Amazon Partners With 140 Colleges And Universities To Expand Free Tuition Program

Amazon, the nation’s second largest retailer behind only Walmart, announced on Thursday that it was adding more than 140 colleges and universities through which it would offer free college tuition to its approximately 750,000 employees.

The expansion is part of the company’s Career Choice program, by which Amazon offers fully funded college tuition to employees, who can become eligible for the benefit after only 90 days of employment. Through Career Choice, Amazon’s employees can pursue a Bachelor’s degree, earn industry certifications, take English language proficiency courses, and enroll in high school completion programs all free of charge.

“We’re committed to empowering our employees with easy access to the education and training they need to grow their careers, whether that’s with us or elsewhere,” said Alicia Boler Davis, Senior Vice President of Global Customer Fulfillment, in the company’s press release. “We’re thrilled today to be adding more education partners to our Career Choice program, which we hope will give our team access to the educational paths that fit their passions.”

The company has estimated that the tuition benefit along with other new upskilling and training it will offer will require a total investment of $1.2 billion by 2025. Amazon’s education initiative positions it to compete with other major employers such as Target and Walmart who have also extended similar offers to their U. S. employees as national companies continue to sweeten the compensation pot to lure and retain workers during the tight labor market.

Among the new educational partners announced Thursday were national universities specializing in online education such as Southern New Hampshire University, Colorado State University Global, Western Governors University, and National University.

Dozens of other community colleges, regional universities, and research universities are also on the list, which can be found here. With the additional schools announced on Thursday, Amazon’s Career Choice program now has more than 180 education providers in its U.S. network.

In addition to the college tuition perk, Amazon will also work with GEDWorks and Smart Horizons to provide employees with free high school completion and GED preparation. It will offer English language training through partnerships with Voxy EnGen and goFLUENT, and it will provide college preparation courses through Outlier. All those offerings will also be free for eligible employees.

Employees will be able to take classes online, in-person at local institutions, or on-site in one of the company’s classrooms located at fulfillment centers in 37 states. According to Amazon, since Career Choice began in 2012, it has provided additional education for more than 50,000 employees.

Amazon has previously indicated that it plans to pay employees’ tuition and fees in advance rather than offering reimbursement after coursework completion, thereby permitting workers who don’t have sufficient funds on hand to begin immediately accessing the education options they want to pursue.

Higher education officials applauded the announcement. “The expansion of Amazon’s Career Choice program and the partnerships being forged with a wide range of colleges and universities is great news for nontraditional learners seeking new paths to career success,” said Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education.