The Master's Degree is the New Black

The Master’s degree is the new black. It’s becoming awfully fashionable in a world where a Bachelor’s degree is becoming more accessible than ever, and therefore, more redundant. When fighting for lower tuition fees, students from around the world always reference the progressive thinking Germany (and surrounding European countries), who offer free higher education. What they do not always say is that once you venture to obtain your Master’s degree, suddenly, tuition fees are involved. What remains clear is that if you want to be ten steps ahead of the rest with added employment opportunities - and the elusive ‘bigger salary’ - getting your Master’s degree is a good idea.

The good news is that Master’s degrees are becoming more affordable and even more accessible. This week, the New York Times reported on the Master’s in Computer Science that is being advertised at the Georgia Institute of Technology College of Engineering (known to most as Georgia Tech). The college has indicated the Master’s degree will only cost $7,000. At other high-ranking United States colleges, the same course costs between $43,000-$57,000. So, what’s the catch with Georgia Tech’s Master’s? The answer is: The course is completely online.

As a result, Georgia Tech can offer the course to more students than a single classroom can handle. Thus far, they have reported that 4,000 students are signed up to the online Master's degree. Partnering up with Udacity, Georgia Tech is reaching more students with a system based around Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). The price is set lower than their brick-and-mortar-college competition because fewer resources are needed when delivering the course. The lecturers who are involved in the startup, that has been operating since 2013, think that the online Master’s might even be more interactive, compared to the physical lecture halls. What are the benefits of an interactive, online training platform, you might ask?

The Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT) has recently added Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees to their online, interactive engineering training platform. It presents students the opportunity to start at the diploma level and build their way up to the Master’s degree. The Dean of Engineering at the institution, Steve Mackay, speaking about the degrees they offer, said: “They’ve got some serious opportunities [for students]. They’re online - we have a dedicated course coordinator and highly experienced instructors as characteristic ingredients of this program. The idea is that if you’ve done an advanced diploma or a technical diploma, you will get some credits towards the BSc.” From there you would work your way into the Master’s degree and qualify as an industry-ready engineer.

In an interview with a student from EIT who graduated with an Advanced Diploma in Electrical and Instrumentation Engineering in Mining, the benefits of pursuing engineering qualifications online was clear. He said that having a family and already having a job in the industry meant that the only way to continually gain his engineering qualifications was to study online. Attending a brick and mortar university would have prevented him from getting work experience. For him, the convenience of studying online made EIT the perfect fit for his situation. He wants to move on to his bachelor’s and then finish with his Master of Engineering in Industrial Automation. He would be able to do that without setting foot on-campus and can do it from anywhere in the world.

Another student at EIT, Tresor Wa Kahilu, an engineer from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said: “Engineering is evolving. People who do extra work get promoted. I want to push forward and get my Master’s so that I can have more opportunities in the engineering industry. Through studying online, I became more confident and became better at approaching problems in engineering.” The coming together of learning coordinators and experienced instructors, interacting with students online, is constantly adding legitimacy to online engineering degree training.

Furthermore, instead of being limited to a single country or territory, studying online is changing the way the world thinks about higher education. Higher education degrees that are available online are going to be - and in some cases already are - internationally accredited. As a result, getting your Master’s degree through an online college/university that is internationally accredited will become big business in the near future. The prestige that some institutions within developing countries - and some first world countries - may have, might also disappear as a result of international institutions offering superior education and training. Soon, some brick and mortar institutions may not be able to keep up with the number of online enrollees at institutions that promise the same knowledge and qualifications, offered more conveniently. Therefore, some on-campus institutions have started offering their curricula both on-campus and online to try and get in on what is expected to be the next big thing in higher education.

Below are a few of the Master Degrees in Engineering that are on offer here at the Engineering Institute of Technology:

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