The Economist creates a new revenue stream with online courses –


As the world got used to e-learning, the business news publisher spotted an opportunity for a new product aimed at time-poor, mid-career readers
The Economist is tapping into the online education market to bolster its revenue, editorial and reader engagement strategy.

A new programme, Economist Education, launches tomorrow (26 May 2021) starting off with a six-week online course titled “The New Global Order: How politics, business and technology are changing“.

Around twenty senior Economist journalists have been working over the last few months to design the course material from scratch, in partnership with course provider GetSmarter.

The journalists are familiar with the topics from their daily beats. The pilot course will focus on US-China relations, trade and tech, with guest speakers including Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia, and Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google. The curriculum is split up into six weekly modules.

The programme is aimed at mid-career professionals in business, non-profit or government sectors who are looking to boost their career prospects, gain promotion, change jobs, retrain, or get new knowledge and skills.
“We have long known that our journalism has value in the classroom,” says The Economist's president, Bob Cohn in an email to

“Our articles show up on syllabi, and our writers and editors are frequent speakers at universities. But this new path became obvious to us as both industries, media and education, went digital.”

The online education world has become a necessity rather than a luxury during the pandemic. At the same time, the publication's journalism is increasingly multimedia and available on a range of digital devices.

“Re-imagining our core work for digital students suddenly seemed like an opportunity we couldn't pass up,” adds Cohn.

“As the world increasingly connects, works and learns online, we think the demand for executive courses online will increase, particularly among time-poor executives and leaders who may not be able to dedicate time – or out of office days – to in-person learning.”

With its 1.5m subscribers and 50m social followers, The Economist has a large pool of prospective students. Subscribers could initially take advantage of a 15 per cent early-bird discount, whilst non-subscribers had a lower offer at 10 per cent. Non-subscribers also receive a free three-month subscription to The Economist as a thank you for forking out nearly £1,500 for the course.

“An education product was a natural extension of our services. The aim with Economist Education is to bring greater value to our existing subscribers and readers and expand our audience,” Cohn explains.

Anyone who completes the course receives a completion certificate, and this “Economist micro-credential” can be placed on a CV and/or LinkedIn profile. Outstanding participants may be awarded certificates with distinction.

The Economist plans to re-run the event throughout the year for new students, and a second Economist Education course on writing for business is planned for autumn 2021.

“The global education market is growing, including executive education. There is a clear commercial opportunity and we believe The Economist is well-positioned to play in this space,” concludes Cohn.

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