Follow-up: Georgia Tech Online Master’s Degree in Computer Science for $7,000

gtomsI’m always fascinated by the potential power of cheap, accessible education. Back in 2013, I wrote about how Georgia Tech planned to offer an online master’s degree in Computer Science for only $7,000. Three years later, the NY Times has a follow-up article on the program. Here are my notes in case you’re stuck behind a paywall.

  • Georgia Tech has a Top 10 CS program, according to U.S. News & World Report. Their online version offers lectures from the same professors, the same homework assignments, and the same exams.
  • A few other top universities have online versions of their masters programs, but they charge the same tuition as in-person ($40,000+). Georgia Tech’s online masters can be completed with only $7,000.
  • Through the use of online discussion software, a CS professor claims he now interacts with online students more often than with on-campus students.
  • A study found that this program attracted students that would not otherwise study for a master’s degree. This could be due to cost, geographical limitations, current employment, or other factors. Most enrolled students were older and currently employed while taking courses.
  • The first students started in 2014, and the first class of 20 graduates got their diplomas in December 2015. The current enrollment is over 3,000 students.
  • The Georgia Tech diploma will read “Master of Science in Computer Science,” exactly the same as those of on-campus graduates. There will be no “online” designation for the degrees of OMS CS graduates.

Promotional video below:

It’s still unknown whether this online degree will have the same impact as a traditional on-campus degree. For now, Georgia Tech is still the only university to offer a prestigious, high-quality computer science degree that is both convenient and affordable. The OMSCS program states their $7,000 tuition is priced to just barely cover their costs. Will any other university attempt an “at-cost” pricing model? What if someone extended that model to undergraduate programs?

On a related note, Khan Academy is trying to combine their free online educational materials with “internationally-recognized diplomas that provide direct access to economic and educational opportunities.” I think they should pursue accreditation, which I imagine would require human graders at the very minimum even if they used video lectures and community-based teaching support. Perhaps they can form some sort of volunteer network to keep costs low. Proposal video below:


  1. Art in LA+ says:

    Online education is the right way to go for many disciplines! You’d think YouTube/Google would be offering degrees by now. I still don’t understand why traditional tuition is outpacing inflation by so much!

  2. Space Dragon says:

    I am in the Georgia Tech OMSCS program. I am 44 year old and my company paid for it in full through its tuition reimbursement program. For me, it’s no walk in the park, sometimes I spend up to 15-20 hours a week for watching lectures and doing projects, but I enjoy it, but it’s time away from family and other duties nonetheless. The best part of this program is the large number of students, they very helpful to each other, and you won’t get professors who are brilliant in research but can’t tech.
    I wonder how future college education is going to be like, maybe I won’t have to save so much for my 5 years old college education if online education is going to be widely adopted and recognized. 🙂

  3. Why do you say “it’s still unknown whether this online degree will have the same impact as a traditional on-campus degree.”? You also said “the diploma will read Master of Science in Computer Science, exactly the same as those of on-campus graduates.”

    If the diploma is exactly the same, who would know (or care) whether you took online classes or attended in person?

    • If your resume has work experience listed during the same time as your degree, or otherwise through the interview process, it may come out that you did an online degree. It is then up to the employer to decide if they care about the difference. Also, on-campus degree may include different networking opportunities or other differences that I have no idea about.

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