The Georgia Institute of Technology online master’s degree program in computer science, that is being offered online and for around $6,000, has been lauded by the media and politicians since it was launched in January. A $2 million donation from AT&T helped get the project off the ground, but many wondered what was in it for AT&T?
Part of the reasons is the great publicity the move has generated for the company. The $2 million is about the same amount the telecommunications giant would pay for a 30-second commercial run during the Super Bowl. AT&T also sees the financial commitment as an affordable training and recruiting tool.
The master’s degree program through Georgia Tech is not like the program Starbucks is offering its baristas through Arizona State University because AT&T staffers receive no discounts for taking the classes. That hasn’t proven to be an obstacle: 18% of the 1,268 students currently enrolled are AT&T employees.
“I can send employees that would never be able to go to a bricks-and-mortar university and be able to train [them] up on these advanced technical skills,” Scott Smith, senior vice president of human resources at AT&T, told Bloomberg Business. “This adds another talent pipeline to my staffing.”