Duke University is joining what has been labeled the revolution in education – online and free of charge.

Duke, Johns Hopkins University and the California Institute of Technology have joined Stanford and Princeton universities in offering courses through startup Coursera Inc.

A total of 16 schools are now partners with Coursera, the Mountain View, California-based company said Monday in a statement.

Caltech and the University of Pennsylvania are partnering to an even greater degree, investing a combined $3.7 million in the company.

Coursera, founded last year by two Stanford computer science professors, Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, offers university classes online, with the aim of educating millions of people globally for free. The company, which raised $16 million earlier this year from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and New Enterprise Associates, will receive an additional combined $2.3 million from the venture capital firms, both of which are based in Menlo Park, California.

Students don’t receive college credit, however.

“We think the evolution of the technology, the quality of the potential partners in this along with the preparedness of our faculty and the internal process of teaching innovation all came together at the same time for us to do this,” Duke Provost Peter Lange, the university’s chief academic officer, told The Herald-Sun in Durham about the program.

“We think this will extend our reach and our faculty’s reach globally, but also help bring innovation into our own courses and could substantially influence how we teach students here on campus.”

Coursera has already generated significant media attention:

  • “Come the Revolution,” New York Times
  • “Ivy League education? Online is the new option,” USA Today
  • “The Big Idea that Can Revolutionize Higher Education,” The Atlantic
  • “The Campus Tsunami,” New York Times
  • “Cheaper than Harvard,” The Daily Beast

And more.

“We have a tremendous amount of great ideas on how to make the platform a terrific place,” Koller said in a telephone interview. “That requires engineering resources.”

The new partners and extra funding will enable more than 100 classes to run in the fall. Topics include computer science, health, math, history, the arts and literature.

“Universities can teach millions worldwide, and make time on-campus for interactive in-class learning,” Ng said in the statement. “This is truly the future of higher education.”

Other participating schools are Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Washington, Rice University, University of Edinburgh, University of Toronto, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, University of California at San Francisco, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University of Virginia.

Courses are already offered across 16 categories:

  • Biology and life sciences
  • Computer Science: Programming and software engineering
  • Economics and finance
  • Health and society and medical ethics
  • Mathematics
  • Statistics, data analysis and scientific computing
  • Business and management
  • Computer science: Systems, security, networking
  • Education’Humanities and social sciences
  • Medicine and veterinary sciences
  • Computer science: Artificial intelligence, robotics, vision
  • Computer science: Theory
  • Electrical and materials engineering
  • Information, technology and design
  • Physical and earth sciences

(Bloomberg news contributed to this report)