University of the People

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University of the People
University of the People Logo.jpg
Established 2009
Type Private non-profit
President Shai Reshef
Location United States Pasadena, CA, U.S.
Campus Virtual

University of the People (UoPeople) is a non-profit, tuition-free,[1] accredited online academic institution headquartered in Pasadena, California and founded by entrepreneur Shai Reshef in January 2009.[2]


Educational entrepreneur Shai Reshef launched University of the People in January 2009.[3] In September 2009, UoPeople admitted 180 students from 49 countries in its first semester of enrollment.[4] By July 2010, the University’s enrollment included approximately 500 students from nearly 100 countries.[5]

University of the People applied for accredited status from a body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.[6] In June 2012, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave a $500,000 grant to University of the People for the institution's work towards accreditation.[7]

In 2011, enrollment was up to 1500 students from 136 countries.[8]

In February 2014, The University of the People received national accreditation through the Distance Education and Training Council.[9][10]

Organization and administration[edit]

University of the People uses instructor support combined with learning by teaching and peer-to-peer learning. The University uses online discussion forums and online communities in order for students to cover readings, share resources, exchange ideas and discuss assigned questions. Scholars, professors, librarians, master level students and other professionals—many of them volunteers—oversee and participate in both the assessment process and the development of curricula.[2]

Financial Information[edit]

University of the People operates on a budget of $1 million yearly by relying on a network of volunteers worldwide. These volunteers are from top academic institutions, corporations and organizations around the world and provide their experience and services to support the tuition-free mission of University of the People.[11]

Assets and Revenue: University of the People has Total Assets of $582,520 and Total Revenue of $849,071 (2012).[12]

Academic programs[edit]

University of the People offers the following four undergraduate degrees:

  • Bachelor (B.S.) in Business Administration
  • Associate (A.S.) in Business Administration
  • Bachelor (B.S.) in Computer Science
  • Associate (A.S.) in Computer Science

Students have access to the UoPeople Library & Resource Center (ULRC), a virtual environment delivered through the University course site.[13] The Center's collections are primarily proprietary academic resources but also include open educational resources.[14]


Students pay a registration fee on a sliding scale of $10 to $50 determined by income and country of residence, and a $100 administration fee for each exam they take.[15] Completion of an undergraduate degree, which requires sitting for 40 exams, will thus cost a total of $4,000. Students who cannot afford to pay can apply for scholarships.[16]


Yale Law School Information Society Project[edit]

University of the People and Yale Law School ISP (Information Society Project) announced a digital education research partnership in 2009.[17][18] Jack Balkin, Yale ISP Director and Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment at Yale Law School, serves on the Advisory Committee of University of the People.

New York University[edit]

In June 2011, New York University (NYU)[19] announced a collaborative agreement with University of the People to identify those UoPeople students eligible for admission to New York University's Abu Dhabi campus. Recognizing that many of UoPeople's students are economically disadvantaged youth, eligible students who qualify for admittance to NYU Abu Dhabi, as well as qualify for financial aid, may receive generous financial aid to enable them to afford attendance at NYU Abu Dhabi.

Hewlett Packard (HP)[edit]

University of the People and Hewlett Packard (HP)[20] announced a partnership in June 2011 to open up virtual research internships for UoPeople students as part of HP's Catalyst Initiative - a global network of consortia that brings together educational institutions and nongovernmental organizations. As part of the collaboration, interning students work with the consortia on various projects within education, technology and health.

Additionally, Hewlett-Packard announced it was the first corporate sponsor of the University of the People Women Scholarship Fund, with a donation of $200,000 to sponsor 100 women towards the attainment of their Associate degrees.[21]

United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development[edit]

Working under the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, GAID was approved by the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2006 in recognition that ICT must be effectively integrated into development activities if internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, are to be achieved within the agreed time frame. Now in its fourth year, GAID continues to address core issues related to the role of ICT in economic development and eradication of poverty, employment and enterprise in pro-poor growth scenarios, with particular focus on health, education, gender, youth, disabled and disadvantaged segments of society. On May 19, 2009, UN-GAID announced the launch of University of the People at a press conference in New York to reporters.[22]

Clinton Global Initiative[edit]

Clinton Global Initiative Advances University of the People Pledge to Democratize Higher Education in Haiti. In August 2010, UoPeople was invited to become a member of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).[23]

OpenCourseWare Consortium[edit]

OpenCourseWare is a free and open digital publication of high quality educational materials, organized as courses. The OpenCourseWare Consortium (OCWC) is a collaboration of more than 200 higher education institutions and associated organizations from around the world creating a broad and deep body of open educational content using a shared model. As a member of OCWC, UoPeople strengthens its commitment to advancing the current education system via the Internet.[24]

World Computer Exchange[edit]

Working to improve educational opportunities in developing countries, UoPeople and the World Computer Exchange (WCE) have partnered,[25] strengthening their shared missions of democratized access to education.[26]

Haitian Connection Network[edit]

The Haitian Connection Network has strived to educate poor Haitians for over 11 years. Current programs include full tuition scholarships in a local trade/vocational school to learn a career followed by assistance with job placement in Haiti. HCN also assists in facilitating food and shelter when needed. HCN provide a unique role by offering on-the-ground assistance and recruitment in Haiti. Working with HCN, UoPeople commits to provide access to higher education in [Haiti, making tuition-free higher education accessible to qualified, low-income Haitian students who would not otherwise have the means to pursue post-secondary education.[27][28]

Partners for a New Beginning[edit]

University of the People joined Partners for a New Beginning (PNB) as a member; announced by the Aspen Institute March 31, 2011. Chaired by former US Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company Muhtar Kent, and Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson, PNB is a collection of public-private partnerships committed to broadening and deepening engagement between the United States and Muslim communities abroad. In collaboration with PNB, University of the People will work with partners towards accepting 100 students per year from two of PNB’s targeted countries – Turkey, Indonesia, Gaza/West Bank, Egypt and Pakistan.[29]

Asal Technologies[edit]

University of the People moved its IT development to Ramallah via a technology partnership with Asal Technologies, as announced on March 7, 2012.[30] One of the primary drivers behind this move is that the University states it is determined to not only provide educational opportunity, but also job opportunities to regions in need of them. The Palestine territories is one such region. University of the People also announced it is currently considering opening an entire back office in Ramallah to provide additional jobs.[31]

Saylor Foundation[edit]

The Saylor Foundation is a non-profit organization whose mission is to make higher education free and accessible to all through the internet.[32] On April 10, 2012, they announced a partnership with UoPeople to adapt their Business Law course for use by UoPeople's students. Shawn Moustafa, UoPeople’s Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, said of the partnership: "Saylor’s experience in creating high-quality courses based on OER is evident in this course. We are very excited to offer Business Law next term and in the coming terms; this course has already shown a high level of interest from our students, and I’m sure this will only increase as other students hear about it.” [33]

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 2013, the International Student Identity Card (ISIC) Association and MasterCard Worldwide announced that University of People (UoPeople) was the winner of the 2013 ISIC Award for its "innovative approach to education access."[34][35]

Since 2014 the university has been accredited by the US Distance Education and Training Council.[9][10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Damast, Alison (January 21, 2010). "Tuition-Free University Gains a Following". Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Retrieved June 5, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Lewin, Tamar (January 25, 2009). "Israeli Entrepreneur Plans a Free Global University That Will Be Online Only". New York Times. Retrieved May 30, 2009. 
  3. ^ Reshef, Shai (2010). "Educating the Many". Educause Quarterly. Retrieved June 1, 2011. 
  4. ^ Unknown (2010). "Ashoka Profile". Ashoka. Retrieved June 1, 2011. 
  5. ^ Truong, Kelly (July 22, 2010). "Online University Aims to Build sites in 6 Developing Countries". Ashoka. Retrieved June 1, 2011. 
  6. ^ (Unknown author). "Accreditation". University of the People. Retrieved March 17, 2012. 
  7. ^ Jeffrey R. Young. "Gates Foundation Gives $9-Million in Grants to Support ‘Breakthrough’ Education Models". Chronicle of Higher Education. Archived from the original on June 19, 2012. Retrieved July 12, 2012. 
  8. ^ Shai Reshef (March 16, 2011). "Learning Alongside the World: A Profile of Diversity in UoPeople’s Classrooms". Wordpress. 
  9. ^ a b "Report from the Accrediting Commission February 13, 2014". Distance Education and Training Council. 2014-02-13. 
  10. ^ a b Lewin, Tamar (2014-02-13). "Free Online University Receives Accreditation, in Time for Graduating Class of 7". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2014-02-20. 
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ (Unknown author). "Library Services". University of the People. Retrieved July 28, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Library Services". University of the People website. Retrieved 22 March 2014. 
  15. ^ Israeli Entrepreneur Opens Online University in West Bank, New York Times
  16. ^ University of the People on course for stability
  17. ^ (Unknown author) (September 22, 2009). "Yale ISP and University of the People Partner for Digital Education Research". Yale Law School. Retrieved October 21, 2009. 
  18. ^ (Unknown author) (September 22, 2009). "Yale ISP and UoPeople Partner". University of the People's Blog. Retrieved October 21, 2009. 
  19. ^ Tamar Lewin (June 9, 2011). "Partnership to Further Global Quest by N.Y.U.". New York Times. Retrieved June 12, 2011. 
  20. ^ Sarah Kessler (June 29, 2011). "Traditional Higher Ed Opens Doors for Tuition-Free Online University". Mashable. Retrieved July 3, 2011. 
  21. ^ Ethan Bauley (July 11, 2012). "HP is first contributor to UoPeople Women Scholarship Fund". HP Data Central. Retrieved July 12, 2012. 
  22. ^ "UN announces launch of world’s first tuition-free, online university". UN News Centre. May 19, 2009. 
  23. ^ "Clinton Global Initiative Advances University of the People Pledge to Democratize Higher Education in Haiti". USA: Yahoo!news. September 20, 2010. Retrieved October 18, 2010. [dead link]
  24. ^ "All Members". OCW Consortium. Retrieved 2012-09-01. 
  25. ^ Kelly Truong (July 22, 2010). "Wired Campus; Online University Aims to Build Sites in 6 Developing Countries". Retrieved October 18, 2010. 
  26. ^ Dennis Carter (July 26, 2010). "Online university provides new options". eCAMPUS news. Retrieved October 18, 2010. 
  27. ^ Dennis Carter (September 21, 2010). "Free Online school coming to some in Haiti". eCampus News. USA. Retrieved October 18, 2010. 
  28. ^ Nadia Ibanez (September 20, 2010). "UoPeople will provide higher Education in Haiti". Business Review. USA. Retrieved October 18, 2010. 
  29. ^ Unknown (May 31, 2011). "PNB Steering Committee, Local Chapters, and Members at Large Announce Commitments at Washington Summit". Aspen Institute. USA. Retrieved June 1, 2011. 
  30. ^ Unknown (March 7, 2012). "University of the People Partners for Technology in Ramallah, Palestine". UoPeople. USA. Retrieved November 20, 2013. 
  31. ^ Reshef, Shai (March 19, 2012). "My Vision: Peace in Palestine and Beyond". USA: Huffington Post. Retrieved November 20, 2013. 
  32. ^ Retrieved April 16, 2012
  33. ^ "Saylor Foundation partners with the University of the People to adapt Business Law course". April 10, 2012. Retrieved November 20, 2013. 
  34. ^ 2013 ISIC Award
  35. ^ Winner 2013

External links[edit]