The New York Times Company will soon be stamping its name not only on newspaper headers, but on online-education certificates.
Two years ago, with revenue from its celebrated print product in a nosedive, the New York Times Company starting poking its nose into the lucrative market of distance education, providing technology, marketing, and archival resources for non-credit courses taught by professors at colleges around the country  through Epsilen, its online course delivery and networking platform.
This spring, in conjunction with a handful of colleges, the Times will actually start awarding certificates to students who pay to take its online courses -- moving beyond its previous involvement, which focused on individual, non-credit courses.
“Online education is a really robust area,” said Felice Nudelman, director of education for the Times. “It is, for many institutions, a profit center. And it’s an exciting way to bring together all the content from The New York Times and expertise from our newsroom, and expertise of college and university faculty.”
Ball State University’s undergraduate College of Communications, Information, and Media will begin a six-week course  on video storytelling Monday — one of nine courses students must complete in order to earn a certificate toward “emerging media journalism” stamped with the seals of the Times and Ball State. Nudleman said she thinks a certificate bearing both brands will “absolutely” make an impressive addition to a résumé.
But cachet comes at a price. The Times and its college partners have always charged for access to their online courses, but in order to earn credit toward a certificate, online students will have to pay a little extra. For example, the Ball State video storytelling course will cost $235 to students seeking credit, $199 for non-credit students. The Times and the university will share the revenue.
Roger Lavery, dean of the communications school at Ball State, said he expects many of the early participants in the program to be older journalists seeking the new-media skills to adapt to a changing journalism industry. Lavery also said he believes students at other colleges with less well-appointed communications programs might enroll to supplement their studies, and has advertised the program to the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Media and the Broadcast Education Association. Ball State will not allow its own students to take the online courses for credit, so as not to cannibalize its own classroom enrollments; but Lavery said he expects other colleges will be willing to count the credits.
Ball State is one of four colleges that have partnered with the Times on certificate programs, and the offerings go beyond the subject of journalism. Rosemont College is co-sponsoring a certificate in entrepreneurship, which involves six courses at $1,950 per course; the City University of New York is co-sponsoring a certificate in immigration law — four courses at $930 a pop; and Thomas Edison State College is co-sponsoring separate 45-week programs in paralegal studies and nurse paralegal studies, each costing $3,920.
Professors from the partnering institutions will teach the courses. The Times, for its part — in addition to advertising the programs online and in print — will supply the professors and their students with all the educational resources incorporated in its New York Times Knowledge Network . These include archived news content back to 1851, along with subject-specific content modules, offering instructors template tools to match articles, graphs and other materials with their lectures or online notes. The Times will also offer up topic specialists from its newsroom for virtual guest appearances.
“If you look at the content of the pages of New York Times,” Nudleman said, “we probably have as much depth and breadth as a good liberal arts curriculum.”