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MIT to offer Free Online Classes which lead to a Degree

First time a university has made online coursework a feeder to a degree.

Photo of Alexandra Alden
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Students can now start a Master's program for free at MIT using their free online classes. If at the end of the year they pass their exam they are eligible to do the second year of the program on campus and pay half of what they would have paid!

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What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

How might we integrate online learning into respected degree programs?


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Photo of Izabela Correa

Hi Alexandra!

This idea seems really interesting. Thanks for sharing.

I couldn't check the link that you posted. It doesn't work. :( But I Google it and found some extra information about the program. :)

The program called "MicroMaster's" include costs of $150 for each of the five online classes, plus up to $800 to take the exam. The first courses in supply chain management will launch this winter, with plans to route about 40 students each semester from the online courses to the campus program.

During the research something that I found really interesting is the fact that this new system will not only affect the costs, but also the application process. “This approach basically inverts the traditional admission process. I believe that’s a very powerful concept,” said MIT’s president, Rafael Reif. “Applicants do not have to hope that we guess right about them, because they have the chance to prove in advance that they can do the work.”

Examples of other universities offering online degrees: "This year, Arizona State University started offering freshman courses online for free, with the option to pay for course credit later at a cost of up to $200 per credit hour. The Georgia Institute of Technology offers an online master's degree in computer science for $6,600, but the classes can be taken for free without credit. The University of Illinois has an online master's degree in business using a similar model." (

For those that want to know more check some

Photo of Kellie Marks

Hi Izabela - 

<<I'm not sure if online courses have been meaningfully democratize access to education ... So, while it is awesome that this kind of initiative is becoming a trend, it is important (as you mentioned) to think how to make sure that it impacts those that need most.>> 

This is exactly my concern.
US Census data from 2013 showed that "24.9 million households out of 116.3 million nationwide have no Internet access, not even mobile broadband on a smartphone. In Detroit and some other cities, nearly 40% went without Internet service." (Source:

Online education isn't particularly helpful to students living in households that don't have internet access - the students most in need of affordable education options. That's the insight that prompted my An Xbox in Every Home  contribution. Students can't learn if they can't access the content.

Photo of Izabela Correa

Hi Kellie Marks  ! Making online education accessible and attractive to lower income students is certainly a big challenge. There are several roadblocks to be overcome. In my opinion, the two main problems are access to Internet service (as you mentioned) and motivation (90 percent of students don’t finish their online courses).

Check also this Rob’s post:

Thanks you for sharing your post for the ideas’ phase. I will check it.

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