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I read that Georgia Tech recently created a MOOC for CSCI, and I am interested in this program.

Has anyone done this program? there is not much information regarding the online degrees.

0bviously these degrees benefit working class professionals. Are they well regarded to employers or academics?

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I can't really address your individual program, but I can address online/part-time degrees in general, especially in the computer science field.

Specifically, when you receive a degree from these places, it does not read:

Online Master's in Computer Science

It reads the same as a normal Master's degree, whether or not you take it online. So if you're after the Master's Degree, there is no stigma just because you got it online, or part-time (which online-degrees are a subset of).

The degree you receive as a full-time graduate student versus as a part-time professional are equivalent, in that you have achieved Mastery in Computer Science.

That being said, what you do to achieve mastery are very different if you go through a full-time or part-time/online program. I don't believe any part-time degree has a requirement for a thesis or research (it may be optional, but I don't believe it is a popular avenue due to the situation of being a full-time professional taking up normal working hours).

For a Future in Industry: Yes

The classes provided at my Master's program covered software life cycles, enterprise development, and database management, which are practical skills used in the industry. Classes that would be more geared towards academia, such as those covering machine learning and quantum computing, were not normally taught. Most of the skills you develop will be industry-standard practices. In fact, about 90% of the technology I used in the Master's program, I am actively using at my current employment.

In most cases, our classes involved us building fully functional applications as if we were a start-up entity. Off the top of my head, I built a game of Clue, a database-driven MVA, and an e-commerce website.

As always, learning new things is a major component of advancing in the CS industry. From my personal experience, my Master's majorly accelerated my job growth.

For a Future in Academia: It Depends

If you're planning a career in academia, a part-time or online degree may not provide you the background in research that I would normally associate with academic work.

That being said, the avenue still allows you to teach as an adjunct professor at the very same institutions, if you so choose. Most of my professors were in industry and worked day jobs, and just taught for fun during nights.

One major caveat of an online degree compared to an in-person degree is that it may be more difficult for you to get a decent letter of recommendation for PhD work, in my opinion, if you take all your courses online, due to the lack of actual interaction with your professor. For this reason, I tried to take all of my courses in-person when possible. It's also been mentioned repeatedly that in-class work provides more focus to students, and students typically learn better in those environments.

  • Very great response. – sophie-germain Dec 6 '14 at 3:05
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    you have achieved Mastery in Computer Science — No, you have satisfied the degree requirements for a master's degree in computer science. That's not the same thing as achieving actual mastery. – JeffE Dec 6 '14 at 5:08

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