The Sophia Experience

The Sophia Experience

Sophia Honored as One of Newsweek’s “America’s Top Online Learning Providers for 2024”

Online learning, whether as a new student or a returning student, can be overwhelming. Choosing the right institution and program is a big decision and investment, but platforms like Sophia are hoping to make access to higher education less daunting. 

And now, we’ve been named one of Newsweek’sAmerica’s Top Online Colleges and America’s Top Online Learning Providers 2024.” Sophia earned a five-star rating – the highest possible ranking – demonstrating our commitment to providing quality education options to the students who need them most. 

For Dr. Shawna Thayer, CEO of Sophia, the award validates our mission and gets us closer to our goal of making a college degree within reach. 

“At Sophia, we strive to remove some of the barriers to higher education and provide accessible, affordable education options to assist students in their pursuit of a degree or professional development,” said Thayer. 

“It’s an honor to be recognized for our efforts. Our goal has been to support our students with an intuitive, high-quality, online learning platform that helps students at any stage of their education journey.  We’re very proud of the integrated experience we’ve created for our students, and earning a spot in the ‘Top Online Learning Platforms’ is a wonderful acknowledgement of our efforts.” 

What Is Newsweek’s “Top Colleges and Top Online Learning Providers” Award? 

Newsweek, a revered staple of American media and journalism for over 80 years, is a trusted source for information and rankings for universities and colleges as students navigate higher education. 

Now in its third consecutive year, Newsweek’s “America’s Top Colleges and Top Online Learning Providers” is a collaboration between the publication and Statista, the respected global data firm. Rankings are based on a survey of over 9,000 online learners and internal research for a comprehensive overview. 

In 2024, Newsweek evaluated and ranked 200 colleges and universities that offer online undergraduate and graduate programs. Each awarded institution has been given a star rating for comparison. 

For “Top Online Learning Providers,” Newsweek evaluated and selected 50 esteemed organizations that provide online courses and certificate and non-certificate programs to help aspiring students reach their personal and professional goals. These organizations are given a star rating for comparison and valuable data to assist with the decision-making process. 

How Are Schools and Learning Platforms Evaluated? 

The ratings and rankings for Newsweek are evaluated with support by Statista, which surveyed more than 9,000 online students. They were asked to identify their schools or online learning platforms, then share their experiences by rating institutions according to the following criteria: 

  • Organization 
  • Support 
  • Cost 
  • Reputation 
  • Success 
  • Practical relevance 
  • Satisfaction 
  • Likelihood to recommend the institution to others 

All colleges, universities, and platforms received star awards. Institutions needed a minimum rating to receive an award, with five stars showing an aggregate score that surpasses the median of all recognized institutions. 

About Sophia 

Sophia is an online learning platform that allows students to get started or continue their education – no matter the stage in their journey. Our affordable and flexible college-level general education courses are ACE®-recommended for college credit. 

Since our start, Sophia has helped students complete over 500,000 courses, earning more than 1.5M+ credits and saving over $500 million tuition dollars!* For more information about Sophia, visit Sophia.org.  

*Savings based on average annual tuition at in-state, 4-year institutions, as reported by IPEDS, 2020." 

Sophia Learning is a subsidiary of Strategic Education, Inc.   

Continue Your Path to Higher Education 

Ready to take the next step? See for yourself why we were named one of the top providers by signing up for a free trial today – no credit card required! 

Read more

Introducing Degree Pathways Partnership with Houston Community College and University of Phoenix

Today’s educational landscape offers a number of opportunities for non-traditional and independent learners, including transfer credits and self-paced course options. The downside, however, is that students may not know what courses to take to help with their chosen degree path. 

To help, Houston Community College and the University of Phoenix partnered to develop new degree pathways and assist students in planning and optimizing their educational journey. 

The Value of Degree Pathways 

Sophia and institutions like Houston Community College and University of Phoenix are designed to help students access education more affordably and save time and money on their degree. Students can take equivalent gen ed courses at a lower cost – often on a schedule that works for them – and prepare to transfer to a four-year institution. 

While some gen ed courses can be applied to virtually any degree as part of core learning, planning gen eds strategically may offer an advantage to students to get their degree faster (and possibly cheaper). However, students can be on their own in determining which courses they should be taking to get the most value out of their experience. 

Houston Community College, the University of Phoenix, and Sophia worked together to develop and improve degree pathways. With a linear path, students understand exactly what courses will transfer into which programs, increase awareness about the benefits of transfer courses, and support students with their degree plans. 

Degree pathways address this issue by packaging courses to help them plan their linear academic journey and take the most important courses in the right order. This is designed to enable seamless academic progression and a streamlined transfer process that promotes higher completion rates. Students have affordable options with transfer pathways to not only save time and money but reduce the likelihood of credit loss and wasted coursework. 

For example, students can begin their education at Houston Community College, and with the help from Sophia to complete gen ed courses they can graduate with an associates degree before transferring to a four-year institution like the University of Phoenix. 

Together, these schools and Sophia are removing barriers for adult learners, enhancing educational accessibility, and helping students realize their education and career goals. 

What Degrees Are Available with Degree Pathways? 

The current degree pathways include Bachelor of Science in Management (BSM), Bachelor of Science and Information Technology (BSIT), and Bachelor of Science in Health Management (BSHM) from University of Phoenix. 

Students can now follow a clear, defined transfer credit pathway for these degrees, complete gen ed coursework at Sophia and Houston Community College, and transfer into University of Phoenix to become part of the school’s career-focused alumni.   

From collaboration with Houston Community College, Sophia offers gen ed courses as part of this degree pathway. Gen ed courses like humanities, college-level math, and foundational science courses may be part of these timely, structured, and seamless pathways to prepare for the degree programs at University of Phoenix. 

Students have the option to enroll in Houston Community College full- or part-time, supplement coursework with self-paced Sophia courses, maximize their summer learning, and approach their education with more flexibility and control. 

If you’re interested in learning more about these pathways, you can download the curricula from Houston Community College and the University of Phoenix

While these pathways have been rigorously developed to assist students, it’s important to talk to your advisor or reach out to our Sophia learning coaches to discuss your education plans. 

Explore the Degree Pathways! 

At Sophia, we’re excited to be a part of this program to enhance educational accessibility and provide more meaningful experiences to students. For more information on the degree pathways and our partnership with these institutions, check out these details from Houston Community College and University of Phoenix

*Students who complete Sophia courses and seek HCC transfer credit for such courses must (I) be enrolled at HCC as students in good standing and (II) meet course and program requirements. HCC will then award transfer credit under these conditions. 

Read more

National Transfer Student Week: Everything You Need to Know

Students transfer colleges for several reasons, from financial challenges to changes in majors to job changes. While there are excellent opportunities as a transfer student, the process is not without its challenges in financial aid, maximizing transfer credits, and staying on track to graduate. 

With National Transfer Student Week upon us, let’s take a look at how transfer students can create a smooth transfer process and hit the ground running at a new school. 

What Is National Transfer Student Week? 

The National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students (NISTS) has declared the third week of October as National Transfer Student Week. This week celebrates transfer students and their advocates who helped them navigate the transition from one institution to another and highlights the common struggles and successes. 

This year, National Transfer Student Week falls from October 16 to 20 with the theme of Full Steam Ahead. The transfer process is lengthy and includes some barriers along the way, but the goal of Full Steam Ahead is to clear the path and provide tools and support to empower students in their transfer journey. 

How Hard Is It to Transfer Colleges? 

While transferring colleges offers new opportunities, it can come with barriers and obstacles for the student, including: 

New Responsibilities 

Transfer students may struggle to balance their academic workload with personal responsibilities, such as work or family obligations. It’s important to prioritize tasks, create a schedule to balance responsibilities, and build a strong support system of academic advisors, family, and friends. 

Financial Aid and Scholarships 

Navigating financial aid and scholarships can be stressful and frustrating. Students can connect with the financial aid office to explore what options are available, apply for financial aid, understand important deadlines, and research scholarship opportunities. 

New Environments 

Transferring to a new school may mean a new living environment, whether that’s a dorm, off-campus housing, or at home, as well as new academic rigor, courses, and disciplinary policies. Schools offer resources to enable student success, including the housing office, orientation, academic advisors, and peer support. 

Transfer Credits 

A transfer student may have challenges transferring credits and fulfilling degree requirements at a new school. In some cases, it’s caused by a delay in the decision to transfer or errors in the process. When this happens, it could negatively impact the available courses. It’s important to meet with academic advisors, review transfer credit policies, and understand degree requirements to ensure you’re on track to graduate. 

Things to Consider When Transferring 

Though transferring schools comes with some unique challenges, the process isn’t too different from applying to college as a first-year student. Here’s what to consider as a transfer student: 

Meeting with Your Academic Advisor 

Your academic advisor is your greatest asset in facilitating a smooth transition from your current school to your new school. They’re invested in your success, so be sure to ask questions about the transfer process and get more insight into whether that move is right for you. 

Another benefit of speaking to your advisor is to learn how to transfer college credits. Your advisor can help you fill out the correct forms, request transcripts, and provide information about transfer agreements the school has with other institutions. 

Evaluating Learning Environments 

Transferring schools is a big change. In addition to adjusting to the new course structure and school culture, you may have a dramatic shift in the learning environment. There are generally two types of learning environments: 

On-Campus 

In-person learning is still a common choice for many students. With this option, you can attend part- or full-time and choose from the institution’s available programs, typically within certain degree tracks. Most, if not all, of those courses will be in person according to a set schedule. 

There are benefits to in-person attendance, such as interacting with peers and professors in person. For some students, on-campus courses are the best option to stay on track with a structured program and accessible campus resources. 

Online 

Online education is growing in popularity. Depending on the structure, online courses may offer more flexibility for self-starters and allow students to balance their day-to-day responsibilities without neglecting coursework. Traditional colleges often offer similar degree tracks and schedules as on-campus courses, simulating the in-person experience with class participation forums, video chats, and interactive course materials. 

For students with a tight schedule, online courses are often easier to align with your routine – but they’re no less rigorous. The online environment requires organization and focus to stay on task and keep up with coursework. 

Creating a Plan 

One of the biggest concerns for transfer students is whether their college credits will transfer to their new institution. Typically, this process is easier between schools with articulation agreements, which facilitate college credit transfers, but the ultimate decision to accept or reject transfer credits lies with the institution receiving them. 

It’s generally simpler to transfer credits from lower-level courses than specialized major-specific courses. Direct course equivalency is more common with gen ed or core courses, which may count toward to your gen eds or as a general elective. 

If some of your courses don’t transfer, it can be more difficult to satisfy the credits you need in your schedule. Classes can fill up quickly, leaving you at a disadvantage with strategically planning your college path

Your advisor is a good resource to help you determine what options you have to prepare for the transfer, such as taking gen ed courses with a platform like Sophia in advance. 

Get Support with Sophia 

If you’re running into barriers with your transfer credits or with getting the courses you need into your schedule, Sophia can help you fill gaps in your schedule. With over 60 college-level courses designed to transfer, you can complete your gen ed courses to save time and money and stay on track with your degree. 

Sophia also helps with prerequisites for your degree-specific courses to ensure you can maximize your course schedule, especially if you’re struggling to get into the courses you need when you need them. 

Ready to get ahead pre-transfer? Explore our courses and start a free trial with Sophia! 

Read more

University of the People and Sophia Announce Partnership to Provide Low-cost Educational Alternatives

The Sophia Learning team is proud to announce a new partnership with the University of the People (UoPeople) to provide UoPeople students with an affordable option to complete online general education courses. UoPeople’s 126,000 students will have immediate access to Sophia’s catalog of courses for $99 per month, and this partnership will help ensure Sophia courses are seamlessly transferred to UoPeople to help students complete an associate or bachelor’s degree.

About the Partnership

“With a partnership focused on offering low-cost educational alternatives, Sophia students can continue with their studies at UoPeople and earn their undergraduate degree from a quality, accredited online institution tuition-free,” said UoPeople founder and President Shai Reshef. UoPeople students can take advantage of Sophia’s subscription model of on-demand learning to increase their choices of flexible and affordable learning options. “This innovative pathway to earning a college credential at an affordable cost is the future of higher education.”

 

UoPeople is the first non-profit, tuition-free, American, accredited online university. Since its founding in 2009, UoPeople has significantly expanded both its academic programs and diverse student body. Today, the university enrolls more than 126,000 students from over 200 countries and territories. UoPeople was founded on the belief that quality education must be accessible and affordable for all. In particular, the university strives to offer programs to marginalized communities and regions around the world, and more than 16,500 of its students are refugees.

 

“I am excited to welcome University of the People to Sophia’s growing list of impressive university partners,” said Dr. Shawna Thayer, CEO of Sophia. “Our mission at Sophia is to provide accessible, affordable general education options to all – especially those in need – and to partner with another organization whose mission is so aligned with ours is inspiring.”

 

Sophia will offer UoPeople students access to more than 50 high-quality, college-level courses through an affordable monthly subscription that includes learning coaches and integrated course materials. Students can move through courses at their own speed, and Sophia courses are recommended for college credit by the American Council on Education. UoPeople students can take as many Sophia courses in a month as they wish – on their own time – and can be actively enrolled in two courses at a time.

About Sophia 

Sophia is an online learning platform that allows students at any stage of their higher education journey to get started on or continue their education by taking affordable and flexible college-level general education courses that are ACE®-recommended for college credit. Sophia students have completed more than 250,000 courses, earning more than 750,000 credits and saving more than $200 million dollars. For more information about Sophia, visit Sophia.org. Sophia Learning is a subsidiary of Strategic Education, Inc.

About University of the People

University of the People (UoPeople) is the first non-profit, tuition-free, American, accredited online university. Currently there are over 126,000 students from more than 200 countries and territories. Designed to open access to higher education globally, UoPeople helps qualified high school graduates overcome financial, geographic, political, and personal constraints keeping them from collegiate studies. The university offers associate and bachelor’s degree programs in business administration, computer science, and health science, as well as MBA, M.Ed. and MSIT programs. Graduates of UoPeople can be found working at such companies as Deloitte, Amazon, Apple, Pfizer, Google, Microsoft and IBM. UoPeople collaborates with Harvard Business School Online, New York University, McGill University, and the University of Edinburgh and has been supported by foundations such as the Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation and Hewlett Foundation. Learn more at www.uopeople.edu.

Interested in learning more about our exciting new partnership? 

Head to the dedicated UofPeople partnership page to learn about which courses transfer and get started today!

 

Read more

What Is It Like to Take Online Classes at Sophia?

Whether you’re just starting your degree, returning to school after a break, or looking to accelerate your degree program, taking online courses for college credits is a great way to knock out your general education credits.

Sophia Learning offers a range of self-paced, college-level general education courses that may transfer to other institutions. You can complete your gen ed courses online, at your leisure, to save time and money on your degree.

What’s it like to take online transferable college-level courses at Sophia? Let’s find out!

Getting Started

Starting your education journey at Sophia couldn’t be easier. Start by signing up for a free trial to become a member, which gives you access to the first challenge of your chosen course.

After the trial, you can choose the membership option that works best for you, including one-, four-, and 12-month options. Once you have a membership, you’ll get access to 50+ on-demand courses that cover a range of general education subjects. All courses are included in your membership, and you’re welcome to take as many as you like during your membership period (with a two-course limit at one time).

Sophia courses are transferable to partner colleges and universities, as well as hundreds of additional institutions that reviewed Sophia courses for credit. However, it’s important to confirm that your courses will transfer to your chosen institution. 

Sophia Courses

Sophia courses are designed to be self-paced, so you can start at any time and work through the material at the speed you’re most comfortable. There are no formal classes to attend or weekly assignments on deadlines.

Each course consists of Challenges, Milestones, and Touchstones:

Challenges

Sophia courses use a problem-based learning model with real-world scenarios to enhance critical thinking. Each Challenge has an average of 5-10 practical problems to solve.

You have multiple attempts to solve the problems, and you may stop and start as you wish to continue learning and improve your score. All Challenge questions must be attempted at least once to advance to the Milestone.

Milestones

Milestones test your understanding of the course concepts with 20-30 questions. You will have a set time limit to complete the Milestones, which is displayed on the Course Dashboard.

While there is no minimum score required for individual Milestones, they contribute to your overall course average. Milestones carry a weight three times that of Challenges for your final score. You will have an opportunity to retake each Milestone once, as well as a Practice option to check your preparedness before taking the scored version.

The Final Milestone is offered after you complete all the Challenges and Milestones. One-unit courses and some other courses may not have a Final Milestone. You may need to verify your identity with a photo ID before taking the Final Milestone.

Touchstones

In some courses, Touchstones are used to apply mastery of concepts. These are project-based assessments with a deliverable, which is submitted for manual grading and originality. All Touchstone submissions must be original and unique to the course, rather than repurposed from other courses.

You can work on Touchstones at any time, but you have to pass the Unit Milestone before you can submit the Touchstone for grading. You must earn at least 50% overall on each touchstone to pass, but that grade also contributes to your course average. If you fail a Touchstone, you can resubmit it once for a better score.

To recieve a Sophia transcript:

  • Complete Challenges by attempting the questions

  • Achieve an average score of 70% or better across all Challenges, Milestones, and Touchstones

  • Complete each Touchstone with a score of at least 50%

Online Lab Components and Courses

Sophia also has brand-new lab components to accompany lecture courses. Like on-campus learning, having lab work creates a more robust journey into the natural sciences for a firm grasp of the scientific method and real-world relevance.

Labs are available for Human Biology and Introduction to Chemistry. All labs are performed online without the need for specialized science equipment. To meet the requirement, you will need to write lab reports and answer quiz questions pertaining to the information in the course.

With a Sophia subscription, you are only permitted to be active in two courses at one time. Because labs are used in conjunction with the course lectures, taking a science course with a lab reaches the two-course limit.

Other Sophia Learning Pathway Benefits

We’re invested in your success with our courses. Our learning environment has an array of tools to support your educational experience, including:

  • Learning Coaches via a Live Chat feature

  • A Progress Bar with a recommended schedule to complete your course

  • Score indicators for real-time feedback and your current score

  • A View Report page with detailed activity and progress indicators

  • Third-party tutoring options for select courses from Pearson SmarThinking

Transferring Courses

A transfer credit represents a course you’ve successfully completed at Sophia that is applied at another school. Earning general education credits is a great way to accelerate your degree program – and save some money in the process. Sophia partners with 40 colleges and universities, and over 1,000 institutions have reviewed Sophia courses.

Once you complete a course successfully, you can request an official transcript through Parchment or Credly for ACE transcripts. Most Sophia partner institutions have automated transcription.

Always contact your advisor or registrar to be sure a Sophia course will transfer for college-level credit at your chosen institution. Our Learning Coaches can also help you determine which courses are ideal for your program or how to send your Sophia transcript.

Let’s Get Started!

Are you ready to accelerate your learning experience with Sophia Learning? Take the first step by exploring our courses, browsing partner schools, or signing up for a free trial!

Read more

How to transfer your Sophia credits

Sophia Learning offers students an opportunity to complete college-level courses that may then be transferred for credit at their college or university. But how does a college-credit transfer work? What happens after you complete a course with Sophia, and how can you ensure your completed coursework will be accepted for credit? 

The answer primarily depends on whether or not your school is one of Sophia’s college and university partners. Here’s what this means for you. 

If Your School Is Partnered with Sophia . . . 

We’ve partnered with over 40 colleges and universities that have agreed to accept transfer credits from Sophia. If your school is on our list of partners, you may not need to complete any additional steps to ensure your completed Sophia coursework is accepted for transfer credit at your school. For most partner universities, your transcript is submitted automatically once you successfully complete a course, and you will receive an email confirming the details of your transferred credits. 

If Your School Is Not Partnered with Sophia . . . 

First and foremost, it’s important that you check with your school’s registrar or with your college advisor to determine transfer eligibility before enrolling in a course. But you certainly don’t need to be enrolled at a partner school to earn credits. In fact, more than 290 schools have reviewed transcripts from Sophia. 

Once you successfully complete a course, you will receive an email with instructions on how to access your transcript via Parchment. The process is as simple as creating a Parchment account, following the guided steps to order a transcript, and paying a small delivery fee to have the transcript sent to your school.  

If It’s Been a While Since You Took a Sophia Course . . . 

Students who transfer schools, take time off, or take Sophia courses prior to enrolling in an accredited program may wonder: Do college credits expire? And how long are college credits good for? Good news: the courses you take with Sophia do not expire and may be transferred to your college or university at any time. It is still important for students to check with their university registrar to ensure that there are no timing restrictions.  

The process for doing so is similar to the steps outlined above. Simply contact us, and we will send you links to Parchment so you can access your official Sophia transcript and request it to be transferred to your school. 

Our mission is to help make education more accessible and affordable for students, which is why we strive to make the process for transferring Sophia credits as clear-cut as possible. Students love that our transfer process, like our courses, is straightforward, and schools love that our 40+ college-level courses are ACE® recommended. That’s why Sophia courses have been accepted for credit at hundreds of colleges and universities. 

Learn more about transferring credits with Sophia. 

Read more

3 Reasons You Should Sign Up for Sophia’s Free Trial

At Sophia Learning, we believe you should always try before you buy. That’s why we offer one free trial to any student interested in taking an online college-level course with us. All you need to do to start your free trial with Sophia is create an account by providing your first name, last name, and email address—no credit card required.

But then what? What happens once you’re in? Why do we think you’ll love the opportunity to give Sophia a test run? Here are the top three benefits to signing up for a free trial:

1. Take All the Time You Need

Unlike many other trials, you don’t have to complete your free trial with Sophia in 14 days or on any kind of limited time frame. We know life gets busy, so we won’t limit your time or access to our courses. You just won’t be able to move past the first unit of any course until you sign up to pay your $99 monthly membership fee.

This allows you to try out courses whenever it’s convenient for you and may offer valuable insights about the amount of time it will take you to complete the lessons. It also allows you the opportunity to contact your school’s registrar and confirm whether Sophia’s ACE recommended courses meet their requirements for transfer credit.

2. Find a Course That’s Right for You

Just like we don’t limit your time frame to take the free trial, we also don’t limit the number of courses you can try out. That’s right: you can try all of Sophia’s 40+ on-demand college-level courses for free.

We know you’ll enjoy exploring Sophia’s unique and intuitive course room structure, trying out different content, and getting to know any of our course instructors before you pay a single cent. That way, when you’re ready to move past the free trial, you already know which courses will be the best fit for you.

Not sure where to start? Some of our most popular online courses include Introduction to Business, College Algebra, and Human Biology.

3. Simplify the Membership Process

Once you’ve signed up for the free trial, it’s easy to begin paying your $99 monthly subscription fee and complete your courses. Simply click begin membership in your account profile and provide a credit or debit card.

Plus, any work you complete during the free trial is saved, so you can pick up right where you left off once you become a member. After you finish a course, you’ll receive a transcript that allows you to submit your courses for transfer credit whenever you’re ready.

What’s the catch? There isn’t one! We want to set you up for success, and that means giving you the opportunity to try Sophia’s courses with no strings attached before you commit to a paid membership. 

Start your free trial today.

Read more