Has fear of student loan debt kept you from pursuing your master’s in computer science? If so, we have some pretty fantastic news for you: Not only can you get your master’s for well under $10,000 (in fact, way less!), but you can also get it from a top-tier school.
Georgia Tech is now offering online master’s degrees in computer science for a total cost of about $6,600. Compare that to similar degrees at Columbia (price tag of $64,595) or Syracuse (price tag of $46,770). Georgia Tech’s program is a fraction of the cost.
And get this: Georgia Tech’s program is rated #8 in U.S. News and World Report’s highly-regarded college rankings. Meanwhile, Columbia comes in at #13 and Syracuse at #68.
So that begs the question: Why is Georgia Tech so much cheaper?
Goal: Charge the lowest tuition possible
According to a recent article in HuffPost’s Highline, Georgia Tech had one over-riding goal in setting prices for this program: To put a master’s degree in reach of students who typically wouldn’t be able to afford it.
The price tag for the online computer science master’s program is set specifically to allow the university to break even. You heard that right—the school has no profit targets for this degree at the moment. Rather, it’s offering the program as part of its social mission to make education more accessible.
The school was able to lower tuition even further thanks to a multi-million dollar grant from AT&T to help cover startup costs.
Is it the same degree as the on-campus degree?
Yes, the online program is largely the same as the on-campus program. In fact, one of the goals of the program is to provide the same level of instruction online as a student would receive on-campus.
A review of the program by two Harvard researchers and one from Georgia Tech, revealed something surprising. While the on-campus and online programs attracted two very different populations (more on that in a minute), the online students performed slightly better in their identical and blindly marked final assessments.
Who is the typical student?
So now let’s get back to the two different populations we mentioned above.
In comparing the on-campus and online programs, researchers found that the typical on-campus applicant was 24 years old, a recent college graduate, and from India. The typical online applicant was a 34-year-old American and considered “mid career.” The on-campus applicants generally had slightly higher academic records than the online applicants.
Yet the online students outscored the on-campus students during final exams.
The researchers avoided speculation as to why the online learners outperformed the on-campus cohort. However, there is a growing body of evidence that online learning has some highly beneficial aspect compared to traditional learning.