Review of Georgia Tech OMSCS

As of Fall 2016, I’m enrolled in the Online Master of Science – Computer Science, dubbed “OMSCS”, at Georgia Tech.

A few different personal goals led me to enroll in the program: 1) to obtain an advanced degree to aid in progressing towards more senior roles in my career; 2) to accomplish point #1 in a cost effective way; and 3) to keep my technical skills sharp.

I’m happy to say that this program has met and exceeded my expectations in addition to helping accomplish my three goals above. I can’t say enough good things about the program, but I’ll let the New York Times describe what makes this program special.

In spite of being a completely online program, the community aspect of the OMSCS is especially strong. I find that students are more engaged due to the availability and “always on” nature of the online class forum (called Piazza) than in my on-campus Computer Science classes during undergrad. With a large population of students across the globe participating in OMSCS, odds are that your question will be answered quickly by someone in some timezone at any given point in the day.

In addition, the course technology gives the OMSCS several advantages. For example, I can watch the Youtube-based lectures on my own schedule, versus a defined class time each week. Also, when a professor or TA holds office hours, it’s typically recorded and posted for all students to review. During my undergrad, if you had a conflict during the scheduled time for office hours, you were out of luck. Finally, for courses that involve closed-book tests (2 out of 4 of my courses thus far), advanced proctoring software allows you to take the test in the comfort of your own home. While this does involve the personal privacy sacrifices that come from being recorded via webcam and microphone, it does help to ensure the program remains high quality and worthy of Georgia Tech’s top ranking in the Computer Science field.

I’m currently in my second semester of the program and have taken two classes each during both semesters. With a full time job alongside the OMSCS, it’s a very demanding schedule. However, the program allows students to complete courses at their own pace, even one per semester, with a maximum of a one semester break in between.

All in all, it’s been a fun ride participating in what appears to be, by many accounts, the future of education.

  1. Michael Hennig

    Do you think eventually most college education will end up online? I am thinking “online-only” education will become very popular in the next 5-10 years. My only concern is the social aspect of college and if students miss that by opting to go exclusively online, how will they adapt socially. They may end up hanging out with their high school friends forever… which may be good or bad.

    I know that GE partners with Georgia Tech for some of the GE development programs that include additional training and a Master’s of Engineering from George Tech. Many ND graduates from my class went through the GE program and got Engineer Masters degrees. They loved doing it through Georgia Tech.

    I commend you on the commitment of time and money to get this done.

    • I just noticed this comment, oops: good question, I think this type of online education serves a very specific need for advanced education. It provides people mid-career an opportunity to go to school and still keep their job and family life intact. I don’t think it’s a replacement for the on-campus experience, especially for undergrad students like you mentioned.

      But it may also provide another avenue for more cost-sensitive families to obtain a top tier education at a bargain price. I could see undergrad courses being offered both ways – attend the school in-person for $30,000/yr or attend online for $3,000. The big question is whether or not that devalues the in-person experience.

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