How to get a “Degree” on Your own Terms Online

Catherine's grad cap

When you combine the fact that the cost of getting a bachelors degree has skyrocketed within the past 20 years and the easy accessibility of packaged MOOCs, the question appears: How could one create a “degree” using only MOOCs? It turns out a few people have; here are some of them and a sampling of the options available. Alyxandria is a new initiative aimed at providing competency-based peer reviews and accreditation of courses. Started by someone who decided to make his own bachelor’s because he couldn’t afford one, the project is in its infancy and it’ll be interesting to see how it turns out. MBA’s are a popular degree choice, but also increasingly expensive. My DIY MBA is a blog run by someone who, after graduating and working for a while realized that he really wanted to understand the business world. Since he couldn’t afford going to college for one, he decided to craft his own, through books and other materials. The DIY Degree describes a method by which one can “test out” of courses to eventually earn a degree given by a traditional university.

Each of the three most popular MOOC providers, Udacity, Coursera and edX, provide packages of courses that provide a “degree”-like experience. Some of them even offer tutoring or more rigorous exit exams or certifications. Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 5.00.19 PM edX’s XSeries course sets are sets of MOOCs which upon completion grant you a special certificate indicating more in-depth knowledge.

  • Each XSeries is made up of MOOCs from the same university
  • Available in 5 subjects: Water, CS, Aerodynamics, Astrophysics, and Supply Chain Management
  • Cost: ~$50-100 per course + $75 program fee

Coursera’s Specializations are similar to XSeries’ with the addition of a final capstone project.Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 5.01.49 PM

  • Each specialization is made up of MOOCs from multiple universities
  • Available in 10 subjects, ranging from teacher education to CS to music
  • Cost: $29 or $49 per course + $49 capstone fee
  • Financial aid available

Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 5.02.52 PMUdacity’s Nanodegrees will launch this fall. They’re being created with major tech companies to ensure that the subjects taught align with what is needed in the workforce.

  • Available in Front-end Engineering, Back-end Engineering, iOS Engineering and Data Analysis
  • Cost: TBD
  • Includes a dedicated coach, projects, recruitment possibilities, career resources and more!

Remember to use Accredible to document your learning in whichever “course pathway” you choose! Happy learning, teamsig-small (1)

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