In fall 2019, The University of Texas at Austin launched the Master of Computer Science Online. Through a partnership with edX, an online platform for education and learning, the university was able to bring Texas Computer Science’s top-ranked degree to students around the world, in an affordable and flexible program. 

The inaugural class is composed of students scattered across 15 countries, with ages ranging from 20 to 64. Though the master’s students are located in various time zones and have different schedules, many find that they are still able to connect with each other. Ross Spencer, a current professional who is enrolled in the program, has been able to communicate with his peers and learn from them. He noted, “my classmates are incredibly bright...I’ve started building relationships that will grow beyond the classroom into a network of like-minded people passionate about our field.” 

Designed for professionals and students alike, the online master’s program maintains the same quality and rigor of the on-campus program and is taught by Texas CS faculty members. The online master’s program serves as a potential solution for individuals worried about the time and geographic constraints of an on-campus master’s program. Spencer added, “when this program was announced and the course selection was made available, I knew I could have the best of both worlds between industry and academia at an affordable price without sacrificing rigor or reputation.” 

This year, students had the option to take courses in subjects such as machine learning, algorithms, and advanced operating systems. With the announcement of additional courses in the coming semesters such as Android Programming, students will have the opportunity to further tailor their academic experience. Course modules are released on a weekly basis, and students can access them online or through a mobile app. Professors and teaching assistants hold regular office hours, and students are encouraged to ask questions through online Q&A platforms.

When asked about her experience with the online instructional environment, master’s student Sherry Xiaoyi Zhu commented that “I have found it a very effective learning mode….it’s easier for me to arrange my schedule around work and personal life. I am also able to reach out to instructors for any course-related concerns through Piazza and ask questions during the office hours.” 

Many universities are moving toward online coursework and learning environments as the technology sector grows and the need for skilled technology professionals increases. UT Austin is leading the way in this transition by bringing its world-renowned curriculum entirely online at an affordable cost relative to other programs of similar quality.

“UT Austin has a top tier computer science program with a huge network of alumni working all across tech. At the tech companies I’ve worked at, I’ve seen many past MS and PhD graduates from UT Austin holding high scientist positions. I wanted to achieve the same level of success. With the price of the online courses being so affordable for such a highly reputable program, UT Austin was an easy choice,” said current online master’s student Richie Wales when asked about his choice to enroll in the program.

This year, Texas Computer Science faculty and staff have set the standard for online computer science master’s programs—but this is just the beginning.

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