Welcome to The CITE -- a blog on Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education, created by Mark Nelson and now part of the Publications Department of the National Association of College Stores. CITE is a pun with multiple meanings - referring to cite as in citation, something people reference; site as in location, website, or place people go to; and sight as in foresight or looking ahead to what is coming. Comments, discussion, feedback and ideas are welcome.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Taking a Look at Online Master's Degrees

The online master’s degree being offered by the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, has earned praise from students enrolled in the Online Master of Science Computer Science (OMS CS) program. And what’s not to love about a program at a highly respected institution that requires no entrance exam and costs less than $7,000?

Some worry it may be too good to be true, but William Fenton, contributing editor for PC Magazine, took a closer look and liked a lot of what he found. Now in its third year, the program offers four areas of specialization, compared to 11 with the traditional master’s program, and is still working on ancillary services such as career counseling.

However, Fenton was impressed by the program’s accessibility. The OMS CS costs a third of the traditional program and its enrollment standards only require undergraduates to earn a 3.0 grade point average or higher in computer science at an accredited undergraduate institution.

Fenton still has concerns about the program’s corporate sponsors, but admitted the Georgia Tech partnerships with Udacity and AT&T work. The school shares revenue with Udacity for its platform, support, and consistent styling, while AT&T provides investments and students.

The program does rely on teaching assistants to keep pace with grading and enrollment hasn’t been as diverse as hoped. U.S. citizens make up 80% of the online class, with more than 700 applicants already having advanced degrees and more than 120 holding Ph.Ds.

“While the OMS CS degree may not democratize higher education, it doesn’t cannibalize it,” Fenton wrote. “In addition, all the buzz around Georgia Tech’s OMS CS degree is driving interest in the university in general and in its computer science programs in particular.”

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