Georgia Tech is moving towards its Online Master of Science in Computer Science degree and has identified the initial courses and specializations that will be available to students in the pilot program starting in January 2014.
In May Georgia Tech, in collaboration with Udacity and AT&T, announced its plans to offer a "massive online" MSc course that would cost less than $7,000 - a fraction of the cost of Georgia Tech’s on-campus program.
Now it has contacted prospective students, those who are interested in enrolling in the first "open" intake, with details of its proposed specializations and course offerings.
The first six courses that are being produced in the MOOC format are:
Advanced Operating Systems
Software Development Process
High Performance Computer Architecture
Artificial Intelligence for Robotics: Programming a Robotic Car
Georgia Tech professors are responsible for the first five of the above courses but the final one is from Sebastian Thrun, Research Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University and co-founder of Udacity, the MOOC platform being used for the MSc, and as existing Udacity students will notice, a version of the course is already available.
This serves as a reminder that the same course material provided for paying MSc students will also be available free of charge to anyone, anywhere in the world, who wants to follow it.
Georgia Tech has also outlined the specializations it hope to offer to students on the pilot which, as we already knew, will be offered to to a few hundred students recruited from AT&T and Georgia Tech corporate affiliates. They are:
Computational Perception & Robotics
Databases & Software Engineering
It has also announced the requirements for "open" enrollments, which it will start to accept in Spring or Summer 2014:
MSc degree-seeking students first must pass (paying Georgia Tech tuition and fees) two OMS CS courses with a grade of B or better before petitioning for full admission to the program.
Georgia Tech certificates also will be available for students who only wish to take certain courses or are otherwise ineligible for MSc program admission.
Overall this seems like a very positive step. Only time will tell if a MOOC-based MSc will be regarded as just as good as a traditional MSc. If the quality of student is anything like those in the pioneering MOOC computer science courses there is an argument that says it should be more valued. The danger comes later down the road of lowering the cost of education when there is the potential for cutting corners, quality and standards in the name of a bigger profit.