I’m always fascinated by the potential power of cheap, accessible education. Back in 2013, I wrote about how Georgia Tech planned to offer an online master’s degree in Computer Science for only $7,000. Three years later, the NY Times has a follow-up article on the program. Here are my notes in case you’re stuck behind a paywall.
- Georgia Tech has a Top 10 CS program, according to U.S. News & World Report. Their online version offers lectures from the same professors, the same homework assignments, and the same exams.
- A few other top universities have online versions of their masters programs, but they charge the same tuition as in-person ($40,000+). Georgia Tech’s online masters can be completed with only $7,000.
- Through the use of online discussion software, a CS professor claims he now interacts with online students more often than with on-campus students.
- A study found that this program attracted students that would not otherwise study for a master’s degree. This could be due to cost, geographical limitations, current employment, or other factors. Most enrolled students were older and currently employed while taking courses.
- The first students started in 2014, and the first class of 20 graduates got their diplomas in December 2015. The current enrollment is over 3,000 students.
- The Georgia Tech diploma will read “Master of Science in Computer Science,” exactly the same as those of on-campus graduates. There will be no “online” designation for the degrees of OMS CS graduates.
Promotional video below:
It’s still unknown whether this online degree will have the same impact as a traditional on-campus degree. For now, Georgia Tech is still the only university to offer a prestigious, high-quality computer science degree that is both convenient and affordable. The OMSCS program states their $7,000 tuition is priced to just barely cover their costs. Will any other university attempt an “at-cost” pricing model? What if someone extended that model to undergraduate programs?
On a related note, Khan Academy is trying to combine their free online educational materials with “internationally-recognized diplomas that provide direct access to economic and educational opportunities.” I think they should pursue accreditation, which I imagine would require human graders at the very minimum even if they used video lectures and community-based teaching support. Perhaps they can form some sort of volunteer network to keep costs low. Proposal video below: