Massive Online Master's Degree in Computer Science
Written by Sue Gee
Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Georgia Tech and Udacity are joining forces to offer an MSc in Computer Science to be delivered as a massive open online course with enhanced support services for students enrolled in the degree program.
Gaining an MSc is time consuming and expensive. This initiative makes it more affordable both in terms of both time and money.
Like all Udacity courses, the classes in this program can be taken at any time - this makes it possible to fit them around a demanding work schedule, and while the Georgia Tech OMS CS is envisaged to be a 3-year course enrollments of up to 6 years will be permitted for students who need to take longer.
The plan is to offer it for less than $7,000 - a fraction of the cost of Georgia Tech’s on-campus program and less than that of comparable private universities.
Formal admission in the degree program will require a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from an accredited institution, or a related Bachelor of Science degree with a possible need to take and pass remedial courses.
The same course material will also be available free of charge to anyone, anywhere in the world who wants to follow it but according to the FAQs:
Degree-seeking students will be virtually separated from “open” students to ensure degree program rigor.
In this video Charles Isbell, Senior Associate Dean, College of Computing at Georgia Tech emphasizes that the online degree will be the same degree with the same quality and the leading to the same award of Masters of Science in Computer Science as the on-campus degree,
He also explains that there will be differences in that there will be no one-on-one, face-to-face interactions with instructors and the focus in the online version will on professional parts of the degree - developing skills and aspects that are important in the workplace rather than doing research which will feature as part of the on-campus version.
Initially the core modules of the MSC will be the ones that will be made available. The range of follow-on courses will be increased over time so that ultimately there will be almost as many options available online as on campus.
In the long term Georgia Tech expects an enrollment of about 10,000 students at any give time. However, before the OMS is launched as a massive course in Fall 2014, the idea will be tried as a pilot program limited to a few hundred students recruited from AT&T and Georgia Tech corporate affiliates.
Feedback from this pilot will enable Udacity and Georgia Tech to iron out problems before scaling it up many thousands of students.
It is also planned to have preview courses for selected modules available on Udacity this summer and you can already sign up for more information.
AT&T is providing much of the funding for the pilot program and its expansion into a MOOC and one of its primary reason for this support to address the growing shortage of qualified workers in STEM fields. As Bill Blase, AT&T's Senior Executive VP, Haman Resources put it in this video. AT&T recruits 30,000 workers per year, many of them to technical positions and this MOOC could be a "great pipeline of potential applicants":
I have been dreaming of putting an entire computer science degree online, and to make access to the material free of charge, so that everyone can become a proficient computer scientist. With Georgia Tech and AT&T, this is my dream come true.
For the thousands of developers who would like to improve their career prospects the Georgia Tech OMS CS sounds like a great opportunity whether or not they want a complete MSc or just to pick and choose from the courses that will come on stream over the next few years.