How 4 Colleges Support Free Online Courses

October 12, 2009



Number of courses

Major financing

Business plan options

Yale U.

Open Yale Courses (

15, with plans to release 21 more

Roughly $3-million from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Foundation and university support, commercial partnerships.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT OpenCourseWare (


$14-million from the Hewlett foundation, $11-million from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, roughly $10-million from MIT

The NPR model: Web-site requests for donations, e-mail solicitations,corporate sponsorships; university money

Carnegie Mellon U.

Open Learning Initiative (


$5.65-million from the Hewlett foundation

Charging small fees when students at other universities are assigned these materials in formal courses; offering courses as instructor-led, online-only summer classes for Carnegie Mellon credit

U. of California at Irvine

UC Irvine OpenCourseWare (


$977,000 from Hewlett, $200,000 from the Boeing Company; $409,000 from the university

Click-to-enroll model that pushes people from free materials without credit to credit-bearing courses that cost money.