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Announcing nanodegrees: a new type of credential for a modern workforce

Introducing Nanodegrees

In my role working with partners and external companies, people often ask me what differentiates Udacity’s culture. Out of everything I share with them, one thing stands out: our passion. There is a fire in the belly of every single person that works here at Udacity to create a better education and better opportunities for our students. It’s what defines our community. Lunch and hallway conversations revolve around how we can improve learning for the changing job landscape; what is most relevant to our students; how can we impact the world even in the smallest of ways with our courses. And throughout, we have worked with over 20 industry partners behind the scenes to help inform these conversations. As students, you’ve likely seen the results in courses built with the best experts from Google and Facebook to Cloudera and

Today, we’re bringing these partnerships further to the forefront as we introduce credentials built and recognized by industry with clear pathways to jobs. Together with AT&T and an initial funding from AT&T Aspire of more than $1.5 million, we are launching nanodegrees: compact, flexible, and job-focused credentials that are stackable throughout your career. And the nanodegree program is designed for efficiency: select hands-on courses by industry, a capstone project, and career guidance. Efficient enough that you can get a nanodegree as you need it and earn new ones throughout your career, even if you need to switch paths since a career isn’t always a straight line.

As we have often talked about, the accelerating change in technology demands this new model of lifelong learning. McKinsey estimates there will be a shortfall of 85 million skilled jobs globally in 2020 driven by the rapid changes in technology. Students will need to acquire new skills and hone previously learned ones in time for their next job or strategic initiative to keep pace. They will also need to acquire this learning while balancing their time with current jobs, families, and personal interests.

We are designing nanodegrees as the most compact and relevant curriculum to qualify you for a job. The sole goal is to help students advance their career: whether it’s landing their next job, their next project, or their next promotion. It should take a working student about 6-12 months to complete without having to take time off. We will teach all the necessary skills together with why those skills matter along with career guidance. In other words, you won’t just learn *how* to code, but also *why.* The initiative is endorsed by companies such as Cloudera,, Autodesk, as well as Technet, Silicon Valley Leadership Group,, and the Business Roundtable.

Our early nanodegrees will prepare you for a job as a front-end web developer, back-end web developer, iOS mobile developer, or data analyst. The first nanodegree will start this Fall. These are just the first of many nanodegrees we’re developing with leading technology companies.

We’re also excited to share that AT&T is making up to 100 paid internships available to top students who complete nanodegrees, and are offering scholarships to non-profit organizations starting with Genesys Works and Year Up.

We know we still have a long road ahead, but today is the first step on a new path for education by industry. This will be a way for companies and students to stand out in their field and embrace modern vocational and lifelong learning. Nanodegrees have industry backing, valid credentials, compelling courses, and relevant career guidance. Most importantly, we’re dedicated to making them work for every single student.
That is what passion feels like for our team at Udacity.
Clarissa Shen
VP, Business Development & Partnerships
Clarissa Shen
Clarissa Shen
Clarissa Shen is the Chief Operating Officer for Udacity. She joined as Udacity’s first business hire leading all business functions. Prior to Udacity, she co-founded a K-12 start-up, led digital change at Apollo Group, and advised Fortune 500 and government clients throughout Greater China, Asia, and Europe as a management consultant with Deloitte/Monitor Group. Clarissa has also managed a Google Top 10 digital marketing team, and led an internationally-renowned touring contemporary dance company. Clarissa graduated magna cum laude with a BA in English and Environmental Studies from Williams College, and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.