8 minute read  written by  . Published on April 18, 2017

Over the past few years, MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) providers have focused on creating their own credentials. Some that you might have heard of include Udacity’s Nanodegrees or Coursera’s Specializations.

Another trend that has been slowly gaining momentum is the one in which MOOCs sometimes count toward official academic credit. Some credentials, like edX’s MicroMasters (which are offered by fourteen universities), can be used to earn a semester’s worth of academic credits towards an on-campus master’s degree. A detailed list of MOOCs that can be taken for credit can be found on Class Central here.

Breakdown of what different MOOC providers do or don’t provide in April 2017
Breakdown of what different MOOC providers do or don’t provide in April 2017

But the trend I want to talk about here is master’s degrees that you can take online, and which are offered by MOOC providers. The first MOOC-based degree was announced back in 2013. It took two years for the next one to be announced in 2015. But in the last year or so, seven more completely online master’s degrees have been announced by MOOC providers. If fact, Coursera plans to offer 20 such degrees by the end of 2019.

The advantage of MOOC-based master’s degrees is that many courses which are part of the degree are free to take. So you can preview a part of the content before committing to anything. Also, all of them are based on the pay as you go model; you only pay for the courses that you are currently taking. Some have the option to earn partial academic credits.

One thing to be aware is that each degree has its own application process (and deadlines), as well as minimum requirements like a bachelor’s degree or minimum work experience. Many require you to submit different standardized test scores, like GRE, GMAT, or TOEFL.

Without further delay, here are nine completely online master’s degrees that have been announced so far.

1. Georgia Tech and Udacity: Online Master of Science in Computer Science

Announced Back in 2013, Udacity and Georgia Tech’s completely online Masters in Computer Science was the first degree announced by a MOOC provider. It was dubbed “OMSCS.” The entire degree was going to cost less than $7,000.

The tuition fee has since then increased from $402 per three-credit hour to $510.

Zvi Galil, Dean of Georgia Tech’s College of Computing, speaking to OMSCS students at an event (which I got to attend) organized by Udacity at SXSWedu.
Zvi Galil, Dean of Georgia Tech’s College of Computing, speaking to OMSCS students at an event (which I got to attend) organized by Udacity at SXSWedu.

Things were really slow at the beginning. It took two years before the first batch of eighteen students graduated in December 2015. A year later, in December 2016, around 200 students had graduated.

But the OMSCS is gaining momentum. There are now over 4,500 students enrolled in the spring 2017 semester.

You can find more details here: https://www.omscs.gatech.edu/

2. Georgia Tech and edX: Online Master of Science in Analytics

Building on the success of its OMSCS program, Georgia Tech has announced a second, similar program: Online Masters of Science In Analytics (OMS Analytics). According to Georgia Tech, the OMS Analytics will cost less than $10,000 and will be offered in August this year.

Three of Georgia Tech’s OMS Analytics foundational courses will form the Analytics: Essential Tools and Methods MicroMasters credential program on edx.org. It consists of three free online courses: Introduction to Analytics Modeling, Computing for Data Analysis, and Data Analytics in Business. The first of these courses starts on May 14 2017.

The tuition fee will be $825 per three-credit hour course, and an additional $301 per academic term of enrollment. The first cohort will start in August 2017 and will be limited to 250 students. Applications opened on January 12, 2017.

You can find more details here: https://pe.gatech.edu/online-masters-degrees/online-master-science-analytics

3. University of Illinois and Coursera: Master of Business Administration (iMBA)

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign became Coursera’s first partner to announce a fully-fledged business degree with them. Announced back in 2015, the iMBA (as it’s called) costs around $22,000 and is designed to “help you achieve deep mastery of business strategy and leadership.”

Coursera’s degrees are built on top of Specializations, which are sequences of courses that amount to micro-credentials. These Specializations are open to anyone in the world, and as far I can tell the individual courses of these Specializations are free to audit.

According to Coursera, the iMBA program is heavily interactive, with live global classrooms, team projects, and personal contact with top professors.

You can find more details here: https://www.coursera.org/university-programs/imba

4. University of Illinois and Coursera: Master of Computer Science in Data Science (MCS-DS)

According to U.S. News & World Report, the University of Illinois is in the top five schools for Computer Science. So it’s a good thing that they launched a MS CS in Data Science.

MCS-DS costs less than $20k. Here is what the information page says about the program:

The MCS-DS builds expertise in four core areas of computer science: data visualization, machine learning, data mining and cloud computing, in addition to building valuable skill sets in statistics and information science with courses taught in collaboration with the University’s Statistics Department and iSchool (ranked #1 among Library and Information Studies Schools.)

Similar to iMBA, the MCS-DS consists of Specializations that are available for anyone to signup for everyone. Two of these Specializations, those on Data Visualization and Cloud Computing, are already available.

You can find more details here: https://www.coursera.org/university-programs/masters-in-computer-data-science

5. University of Illinois and Coursera: Master of Science in Accounting (iMSA)

According to U.S. News & World Report, the University of Illinois’s on-campus accounting program (both undergrad and master’s degrees) is a top three program. The cost of the online program is an estimated $27.2k, making it the most expensive master’s degree offered by the University of Illinois on Coursera.

This iMSA was announced just last month, and applications for the first cohort are open now.

You can find more details here: https://www.coursera.org/university-programs/imsa

6. HEC Paris and Coursera: Master’s in Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OMIE)


HEC Paris became the second university to offer a masters program on Coursera. HEC Paris is one of Europe’s highest ranked business schools (#2 on the Financial Times’ rankings).

The online Master’s in Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OMIE), announced last month, costs €20,000. OMIE also includes a certificate program, which costs €5,000. The Certificate in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship does not have an application process and is open to everyone. Once completed, it can be applied towards the full degree.

You can find more details here: https://www.coursera.org/university-programs/masters-innovation-entrepreneurship

7. Deakin University and FutureLearn: Cyber Security

FutureLearn is a UK-based MOOC provider backed by The Open University. Last year FutureLearn announced that it will launch six post-graduate degrees in partnership with Australia’s Deakin University.

The certifications awarded by FutureLearn and Deakin University are: a graduate certificate, a graduate diploma, and a master’s degree. Of the five announced so far, three of them are available as a master’s degree.

Each degree will consist of up to sixteen FutureLearn Programs, which are similar to a Coursera Specialization or a Udacity Nanodegree. Most of the courses that are part of these degrees will have a fee attached, but there will be a few “taster courses” for each degree that are free.

The Cyber Security master’s degree will cost around £30k. Students will “gain knowledge from system security and digital forensics to analytics and organisational security.”

You can find more details here: https://www.futurelearn.com/degrees/deakin-university/cyber-security

8. Deakin University and FutureLearn: Professional Practice: Information Technology

Here is a description of the degree on FutureLearn:

This degree recognises the discipline-based knowledge and skills developed by professionals in the workplace. This is coupled with employability skills that are validated and endorsed through a final holistic assessment. Upon the completion of this degree, graduates will possess advanced skills and complex knowledge in the discipline areas they have selected.

FutureLearn’s degrees haven’t launched yet, and complete details are still lacking. The pricing for this degree will be around £10.7k.

You can find more details here: https://www.futurelearn.com/degrees/deakin-university/information-technology-professional-practice

9. Deakin University and FutureLearn: Development and Humanitarian Action

This master’s degree has been developed in association with Save the Children. Here is a description of the degree on FutureLearn:

These degrees – developed in association with Save the Children – build a unique, global platform where development & humanitarian practitioners and academics can share knowledge and experience, with a focus on improving leadership, preparedness and response capacities to national and international emergencies and developmental issues.

This master’s degree consists of sixteen programs and costs around £24k.

You can find more details here: https://www.futurelearn.com/degrees/deakin-university/development-and-humanitarian-action

10.[New] Arizona State University and Coursera: Master of Computer Science

Here is a description of the degree on Coursera:

The Master of Computer Science (MCS) degree program from Arizona State University provides high-quality computer science instruction combined with real-world experience through applied projects. You’ll gain a deep understanding of cutting-edge topics like AI, cybersecurity, and big data while you develop interpersonal skills that help you succeed in any organization.

Application Deadline is July 20th, 2018.

You can find more details here: https://www.coursera.org/degrees/master-of-computer-science-asu



  • At these prices, we may as well just go to the local university, and have the benefits of sitting in for classes, better interaction with the teacher and fellow students.

    No matter how much you try to mimic this and add interactive tools to online courses, it will never equal being present in the same space at the same time.

    What’s more, some of these are in countries where education is free for residents.

    Surprisingly disappointing.

    • Today good online by best universities is much better than inclass courses . Being present in a classroom is nothing as long as teacher s bad school is bad . So take a course from Harvard free. I would pay $ 500 for it . Go to http://www.class-central.com/universities to see 800 top universities of the world plus 8.000 online courses . Sure some courses are not very good . So you select the bests .

    • Iown You

      >>>and have the benefits of sitting in for classes, better interaction with the teacher and fellow students.<<>>No matter how much you try to mimic this and add interactive tools to online courses, it will never equal being present in the same space at the same time.<<<

      Advanced web cameras and web technology have made that thinking obsolete. I just attended a course last month for fun where I could see the instructor and the instructor could see all of us in a visual seating window. Felt no different from being in physical classroom except that I knew my ass was sitting on my seat at home and not the one in the seat 3,000 miles away.

  • Apollo Tyana

    UIUC should be requested out of coursera, its a treason to charge $27,000 for a gimmicky Masters degree offered through MOOCs. Putting it another way this is not MOOCs. Its an online degree that UIUC is trying to sell leveraging MOOCs resources.

    • Apollo
      I said that 8 months ago . UIUC is just sucking people . It is a state university. Administrators enjoy all those extra money . Yes it is treason to charge $ 27.000 almost same as on campus price .
      I said above cost is almost nill if school is smart enough to get 1.000 or so enrollment per semester which can be done very easily if you drop the price. look up Georgia Tech . They charge for a whole CS master degree online $ 7.000 . Where is $ 27.000 . If people do not react sure these will go on . But you see you reacted after 8 months . I said that 8 months ago and have been saying it for the last 15 years . Stop it . DOE should do something about it . Senators should do something about it . Look up Europe . Even whole education is free . Something is wrong in USA.

    • Just go to http://www.mguniversity2017.org
      Take courses from Harvard, Stanford, Yale, MIT, Berkeley, Cornell, Princeton, Columbia, Uni of Chicago , take only one course from these , finish them get your certificate , almost free ( there are some ID verification fee by some university ) Then get your master degrees from mguniversity.
      MBA, Economics, Computer Science master degrees .
      There is no university in the world that you can get 10 courses from the top top of the world 10 universities . And almost free. Shame with UIUC . charging $ 27.000 from a state university even not a top university .

  • Dustin

    This is directed towards all of the ignorant people (especially these entitled foreigners) spewing anti capitalist rhetoric (e.g. it’s all about money and greed and blah blah blah…). The very reason why this is occurring is because of government involvement in the “free market”.

    • Dustin
      Whom do you speak . ? What is ” This ” , who are ” entitled foreigners ” ?
      Sorry, sorry, sorry , There is no comment to you .

      • Dustin

        It’s not just foreigners. It’s also many Americans who have been indoctrinated with these dangerous Marxist ideas. I just find it ironic that people are complaining about the cost of education and then blaming this on the wrong institutions. It’s not the universities who are at fault.

        • Dustin
          First of all I know very well capitalism, wild capitalism, socialism .I have been in almost 50 countries in the world and did business with most .
          I was a wild capitalist when I was young 30-40 years old . Then at 60 I became just capitalist for the sake of competition and hard work . I believe in justice in life. I see sociolism tries to establish justice but no avail . Who is at fault. Every body . Universities, government , namely just ignorant people . Just see I have been educated in the USA by top schools 50 years ago and I became the top technologist in the world now . JUST USE TECHNOLOGY WHENEVER YOU HAVE PROBLEM . 1.- Education,
          2.- Retail sales ( e-commerce will kill all those department stores , e-commerce will deliver goods from producers to consumers directly and prices will go down 25 % )
          Logistics will benefit .
          3.- There will not be any money around . All transactions will be made by mobil phones today tomorrow more simpler devices . Even the smallest amount .
          4. IRS will collect better taxes since every transaction under the control of IRS. Who bought what at what price they will know .
          And many more .
          Today teachers are very close to losing their jobs if they do not train themselves well .
          I just say
          Do not sit on a BA degree for whole life it is just worthless .
          So Universities+DOE+ president + media+just whole people should believe in education technology . I blame all .

        • Dustin
          See my solution
          Top quality education for 18 million Americans plus 8 billion people of the world
          All free or at very low cost
          Sure it is not perfect. But more expert people can make it perfect .

  • Mani Raj

    Advan-kt accepts 12 MOOC for Diploma; 24 MOOC for bachelor degree and 36 for master degree. A project is must. visit http://www.advan-kt.com