Stackable degrees gaining prominence as entry points to grad school

Dive Brief:

  • The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will soon offer a master’s degree in data science through Coursera, opening its curriculum to students who are interested in the full master’s as well as individual or groups of courses.
  • The Chronicle of Higher Education reports the “stackable” nature of the degree, in which students can take a few courses, get a certificate, and later apply those courses toward a full master’s program, is expected to become increasingly popular among institutions looking to create more flexible and affordable programs for students.
  • MIT is piloting its own stackable credential in supply chain management by offering the first half of the master’s program through edX, and edX CEO Anant Agarwal says more institutions are planning to debut similar program models through the MOOC platform in the coming year.

Dive Insight:

Stackable credentials let students test out their interest in a program without too much risk. They can figure out if they like it, if they have time for the program, and if it’s worth the cost. The online programs also significantly cut the price of a degree. Students can get a University of Illinois diploma for their progress in the Coursera program for less than $20,000. At MIT, students only have to be on campus for one semester, and they only pay for the MOOC-based portion of the credential if they’ve already proven themselves with the material.

For students, the MOOC provides an entry point for a competitive master’s program. Students who complete the edX course are given a leg up in the MIT admissions process. And, the MOOC partnerships also offer colleges and universities a chance to meet greater student demand than they can on-campus.

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Filed Under: Higher Ed Technology Online Learning
Top image credit: Coursera