TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, October 31, 2013

WSJ: Applications Surge to Nation's First Online Master's at Georgia Tech; Cost Is $6,600 Online v. $44,000 Residential

Georgia Tech LogoWall Street Journal, First-of-Its-Kind Online Master's Draws Wave of Applicants:

In the past three weeks, Georgia Tech received nearly twice as many applications for a new low-cost online master's program as its comparable residential program receives in a year. The degree—which uses Massive Open Online Course technology—is the first of its kind, and its popularity suggests a growing demand for online learning.

The Georgia Tech program is the first master's degree from a top-ranked university based on the technology that drives MOOCs. The only difference is it is not "open," or free, as a MOOC is traditionally defined. Students have applied from 50 states and 80 foreign countries, according to the school. To graduate, they will never have to step foot on campus and will pay about $6,600, compared with about $44,000 for residential students.

The application period for the computer-science master's program, which ended on Sunday, marks another inflection point in the growth of MOOCs, as corporations, schools and online providers team up to create more such credentialed programs. ...

Also notable among the batch of applications for the Georgia Tech program, which starts in January, is the 14-fold increase in U.S. residents. Zvi Galil, the dean of its College of Computing, said 1,854, or 79%, of the 2,359 applicants were U.S. citizens. For the residential class that began this fall, just 128, or 9%, of the 1,371 applicants were U.S citizens. Only about 150 students enrolled in the residential program, while most of the online students are expected to matriculate.

Graduate engineering programs have been dominated by foreign nationals for decades. Nearly two-thirds of all computer-science graduate students and over 70% of all electrical-engineering graduate students studying in the U.S. are from other countries. ...

Mr. Galil said he hopes to expand the Georgia Tech model to 10,000 students. The school hires an additional teacher for every 60 or so students to facilitate online chat discussions.

Every applicant with a four-year college degree who graduated with at least a 3.0 will be accepted, but that acceptance is conditional on making at least a B in the first two courses. The residential program accepts fewer than one in five applicants and that selectivity is good for the school because it enhances prestige—but Mr. Galil said qualified applicants are turned away.

A residential student recently approached Mr. Gail and complained that the online program would devalue his degree if it grows too large because so many more people would have it.

Mr. Galil said he told the student: "You're not here because you're good, you're here because you're lucky. When we admitted you, we turned away 500 other students who were as good as you or maybe better."

Update:  Inside Higher Ed, Who Applied to Georgia Tech's New Master's Program?

Legal Education | Permalink


Who's going to hire anyone from a program like this?

Posted by: michael livingston | Oct 31, 2013 1:58:16 AM

Who would buy from an on-line retailer versus a brick and mortar store? If student experiences, particularly in computer-science, show that they can learn their trade on-line without stepping into the "store," then the programs will grow and employers will hire them. It's more about what you know rather than where you learned it.

Posted by: Woody | Oct 31, 2013 8:22:45 AM

This program will probably place a higher percentage of graduates in gainful full time employment than 75% of the 202 ABA accredited law schools.

Posted by: Cent Rieker | Oct 31, 2013 2:14:19 PM

Michael, that's just the tip of the iceberg. As related over on previous articles concerning this program over on the Chronicle of Higher Education, their goal of 10,000 students is larger than the enrollments of every other master's in comp sci program in the country, COMBINED. If the program is successful, it will absolutely flood the market, with a predictable and depressing effect on both the value of a GA State MS in Comp Sci and on salaries in general for that profession. I mean, 10k students represents about twice the employee count at Facebook. Heck, it's nearly 25% of the employee count at Google. It's insane.

And I'd love to see corroboration of Galil's statement that they turn down 500 applicants for every student at the in-real-life program. I very seriously doubt they have an acceptance rate of 0.2%.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Oct 31, 2013 2:43:48 PM

There are probably 500 law graduates for everyone who graduates from Yale, but it doesn't mean they take jobs from them. It's meaningless if it doesn't have quality.

Posted by: michael livingston | Nov 1, 2013 2:07:24 AM

Quite true Michael, though I think the number is closer to 225 (45,000 law grads / 200 Yale grads = 225).

One more thought: though the tuition for the MOOC program is much, much lower than the residential program, I bet the margins are much higher - particularly since AT&T is largely underwriting the first few years of the program (another detail gleamed from the Chronicle).

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Nov 1, 2013 10:59:06 AM