The University of the People, which offers undergraduate degrees in computer science and business administration, has been accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council in the US just in time for its first graduating class, which is due to complete its studies in April.
Although students pay a registration fee determined by the gross domestic product of their country of residence, along with a $100 (£60) administration fee for each exam they sit, those who cannot afford it can apply for a range of scholarships.
To complete an undergraduate degree, 40 exams must be passed, bringing the total cost of a degree to around $4,000 (£2,400). The university currently has 700 students from 142 countries, although the first graduating class contains only seven students.
The university was launched in 2010 by Israeli entrepreneur Shai Reshef, who invested around £2 million of his own money in the project. “Accreditation is critical to UoPeople’s mission, attesting to the quality of education for our prospective students and their prospective employers,” said Mr Reshef.
“We have pursued this stamp of approval since day one, and are confident it will help pave the way for greater adoption of alternative models in education across the globe.”
Mr Reshef said he hoped the university would expand “significantly” following accreditation, and believes it will have 5,000 students by 2016.
John Sexton, president of New York University and chairman of UoPeople’s President’s Council said: “With the development of technology, we now can provide a quality higher education to able students in the United States and around the globe who, until now, did not have available to them the possibility of a college or university degree.
“It’s thrilling to think that with this accreditation, more students, employers and leaders will begin to recognise the worth of a UoPeople degree.”