2U, UC Berkeley Team Up for Online Masters Program

2U and UC Berkeley are teaming up to offer what they call the "country's first online Master of Information and Data Science (MIDS) degree program."

According to AnnaLee Saxenian, dean of UCB's School of Information, there is a "dramatically growing need for well-trained big data professionals who can organize, analyze, and interpret the deluge of often messy and unorganized data available from the web, sensor networks, mobile devices, and elsewhere."

The industry has seen a growth in the number of accredited classes and even degrees from private online course providers. Most recently, Udacity announced a deal with Georgia Tech to offer an online master's degree in computer science for under $7,000.

By contrast, this MIDS program will cost $60,000--essentially the same price as the physical program.

In an interview with EdSurge, Saxenian stressed that her approach is "as different as night and day" as compared with the Udacity-Georgia Tech deal. She intends the online program to be just as selective and rigorous as its physical program, with buy-in and commitment from its faculty to teach and lead online discussions. "Our priority is not to scale. We're not opposed to it, but scaling should be an outcome of success, not a measure or criteria of success."

"I have a feeling that our admissions criteria is selective enough that we will not scale too quickly. If we start off with just 20 students, that would be great."

Saxenian also shared that her decision to go with 2U was partly aided after hearing good word from Karen Gallagher, the dean of USC's Rossier School of Education which was 2U's first partner in 2009.

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