Back in July, Coursera announced a $43 million series B. Now the round has grown to an even more impressive $63 million with the addition of funding from three undisclosed university partners.
The education startup told AllThingsD that the delay was due to the new investors’ longer due diligence process. The round also includes additional funding from existing investors GSV Capital and Learn Capital.
Coursera has now raised a total of $85 million to fuel its ambitious mission of offering Ivy League-caliber education online for free. The startup competes with other MOOCs (massive open online courses) companies like Udacity and EdX. Udacity recently launched an comprehensive degree track program meant to compete with a much more expensive online master’s program in data science from UC Berkeley and 2U, while EdX partnered with Google to launch MOOC.org, which will allow teachers and businesses to create their own digital courses.
In addition to its VC funding, Coursera’s competitive advantages include its sheer size (it currently has 5.5 million students signed up for classes from 100 institutions) and its Signature Track program, which lets students pay for verified certificates so they can prove that they have completed one of Coursera’s online classes. A verified certificate obviously does not have the same cachet as a university degree, but Coursera’s agreement with the American Council on Education (ACE) to evaluate a subset of courses to see if students can use them to qualify for credits toward a degree is an important step as the company seeks to radically redefine higher education.