Abstract: Following the initial proliferation of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), a more recent trend has emerged toward offering “Affordable Degrees at Scale” or “Large, Internet-Mediated Asynchronous Degrees”. In this research, we set out to understand this space: the range in tuition costs for these programs, the variety of admissions standards, and the types of assessments used to evaluate these non-traditional students. In the process, however, we found that in many ways, these programs may not be as new as we initially perceived: similarly-priced online programs have existed from traditional universities for years. In this research, we explore these two questions: what are these new degrees at scale, and how do they actually differ from traditional programs? To explore this, we collected materials for 35 MOOC-based graduate degrees and numerous non-MOOC-based comparable degrees. We then explored the patterns in tuition, admissions requirements, and syllabus information. In this paper, we report the trends we identified in MOOC-based degrees, and attempt to answer the question: what makes these programs different from non-MOOC-based online programs of the past? Ultimately, we find that this new era of programs is similar in many observable ways.
The full paper “Affordable Degrees at Scale: New Phenomenon or New Hype?” can be found here.