How online graduate programs offer degrees at significant savings, PBS NewsHour, online graduate degrees.#Online


How online graduate programs offer degrees at significant savings

As technology evolves and more online graduate programs become available at a much lower cost, should we reconsider traditional higher education in a classroom setting? Hari Sreenivasan reports on how some students earning master’s degrees at Georgia Tech are paying little or nothing for online courses from a top program.

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Now we continue our special series on

with a look at graduate students who pay little or even nothing for a top 10 master’s degree program.

Hari Sreenivasan has our report.

It’s part of our weekly segment Making the Grade.

It’s graduation day, and these two students are earning their computer science master’s degree from a top 10 program in the country. But it’s the first time they have ever visited campus.

Graduate: This whole experience was very surreal. This is my first time on campus, being here. The energy in this room was crazy.

Students Vanessa Anderson and Miguel Morales did all of their course work for Georgia Institute of Technology online. Neither live in Georgia.

Graduate: I’m going to be working in autonomous systems, and just it’s a dream job.

And a job which pays. The average starting salary for Georgia Tech’s master degree graduates is $150,000.

This spring, 64 students earned their computer science master’s degree on campus, but 212 earned them online.

Charles Isbell,, Georgia Tech:

Professor The degree is the same on the transcript. It’s the same on the diploma. There’s no distinction whatsoever.

Charles Isbell, a senior associate dean for Georgia Tech’s College of Computing, helped design the online master’s program.

It’s about accessibility. We see that we can get many more people who don’t look like the traditional folks that we have coming on campus.

Hari Sreenivasan:, online students are typically older and have full-time jobs. Online, there are nearly twice as many of students of color than on campus. And while Isbell insists the quality of learning is equal for the two programs, he points out one key difference:

There’s a huge difference in price. So, for our on-campus degree, it’s somewhere north of $42,000 a year. For the online degree, it’s $6,600 for the entire degree.

So, if the experience is the same, how can you deliver a product at $6,600 that you’re delivering at $42,000?

Well, there’s two big things.

The first is, we don’t have to pay for buildings. We don’t have to build new classrooms. But the really big difference is scale. So we have about 4,500 students in the program, compared to the 400 or so that we have on campus.

A recent Harvard study of Georgia Tech’s online master’s concluded that the combination of a top 10 program offering a traditional degree at significant cost savings has created a whole new consumer market in higher education.

For some students, tuition is actually free. That’s because many companies offer their full-time employees tuition reimbursement. Student Nica Montford is a data integrator for General Motors Innovation Center in Roswell, Georgia.

Online Graduate Student Every GM employee gets $8,500 to spend in higher education every year, and so it falls well within the $8,500 that we get.

After two-and-a-half years studying online, Montford plans to graduate this December.

I’m focusing on the social computing aspect, social media, and the social landscape. I’m really interested to see where I can take it, as it expands, and as it grows, and OK be on the leading edge.

Master’s student Eboni Bell, a product software engineer for AT ?>

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