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35+ Legit Master’s Degrees You Can Now Earn Completely Online

Starting several years ago, massive open online course (MOOC) providers began releasing online degree programs, in partnership with universities. This trend started out slowly, but has been gaining momentum.

The first MOOC-based degree, the Online Master of Science in Computer Science (OMSCS) from Georgia Tech and Udacity, was announced back in 2013. It took two years for the next one (the iMBA from the University of Illinois and Coursera) to be announced in 2015. By early 2017 at least 9 master’s degrees were available through MOOC platforms.Then last year, things really took off. Now, at the beginning of 2020, there are no fewer than 36 degrees you can complete online, through a MOOC platform. Several others have been announced but are not yet open for enrollment.

MOOC-based degrees offer a number of advantages, including lower cost as compared to other online and on-campus degrees, flexibility, and pay as you go pricing. (BestCerts’s Dhawal Shah summarized the differences between MOOC-based degrees and other kinds of online degrees in an article for EdSurge last year.)

Another benefit for both prospective students and learners with no intention of enrolling in the full degree program is that many courses which are part of the degree are free to take. That means you can preview a part of the content before committing to anything. (A full list of MOOCs that are part of degree programs and other for-credit offerings can be found on BestCerts here.)

It is also worth noting that all of these degrees are fully accredited and recognized. In some cases, the final degree doesn’t in any way indicate that the credential was earned online.

Below, we’ve listed all 36 of the MOOC-based degrees that are currently available.

Computer Science and Engineering Master’s Degrees
Business and Management Master’s Degrees
Data Science and Analytics Master’s Degrees
Cyber Security, IT Management, and Technology Management Master’s Degrees
Public Health, Healthcare, and Public Sector Management Master’s Degrees
Bachelor’s Degrees

Looking at these degrees in aggregate, here are a few summary statistics:

  • The most common subjects for MOOC-based degrees are computer science, IT, data science, engineering, business, and combinations thereof (e.g. IT management, cyber security). A few programs focused on healthcare, public health, and public administration and management have begun cropping up.
  • Most institutions offering online degrees are from the US, UK, and Australia, with one notable exception in France (HEC Paris).
  • Among MOOC platforms, FutureLearn leads the pack with 15 degree programs, including one bachelor’s degree. Coursera is close behind with 13 degree programs, also including one bachelor’s. EdX currently offers 7 master’s degrees, with one announced but not currently accepting applications, and several more in the works. Udacity continues to offer one legacy degree program, the OMSCS from Georgia Tech, which was the first MOOC-based degree ever to be offered.
  • Oftentimes, MOOC-based degrees are cheaper than both on-campus and online alternatives. (Both the OMSCS from Georgia Tech and the iMBA are good examples of the cost savings.) However, most MOOC-based degrees still run between $10,000 and $22,000, and some cost more than that. The most expensive MOOC-based master’s degree is the Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan on Coursera. Students who are not resident in Michigan can expect to pay more than $44,000 during two years of study.
  • Especially those degrees from US-based institutions tend to come from prestigious and highly ranked universities, including one Ivy League degree (Computer and Information Technology from the University of Pennsylvania).
  • Most MOOC-based degrees are master’s degrees. However, there are now two MOOC-based bachelor’s degrees, one in Computer Science from University of London and a Bachelor of Arts from Australia’s Newcastle University.
  • 17 universities account for all of the degrees on this list. Of those, 8 are American universities, 5 are Australian, 3 are British, and 1 is French. Coventry University in the UK offers the most degrees (between 8 and 12, depending on how you count). After that, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers the second most degrees, with 4 master’s degree programs. Most other universities offer only one or two degrees.
  • Enrolling in a MOOC-based degree program isn’t as simple as registering for a MOOC. Each degree has its own application process (and deadlines), as well as minimum requirements, such as holding a bachelor’s degree; having completed certain kinds of coursework; or submitting standardized test scores like the GRE, GMAT, or TOEFL. Many of these degree programs also have requirements regarding country of citizenship or residency. All of these requirements notwithstanding, the admissions process for MOOC-based degrees may still be quicker and easier than for other similar degree programs.
  • All the online degree programs on this list offer ways to try-before-you-buy (or try-before-you-apply). These are labeled differently on the different platforms (e.g. taster courses on FutureLearn, Specializations on Coursera), but all essentially consist of MOOC coursework you can complete for free or at low cost before enrolling in a degree program.
  • Some MOOC-based degree programs can be completed as quickly or more quickly than on-campus degrees, in as little as one year. Others are designed to be completed part time and may take up to 5 years to finish. One of the two bachelor’s degrees on the list, the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of London on Coursera, might take up to six years to complete. The good news is that students who take that long to finish the degree will end up spending less than $3,500 per year.

Announced with much fanfare in 2013, Georgia Tech’s Online Master of Science in Computer Science (OMSCS) through Udacity was the first degree you could earn on a MOOC platform. The entire degree was supposed to cost less than $7,000. The tuition fee has since then increased from $402 per three-credit hour to $510, but it is still one of the most cost effective (and most popular) master’s degrees in computer science on the market. Enrollment for spring semester 2019 is nearly 9,000 students, making the OMSCS one of the largest computer science degree programs in the world. So far, more than 2,000 students have graduated. Going forward, another 1,000 are expected to graduate each year.

For several years, the OMSCS was the only degree of its kind on the market. However, there are now four MOOC-based masters degrees in computer science. Launched in 2018, the Master of Computer and Information Technology from the University of Pennsylvania’s and Coursera is the first MOOC-based degree to be offered by an Ivy League university. Two other degrees on this list are offered by the #5 and #10 graduate schools for computer science according to U.S. News & World Report (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and University of Texas, Austin, respectively).

Another first-of-its-kind degree, the Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder, was announced in 2018.


Zvi Galil, Dean of Georgia Tech’s College of Computing, speaking to OMSCS students at an event organized by Udacity at SXSW EDU in 2016.

Online Master of Science in Computer Science (OMSCS), Georgia Tech via Udacity

Total Cost: $8,000
Duration: 24-60 months

Master of Computer Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign via Coursera

Total Cost: $21,000
Duration: 12-36 months

Master’s Degree in Computer Science, University of Texas at Austin via edX

Total Cost: $10,000
Duration: 18-36 months

Master of Computer and Information Technology, University of Pennsylvania via Coursera

Total Cost: $26,300
Duration: 20-40 months

Master of Science in Electrical Engineering, University of Colorado, Boulder via Coursera

Total Cost: $20,000
Duration: 24 months

Master of Computer Science, Arizona State University via Coursera

Total Cost: $15,000
Duration: 18-36 months

Business degrees abound on the MOOC platforms. The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign launched the first MOOC-based MBA in 2015 on Coursera. The iMBA costs around $21,000 and according to students is highly interactive, with live global classrooms, team projects, and personal contact with top professors. The University of Illinois’s second degree program, a master’s in accounting (the iMSA) is similarly priced and is even more prestigious; the on-campus program is #3 on US News & World Report’s ranking of graduate programs in accounting.

Another business offering on Coursera, the MSc in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, comes from HEC Paris, one of Europe’s highest ranked business schools. Coventry University offers 5 different version of its MOOC-based MBA program on the FutureLearn platform, with focus areas including healthcare, artificial intelligence, cyber security management, and sustainable tourism.

iMBA, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign via Coursera

Total Cost: $21,384
Duration: 24-36 months

iMSA, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign via Coursera

Total Cost: $22,050 – $27,170
Duration: 18-36 months

MSc in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, HEC Paris via Coursera

Total Cost: $22,600 (20,000 EUR)
Duration: 18 months

MBA (various areas of focus), Coventry University via FutureLearn

Total Cost: $20,511 (15,900 GBP)
Duration: 24-60 months, part time only

Master’s Degree in Accounting, Indiana University via edX

Total Cost: $21,000
Duration: 15-36 months

Master’s Degree in Marketing, Curtin University via edX

Total Cost: $18,926
Duration: 18-36 months

Global Master of Business Administration, Macquarie University via Coursera

Total Cost: $23,430 ($33,000 AUD)
Duration: 12-18 months

Master’s Degree in Leadership: Service Innovation, University of Queensland via edX

Total Cost: $17,914
Duration: 24 months

MSc Business and Organisational Psychology, Coventry University via FutureLearn

Total Cost: $17,222 (13,350 GBP)
Duration: 24-60 months

MSc Construction Management with BIM, Coventry University via FutureLearn

Total Cost: $19,415 (15,050 GBP)
Duration: 24-60 months

MSc Construction Project and Cost Management, Coventry University via FutureLearn

Total Cost: $19,415 (15,050 GBP)
Duration: 24-60 months

Building on the success of its OMSCS program, Georgia Tech has released a second, similar program, this time on the edX platform. The Online Masters of Science In Analytics (OMS Analytics) can be completed for less than $10,000. Three of Georgia Tech’s OMS Analytics foundational courses form the Analytics: Essential Tools and Methods MicroMasters credential program on edX. It consists of three free online courses: Introduction to Analytics Modeling, Computing for Data Analysis, and Data Analytics in Business.

Costing more than double the price of the OMS Analytics, the University of Illinois’s Master of Computer Science in Data Science is nonetheless a cost effective way to earn a degree from a top-5 computer science school (as compared to on-campus study).  According to its information page, the program builds expertise in four core areas of computer science: data visualization, machine learning, data mining and cloud computing, in addition to building valuable skill sets in statistics and information science with courses taught in collaboration with the University’s Statistics Department and iSchool (ranked #1 among Library and Information Studies Schools.) Like other MOOC-based degrees from the University of Illinois, this one is made up of Coursera Specializations that are accessible by anyone. Two of these Specializations, those on Data Visualization and Cloud Computing, are already available.

Online Master of Science in Analytics, Georgia Tech via edX

Total Cost: $9,900
Duration: 12-36 months

Master of Computer Science in Data Science, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign via Coursera

Total Cost: $21,000
Duration: 12-36 months

Master of Applied Data Science, University of Michigan via Coursera

Total Cost: $31,688 – $42,262
Duration: 12 months minimum

Universities in the US, the UK, and Australia are offering MOOC-based master’s degrees in cyber security and management of information technology.

Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity, Georgia Tech via edX

Total Cost: $9,920
Duration: 24-36 months

Master of Cyber Security, Deakin University via FutureLearn

Total Cost: $18,659 ($26,280 AUD)
Duration: 24 months

MSc Cyber Security, Coventry University via FutureLearn

Total Cost: $19,425 (15,050 GBP)
Duration: 24-60 months (part time only)

Master’s Degree in IT Management, Indiana University via edX

Total Cost: $21,000
Duration: 15-36 months

Like most courses on MOOC platforms, most degree programs are in the areas of computer science, data science, business, and related fields. However, several MOOC universities and MOOC platforms offer degrees that fall outside of these subjects, mostly in public health and public management related fields. One university that has moved aggressively into online degrees, Coventry University in the UK, even offers a nursing degree you can earn online.

Master of Public Health, University of Michigan via Coursera

Total Cost: $44,520 (may be lower for Michigan residents)
Duration: 20-22 months

Global Master of Public Health, Imperial College London via Coursera

Total Cost: $25,000 (lower for UK residents)
Duration: 24 months

Master of Development and Humanitarian Action, Deakin University via FutureLearn

Total Cost: $8,158 ($11,490 AUD)
Duration: 12 months (full time)

MSc Nursing, Coventry University via FutureLearn

Total Cost: $16,125 (12,500 GBP)
Duration: 24-60 months

MSc Disaster Management and Resilience, Coventry University via FutureLearn

Total Cost: $17,222 (13,350 GBP)
Duration: 24-60 months

MSc Emergency Management and Resilience, Coventry University via FutureLearn

Total Cost: $17,222 (13,350 GBP)
Duration: 24-60 months

The advent of MOOC-based bachelor’s degrees is so recent that only two of them currently exist, and the coursework for these degrees isn’t yet fully developed. The University of London offers a Bachelor of Science Computer Science through the Coursera platform at a total cost of less than $20,000. The Bachelor of Arts from Australia’s University of Newcastle on FutureLearn is more like an on-campus BA program, in that students can choose from a number of majors and minors (though from a more limited catalog than what is offered on campus). Currently, the majors that are available online include English & Writing; Film, Media & Cultural Studies; French Studies; Global Indigenous Studies; History; Japanese Studies; Psychology Studies; and Sociology & Anthropology. The program is still being developed, so more majors will be rolled out progressively, as will advanced coursework. The whole degree is composed of 24 FutureLearn Programs. Each of these costs $3,220, though fees for Australian students may be less.

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, University of London via Coursera

Total Cost: $13,014 – $19,520 (10,088 – 15,132 GBP)
Duration: 36-72 months

Bachelor of Arts (Multiple Subjects), University of Newcastle via FutureLearn

Total Cost: est. $77,280 (24 Programs x $3,220/Program)
Duration: 36 months or more