FAQ

OMS CS Admissions

What are the admission criteria for the OMS CS degree program?
Preferred qualifications for admitted OMS CS students are an undergraduate degree in computer science or related field (typically mathematics, computer engineering or electrical engineering) from an accredited institution with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. Applicants who do not meet these criteria will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis; significant professional or other work experience with supporting recommendations may qualify as an adequate substitute for the appropriate academic credentials, however work experience will not take the place of an undergraduate degree. Georgia Tech will not admit applicants into the OMS CS degree program without the minimum qualifications for success. The Georgia Tech minimum criteria used in determining each applicant's eligibility for consideration shall include:

Evidence of award of a bachelor's degree or its equivalent (prior to matriculation) from a recognized institution, demonstrated academic excellence, and evidence of preparation in their chosen field sufficient to ensure successful graduate study; and

For international applicants, satisfactory scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

I don’t have the academic credentials for full admission now, but I would like to work toward that. What advice do you have?
The best advice is to take (and pass) courses in computer science from an accredited institution. If you don’t have a computing background, passing these courses will present its own challenges and give you a preview of what the OMS CS curriculum will be like. If you have a computing background (either academically or professionally) and just need to plug a few holes, such courses are a great way to do it. All applicants to the OMS CS or other graduate degree program must meet the Georgia Tech minimum admission criteria (see above), however admission is not guaranteed for those who meet the minimum criteria.
 
If I meet the admission criteria, am I automatically admitted?
No applicant is automatically admitted.  All applications are reviewed by a faculty committee to ensure that those admitted can succeed in the program. Applicants will be conditionally admitted into the degree program and must pass their first two OMS CS foundational courses with a grade of B or better to be fully admitted. Students do not need to take these foundational courses before registering for elective courses, however we recommend students take at least one foundational course per semester in which they are enrolled until they are fully admitted to Georgia Tech.
 
What are the foundational courses?
They are indicated in the course listing on the Program Information page of this website.
 
What kind of proof of U.S. citizenship is required?
For more information on accepted proof of citizenship, please visit the Georgia Tech graduate admissions website.
 
I’m not a U.S. citizen and/or don’t live in the United States. May I still apply?
Yes, subject to U.S. export control policy.
 
How does the admissions process work?
Prospective students will have to furnish materials commonly required for graduate admissions (prior degrees, transcripts, etc.). For full information about application requirements, please visit the Program Information page of this website.
 
Do applicants need to take the GRE?
No.
 
When can I apply?
Application periods, including deadlines, will be announced on the OMSCS website under the Program Information page. You can also receive application information by joining the OMS CS mailing list.
 
How do I apply?
First, review the information on the Program Information page, which explains the relevant dates, costs and student information necessary for application. During application windows, a link to the OMS CS application site will be posted on the Program Information page.
 
If my country’s primary language is English, do I still have to provide a TOEFL score?
Exceptions are given to the applicants from countries where English is the SOLE OFFICIAL language of instruction (Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Canada-except Québec province, England, Ghana, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, New Zealand, Nigeria, Scotland, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Singapore, Trinidad, Tobago, Uganda and Wales). An applicant is exempt from TOEFL only if they are a naturalized citizen, a Green Card holder or have spent at least one year in residence and enrolled at a U.S. college or university.
 
Please visit the Georgia Tech Catalog - TOEFL for International Students page for further information regarding TOEFL requirements.
 
Can I submit my TOEFL score after the application process ends?
No. TOEFL scores are due upon completion of your application.
 
Lawful Presence
Under Policy 4.1.6, the lawful presence of any student applying to an institution must be verified before a final offer of admission can be extended. This policy applies to any student admitted for the Georgia Tech Fall 2011 semester or any semester thereafter. If the student will remain living outside of the U.S. and will be enrolling only in distance education courses, then it is not necessary to verify lawful presence. International students residing outside the United States do not need to submit proof of lawful presence. All other applicants must submit proof of lawful presence. Please visit the Lawful Presence page of our website for a complete list of acceptable lawful presence documents.
 
What is meant by official or unofficial transcripts? When can I send them?
Official transcripts can be delivered in several ways. Most common are those delivered directly to Georgia Tech from your academic institution. Some institutions also provide certified PDFs to alumni for use in graduate applications, as well as sealed, physical transcripts. If you are accepted to OMS CS, you will be asked to verify your unofficial transcript provided at the time of application with an official copy through one of these methods.
 
I am an international student. Do I need to have my transcripts translated or converted?
You will be asked to provide an unofficial English translation of your transcript upon application. If your undergraduate institution does not grade on a 4.0 scale, there are services online to convert the institution's grading system to 4.0.
 
How many recommenders will I need? What is the process?
Applicants must procure recommendations from three individuals. As part of the application, applicants will provide their recommenders' email addresses. Those individuals will be contacted through email and provided instructions on how to submit their recommendations online. A physical letter will not be required.
 
How do I provide criminal and academic misconduct history?
On the OMS CS application, you will be asked to report your own history to be verified by Georgia Tech's Office of Graduate Admissions.
 
Is there a cap on admissions?
There is no hard cap on admissions, however Georgia Tech and Udacity are controlling enrollments until the necessary infrastructure is in place to deliver a high-quality, supported degree program to enrolled students. The inaugural admissions class for Spring 2014 included about 400 students, and this number will scale up gradually over time.
 
When will the program start and run until? What’s the academic calendar and schedule for the program?
All relevant dates are maintained on the Program Information page.
 
What is the curriculum, and how does it compare to the curriculum for the residential degree?
The curriculum in the pilot OMS CS will represent a subset of the on-campus curriculum, allowing for a full MS in computer science but with only some of the specializations available in the on-campus program. The OMS CS curriculum will expand as more courses come online.
 
I don’t have a formal education. Do I still qualify for the program?
Georgia Tech grants graduate admission only to applicants who have a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent prior to matriculation.
 
May I take OMS courses for college credit without being enrolled in the degree program?
No, Georgia Tech does not currently offer OMS courses for credit to students not enrolled in the degree program.
 
I’m not interested in the degree program, credentials or credit, but I would like to take the courses for free. Is this possible?
Yes, the OMS courses are available for free on the Udacity website. These free courses do not carry college credit and offer limited academic support.
 
Can this degree program be audited if I already have an MS CS degree?
Not at first. We will provide additional program tracks following successful launch of the degree program, including possibly an audit track.
 
Will the degree I receive from the OMS CS program be the same as the on-campus MS in Computer Science or will my degree say “Online”?
Your diploma will read "Master of Science in Computer Science," exactly the same as those of on-campus graduates. There will be no "online" designation for the degrees of OMS CS graduates.

About the Degree Program

When can people sign up for the courses?
All relevant dates are maintained on the Program Information page.
 
What courses are available?
Course offerings are listed on the Program Information page.
 
How many total hours are required?
Georgia Tech's M.S. in Computer Science requires a minimum of 30 credit hours for completion.
 
What specializations will eventually be available as part of this program?
Specialization offerings are listed on the Specializations page of this website.
 
What are the technical requirements for the OMS CS curriculum?
We highly recommend OMS CS students have access to a broadband or other high-speed Internet connection. More specific technical requirements are specified on the Udacity website.
 
Will all courses be taught in English?
Yes. International students applying to OMS CS degree program are required to submit a TOEFL score (Test of English as a Foreign Language) of at least 100 as part of their application.
 
What type of instructor contact will I have? Email, phone, chat?
The OMS CS program will have a tiered structure of human support for students, typically involving electronic (email, discussion board) interaction with course personnel, including the instructor of record.
 
How many courses may I take at a time?
Students may take only up to two courses until they pass their foundational requirement. Once fully admitted, the maximum number of hours a student may take is nine hours a semester (three courses). Be advised that each course is just as rigorous as its on-campus equivalent. We recommend that OMS CS degree-seeking students working full-time while taking courses enroll in no more than two courses simultaneously.
 
How much time can I expect to spend on reading, course assignments, etc.?
This is difficult to estimate, since all students have different learning styles. A general rule is three hours a week per credit hour, in addition to viewing the course videos. Therefore someone taking two courses at three credit hours each can expect to spend roughly 18 hours per week on coursework.
 
Will I be required to purchase textbooks?
Possibly. We anticipate most course materials will be provided free of charge online, however some courses may require additional purchases for materials.
 
How does the student workload compare to a residential degree? How many hours a week will students spend on it?
The total workload is the same as the residential program. The weekly or hourly workload depends on how quickly students wish to complete the program.
 
How long does it take to complete and receive a degree?
We anticipate the typical time for students to complete the OMS CS will be about three years, though we will allow for longer enrollments—up to six years—for those students who need greater flexibility.
 
How will you guarantee academic honesty?
All exams are proctored using national proctoring standards. We have access to 4,500 physical proctoring facilities and are working with online proctoring institutions.
 
How do I locate a proctoring facility?
All proctoring is currently being done online. We continue to explore other options.
 
How will you handle grading? Will each student be evaluated individually by a human being, or is there an automated process?
Grading will be the privilege and responsibility of Georgia Tech’s instructors. We will leverage MOOC technology to automate aspects of the grading process, using a significant portion of the tuition fee to support the scaling of student evaluation through such technologies. Similar techniques already are in use at Georgia Tech to handle grading in classes with very large enrollments.
 
May I work full-time while enrolled in OMS CS degree program?
Yes. OMS CS is designed to be flexible enough to accommodate the work/life situations of many types of students.
 
Can I qualify for Optional Practical Training (OPT) if I complete the program?
No. International students applying to OMS will not be offered visas, hence they will not qualify for OPT.
 
What are the expectations for enrollment, coursework and performance beyond the pilot cohort?
Admitted degree-seeking students are expected to continue making progress through the program and can take up to 9 hours in a given semester. OMS CS staff and faculty recommend a maximum of 6 hours per semester for students who are also working full time.
 
Will there be a graduation ceremony? If so, are we required to attend?
The question of whether OMS students will participate in Georgia Tech Commencement ceremonies has not been resolved, however participation in such ceremonies will definitely not been required.
 
How will this degree appear on my diploma and/or transcript?
The name "Online Master of Science" is an informal designation to help both Georgia Tech and prospective students distinguish the delivery method of the OMS program from our on-campus degree. The degree name in both cases is Master of Science in Computer Science.

Cost and Transfer Credit

How much does the degree program cost?
Exact cost will depend on how quickly students complete the program. We anticipate that working students will take an average of two courses per term, resulting in a total program cost of about $6,600 over five terms. Students who complete their programs more quickly will pay less; those who take longer will pay more.
 
Am I eligible to receive financial aid for OMS CS?
Yes. All federal financial aid benefits and restrictions apply to enrolled OMS CS students.
 
What is the payment schedule for the program?
For all program costs and schedules, please see the Program Information page.
 
I’m an international student currently enrolled at another U.S. program. May I be granted an I-20 to leave my current program and apply to OMS CS?
No. Georgia Tech will not support visas for OMS CS students. International students do not require U.S. residency to enroll in OMS CS.
 
I’m enrolled in a master’s program at another university. May I transfer to OMS CS?
Graduate students may not "transfer" to Georgia Tech in the same manner that undergraduates can transfer; however, you are free to apply to the OMS program. The Institute limits the number of M.S. transfer credits to six hours, subject to the approval of the College of Computing.
 
I’m enrolled in a Georgia Tech M.S. program. May I transfer to OMS CS?
You must reapply for admission to OMS CS and meet all program requirements.

Why the OMS CS?

Why is Georgia Tech doing this?
Georgia Tech in general, and the College of Computing in particular, are committed to fully incorporating disruptive educational technologies into the value the Institute provides to its stakeholders. The development of massive-online educational models bring an unprecedented opportunity to extend access to high-quality education to an exponentially larger number of people, from around the world, than we can accommodate on a physical campus. Our educational mission as a public university is to explore and maximize such opportunities.
 
What’s new about this approach?
It will be the first professional Online Master of Science degree in computer science that can be earned completely through the “massive online” format. It shows how leaders from MOOC, industry and academia can join to offer an advanced degree program on a massive and affordable scale. We believe this program can establish corporate acceptance of high-quality and 100 percent online degrees as being on par with degrees received in traditional on-campus settings, and serve as a blueprint for helping the United States address the shortage of people with advanced computer science and other STEM skills.
 
Why computer science?
There are an estimated 3 million open technology positions in the job market today. Training skilled computing professionals is a societal need, and that is a challenge Georgia Tech, Udacity and AT&T want to address.
 
How does computer science lend itself to evaluation using the massive-online approach?
Often computer science problems have a right or wrong answer and lend themselves to objective, rather than subjective, assessment and evaluation. This is what makes computer science amenable to the MOOC platform. In instances where this is not the case, we will apply the resources necessary to evaluate and assess student performance.
 
Will Georgia Tech offer other degrees in this format?
Georgia Tech has no plans at this time to launch other massive-online degrees.
 
Why has AT&T decided to jump into the world of online higher education?
AT&T believes the disruptive power of the MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) platform can help address the shortage of engineers and other technical-degreed talent in the United States. By making graduate degrees and certifications available online at very affordable rates, Udacity, Georgia Tech and AT&T are eliminating barriers for many students unable to afford or access an advanced degree, and increasing the pipeline for the next generation of technology leaders. STEM skills are essential across business segments in today’s digital economy.

About the Collaborators

What makes Udacity the “right” delivery vehicle for this?
Udacity has been a leader in the creation of the modern MOOC and has been dedicated to high-quality online education and improving learning outcomes. The Udacity platform and services offer unprecedented scale for online higher ed. Additionally, Udacity has a strong focus on innovations in online pedagogy and active learning that complements Georgia Tech’s faculty.
 
Why is Udacity collaborating with Georgia Tech? Why not other universities?
Udacity has already collaborated with other universities, including San Jose State University in California, and the company always seeks to work with like-minded institutions that have a desire to broaden access to higher learning through an innovative use of educational technology.  Georgia Tech’s computer science department is one of the very best in the world and offers a master’s program of the highest caliber. The company is excited to work with Georgia Tech to offer an affordable and accessible degree program through the Udacity platform.
 
Is Udacity planning other degrees with other universities?
We are trying out this new concept for the first time with Georgia Tech, which will keep us busy for a while. However, we’re always looking for new opportunities to bring affordable, accessible education to a broader group of people.
 
Is Udacity shifting away from its strategy of collaborating with corporations for skills-based classes?
This is not at all a shift away, but a natural complement to the high tech, industry skill courses Udacity builds together with not just AT&T but the Googles, Autodesks, NVIDIAs of the world. Many of these companies are employers of Georgia Tech alumni and look forward to seeing opportunities for talent from both the degree program and from the more industry-focused classes.
 
Why is AT&T the corporate collaborator for this initiative?
As a premier global communications company and a champion for innovation in education, AT&T will provide technology access, connectivity and products at inception, as well as evolving service and platform support. The company will serve on an advisory board and, where appropriate, offer corporate projects for credit, be a source from which Georgia Tech draws curriculum content and guest instructors and offer internship opportunities to select students. AT&T will tap into the program to train its own employees and will recruit graduates.
 
Why is AT&T collaborating with Georgia Tech and Udacity?
Georgia Tech is an international leader in scientific and technological research and education.  Our company is already well-stocked with Georgia Tech-educated talent and this will give us even greater access to their world-class resources. Meanwhile, Udacity has brought the effectiveness of MOOCs to a new level, working tirelessly to improve learning outcomes. Udacity’s platform and services offer unprecedented scale for online higher education. Founder Sebastian Thrun’s leadership and passion for an educated humanity are a catalyst for re-engineering online learning and his company is widely recognized as one of the most innovative companies in education.
 
What is the extent of AT&T’s involvement? Is the company providing more than financial resources and the initial student cohort?
AT&T will be the founding corporate collaborator of the program, contributing $2 million to the initiative, in addition to providing technology access, connectivity and products at inception, as well as evolving service and platform support. The company will serve on an advisory board and, where appropriate, offer corporate projects for credit, be a source from which Georgia Tech draws curriculum content and guest instructors, and offer internship opportunities to select students. AT&T will tap into the program to train its own employees and will recruit graduates.
 
How will AT&T technologies be integrated into the program?
AT&T will provide technology access, connectivity and products at inception, as well as evolving service and platform support.  We’re further defining that engagement as part of the pilot.
 
Is AT&T helping to determine the curriculum?
Where appropriate and subject to the approval of a GT faculty committee, we will offer corporate projects for credit and be a source from which Georgia Tech draws curriculum content and guest instructors.

MOOCs, Education & Learning

What kind of evidence do you have to support positive educational outcomes for the MOOC delivery format?
Udacity evolved the MOOC format into one for which the company has proven learning outcomes and high retention rates. The evidence stems from an independent study funded by the National Science Foundation, as well as various smaller-scale evaluations. Still, Udacity believes the OMS CS enters uncharted territory. Student outcomes are of utmost importance, and resources will be dedicated to conducting independent evaluations of educational and job-placement outcomes.
 
How do Udacity MOOCs differ from other platforms?
Udacity MOOCs differentiate themselves in two significant ways. First, Udacity courses focus on active student learning and student experience, by using interactive and collaborative elements pervasively throughout our courses. Second, Udacity provides human services in the form of student mentoring. In past classes, we found that the Udacity formula can attain 100 percent retention, compared to less than 4 percent for a conventional MOOC.
 
How much does it cost Udacity to produce a MOOC?
While the actual cost remains to be seen and can vary from course to course, Udacity typically budgets about $200,000 per class. Udacity is committed to the highest quality of service, and OMS CS MOOCs will be developed by teams of people, led by the Georgia Tech instructor.
 
Does Udacity own the MOOCs it produces?
Udacity makes no claim with respect to the intellectual property of the instructor or Georgia Tech.

The Need for STEM Education

Why do working professionals need this degree? Can’t they just enroll in classes?
The United States is facing a severe shortage of skilled workers in STEM fields. The Georgia Tech master’s degree in computer science represents an achievement and skill set that companies like AT&T value and want more of their employees to have. The OMS CS program will produce graduates on par with those receiving degrees from an on-campus program, and will also bestow skills certifications for employees who complete designated coursework and take proctored exams.
 
Why does AT&T care about education and STEM-skills programs in particular?
AT&T hires about 30,000 employees a year, and STEM skills are required across its business. It’s clear that the United States must develop a robust pipeline of skilled STEM workers to remain globally competitive; many jobs are going unfilled as candidates lack the necessary skills, training or degrees. STEM jobs are projected to grow by 17 percent over the next six years, compared to 10 percent for other professions. Through this program, Georgia Tech will be able to offer employers like AT&T a larger and more diverse pool of highly qualified STEM-trained workers.