Master’s at Scale: Five Years in a Scalable Online Graduate Degree

Abstract: In 2014, Georgia Tech launched the first for-credit MOOC-based graduate degree program. In the five years since, the program has proven generally successful, enrolling over 14,000 unique students, and several other similar programs have followed in its footsteps. Existing research on the program has focused largely on details of individual classes; program-level research, however, has been scarce. In this paper, we delve into the program-level details of an at-scale Master’s degree, from the story of its creation through the data generated by the program, including the numbers of applications, admissions, matriculations, and graduations; enrollment details including demographic information and retention patterns; trends in student grades and experience as compared to the on-campus student body; and alumni perceptions. Among our findings, we note that the program has stabilized at a retention rate of around 70%; that the program’s growth has not slowed; that the program has not cannibalized its on-campus counterpart; and that the program has seen an upward trend in the number of women enrolled as well as a persistently higher number of underrepresented minorities than the on-campus program. Throughout this analysis, we abstract out distinct lessons that should inform the development and growth of similar programs.

Full Paper

The full paper “Master’s at Scale: Five Years in a Scalable Online Graduate Degree” can be found here.

Associated People

Associated News

  • 24 Jun 2019: Three papers presented at the 2019 Learning @ Scale conference. LucyLabs members presented three papers at Learning @ Scale this week: "Master’s at Scale: Five Years in a Scalable Online Graduate Degree", "Synchronous at Scale: Investigation and Implementation of a Semi-Synchronous Online Lecture Platform", and "Peer Advising at Scale: Content and Context of a Learner-Owned Course Evaluation System".
  • 12 Mar 2019: Full paper accepted to 2019 ACM Learning @ Scale conference. David Joyner's and Charles Isbell's paper "Master’s at Scale: Five Years in a Scalable Online Graduate Degree" has been accepted for Learning @ Scale 2019.