Penn to Offer Its First-Ever Online Master’s Program in Computer Science

The program, available through the online learning platform Coursera, costs just one-third of what it costs to earn the degree on campus.

University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA

The University of Pennsylvania is really jumping on board with the trend that’s putting more classes online, thereby introducing greater flexibility for a bigger, more diverse group of students. Come January, the university’s School of Engineering and Applied Science will offer an online course that will give participants a master of computer and information technology (MCIT).

The MCIT program is particularly special because it will be the first degree Penn will offer entirely online and the first Ivy-league degree offered by its partner, online learning platform Coursera, the site’s CEO, John Maggioncalda told the Inquirer. Penn was one of Coursera’s first partners after it was founded in 2012 and now the site has over 34 million registered users.

According to Maggioncalda, the future of degrees, specifically master’s degrees, is online. Courses are a more practical decision that way in the long run.

Remarkably, the program will give students who have no computer science background the opportunity to enroll and graduate in two years with a master’s degree in the subject.

The on-campus program usually accepts around 80 students per year, but the online effort will allow for several hundred more students to enroll.

The online version of the program will also cost just one-third of what it costs to earn the degree on-campus, which, including tuition and fees, typically costs somewhere between $70,000 and $80,000. The online version will cost $26,300.

Vijay Kumar, the Nemirovsky family dean of Penn Engineering told the Inquirer that the online-version of the MCIT program has the potential to attract a wider demographic of graduate students, those who need more flexibility, and expects it to bring in 500 students in addition to the current pool of on-campus scholars.

The online program will be almost exactly the same as the on-campus program, Kumar said, with faculty members who currently teach on-campus also teaching online.

The Coursera version of the MCIT program, however, will offer analytics for professors that tell them how much time students spend on each lecture. It will also provide a program to help faculty members make the transition from on-campus to online teaching.

Students will choose the pace at which they will earn their degrees, but there will be a limit on how fast they will be able to go through the program since all courses won’t immediately be available upon the program’s launch.

Penn has not yet announced when enrollment for the program will begin.