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Excelsior College and publisher Cengage Learning on Tuesday said they would partner to create self-paced online degree programs to give students an alternative pathway to college credit. The partnership will first produce an associate program in criminal justice and an M.B.A., but other courses and programs are in the works. Excelsior will be the first college to accept the courses as progress toward degree completion, and will also develop credit-bearing exams. Cengage will offer the courses on the Difference Engine learning platform, which it gained last year when it acquired the ed-tech company Learning Objects. The program will launch in March 2017 and cost between $400 and $550, Cengage said.