In May 2013, Georgia Tech together with its partners, Udacity and AT&T, announced a new online master’s degree in computer science delivered through the platform popularized by massively open online courses (MOOCs). This new online MS CS—or OMS CS, for short—costs less than $7,000 total, compared to a price tag of $40,000 for an MS CS at comparable public universities and upwards of $70,000 at private universities.
The first-of-its-kind program was launched in January 2014 and has sparked a worldwide conversation about higher education in the 21st century. President Barack Obama has praised OMS CS by name twice, and nearly 1,000 stories about the program have appeared in the media. It’s been described as a potential "game changer" and "the first real step in the transformation of higher education in the US.” Harvard University researchers concluded that OMS CS is “the first rigorous evidence … showing an online degree program can increase educational attainment” and predicted that OMS CS will singlehandedly raise the number of annual MS CS graduates in the United States by at least 7 percent.
To ensure program quality and rigor, Georgia Tech started in 2014 with small enrollment of about 400; in January 2017, enrollment is expected to exceed 4,500 students. So far 277 students have graduated from OMS CS, and another 300 have registered to graduate in Spring 2017. The program also has also paved the way for a number of similar, MOOC-based M.S. programs.
The talk will describe the OMS CS program, how it came about, its first three years, and what Georgia Tech has learned from the OMS CS experience. We will also discuss its potential effect on higher education.