John Katzman

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John Katzman
Born (1959-10-10) October 10, 1959 (age 63)
EducationBirch Wathen School
Alma materPrinceton University (A.B.)
Occupation(s)CEO, The Noodle Companies
SpouseAlicia Ernst
ChildrenDaniel and Lyra

John Katzman (born October 10, 1959) is an American EdTech pioneer. He has established a number of companies which assist students with their studies and career choices, including Princeton Review, 2U, and Noodle Partners. The last two companies are online program managers (OPMs). Katzman has also authored books on the subject.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Katzman was born in New York City in 1959, and grew up there with brother Richard, and sister, Julie. Katzman went to Birch Wathen, a small independent school, from kindergarten through high school. He attended Princeton University, where he majored in electrical engineering and computer science (EECS) and then switched to the school of Architecture. He started tutoring in sophomore year to pay his expenses, and continued through college.[3] Katzman graduated from Princeton University with an A.B. in architecture in 1981 after completing a senior thesis titled "The Dead Tree Gives No Shelter."[4]


The Princeton Review (1981-2007)

Katzman was the co-founder of The Princeton Review, which initially taught SAT preparation to high-school students in New York City.[5] He started the company in 1981 shortly after leaving college, then partnered with Adam Robinson to develop it, and served as the company’s CEO until 2007.[6] He authored and coauthored a number of books for the company, including Cracking the SAT, a New York Times bestseller, and created products and services in several media.[7]

2U (2008-2012)

In 2008, Katzman founded 2U, an educational technology company that partners with leading nonprofit colleges and universities, such as the University of Southern California, Georgetown University, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to offer online degree programs.[8] He served as the company’s CEO until January 2012.[9][10] Katzman shifted to Executive Chairman in January 2012, and left in August to help build Noodle. Like The Princeton Review, 2U became a Russell 2000 company.[11]

Noodle (2010–present)

In 2010, Katzman created The Noodle Companies, a studio with multiple subsidiary, Noodle-branded education companies.[12][13] provides a search tool for parents and students to find information on educational resources.[14][15]

Noodle Partners helps universities bring degree programs online, and now works with over twenty US universities including University of Virginia, Tulane University, New York University, and Boston College.[16] In 2017, Noodle reinvented the OPM model so that universities retained greater academic and financial ownership over their programs.[17]

Noodle Pros connects students and parents with high-performing tutors.

In 2021 at the ASU GSV conference, CEO John Katzman announced that Noodle would be getting into the lifelong learning space and workforce learning space, suggesting its MOOC competitors 2U and edX had done little for the consumers who used their courses. [18]

The Noodle Companies and its subsidiaries have raised over $60 million from venture firms and individuals, including Katzman himself.[9][19]

Other interests[edit]

Katzman has been involved in the founding of several other education companies, including, Student Advantage, and Eat New York, an early software-based restaurant guide.[20] He is an angel investor in two dozen education technology ventures, and has served on the boards or advisory boards of several others including the National Association of Independent Schools, the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, The Institute for Citizens & Scholars, Carnegie Learning, and Renaissance Learning.[9][12]

Issue advocacy[edit]

Despite being the founder of a business based on the preparation of students for a wide range of standardized tests, Katzman is an outspoken critic of the modern preoccupation with standardized testing. He has argued that many tests are no better indicator of achievement in the relevant fields than grades and scores on other tests (such as the Advanced Placement exams). He has also been outspoken in his opposition to the Common Core and tests based on it. He demands better outcomes from for-profit education providers. He often speaks on topics related to online education and the measurement of academic achievement.[21]

Katzman and his wife pledged $1.5 million to help fund the Katzman/Ernst Chair in Educational Entrepreneurship, Technology and Innovation, an endowed chair in the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education to train and certify teachers for urban schools.[22]


Katzman was a recipient of the 2018 ASU GSV Lifetime Achievement Award, which "honors individuals whose lives have had a profound impact in changing the world for good".[23]



At Princeton Review, Katzman was one of the first cybersquatters on the Internet. In 1994, he registered, and then taunted that competitor by encouraging visitors to tell their stories about the company on that page. The case went to arbitration, where he offered to sell the domain for a case of beer; Kaplan declined, and was awarded the domain, leading Katzman to state that "The folks at Kaplan have no imagination, no sense of humor and no beer."[24]

Online and for-profit education[edit]

As a founder of both 2U and its major competitor, Noodle Partners, Katzman is often mentioned in articles and discussions surrounding the Online Program Management (OPM) industry. At 2U, Katzman popularized the revenue-share model in which OPMs take a percentage of a university’s tuition revenue in exchange for program management. This business model is debated among higher education constituents and policymakers but remains popular today.[25] A 2019 article by Kevin Carey published in the Huffington Post names Katzman as the impetus for the development of the entire OPM industry and some of the issues that have since arisen, including revenue-share and runaway digital marketing costs.[26][27] Katzman, Carey says, is now fighting to change the tuition-splitting practices that he created. In 2020, however, Noodle Partners teamed up with Strategic Education to use WorkForceEdge, a platform to connect employees with educational programs. Strategic Education is the parent company of Strayer University and Capella University.[28]

Paycheck Protection Program[edit]

Despite the fact that his other companies have raised tens of millions of dollars in capital, Katzman's company Noodle Pros applied for and received a forgivable loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, which was designed for small businesses, with a value between $350,000 and $1 million.[29]



  • Cracking the SAT with Adam Robinson. Villard Books, (1986). ISBN 0-394-74342-3.
  • The Best 284 Colleges, with Tom Meltzer and Zach Knower (1992). Current ISBN 0525568425.
  • Class Action, with Steven Hodas (1995). ISBN 978-0679434306



Katzman lives in New York and is married to Alicia Ernst.[14] They have two children, Daniel and Lyra.[30]


  1. ^ "John Katzman | HuffPost". Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  2. ^ "Filling the Other Skills Gap - EdSurge News". EdSurge. 2017-11-03. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  3. ^ David Owen, “Adam and John Say Put Your Pencil Down” Rolling Stone (March 28, 1985)
  4. ^ Katzman, John. Princeton University. School of Architecture (ed.). "The Dead Tree Gives No Shelter". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ Robinson, Adam; Katzman, John; (Firm), Princeton Review (2011). Cracking the SAT. Random House. ISBN 9780375428296. John katzman.
  6. ^ "Noodle Partners raises $4 million to help colleges deliver degrees online – TechCrunch". Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  7. ^ "K-12 Dealmaking: Scientific Learning Makes Acquisition; Noodle Partners, Raise Funds - Market Brief". Market Brief. 2017-12-11. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  8. ^ "Tech in Asia - Connecting Asia's startup ecosystem". Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  9. ^ a b c "With $14M Fundraise, Noodle Wants Colleges to 'Pick and Choose' How They Build Online Programs - EdSurge News". EdSurge. 2017-12-01. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  10. ^ "This local ed-tech company is raising new funding - again". Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  11. ^ "2U, Inc. Added to the Russell 2000 and 3000 Indexes".Acquire Media. Retrieved June 30, 2014
  12. ^ a b "Tulane to launch new online MSW program | Tulane News". Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  13. ^ "Noodle Companies". Retrieved 2016-06-04.
  14. ^ a b "WEDDINGS; John Katzman and Alicia Ernst". New York Times. 8 August 1993. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  15. ^ "Princeton Review Founder Is Plotting Out The Future Of Education". Business Insider. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  16. ^ "Online Marketing through Press Release Distribution - PRWeb". Retrieved 2019-05-02.
  17. ^ Johnson, Sydney (December 2017). "With $14M Fundraise, Noodle Wants Colleges to 'Pick and Choose' How They Build Online Programs". Ed Surge. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  18. ^ Hill, Phil (30 August 2021). "Noodle, Coursera, and 2U/edX Discussions on Educational Platform Approaches". Phil Hill. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  19. ^ "Navigating Life". City Journal. 2018-02-08. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  20. ^ Hoban, Phoebe (April 8, 1985). "New York Magazine". The Well-Tempered Computer.
  21. ^ Katzman, John. "The Underachieving Education Business". Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  22. ^ "New Partnership for Urban Education". USC News. University of Southern California. May 2008. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  23. ^ "ASU GSV Summit". Retrieved 2019-05-03.
  24. ^ Huebsch, Penn, Staff, Daily Pennsylvanian, Keith. "Kaplan wins suit against Princeton Review". Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  25. ^ Newton, Derek (2016-06-07). "How Five Companies Are Gaining Millions in Profit Off Education at Nonprofit Schools". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2019-05-03.
  26. ^ "Too much is being spent on a higher education marketing assault (essay) | Inside Higher Ed". Retrieved 2019-05-03.
  27. ^ Carey, Kevin. "The Corporations Devouring American Colleges". HuffPost Highline. Retrieved 2019-05-02.
  28. ^ "Strategic Education, Inc. and Noodle Partners Unite to Provide Employers with Access to a Variety of Education and Upskilling Programs from the Nation's Leading Universities". Retrieved 18 December 2020.
  29. ^ Wan, Tony (14 July 2020). "Dozens of Venture-Backed Startups Among Edtech Recipients of PPP Loans". EdSurge. EdSurge, Inc. Retrieved 24 July 2020.
  30. ^ "Paid Notice: Deaths KATZMAN, SHIRLEY". The New York Times. 2006-11-15. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-05-12.

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