Think you can hack it at MIT? If so, the world-renowned university is willing to give you a new kind of credential to prove it. Not a full-fledged diploma - that's still a possibility only for the 10,000 or so students admitted to its Cambridge, Massachusetts, campus.
But on Monday, MIT is announcing that for the first time it will offer credentials - under the name "MITx" - to students who complete the online version of certain courses, starting with a pilot program this spring.
"This is not MIT light. This is not an easier version of MIT," said Provost L. Rafael Reif.
"An MITx learner, anywhere they are, for them to earn a credential they have to demonstrate mastery of the subject just like an MIT student does."
The announcement comes as elite universities like Stanford, Yale and Carnegie-Mellon are experimenting with how to use the Internet to extend their teaching to a global audience hungering for instruction on platforms like YouTube, Apple's iTunes U and others developed by universities themselves.
MIT's OpenCourseWare has been among the most popular, making course materials such as syllabi, tests and lecture videos from over 2,000 MIT classes available free online. The 10-year-old program has been accessed by more than 100 million people worldwide. But where elite universities like MIT have mostly stopped short is offering some kind of credential that carries the university name and proves the recipient has mastered the curriculum.