Masters Level Computer Science From Udacity
Written by Sue Gee   
Thursday, 19 March 2015

Applications for the Fall 2015 admission to Georgia Tech's Online Master of Science in Computer Science (OMS CS) are due before April 17, 2015. But if you don't want to wait you can follow along for free with Udacity

President Obama visited Georgia Tech last week and pointed to the OMS CS as an example of the kind of innovation needed by the United States to address the rising costs of higher education. This is because, with tuition entirely online, students are charged as little as $6,600, less than one-sixth of the cost of an on-campus equivalent at $45,000.



The OMS CS courses have been developed in conjunction with Udacity and AT&T and are delivered using the MOOC model. This means that students can combine studying for their degree with the demands of a full time job and family life. 

To complete the OMS CS requires 36 credit hours, which is around 12 courses. While it is typically a 3-year course, studying two course each semester, enrollments of up to  6 years will be permitted for students who need to take longer. Your Masters degree is made up of foundational and more advanced courses and the program expects to offer the following six specializations, each of which has a mix of core and elective classes:

  • Computational Perception & Robotics
  • Databases & Software Engineering
  • High-Performance Computing
  • Interactive Intelligence
  • Machine Learning
  • Networking
  • Systems

New courses are still coming online each semester and by Fall 2015 over 20 courses will be available.

The entry requirements for the OMS CS are stringent as prospective students have to satisfy the Georgia Tech admissions procedure. There's a $50 fee to apply and, while foreign students are eligible to apply subject to U.S export control policy, they will need have a satisfactory score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

According to the OMCS FAQs:
Preferred qualifications for admitted OMS CS students are an undergraduate degree in computer science or related field (typically mathematics, computer engineering or electrical engineering) from an accredited institution with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
Those who only meet the minimum requirements are only conditionally admitted and have to pass their first two OMS CS foundational courses with a grade of B or better before being fully admitted. 
If you don't possess the entry qualifications but are interested in  the courses that make up the curriculum there are two other choices. One is from Georgia Tech Professional Education, with a charge of $399 per course and leading to a certificate and Continuing Education Units. The other from Udacity in which case courses are free but there is no certificate on completion. The courses on offer are those developed by Georgia Tech for the online masters degree and delivered on the Udacity platform. Via Udacity they are self paced with videos, transcripts of lessons and in-lecture quizzes, but no assignments and support is via Student Forums whereas from Georgia Tech they will be scheduled and deadline oriented, will include projects and have support from Georgia Tech TAs.
Nine modules are now available from Udacity, including Sebastian Thrun's Artificial Intelligence for Robotics which has been updated for the OMS CS to include a final project where you must chase a runaway robot that is trying to escape! This course was one of Udacitry's original offerings and differs markedly from the others in this table by the number of students you join if you embark on it. However most of the students have long finished the course and the newest posts on the forum include a high proportion of spam. The number of students for all the courses reflects the length of time they have been available as well as the popularity of the topic.
Title Level Hours
Advanced Operating Systems

Advanced 30    1,366
Artificial Intelligence for Robotics

Advanced 50  67,725
Computability, Complexity & Algorithms Advanced n/a    1,043

Computer Networking

Intermed 75  19,196
Health Informatics in the Cloud

Beginner 30       410
High Performance Computer Architecture Advanced n/a       648
Knowledge-Based AI: Cognitive Systems Advanced   40       710
Machine Learning 

Intermed 100    2,090
Software Development Process Intermed 75  15,632


The same, or similar courses are listed on the Georgia Tech Professional Education Online Computer Science Courses page and those interested are invited to join a mailing list to be notified when they become available.
The experience of a self-paced Udacity course is going to be very different from being a student enrolled on the OMS CS, but as they are free they seem like a good way to discover what is in store.



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Last Updated ( Thursday, 19 March 2015 )