Saturday, September 13, 2008

Princeton Review Founder to Challenge U of Phoenix

John Katzman, who founded Princeton Review and took on the standardized testing industry, will now take on the market that companies like University of Phoenix and Capella and Walden Universities, by launching an online Master's degree program with the USC Rossier School of Education, with his new company, 2Tor.

The story is:

2Tor is starting in a field with which Katzman is familiar, and where the need is great: teacher education. On Monday, 2Tor will announce that it is teaming up with the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education to create an online version of its master’s of arts in teaching, called MAT@USC. Within a decade, in Katzman’s grand vision, the online version of USC’s program — which now produces about 150 students a year — could produce 5,000 or more, helping not just California but many states meet the desperate demand for teachers in high-need (urban, rural, low-income) schools.

But it is not just about volume, say Katzman and Karen Symms Gallagher, the Rossier school’s dean. There are no shortage of teacher education schools, nor even of teacher prep programs offered online. But at a time when higher education institutions are facing significant pressure to increase the number of students they educate, and to be more innovative in how they do so, most of that growth and much of that innovation has been relegated, Katzman notes, to large for-profit providers (notably the mammoth University of Phoenix Online), niche for-profit institutions (Capella and Walden Universities) and ambitious but less prestigious nonprofit institutions, like Nova Southeastern University and the University of Maryland University College.

Katzman faces a challenge to build exclusivity and brand value in an education field where there have been few -- though remarkable -- successes.

What do you think of the technique, which appears to be linking with an esteemed partner to further both companies brands? Who will win in this deal? Is it the win-win that it appears, or more of a win, short-term for 2Tor?

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