Gain A Computer Science Credential In 2020
Written by Sue Gee   
Monday, 03 February 2020
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Gain A Computer Science Credential In 2020
Data Science Masters and MicroMasters

Being able to study online opens up the opportunity for gaining an academic credential to people who embarked on a programming career without one and to those who are looking to move into a more specialized area such as Data Science. 

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When MOOCs sprang onto the scene in 2012 the headline news was the availability of free courses. While many courses are still available free of charge, see Top Free Online Computer Science Courses, if you want to earn a MOOC-based degree or one of the microcredentials on offer from MOOC providers you will need to follow a paid-for option. Investing time and money, however, is likely to pay off due to the quality of content of these offerings which come from some of the top universities and are recognized as equivalent to degrees earned by attending an academic institutions. The cost is modest compared to enrolling in campus based equivalents and you have flexibility regarding when you study which permits fitting in your studies alongside normal work and social commitments.

Computer Science BSc

Starting in 2019 it is now possible to gain a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science. Currently there is just one such Computer Science BSc which is offered on the Coursera platform by the University of London. Given that many developers claim to be largely self taught, this could be a welcome opportunity for established professionals to remedy what they may now see is a gap in their CVs, especially as it accepts students without formal qualifications. Following the "performance-based admission" route where work experience is taken into account, students have to complete two of the eight compulsory modules before being admitted to the full program during which students complete 22 modules and a final project.


Developed and taught by academics at Goldsmiths, its courses are designed to give you a strong foundation in Computer Science and specialized knowledge of topics such as Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality and Web Development. Details of the compulsory and elective modules are given in a previous report. While the content is all taught online, modules are assessed by a mix of coursework and examination, with exam centres in locations in many countries. 

The first cohort of online students started in April 2019 and applications are now open for April 2020. Students can take between 3 and 6 years to complete their degree and the cost is between $13,014 – $19,520 (£10,088 – £15,132) depending on geographic location. 

MSc in Computer Science

If you are interested in adding a Master's degree to your resume there are currently many options to choose from, including ones that relax the normal requirement that you need a relevant Bachelor's degree to be accepted. According to Class Central's Laurie Pickard there are 48 of them in total, but this includes Business and Management and ones in Public Health, Healthcare and Public Sector Management. Her list give links to all of them with duration and total cost. She also notes that:

all of these degrees are fully accredited and recognized. In most cases, the final degree doesn’t in any way indicate that the credential was earned online. 

Another point made by Pickard is that many of is that many courses which are part of these degree are available to audit on their respective platforms which give the opportunity to try out  part of the content before committing to anything.

The first Online CS Masters Degree, the OMSCS, was offered by Georgia Tech on the Udacity platform. Announced in May 2013 a "massive online" MSc course that would cost  less than $7,000, it accepted its first cohort of students into a limited Pilot Program in January 2014. Now there have been over nine thousand enrollments (from almost 30 thousand applications). US citizens and residents account for almost two-thirds of those enrolled and 117 countries are represented in total. Women account for 16.8% and under-represented minorities for 13.3%. There are now 28 courses and more are in production. It takes between 2 and 5 years to complete the OMSCS and now costs around $8,000.

Coursera now offers a number of options for gaining a Master of Computer Science degree by way of completing around 32 credit hours of graduate coursework online. Details of those offered by Arizona State University (ASU) and the University of Illinois are outlined in Online Master Of Computer Science Degrees From Coursera (May 2018) and more information about one from University of Pennsylvania is given in Ivy League Online Master's In Computer Science on Coursera.

In the case of the Master of Computer Science from ASU, students choose 10 courses from 20 options which include  AI, Software Engineering, Cloud Computing, Big Data, and Cybersecurity. They also create a project portfolio of four projects. The program has a total cost of $15,000 and can be spread over 18 to 36 months. The next cohort starts in May 2020 and the application deadline is the previous month. 

Penn's Master of Computer and Information Technology has no computer science prerequisites, so enabling people with diverse academic backgrounds to switch to a CS-related career. The programs consists of ten courses, which can take between 24 and 40 months at a cost of $26,300. The next one starts in October 2020 and the admission deadline for is May 1st. 

The Master's program at Illinois costs $21,000 and leads either to Master of Computer Science or Master of Computer Science in Data Science depending on which eight courses students choose. These can be spread over 1 to 3 years during a 5-year window to complete eight graduate-level courses.

The edX platform now offers a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from the University of Texas at Austin. It consists of 10 courses to be studied over a period between eighteen months to 3 years at a cost of $10,000.



Last Updated ( Thursday, 28 May 2020 )