Georgia Tech Online Master of Science in Computer Science

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Georgia Tech Online Master of Science in Computer Science
TypeDegree program
Parent institution
Georgia Tech College of Computing

Georgia Tech Online Master of Science in Computer Science is a master of science degree offered by the College of Computing at Georgia Tech. The program is offered in partnership with Udacity and AT&T and delivered through the massive open online course format.[2] The course has received attention for offering a full master's degree program for under $7,000 that gives students from all over the world the opportunity to enroll in a top 10-ranked computer science program.[3][4] The program has been recognized by the University Professional and Continuing Education Association and Fast Company for excellence and innovation.[5][6]


The College of Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology launched its online Master of Science in Computer Science degree in January 2014.[2] The program was conceived by John P. Imlay Jr., Dean of Computing Zvi Galil, and Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun.[3] It was offered in partnership with Udacity and AT&T and delivered through the massive open online course format,[3] and was designed to provide a low-cost, high-quality alternative to traditional master's degree programs by delivering instructional content and academic support via the massive open online course format.[2] Charles Isbell, a senior associate dean at the College of Computing, helped lead the effort.[4]

As of Spring 2019, the program has 8,664 enrolled students located in 114 countries.[1] It admits all applicants deemed to possess a reasonable chance of success—about two-thirds of applicants to date—which is significantly higher than the university’s on-campus graduate admissions rate.[1] From its creation in 2014 until the spring semester of 2019, the program has graduated more than 1,700 students and now graduates more than 1,000 students each year. The program has received over 25,000 applications in that time. The program has received significant media attention since its announcement in May 2013, including a front-page story in The New York Times and a segment on the PBS NewsHour series "Rethinking Education."[7][8]

Curriculum and culture[edit]

The online master's program currently offers 30 courses and four specializations—Computational Perception and Robotics, Computing Systems, Interactive Intelligence, and Machine Learning.[9][10]

A study entitled “Can Online Delivery Increase Access to Education,” by John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University Associate Professor Joshua Goodman, Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts at the Georgia Institute of Technology Associate Professor Julia Melkers, and Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences Associate Professor Amanda Pallais, explored the structure and industry impact of the online master's program and concluded that it supplies the need of “a vast untapped market for highly affordable degrees from prestigious colleges.”[4][11]

Due to the online format of the program, social media has played a significant role in the development of robust student communities on social media.[12][13] The program also utilizes an artificial intelligence teaching assistant called “Jill” Watson, built using IBM’s Watson platform. Jill is able to answer questions posed in natural language and assists students enrolled in the program's Knowledge-Based Artificial Intelligence course, led by Professor Ashok Goel.[14]

Recognition and impact[edit]

Former President Barack Obama publicly praised Georgia Tech's online master's program on two occasions, as providing a model to both address the STEM worker shortage and control the costs of higher education.[15][16] The program was the recipient of University Professional and Continuing Education Association’s Outstanding Program Award in the credit category.[5][17] OMSCS was also cited as the reason Georgia Tech was named to Fast Company’s 2017 list of Most Innovative Companies in the World—the third university so named and the first for work in the education sector.[6]

The program has proved to be a model for other online degrees. Georgia Tech itself has launched two: an online master’s in Analytics and one in Cybersecurity. Other universities have followed suit, creating more than 40 online degrees by the spring of 2019.[18][19][20][21] For example, in March 2018, Coursera announced six new, MOOC-based degree programs in collaboration with the University of Michigan, Arizona State University, the University of London, and Imperial College London.[22]


  1. ^ a b c "The Numbers". Georgia Tech College of Computing. Retrieved 2017-09-25.
  2. ^ a b c Georgia Institute of Technology (May 15, 2013). "Georgia Tech Announces Massive Online Master's Degree in Computer Science" (Press release). Retrieved 2017-09-25.
  3. ^ a b c Rivard, Ry (May 14, 2013). "Massive (But Not Open)". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 2017-09-25.
  4. ^ a b c Carey, Kevin (September 28, 2016). "An Online Education Breakthrough? A Master's Degree for a Mere $7,000". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-09-25.
  5. ^ a b "UPCEA Announces 2017 Association Award Recipients" (Press release). UPCEA. February 22, 2017. Retrieved 2017-10-18.
  6. ^ a b "The 10 Most Innovative Companies In Education 2017". Fast Company. March 9, 2017. Retrieved 2017-09-25.
  7. ^ Lewin, Tamar (August 13, 2013). "Master's Degree Is New Frontier of Study Online". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-10-09.
  8. ^ "How online graduate programs offer degrees at significant savings". PBS Newshour. September 5, 2017. Retrieved 2017-09-25.
  9. ^ "Current Courses". Georgia Tech College of Computing. Retrieved 2017-10-06.
  10. ^ "Specializations". Georgia Tech College of Computing. Retrieved 2017-10-06.
  11. ^ Goodman, Joshua; Melkers, Julia; Pallais, Amanda (September 2016), Can Online Delivery Increase Access to Education, HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series, Harvard Kennedy School
  12. ^ Fenton, William (April 22, 2016). "Don't Dismiss Georgia Tech's $6,000 Online Master's Degree". PC Magazine. Retrieved 2017-10-06.
  13. ^ "Georgia Tech OMSCS". Google+. Retrieved 2017-10-06.
  14. ^ Korn, Melissa (May 6, 2016). "Imagine Discovering That Your Teaching Assistant Really Is a Robot". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2017-10-06.
  15. ^ Jackson, Abby (March 10, 2015). "The university where Obama is speaking today could revolutionize online education". Business Insider. Retrieved 2017-10-09.
  16. ^ "Remarks by the President Announcing Student Aid Bill of Rights". The White House. March 10, 2015. Retrieved 2017-10-09.
  17. ^ "Regional Awards". UPCEA. Retrieved 2017-09-25.
  18. ^ Young, Jeffrey (May 4, 2015). "U. of Illinois to Offer a Lower-Cost M.B.A., Thanks to MOOCs". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2017-10-06.
  19. ^ "The First MOOC-Based Master's Degree in Date Science Presents a New Model for Meeting Market Demand". CS @ Illinois. March 29, 2016. Retrieved 2017-10-09.
  20. ^ Hernandez, Elizabeth (February 8, 2018). "CU regents approve course for master's degree in electrical engineering". Daily Camera. Retrieved 2018-03-08.
  21. ^ "Georgia Tech Creates First Online MS in Analytics Degree for Less Than $10,000" (Press release). Georgia Tech Professional Education. January 7, 2017. Retrieved 2017-10-06.
  22. ^ Lederman, Doug (March 6, 2018). "Look Who's Championing the Degree". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 2018-03-16.