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Tuition benefit program through Guild gives workers ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ to learn online

Collaboration with Oregon State makes earning a degree more affordable for Target analyst, thousands more

By Tyler Hansen

Marcus Mateus calls it his “a-ha moment,” but there was no awakening or grand revelation.

Instead, there was a gift from his boss: a black Oregon State hat with the Beaver logo gracing the crown. With the gift came a sense of belonging to a community that, only a few weeks prior, Mateus had no connection to whatsoever.

Now, from his home in the desert southwest, he feels rooted in Beaver Nation while pursuing a computer science degree online and working as a senior analyst at Target. And by next summer, he’ll be part of the vast Oregon State alumni network.

Mateus is one of a growing number of working professionals in the United States enrolling online with Oregon State thanks to collaborations with organizations that offer their employees and members a tuition benefit.

In simpler terms, he calls it a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for thousands of workers like him who now have affordable access to an OSU education online.

Marcus Mateus is pursuing his computer science degree online with Oregon State thanks to a zero-tuition benefit through his employer, Target, and Guild.

“This degree from OSU not only is a personal financial high-five, but it means more since finances are not top of mind,” said Mateus, who is in his 10th year at Target. “I am fully present to learn, give 100%, work full time and have a life.”

The corporate collaborations are led by Oregon State Ecampus, the university’s top-ranked online education division. They involve some of the largest employer networks and companies in the nation, including Guild. A leading career opportunity platform that Time lists as one of its most influential companies, Guild connects workers from companies such as Target, WM and Chipotle to many of the 100-plus OSU degree and certificate programs online.

When the agreement was announced in summer 2021, the president of Guild’s Learning Marketplace, Paul Freedman, said Guild was drawn to Oregon State’s “innovative online degree and certificate programs” and “commitment to our nation’s veterans and Indigenous peoples.”

One in four OSU students now learn fully online, a figure that is on the rise thanks partly to the university’s collaborations with organizations like Guild. The professional backgrounds of the affiliated students run the gamut, from hourly workers in the service industry to leaders at the corporate level.

“These collaborations play a significant role in our mission to make Oregon State more accessible and affordable for learners from all demographics and every career stage,” said Lisa L. Templeton, the vice provost of OSU’s Division of Educational Ventures. “We’re proud to work with organizations that empower people to learn and enhance their professional prospects while reducing or eliminating educational debt.”

Mateus said taking advantage of the debt-free education benefit through Target and Guild to earn a computer science degree online was a no-brainer. It linked him to a “prestigious, legitimate” institution, he said.

And then came the gift from his boss. His OSU hat is a literal badge of honor, and he gets excited when he thinks about wearing it while watching the Beavers play football for the first time this fall.

The gift, though, is far more than a hat. It’s knowing that his boss is in his corner, cheering him on. It’s having the multifaceted support of his employer to pursue his goals. And it’s knowing that he belongs at Oregon State, even though he’s a thousand miles away.

“It was very important to me to choose a college that had a recognizable name as well as having a good reputation,” Mateus said. “I can proudly and easily say that I am an Oregon State Beaver.”

Learn more about Oregon State University’s Corporate Education Unit and its mission to provide working professionals with access to exceptional learning experiences online.

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