Applications opened Thursday for a new online master’s degree program at Georgia Tech. The university is hoping to repeat the success of its first online master's program in computer science, launched in 2014.
A recent Harvard study said that program alone will likely increase the number of Americans earning computer science degrees by seven percent.
“We see a huge demand in the marketplace for Analytics,” says Nelson Baker, Georgia Tech's dean of professional education. “So, we said, ‘Well, we’re seeing great success around our computer science program. What if?’”
The online programs cost about one-third of their on-campus counterparts. However, Georgia Tech says the quality of both models is the same.
Some experts say online programs aren't for everyone.
Joel Sokol is an associate professor at Georgia Tech’s Stewart School of Industrial and Systems and Engineering, and director of the Analytics program. He says online programs do offer some benefits campus programs don’t.
“These [online] discussion forums get [into] really, really rich discussions, and they can go on 24/7,” Sokol says. “It’s not like class ends after an hour, and now you move on to your next class and that’s it.”
The university says it may eventually offer other degree programs online, but only in high-demand fields.
"We’re going to continue doing high-quality, low-enrollment programs, because that’s who Georgia Tech has been and will continue to be, but in areas where there's high demand, and we're trying to provide ways to get quality education to more people, then these programs make sense,” Baker says.