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The Minerva Project aims to take elite education online

Former CEO of photo staring site Snapfish, Ben Nelson, has secured $25 million in seed capital for his new venture, The Minerva Project.  The Minerva Project aims to provide an elite, ivy league level education – online.

According to an article posted yesterday by Fast Company, Nelson sees a huge untapped market of driven, intelligent, well qualified applicants who are, despite their qualifications, still not able to gain admission into the ivy league.

“Harvard says that 80-85% of its applicants are fully qualified for admission, yet they have a 5.9% acceptance rate,” he tells Fast Company. “We think, conservatively, there are 250,000 English-fluent, smart, driven young people who aren’t able to get into an Ivy League university or equivalent in their home countries, and if we capture 1% of that market, we’ll be self-sustaining.”

The Minerva Project’s board is comprised of ex-university presidents, including those from Harvard and The New School.  They plan to recruit world class professors and develop a rigorous interdisciplinary curriculum.  Interestingly, even though the courses will be online, they also plan to house students in “dorm clusters” all over the world, rotating to spend each semester in a different locale.

Nelson intends to use a similar pricing structure as other online universities, which should average around $20,000 annually.

The institution plans to open in fall 2014.