Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), one of the world's top-rated universities, has announced its first free course which can be studied and assessed completely online.
An electronics course, beginning in March, will be the first prototype of an online project, known as MITx.
The interactive course is designed to be fully automated, with successful students receiving a certificate.
The US university says it wants MITx to "shatter barriers to education".
This ground-breaking scheme represents a significant step forward in the use of technology to deliver higher education.
There are already online degree courses, but the MIT proposal is unusual in that it is inviting students anywhere in the world, without charge or prior entrance requirements, to study for a certificate carrying the MIT brand.
MIT, along with many other leading universities, makes its course material available online, but the MITx scheme takes this a step further by creating an accredited course specifically for online students.