Now you can get an Ivy League degree online
Soon, this could be you. Source: Shutterstock

The dream of graduating from an Ivy League can seem near-impossible to achieve. Fees are astronomical, the admissions process is insanely competitive and if you get in, the campus situation can be a place of privilege, too intimidating and expensive for regular students.

Add on the perils of grad school – like having to take out an additional study loan, sacrificing your job and the financial security that comes with it, as well as running the risk of all this not even being worth it at the end – and the prospect of a postgrad Ivy League goes from near to downright impossible.

A new partnership between online learning platform Coursera and the University of Pennsylvania aims to make this elusive deal more accessible to all.

According to Inside Higher Ed, Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Science recently announced that it will be offering its first fully-online master’s degree in Computer and Information Technology. It’s designed to appeal to applicants “who are talented but can’t get to us on campus,” according to Wendell Pritchett, the university’s Provost.

The price tag is even more attractive. Coming in at only US$6,300, it’s about one-third of what it would cost to study on campus, which is roughly US$75,000. Penn officials say offering the course through Coursera makes it possible to offer such a low cost. Graduates will be considered like any other alum and can access the school’s career services and networking opportunities.

“This is a meaningful expansion of what we can do,” said Pritchett.

Its target market is the non-traditional student applicant, ie. working adults without computer science prerequisites who otherwise couldn’t afford to pursue a Master’s at Penn.

This is a group that would highly benefit from Coursera’s flexibility – students decide how to pace their studies and on which devices. For example, this opens up the possibility of studying for a Master’s at night or after work, as well as to do so on portable digital devices like mobile phones and tablets.

The online degree will include elements of self-pacing, also enabling professors to create programming assignments that combine automated and peer grading, on top of grading by on-campus teaching assistants and faculty members. But students will be able to participate in regular live video office hours with professors who teach on campus.

In a written statement, Jeff Maggioncalda, Coursera’s CEO, said:

“This degree represents the democratization of Computer Science.”

“It brings a world-class, Ivy League degree within reach of people of all backgrounds, from anywhere in the world.”

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