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What Is Outlier.org?

05.22.2023 • 7 min read

Sara Kuehl

Subject Matter Expert

Learn exactly what Outlier.org is and its ultimate mission for its degrees and courses. Also, find out who Outlier partners with and read some student reviews.

In This Article

  1. What Is Outlier.org?

  2. How Does Outlier.org Work?

  3. Testimonials and Reviews

“I was probably the poorest kid I knew at Boston University.”

When Outlier.org founder and CEO Aaron Rasmussen studied at Boston University, he transferred credits from community college to make his education more affordable.

“Coming from a small town, having education fundamentally changed my position in the world,” Rasmussen said. “That’s not unusual. What is unusual is access to education.”

Rasmussen’s personal experience with college, combined with his professional experience co-founding MasterClass, led him to create Outlier.org.

What Is Outlier.org?

Outlier.org is an online education platform offering accredited courses and associate degrees that empower students to earn college credit at a fraction of the average U.S. tuition. Outlier.org’s mission is to increase access to quality college education and dramatically reduce student debt.

Since its founding in 2018, Outlier.org has saved students millions of dollars in tuition fees. Its 18 courses (and counting!) are matching the success rates of traditional in-person college courses. TIME magazine even named Outlier one of the 100 Best Inventions in 2020.

University Partners

To achieve its mission, Outlier.org has partnered with 2 top-rated universities.

1. University of Pittsburgh

Outlier courses are transcripted by the University of Pittsburgh, a top 50 global university accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Founded in 1787, it’s among the oldest public universities in the U.S.

2. Golden Gate University

Associate degrees through the Degrees+ program are transcripted by Golden Gate University (GGU), a San Francisco-based nonprofit university. GGU is the #1 school for working adults, according to Washington Monthly, and is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

How Does Outlier.org Work?

Outlier.org is different from a traditional college experience. Let’s explore the ins and outs of how it all works.


Outlier offers introductory-level courses in a variety of fields, including:

  • Precalculus

  • Intro to Psychology

  • Intro to Business

  • Principles of Economics

  • Computer Science

  • Professional Communication

See the course catalog for the full list.

Each course is worth 3 college credits from the University of Pittsburgh. Or you can choose to audit instead. Anyone 13 and older can enroll in a course, but they should be ready for the academic rigor of college-level course work.


In partnership with GGU, the Degrees+ program powered by Outlier offers 3 associate degrees:

  • Associate of Arts in Business Administration

  • Associate of Arts in Liberal Studies

  • Associate of Science in Applied Computing

Each degree program is worth 60 credits and takes 19 months to complete full time. (You can enroll full time or part time.) Degrees+ also includes career certificates from top companies like Google, IBM, and Salesforce. You earn a certificate of your choice in your first year, so you can boost your resume before you graduate. (That’s where the “+” in Degrees+ comes from: students earn a degree plus one or more career certificates.)

Flexible, Immersive Online Learning Experience

All Outlier courses and Degrees+ programs are 100% online. You can learn on your schedule, from anywhere in the world, with 24/7 access to all course materials. You also have flexible, weeklong windows to take AI-proctored exams.

Forget the boring Zoom lectures you might think of when you hear “online learning.” Instead, picture an immersive digital experience. Outlier.org combines cinematic lectures (think: movie theater) with interactive learning tools (think: online game).

And you’re in control. Learn your way with:

  • Adjustable playback speed (like your favorite podcast app)

  • Searchable transcripts (so you can jump to a specific section)

  • 1-on-1 tutoring available in all math, writing, and accounting courses

Want a full walkthrough of these features? Experience a day in the life of a Degrees+ student.


All Outlier courses feature lecturers from top universities like Cornell, Yale, MIT, and Harvard. So you can learn from Ivy League professors—without the Ivy League price tag.

Some courses also bring in experts outside of higher education. When you’re ready to hone your writing skills, get inside tips from celebrated novelists, journalists, and screenwriters in College Writing I. Or if you’re into Astronomy, who better to learn from than NASA?

Whatever their area of expertise, all lecturers are specifically chosen for their engaging and approachable teaching styles to give you the best learning experience.

In Degrees+, you also get real-world insights from GGU faculty. They’re experienced industry leaders in San Francisco’s financial and high-tech district, where GGU is located.

Financial Aid

As an accredited program, Degrees+ is eligible for federal financial aid. When you apply to Degrees+, simply submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see how much aid you qualify for.

Degrees+ is purposefully affordable: 66% less than the national average college tuition. With tuition this low, your degree could be fully funded if you qualify for the average Pell Grant, employer benefits, or military benefits! In fact, 56% of Americans are eligible for Pell Grants large enough to cover 100% of their Degrees+ tuition.

Even if you don’t qualify for full funding, your financial aid goes further with Degrees+ all-inclusive tuition. For $149 per credit, you get everything you need. There are no expensive textbooks, subscriptions, hidden fees, or out-of-state tuition rates.

U.S. tuition increases 8% per year on average. But Degrees+ tuition is locked in once you start. So you won’t get any surprise bills in the middle of your degree program.

While Outlier courses aren’t eligible for financial aid, they’re half the cost of the average college course. Students can use Klarna to spread payments out over 18 months, and Outlier will cover all student interest fees. Courses are also backed by a risk-free guarantee: if you do all the work and don’t pass, you get a full refund.

Financial aid can be confusing, so check out these guides to help you make informed decisions about paying for college:

Transferable Credits

Whether you’re getting a head start with a couple college courses or going back to school after dropping out, transfer credits can make or break your college plans. That’s why Outlier.org is designed to maximize transferability.


With Degrees+, you can transfer in up to 45 credits from previous school, work, or military experience. That means you could earn your associate degree in as little as 8 months!

When you graduate, you earn 60 transferable credits from Golden Gate University. And if you have at least a 2.5 GPA, you gain automatic admission into the bachelor’s degree program of your choice at GGU.


For each Outlier course, you earn 3 college credits from the University of Pittsburgh. These are guaranteed to transfer to any of the schools in Outlier’s Credit Transfer Network.

Students have reported successfully transferring credits to more than 100 schools—ranging from their local community colleges to top-rated universities including Harvard, Georgetown, Princeton, and NYU.

Support for Military Students

GGU has been serving military students since 1918, so they understand the unique needs of military families. It’s a designated Military Friendly School and, according to Military Times, one of the top 20 online colleges for veterans.

You get a jumpstart on your degree with up to 12 college credits for your military training. And, as a Yellow Ribbon school, GGU makes sure your degree is affordable, if not fully funded.

Degrees+ is eligible for a variety of military education benefits, including:

As a Degrees+ student, you’re not alone. Specialized coaches help you navigate the transition to college, and you can connect with more than 1,000 military students in dedicated virtual spaces.

As you approach graduation, you can take advantage of strategic career services. They help you prepare for civilian positions and communicate the value of your experience to employers.

Testimonials and Reviews

We’ve explored what Outlier.org is all about. But what do actual students have to say about it?

“I'm new to this whole college experience, and I don't think I could've gotten a better start! The team has always been really supportive and always listened to my requests.” –Matheus S.

“As someone who didn’t have the best relationship with school, Outlier really made me rethink everything that a great education could be.” –Taija L.

“I really loved Outlier because the instructors were passionate about what they taught. You had a great community, you had support wherever you needed it. The whole experience was so convenient and flexible.” –Connor H.

“Outlier really helped me feel in control of my education. I loved being able to work at my own pace while still having all the information I needed.” –Christina B.

“I could not believe how easy it was to transfer credits from Outlier. Once I realized how painless it was, I decided to take 7 courses! All of them transferred with no problems, it was awesome!” –Mia F.

“LOVE LOVE LOVE. I’ve taken a lot of online courses over the years and this blows them all away—in design, teachers, production, content, and facilitating learning.” –Jacqueline W.

Making higher education more equitable and accessible is a team effort. Outlier.org brings together experts from the worlds of education, technology, film, and gaming to create online college courses that are both high quality and low cost. If you're looking for an affordable, high-quality, digital-native college experience, Outlier.org may be right for you.

Degrees+: Discover Online College Unlike Anything You’ve Experienced

Outlier (winner of TIME Best Inventions 2020) and Golden Gate University (#1 school for working professionals) have redesigned the experience of earning a college degree to minimize cost and maximize outcomes. Explore a revolutionary way to earn your college degree: