MasterClass founder launches Outlier, offering online courses for college credit

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Aaron Rasmussen, co-founder and former creative director of MasterClass, has a new startup called Like MasterClass, Outlier is bringing education online, but with a key difference — these are college classes offering real college credit.

The startup is launching a pilot version of its first two courses, Calculus I and Introduction to Psychology, for the coming fall semester. Each course is available for $400. (That covers all costs, including textbooks.)

Despite the .org name and address, Rasmussen said Outlier is very much a for-profit company, but he said, “We do want to make it clear that our goal is social impact. I believe in market solutions to problems. Coming up with a market solution to education, rather just relying on people’s charity, is far more durable.”

The problem in question is the cost of higher education. Rasmussen said that each year, 1 million students take a college-level Calculus I course in the United States, at an average cost of $2,500. And then 40% of them fail.

“That means we’re wasting $1 billion per year,” he said — and that’s just on a single class.

Rasmussen is hardly the first to point out this problem, which is one of the


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