A new partnership announced Monday between Starbucks and Arizona State University will offer significant tuition benefits for employees looking to complete their bachelor's degrees.
Starbucks will offer full tuition reimbursement towards ASU's online bachelor's program for juniors and seniors who are working an average of 20 hours a week at any company-owned store. Freshmen and sophomore students will receive tuition discounts.
Online ASU students receive many of the same benefits as full-time on-campus students. According to the university, an online student's diploma is awarded from Arizona State University — not Arizona State University Online — and there is "no indication that your studies were completed online." Online students are also encouraged to attend graduation ceremonies in person.
ASU's online courses are distinct from those offered on campus, but the program is considered one of the top in the country for online bachelor's degrees. U.S. News & World Report ranks ASU the ninth best online bachelor's degree program, based on an algorithm involving student engagement/participation, faculty credentials, peer reputation, and student services.
Online classes at ASU are typically structured with a combination of videos, readings, and discussions boards, among other educational tools. No courses are offered live, and any class materials — such as lectures — are left up to the student to complete on their own schedule each week. Participation is graded in each course and students are regularly provided with faculty feedback.
According to the university, "most courses have assignments and due dates; when the student logs on to complete them is determined by the student."
ASU estimates that each course credit is equal to six hours of work per week — meaning that an online student enrolled in two or three three-credit courses could spend 36 to 54 hours a week on coursework in addition to the 20 hours a week spent working at Starbucks to qualify for the tuition reimbursement.
Online bachelor's degrees are offered in a range of subjects — from business and engineering to humanities disciplines such as art history and English. While the most popular degree is nursing, about 25% of online students major in liberal studies or interdisciplinary studies, programs that incorporate several different subjects.
According to data provided to U.S. News by ASU, the majority of professors who teach online also teach courses on campus, with most online courses sharing a curriculum with what is taught in person.
Notably, the university has had a fairly consistent one-year retention rate of about 80%, which is comparatively high among peer institutions. Retention rates track the number of first-year online students who remain at the school the following year and, according to U.S. News, "is indicative of a school's ability to engage students at the onset of their college education and keep them from dropping out."
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