I am currently deciding my next step in life and am pretty confused about my options. I am an English language teacher with an MSEd in TESOL and have a growing interest in both computer science and linguistics. I have been considering getting my PhD in linguistics, possibly with a focus on computational linguistics, but I also am really interested in beginning to develop applications, especially ones related to language and education (i.e. Android apps, python-based language tools, etc.). So lately, I have been considering getting an MSCS (online) in order to build the requisite skills and also enhance my job prospects (a language teacher doesn't make much).
I've been looking at online programs that offer courses in AI, MT, NLP, and human-machine interaction. But, I've also been considering skipping the MSCS and doing Coursera, CodeAcademy, and other free tutorials to learn the development skills, then making some GitHub or publishable projects. I have done CodeAcademy for Python and picked it up pretty quickly. The problem with these free education sources, however, is that I lose motivation quickly. However, If I had paid for them, my motivation would be sustained because I spent the money and want to get my money's worth.
So, my vague question is...do I do a MSCS or focus on what's freely available, build my skills, and hope I get good enough to not need a real credential?
Thanks for any advice!