Online education platform Udacity has announced that graduates from four of its new Nanodegree Plus programs are eligible for a full refund should they not find a job in tech within six months of graduation.
The news concerns the Android Developer, iOS Developer, Machine Learning Engineer, and Senior Web Developer Nanodegrees that cost $299/month, up $100 from Udacity's standard Nanodegree fee.
A Nanodegree takes about 10 hours of study per week and anywhere from six to nine months to complete, VentureBeat says. If graduates do not find a tech job within six months of being awarded their Nanodegree Plus degree, then they're eligible for a 100% tuition refund.
Sebastian Thrun, co-founder and chief of Udacity, announced the job-guaranteed Nanodegrees. He told USA Today that other online course providers should consider following Udacity's job guarantee model:
"I think everyone should offer this," Thrun said. "It will keep us honest. Because part of our brand proposition is, spend a little money with us and you'll find a job. My guess is we'll place between 70% and 80%. It's an experiment, one we feel confident about."
When considering the strong demand for high-skilled tech professionals in the country, the gamble is not that risky, USA Today notes. Department of Labor estimates point to 1 million programming jobs by 2020 with a much smaller number of qualified professionals to fill them.
For the time being, the job guarantee only applies to US-based students.
Udacity says that more than 4 million registered users have watched or participated in the MOOC's no-cost courses. The company offers dozens of free video-based courses with the recent addition of fee-based Nanodegrees. Through Udacity's Nanodegrees, recent graduates and professionals have the opportunity to acquire in-depth knowledge and skills in high-demand professions quickly.
To motivate learners, Udacity previously offered a 50% refund to students completing their Nanodegrees within twelve months of enrollment, Business Insider says.
The self-paced courses are built in partnership with tech giants including Google, AT&T, Cloudera, Amazon, and Facebook. Previously, the Nanodegrees cost $199 per month, but alumni were not eligible for a refund.
According to Udacity, as of November 2015, about 1,000 students have completed one of Udacity's Nanodegrees. Currently, Udacity offers twelve Nanodegrees including Machine Learning Engineer, Tech Entrepreneur, Data Analyst, Mobile Game Developer, Front-end Web Developer and Intro to Web Programming.
The Nanodegree Plus program offers quality instructional video and lectures, as well as access to student forums and portfolio assessments. Udacity has a unique approach to online degrees because it manages to combine essential one-on-one coaching support, cutting-edge curriculum while still keeping its courses affordable and inclusive.
For the four Nanodegree Plus degrees, the $100 monthly extra gives students the opportunity to work with career experts to prepare for their post-graduation job interviews and the modern marketplace, Wired says.
"We help students get job ready, to get their portfolio together, to learn the social skills they need," Thrun said.
Udacity dubbed this service "Career Concierge,' exemplifying the extent to which students can receive the kind of support and guidance needed to land a job right after graduation. More specifically, students enrolling in one of the four Nanodegree Plus courses will be able to work with Udacity's Career Services team and enroll in either the Career Concierge service or the Career Advisor program.