Coursera announced a massive milestone today: the first big step towards credit options. The American Council on Education‘s College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT) has made credit recommendations for an initial five Coursera courses.

In other words, students who complete select courses on Coursera’s online platform will be able to potentially apply their credit toward a college degree. The word “potentially” is in there because the company can’t guarantee that each college will approve the credit. That being said, more than 2,000 colleges and universities consider ACE CREDIT recommendations in determining the applicability to their course and degree programs, according to Coursera.

The five courses in question were chosen for evaluation in November 2012 and have been approved as of today, February 7. The courses include four undergraduate credit courses and one vocational credit:

Coursera plans to work with ACE to evaluate additional courses offered on its platform “in the coming months.”

Those students who wish to receive ACE CREDIT recommendations for an eligible Coursera course can do so by signing up through the course website, joining the course’s Signature Track, and then taking a special online exam after the course ends. Coursera has partnered with ProctorU, an online proctoring service, so that students anywhere in the world can take special assessments via a webcam.

Coursera says charges will range from $60 to $90 for the proctored exam and $30 to $99 for the Signature Track. As a result, ACE CREDIT recommendations for the equivalent of two to three college credits per course will have a total cost of between $90 and $190. Once that’s done, students who complete a pre-approved course can request a transcript with credit recommendations from ACE, which they can then present to a college or university of their choice for prerequisite or undergraduate credit consideration.

Coursera co-founders Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller both issued statements to say they were delighted to be able to offer students more avenues for academic success and achievement, meaning transferable college credit as well as eventually increasing the rate of degree completion and reducing the burden of college debt. ACE president Molly Corbett Broad meanwhile said the courses underwent “a rigorous evaluation” to ensure they met the standards for college credit recommendations.

She also painted a broader picture: “This is an important first step in ACE’s work to examine the long-term potential of MOOCs and whether this innovative new approach can engage students across the country and worldwide while helping raise degree completion, increasing learning productivity and deepening college curricula.” For those who don’t know, MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course, a new market that Coursera is pushing forward.

See also – Coursera launches Career Services to connect students with jobs at companies like Facebook and Twitter and Coursera doubles university count to 33, now hosts over 200 courses for over 1.3 million students

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