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21 Low-Cost Online Master's Degrees from Coursera and edX

Listing them all in one place, and thinking about what these programs might mean for higher ed.

July 8, 2019
 
 

We may be on the cusp of a postsecondary revolution in master's level credentialing for professional programs. 

It is a revolution, however, that few seem to be taking note.

Both edX and Coursera are partnering with top institutions to offer high-quality/low-cost graduate programs.  These online programs, as they evolve in quality and reach and employer acceptance, have the potential to shift the marketplace for master's degrees. 

To get a handle on the development of low-cost online master's degrees, I spent some time on the edX and Coursera websites. 

The table below provides my estimate of the costs (out of state) and the length of online master's programs.

Degree

School

Partner

Cost

Time

Graduate Business Degrees

       


Master of Business Administration (iMBA)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign    

Coursera    

$21,384 .   

 24-36 months . 

Master of Science in Accountancy (iMSA)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Coursera

$27,200 .  

18-36 months

Global Master of Business Administration (Global MBA)

Macquarie University

Coursera

$23,014 . 

12-18 months

MSc in Innovation and Entrepreneurship

HEC Paris

Coursera

$22,433  

18 months

Master’s Degree in Marketing

Curtin University

edX

$18,022 .  

18-36 months

Master’s Degree in Supply Chain Management

Arizona State University

edX

$19,080    

24-36 months

Master’s Degree in Accounting

Indiana University

edX

$21,000 .  

21-36 months

Master’s Degree in Leadership: Service Innovation

The University of Queensland

edX

$17,778 .  

24 months

Graduate Computer Science and Engineering Degrees

       

Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity

Georgia Tech

edX

$9,920 .  

24-36 months

Master’s Degree in IT Management

Indiana University

edX

$21,000 .  

21-36 months

Master of Science in Electrical Engineering

University of Colorado Boulder

Coursera

$20,000 .  

24 months

Master of Computer Science

Arizona State University

Coursera

$15,000 .  

18-36 months

Master of Computer Science

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Coursera

$21,440 .  

12-36 months

Master of Computer and Information Technology

Penn Engineering

Coursera

$26,300 .  

20-40 months

Graduate Data Science Degrees

       

Master’s Degree in Analytics

Georgia Tech

edX

$9,900 .  

12-36 months

Master’s Degree in Data Science

The University of California, San Diego

edX

$15,000 .  

12-36 months


Master of Science in Data Science

University of Colorado Boulder

Coursera

tbd .  

24 months

Master of Applied Data Science

University of Michigan

Coursera

$42,262 .  

12-24 months

MSc in Machine Learning

Imperial College London

Coursera

tbd

tbd

Graduate Programs in Health Science

       

Master of Public Health

University of Michigan

Coursera

$42,400 .  

tbd


Global Master of Public Health

Imperial College London

Coursera

$24,320 .  

24 months

The winners will be students, families, companies, and the broader economy.  The creation of a new category of online master's programs will create winners and losers. 

A master's degree is now a required credential for individual career mobility and resiliency.  The availability of low-cost online master's programs from universities with national/international brands will prove hugely attractive to adult working professionals. 

I also expect that these online low-cost master’s degrees will further consolidate the brand reputations of the institutions that run these programs. 

The losers are likely to be colleges and universities that depend on master's programs to compensate for losses in undergraduate programs. (Due to the need to increase tuition discounting in response to demographic, cost, competitive, and other funding pressures). 

Are low-cost/high-quality online master's degrees (if they really are high quality) yet another threat to the financial resiliency of  (master's) tuition-dependent institutions?

If so, what responsibility do the Coursera's and edX's of the world (if any) to non-elite institutions - one's that are unable to develop and market these programs?

My understanding is that edX and Coursera, and their partner institutions, can drive down the student costs by creating programs that scale.  Instructional costs are covered by spreading those expenses over a larger number of students. 

I am exceedingly curious about the quality of these low-cost online master's degree programs. 

My hypothesis is that they follow an 80/20 rule, of delivering 80 percent of the quality of a brand-name residential master's degree, at 20 percent of the cost.   But that is just a guess.

Do you have information on the quality of these programs that you can share?

If I'm right about my 80/20 guess, do you see as much trouble for standard full-cost master's degree programs as I do?

How will Coursera and edX impact the OPM market, with their ability to offer students lower price points with an alternative model of master’s level credentialing?

How come we are not talking more about the evolution of the low-cost master's degree?

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