Udacity, a provider of massively open online courses (MOOCs), is announcing today the launch of the new Nanodegree Plus, a type of degree that costs $299 per month — up from $199 per month for the startup’s existing Nanodegrees — but that guarantees jobs for graduates within six months.
If alumni haven’t found jobs within six months of receiving the Nanodegree Plus degrees, well, Udacity will refund 100 percent of tuition, cofounder and CEO Sebastian Thrun declared in a blog post.
“Over the past few months, we have actively placed Udacity students into jobs,” Thrun wrote. “Some have joined Udacity, others have taken jobs at our partner companies. While these initial placements were done quietly, today we are formally launching a job guarantee to eligible US students.”
The new level of commercialization further distinguishes Udacity from other MOOC startups, including Coursera and edX.
Udacity currently offers 12 Nanodegree programs — each oriented toward a professional role or area — which include data analyst, mobile game developer, front-end web developer, beginning Ruby, and the more amorphously titled tech entrepreneur. In all cases, the coursework is designed in conjunction with major technology companies. Thrun explained that the Nanodegree Plus certification will only be available for four of the 12 available Nanodegree programs: machine learning engineer, Android developer, iOS developer, and senior Web developer.
In the future, Udacity will expand the new program’s reach to other countries and concentrations, Thrun added. To ensure that Nanodegree Plus students can be placed into jobs in due course, Udacity has new Career Advisor and Career Concierge initiatives in place, wrote Thrun, who is noted for his work in artificial intelligence and robotics.
Udacity launched in 2012 and is based in Mountain View, California. In November, the startup announced a $105 million funding round at a billion-dollar valuation.