Georgia Tech to offer MOOC master’s degree on the cheap

The program’s core curriculum will be available to everyone online.

Georgia Tech will offer an online master’s degree in computer science for about one-sixth the cost of a traditional master’s degree through a partnership with AT&T and Udacity, a leading massive open online course (MOOC) platform based in Silicon Valley.

The online degree program will be available to about 10,000 students over the next three years, the university said in an announcement. The first students to take Georgia Tech’s web-based computer science master’s degree class will be selected from university and AT&T affiliates.

AT&T is offsetting much of the program’s cost, according to the school.

Beyond the few hundred students who first take the MOOC-based course, there will be an unknown number of learners with access to the core course material taught in the master’s program. Those students will be able to take the online computer science classes at a reduced price, and not for college credit.

Udacity CEO Sebastian Thrun wrote in a blog post that since Udacity first launched 15 months ago, he has “been dreaming of putting an entire computer science degree online, and to make access to the material free of charge, so that everyone can become a proficient computer scientist.”

“Education has become much more exclusive,” Thrun continued, “and getting into a top-10 computer science department, like Georgia Tech’s, is still out of reach for all but a chosen few.”

See Page 2 for what Education Secretary Arne Duncan said about Georgia Tech’s newest MOOC.

Georgia Tech officials said the school has been involved in online learning for almost 30 years, so expanding web-based learning opportunities fit the university’s long-term goal of making higher education more accessible and affordable.

“Georgia Tech’s vision is to define the technological research university of the 21st century. We will explore technologies and instructional approaches that will improve our role as a leading provider of the best and most effective education in the state of Georgia, the nation and the world,” said Rafael Bras, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Georgia Tech.

U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the university’s cheap master’s program could prove to be a model for how campuses, MOOC providers, and corporate entities can team up to provide low-cost education that would better prepare students for available jobs in technology and computer science.

“This new collaboration between Georgia Tech, AT&T and Udacity, and the application of the MOOC concept to advanced-degree programs, will further the national debate — pushing from conversations about technology to new models of instruction and new linkages between higher education and employers,” Duncan said.