In what the dean of computing calls a "revolutionary step," Georgia Institute of Technology will offer a $7,000 online master's degree in computer science—that's one-sixth the cost of its traditional degree, and officials say the two degrees will be comparable. The university will partner with Silicon Valley startup Udacity to offer the three-year program, and AT&T will subsidize it, Inside Higher Education reports. Georgia Tech will hire about eight new instructors, who will make all the academic decisions, while Udacity "mentors" will answer the bulk of the questions from new students.
Georgia Tech plans to increase its 300 current computer science students to 10,000, from all over the world, over the next three years. The first year will add several hundred students, most of them coming from the military and AT&T; enrollment begins in January. Over the next three years more students will be admitted, including drop-in students who are seeking a certificate rather than a full degree, and even students who pay nothing to take courses for no credit. (Udacity offers such free, not-for-credit courses, known as "massive open online courses," or MOOCs.) Says Udacity's CEO, "I think it’s important for higher education to open access to people who can’t get access." While online degrees are popular, this is one of the first to cost so much less than a traditional degree.