Photo by Brenda Lin

Beginning in August 2017, Tech will offer an online Master’s degree in analytics through edX, an online higher education platform originally founded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. The program will be delivered through the massive open online course (MOOC) format and will be led by Tech faculty and professors, with tuition prices at $275 per credit hour for a total of $9,900 for the full degree.

Tech currently offers an online Master’s program in Computer Sciences (OMSCS) through Udacity, another MOOC delivery platform founded by a Research Professor at Stanford University, Sebastian Thurn. To date, the OMSCS program has received over 10,000 applications. Its enrollment for Spring 2017 is 3,358 students.

According to Joel Sokol, Ph.D., the program director for both the online and on-campus Masters in Analytics programs, the campus-based degree program receives nearly 1,000 applications per year, of which 800–900 are qualified for admission into the program. Tech’s on-campus program only admits 60 to 70 of those qualified.

Applicants who fail to be admitted to the program in Atlanta may be referred to the online program as an alternative with the possibility of being admitted immediately, provided they had qualified during on-campus admissions. Applications for the online program began Jan. 12, with plans currently in place to admit 250 students for the first term.

The core of the online analytics program is formed by a set of three interdisciplinary courses: one from the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, one from the College of Computing and one from the College of Business.

Each of these core courses may be replaced with an advanced elective if the student has prior experience in the course’s discipline.

After these courses, the program includes two interdisciplinary core courses that focus on synthesizing concepts from the first three.

The program then diverges into one of three tracks, two of which will be available this fall: big data and analytical tools. The third, business analytics, will become available at a currently unspecified date.

Each track consists of two specific electives from the student’s choice of five from all the courses offered through the program. Per Sokol, some students choose to take two tracks by taking the additional electives or by substituting the relevant courses for their core.

Much like the OMSCS degree, the online analytics program will feature online delivery of course resources and lectures, along with faculty-led checkpoints and examinations to provide oversight of the learning process and allow for the awarding of a Tech degree at the end of the course.

Sokol identified the cost of the program as a significant factor in its importance, noting that Tech’s analytics program is “a top-ten program. If you look at some of our peer top-ten programs that have online components, they might be up to five or six times as costly as our degree is going to be. We think this is really just an extension of Georgia Tech’s mission to serve the public and make top-quality education accessible to as many people as possible.”

A small selection of the courses will be available online for free through edX, minus any Tech-led instruction or faculty
touchpoints.

The free courses will offer no credit for completion, but students who choose to complete the MicroMasters program, consisting of the free courses, will be offered a certificate of completion by edX. The MicroMasters program will cost $1,500 and will begin in or before Fall 2017.

Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX, expressed support for both the full degree and online courses, saying edX’s “collaboration with Georgia Tech to deliver the MicroMasters program and the OMS Analytics Master’s degree will help learners gain in-demand skills to advance their careers in affordable, flexible and accessible ways.”