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Business & Commerce

Online courses may be changing the graduate environment

Wednesday, October 14, 2015
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Online courses may be changing the graduate environment
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Taking courses online can be very convenient. However, in the past, this convenience has come with a high cost. Many students who choose to take online graduate courses pay more than students who attend classes on campus and take longer to get their degree. This may not be the norm going forward thanks to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's new program.

"The program will allow any person to take an online semester of courses for free."

Raising the bar
MIT just launched a new online program associated with its supply chain management master's program. The program will allow any person to take online courses for free for one whole semester. He or she does not need to be a student at the university or be accepted into the supply chain management program to take the courses. After one semester of free courses, students will need to take an exam on the material they've learned and pay $1,500 to earn what MIT is calling a MicroMasters degree. If students choose to continue the program and earn a master's degree, they can officially enroll as a student on campus and pay $33,000, which is about half the normal price of the annual tuition at MIT.

This development sets a new precedent for online courses, specifically MBA programs. Other prestigious institutions, including Yale University and Georgetown University, charge students a lot more for an online degree, as much as $84,000. With it, students usually need to take more classes and visit the campus a few times each year. However, MIT may cause universities to change their policy — and their prices.

The main benefit of this new program is affordability. People who seek a master's degree in supply chain management usually aren't coming right from an undergraduate program. Instead, they tend to already have a job and need to take time off to complete the program. This can be a strain on their finances — especially if they have a family to worry about. That's why programs like MIT's help students to complete the degree in less time and for less money. MIT's school president, L. Rafael Reif, spoke with the Associated Press and noted that the program also gives students a unique opportunity.

"Anyone who wants to be here now has a shot to be here," Reif told the news source. "They have a chance to prove in advance that they can do the work."

Supply chain management is one of the most popular fields to take online courses in. Supply chain management is one of the most popular fields to have courses online. 

A popular field
Hopefully, other schools will begin to take notice of the MIT program and its success. While many colleges offer only a handful of graduate programs online, supply chain management is one of the more popular fields of study.

One of the reasons for its popularity is the difference in earnings between a person with a bachelor's degree and one with a master's degree. Supply chain managers tend to earn 25 percent more than managers who only carry a bachelor's degree. While employment can be acquired without a master's, given the short time it takes to complete an advanced degree, it can be worthwhile to earn one.

Aside from MIT, many colleges offer an online program in supply chain management. So many offer the program that TheBestSchools.com rated them based on prestige and success rates. Some of the most popular choices include:

  • Penn State University - This school lets students complete the program with a degree in two years. If people are really in a rush, this program allows students to earn a graduate certificate after taking three courses.
  • Indiana University - This program really gives students flexibility - they can complete the program in a short 15 months, or within five years. 
  • Arizona State University - This program is more extensive, asking students to take an exam every fifth week of the course. 

By Monique Smith

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