelle Filling-Brown, Dean of Academic Affairs at Cabrini. “It’ll provide access to the Ed.D. program to people around the world. Prior to this, our main students who enrolled in the Ed.D. program are people local to Pennsylvania. Now we’ll be able to enroll folks all over the country.”
Additionally, Cabrini plans to launch a “MicroMasters” program in education called Equity and Inclusivity in the Classroom, as well as a “MicroBachelors” program in social sciences through edX.
These programs allow students to sample a certain area of study, and go on to enroll in the full program at an institution if they choose. “It may be a way to lead someone into saying, ‘I really enjoyed this, maybe I’ll look at Cabrini’s program,’” said Filling-Brown.
The partnership with edX stems from Interim President Helen Drinan’s previous experience with the service while she was president of Simmons University. “She had really great success partnering with them. They were able to scale a lot of their programs, and they were able to really support the growth and revenue of the university,” said Filling-Brown.
“We’re very lucky to be in partnership with edX. Because of their visibility and the volume they receive on their website, they don’t partner with just anyone,” said Filling-Brown. “It was really because of Helen’s relationship with them that we were able to be introduced to them and pursue a partnership.”
Motivations and timeline of events
The process of initiating the partnership began during the 2022 fall semester. “It really started when Helen came on board and introduced the idea. Then, we moved the [EdD program] curriculum through the faculty governance process,” Filling-Brown said. “We reduced the total number of credits slightly. That was a decision that was to put us in alignment with other EdD programs. edX had given us the advice to pull back a few credits, and that had to be voted on.”
The primary motivations behind the partnership are to increase Cabrini’s visibility and graduate program enrollment. “Certainly, it’s visibility for us generally. The ‘MicroMasters’ and ‘MicroBachelors’ are getting our name out there,” said Filling-Brown. “[edX’s] brand power, now with our name attached to it, we’re gaining some visibility because of that. But the real motivation is increasing enrollment in the Master’s and doctorate programs.”
Jenna May, sophomore computer and information sciences major, said, “I think it’ll be beneficial [to Cabrini’s visibility], just so that students who can’t make it in person have another option.”
Cabrini has also been exploring a partnership with Campbellsville University in Campbellsville, Kentucky. “There hasn’t been an agreement signed,” said Filling-Brown. “Certainly, we’ve been exploring all sorts of partnerships right now. I’ve been working with the associate deans and our registrar, and we’ve met with the area community colleges. We’ve been meeting with leadership from those campuses; we already have existing agreements with them, but a lot of those agreements were written a long time ago, so it’s important to go back and refresh them.”
Additionally, Cabrini is in discussion with Ursinus College and Messiah University. The school has not finalized a partnership with either. “[Ursinus] is a fully undergraduate school. They don’t have any graduate programs. So, we’re looking to sign agreements to allow their students to matriculate into our graduate programs,” said Filling-Brown.
The agreement with Messiah would see students take the opposite path. “Again, none of these are finalized, but I spoke to someone from Messiah,’ said Filling-Brown. “They have an athletic training Master’s program, so we’re looking at what kind of agreement we can sign so that our students who are studying something like exercise science can continue their education at the master’s level.”
According to the release, Cabrini plans to launch the “MicroMasters” program and transition the two graduate programs to edX beginning in the 2023 fall semester. The “MicroBachelors” program will be formally announced in early 2024.