Welcome To Star Scholar U.

A new kind of university has begun to emerge: Call it Star Scholar U.

Professors with large followings and technical prowess are breaking off to start their own online institutions, delivering courses with little or no backing from traditional campuses.

Founding a university may sound dramatic, but in an era of easy-to-use online tools it can be done as a side project—akin to blogging or writing a textbook. Soon there could be hundreds of Star Scholar U's.

Two recent examples are Marginal Revolution University, started by two economics professors at George Mason University, and Rheingold U, run by the author and Internet pioneer Howard Rheingold. To be clear, these professors are using the word "university" loosely—they award no credit and claim no spot on any college ranking. And they probably won't become rich through their teaching. But the gambit gives them full control over the content and delivery methods. And it offers their personal brands as a kind of credential.

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