The University of Southern California and education company 2U plan to wind down their partnership on most of the private institution’s online degree programs that they’ve worked on together, according to a late Thursday announcement.
2U, an online program management company, and USC “mutually agreed” to part ways on the offerings, they said in a joint release. The impacted programs include graduate degrees in social work, teaching, nursing, school counseling, organizational change and leadership, as well as integrated design, business and technology.
Over the next 15 months, USC and 2U said they will work together to transfer the delivery and administration of these programs to the university.
“We are proud of the robust foundation that this relationship has helped to lay for these programs, which are well-poised for future success,” 2U and USC said in a joint statement. “Both 2U and USC remain excited and optimistic about what the next chapter holds for online education.”
The company will continue to work with USC on its hybrid online clinical program in physical therapy, according to the announcement.
The news comes as USC faces lawsuits over some of the affected offerings.
Graduates of USC’s online master’s in social work sued the university earlier this year, alleging that it presented the program as on par with the on-campus version even though “substantial aspects” were outsourced to 2U.
A group of former students also sued 2U and USC in 2022, accusing them of enticing students to enroll in the university’s online graduate education programs by advertising artificially inflated rankings.
USC did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday night.
A 2U spokesperson pointed to comments made by Chip Paucek, the company’s CEO, during a call Thursday with analysts to discuss the company’s third-quarter earnings.
Paucek said the company’s strategy includes rotating out degree programs in certain circumstances, such as if they aren’t performing well financially or have high debt-to-earnings ratios.
“The market for degree programs has changed over the years and some programs have become more difficult to run due to their pricing or other factors,” Paucek said. “Program pricing is a decision that rests with the university partner, so we’ve taken a hard look at our portfolio through that lens.”