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Today, we are taking a huge step towards becoming the “University of Silicon Valley.” In the past decade, Udacity has become a global educational leader in fields such as Artificial Intelligence and Data Science. But to double down on student success, every student will now have technical mentors, expert reviewers, career coaches, and personalized learning plans on their side, in every Nanodegree program.  Our learning programs — built with the best in Silicon Valley — have always been world class. But, the changes we have implemented today will take them to a whole new level.

Sebastian Thrun, Founder of Udacity

Personal Mentorship and Career Coaching for All Students

Over the past months, we have recruited thousands of experts to serve as personalized mentors for our students. Going forward, Udacity will now provide one-on-one technical mentorship, along with expert feedback to student projects and individual career coaching to help students advance their careers.

We know from data that 50% of our students are looking directly for new jobs; another 40% are seeking promotions or want to start their own businesses. Learning the necessary tech skills is hard. Our new technical mentors are available to provide help and guidance whenever needed.

We also know our students learn best by building their own projects. So, our team of expert reviewers are available to give individual constructive feedback to every student project, with a median turnaround time of just 3.9 hours. And, getting ready for interviews can be challenging. So, our individual career coaches are available to all students to assist with the thorny job application and interview process. No other online learning platform provides this level of end-to-end personalized mentorship.

Better Outcomes for Students

Does more support make a difference for our students? We know it does. Only 4% of students ever complete a MOOC. At present, our Nanodegree programs have a 34% graduation rate, thanks to the tireless efforts of the hard-charging Udacity team. When paired with our new personalized mentorship programs in past experiments, cohorts have commonly exceeded 60% graduation rates. In one experiment, carried out jointly with Infosys in India, 99 of 99 students enrolled in our self-driving car program graduated with a Nanodegree certificate in hand.

And, increased support helps our graduates find better jobs. For our Nanodegree Plus pilot, an independent accounting firm verified that among our career-seeking and job-ready graduates, 84% found a new, better job within six months of graduation. And for those 84%, the salaries went up, by an average of $24,000 per person. So much that on average, those students recouped their entire Udacity tuition fee in just three weeks.

Flexible, Customized Learning

In 2016, we began offering Nanodegree programs with flat fees, fixed start and end dates and project deadlines. Over the years, however, we learned that while it’s true that deadlines improve graduation rates, the lack of flexibility is challenging for some students. We understand that some of our students need more flexibility—the ability to choose the best pace for them to achieve their goals with our custom learning plans and flexible monthly payment plans. With our new $399 per month payment plan, we now provide additional flexibility to fit learning into busy schedules.

The Fourth Degree

With more than 75,000 Nanodegree program graduates and over 200 industry partners, the Nanodegree program is well on its way to becoming a de-facto standard for hiring and corporate training in the tech industry. This is in no small part because partners like Google, Amazon, Facebook, AT&T, IBM, Mercedes, and so many others help us develop our curricula, and hire our graduates. If Udacity was an actual university, we would be “accredited by industry.” Who would know better what it takes to get a job at your dream company than our own corporate partners?

At Udacity, we think of the Nanodegree program as a new “fourth degree.” The three common university degrees — the Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD — have been with us for more than six-hundred years!  While these programs form a strong foundation for a student’s career, the reality is that technology is moving too fast today to ever be done learning. To be the best, workers need to continuously refresh their skills and learn about the latest technologies in their field.  That’s the role of the Nanodegree program.

I am incredibly excited to share the huge step we are taking on our journey to become the Lifelong University of Silicon Valley.  Now that every student has a technical mentor, career coaches, and a personalized learning plan on their side, Udacity is relentlessly doubling down on our unparalleled commitment to student success.

Welcome to the future of e-learning.

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