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U Penn offers online degree in computer science

College Hall at University of Pennsylvania
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The University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science announced Wednesday it will offer a full master's degree in computer and information technology online through Coursera.

Why it matters: Coursera's first Ivy League degree offering comes as many exclusive universities try to make degrees more accessible to lower income students. The online version of the course costs less than half the price of sitting in a U Penn lecture hall.

The details:

  • The program claims applicants don’t need a background in computer science or a graduate record examination for the program.
  • The total cost of the online program is $26,300. That's, roughly, less than half what the equivalent degree requirements would cost a student in a traditional on-campus program. Tuition for a master’s degree at U Penn varies by department.
  • Master’s degrees for computer and information sciences have grown about 22% in the past year, per the Department of Education.

One diversity thing: Some of the more competitive schools in the U.S. have enrolled more students from families at the top 1% of the income scale than from the entire bottom half of income-earners, per research from the Equality of Opportunity Project cited in the Boston Globe.

Correction: The description of the program's cost has been changed to note that the $26,300 amount is not an annual fee but the total price.

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