Online CS degree shows promise

Earlier this month, Tech announced a partnership with AT&T and massive online open course (MOOC) powerhouse Udacity to create an online masters in computer science degree program.

Offering this degree is great for Tech. The expansion of its global footprint will not go unnoticed, as it is the first university to make such an offering. The tuition raised from those enrolled in the program may also help offset the recent budget cuts from the state that Tech has been subject to.

On an altruistic level, this program is also beneficial for the corporate or international demographic that may not have the time – due to time constraints from working at a full-time job – or resources  – from an unavailability of such a program in the nearby area – to get a degree of this nature that is both accessible and relatively inexpensive. This, in turn, may help further propagate Tech’s name in industry.

However, Tech must be careful in the expansion of this program. MOOCs have a general “open-to-all” stigma, but this degree program must exercise selectivity, both in terms of applicants accepted and academic rigor. The number of degrees conferred should also not be extremely high, which may cause more Tech CS degrees to become available in market and perhaps dilute its competitive edge.

Although inevitable in even the ordinary classroom, violations of the honor code in this online environment may prove to be one of the biggest areas of concern with this program, and if not taken in the highest regard, may jeopardize its market value. The proctoring systems set up are definitely a step in the right direction.

After all, while allowing a larger public to get the coveted diploma from a top world institution, it is a degree from the Georgia Tech, and must not lose its outstanding rapport in industry and society.