MIT's free online courses will now count toward a graduate degree after the leading university has decided to allow students taking blended online and campus courses to earn a MicroMaster's credential after passing an exam. At an estimated cost of $1,500, the for-credit pilot program applies to the Supply Chain Management degree offered by the university.
Students doing one semester of classes online and one semester on campus can earn a Supply Chain Management Master's degree. The blended learning program is currently available on an experimental basis. Students who do well during their online semester will be able to take an exam and apply for the on-campus second semester. For students getting into the school's on-campus course, the fee is $33,000, 50% the cost of the year-long program.
"The new MicroMaster's is an important modular credential for the digital age, and promises to serve as academic currency in a continuous, lifelong learning world," Anant Agarwal, an MIT professor and CEO of edX, said in a statement. "It also affords an evolutionary path for universities in the face of mounting prices."
Students who want to earn academic credit will have to pay about $150 for each of the program's five courses and a fee to take the end-of-semester wrap-up exam. Students doing well will be then invited to apply for the on-campus âtraditional' degree and complete the other half of their credential by attending on-campus classes.
MIT's approach to for-credit online courses and candidate selection is unique in that it downplays the importance of past academic performance and standardized tests.
"This approach basically inverts the traditional admissions process," MIT President Rafael Reif said as it targets "people outside that familiar circle, [that] can be hard to break in."
The idea is that students who want to earn a Master's degree can prove their eagerness and determination early on, MIT President L. Rafael Reif says.
"Anyone who wants to be here now has a shot to be here. They have a chance to prove in advance that they can do the work."
The plan is to get about 40 students to matriculate from the online courses into the campus program.
"We produce 40 students a year, and they say that's a drop in the bucket; we need thousands," said Yossi Sheffi, director of the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics.
MIT is not the first or the only university to combine online and campus education. Arizona State University has recently launched freshman courses students can complete at no cost. The students have the opportunity to pay for course credit at approximately $200 per credit hour upon the successful completion of the course.
At Georgia Tech, students can undertake a Computer Science Master's degree free online, but must apply through Georgia Tech's traditional application process and pay about $7,000 for the Master's degree credentials.