Y Combinator will now run its online Startup School multiple times per year

Back in 2017, Y Combinator began offering a 10-week, once-a-year online course called Startup School. Part forum community and part video classroom, the program offers a variety of lectures on topics like raising money or evaluating startup ideas, as led by YC partners and other entrepreneurs from their network.

Three years and 40,000+ students later, they’re switching up the schedule; beginning in 2020, Startup School will now be running multiple times per year. It’s also shifting from being a 10-week program to being an eight-week program.

In its first few years, Y Combinator set a hard cap on the number of founders it accepted into each Startup School session. After acceptance letters were accidentally sent to the wrong teams in 2018, the company opted to let in everyone who applied, modifying the program to focus less on personal advising and more on small peer-to-peer advice groups. It sounds like they’re sticking with this strategy moving forward, as an FAQ on the Startup School site notes that they “do not have a limit on the number of participants” with this year’s sessions.

Did you take part in Startup School previously and are curious if it’s worth doing again? YC says that while “a few lectures will be updated or replaced,” the video content of 2020’s Startup School will be largely the same as 2019. The structure of the course itself will see some changes, though: they’ll be doing fewer group video chat sessions, but introducing weekly Q&A sessions with YC partners.

Just how many times “multiple times per year” will actually be still seems to be up in the air; YC tells me that they’re still working that out. In a post announcing the change, YC notes that its first 2020 course will start in January (whereas previous sessions have started closer to mid-year).

Also still a bit up in the air is YC’s Startup School grant program. In previous years, graduates of the course were able to apply for an equity-free grant (initially $10,000, later increased to $15,000). With Startup School now occurring multiple times per year, YC says it’s “in the process of evaluating the grant program.”

In the same post, YC outlined some stats from this most recent year — like, of the 41,777 founders who took part in the course, 10,193 graduated; 57% of the founders worked on their startups full-time; and 62% of founders were from outside the U.S.

That last bit seems key to YC’s strategy here. Startup School is at least partly meant to serve as a potential funnel into the core YC accelerator program. By putting everything online, they’re letting people from around the world get their foot in the door and get the ball rolling without making the massive commitment of moving to the U.S.