Masters degrees can be a key to pushing your career to a higher level. But they’re expensive and can be difficult to earn because most students who want them are already working in their chosen field and can’t afford to stop and go back to school for two or three years.
Enter the “Micro-Master’s” degree. It’s a concept that will be tried next year by the world-famed Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and it may offer a way for students to earn their masters while saving tens of thousands of dollars in tuition. Hopefully MIT’s experiment will succeed, and we’ll see other schools pick up on the concept.
MIT’s micro-master’s degree will be a 10 month program. It’s key element will be that students will earn half their credits through MOOCs, the free online courses that have become wildly popular but usually don’t result in real college credit. MIT’s students will earn half their grad degree credits learning thorugh their computers at home through MOOCs, and then be required to attend classes only for the second half of the program. That will eliminate almost half the cost of the entire masters degree, saving students a bundle.
A few other colleges have tested the idea of giving students credit for MOOC courses, but in most cases the student has had to pay for the credits. This is a more radical approach, championed by MIT President L. Rafael Reif who says “I’d rather we disrupt ourselves than be disrupted by somebody else.”
Beyond the savings, many educators feel that MOOCs are giving students a good change to “try out” a subject area before signing on for an expensive degree program in it. For more on MIT’s micro-masters click here.