The College Guide has published a great deal about the role of for-profit colleges. We’ve devoted less time to the for-profit providers who enjoy contracts with regular colleges.

For the last decade or so traditional colleges have been hiring independent companies to build and run online programs. Well now two of the largest online education provider companies are one. According to a piece in PR Inside:

In response to the rapidly growing and changing market for online degree programs, Embanet and Compass Knowledge Group today announced that they have merged, creating a combined company that is positioned to provide an industry-leading comprehensive suite of online learning services to universities and colleges. Effective today, the new entity is operating under the name Embanet-Compass Knowledge Group.

As the headline puts it: “Merger to Create the Premier Provider of Online Learning Services for Higher Education.”

Embanet currently has contracts with schools including Northeastern, University of Southern California, Boston University, George Washington University, Vanderbilt, and Brandeis. Compass Knowledge Group enjoys agreements with colleges including Eastern Kentucky University, Northwestern, Portland State, and the University of Florida.

Well one hopes it’s the “premier provider,” anyway. The merger significantly reduces competition in the field. If Embanet-Compass turns out to be a crappy provider colleges are pretty much out of luck. There aren’t really too many other companies left with the capacity to create online programs for major universities.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer