Georgia Institute of Technology announced that it will offer a two-year master’s degree in computer science in the format of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), reports Douglas Belkin of the Wall Street Journal.
Georgia Tech is the first top-tier school to offer this type of online program for a graduate degree. The program will be offered through Udacity, a widely-used MOOC platform.
The course is available to anyone, but in order to obtain the degree from Georgia Tech the student must gain admission and pay the course fees, which will amount to between $6,000 and $7,000. Students must have a bachelors degree in computer science or the work equivalent and earn a grade of B or higher in the first two classes.
The program’s startup cost to create online lectures runs between $200,000 and $300,000. However, the school estimates that it will only have to hire one teacher for every hundred students as opposed to one for every ten or twenty students, allowing the school to keep costs low.
This program comes at an exciting time as the cost of education is growing rapidly and there is a need for computer scientists.
“There is currently a significant shortage of computer scientists in the country, and the government projects that there will be for years to come. Through 2018, the demand for computer software engineers is projected to increase by 34%—among the most of any occupation in the country, according to a 2010 Bureau of Labor Statistics report.”
The university hopes to admit everyone who meets university requirements. Eventually it is estimated to enroll 10,000 students into the program, which is nearly half the size of Georgia Tech’s student body on campus, according to Justin Pope of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Some worry that the quality of education will falter on such a large scale. Georgia Tech assures that the university will be able to maintain its high standards.
“This is a full-service degree,” Bras said. “We have our name reputation and excellence behind it. These people will be assessed graded, take exams, have help, will have access to individuals that answer questions.”
Another concern of faculty expressed by Benjamin Flowers, an architecture professor and chair the graduate curriculum committee, is that the degree will lose some of it value since there will be such a large turnout of graduates.
“One of the key attributes of educational distinction has always been that you control the number of people that have degrees from your institution,” Flowers said. “Are we producing something that’s of genuine value and in demand, or is it something we’re producing because there’s an arms race in place and we’re trying not to be left behind?”
With admission standards being comparable to the traditional Georgia Tech computer science masters program, the school assures that the program will not be an easier route to a Georgia Tech credential.