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Education Programming The Internet

Ask Slashdot: the State of Open CS, IT, and DBA Courseware in 2014? 84

xyourfacekillerx writes "Not long ago, Slashdot readers answered a question for someone seeking to finish a BS in CS online. I am in a similar situation with a different question. I have spent five years frivolously studying philosophy at a very expensive university, and now I want to start towards an Associate's in CS, and then perhaps a Bachelor's (I want to program for a living; I write code daily anyways). After four hours of combing through Google results, I still don't have much useful information. Problem 1: I am out of money and I have an 8 to 5 job, so on-campus enrollment is not an option. Problem 2: and I have very little to transfer due to the specificity of my prior studies: I don't even have my core English/Language or even math cores to transfer. My questions are: 1) Just where are the open CS courses? Who offers it in a way that's more than just lecture notes posts online? 2) Can any of it help or hinder me getting a degree (i.e. does any of it transfer, potentially? Is it a waste of time? Additionally, any tips about accredited online universities (preferably self-paced) where I can start to get my associates and/or bachelor's in CS at low cost would be useful. I intend to be enrolled online somewhere by Fall, and I am starting my own search among local (Colorado) junior colleges who don't demand on-campus presence like most four-years schools do."
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Ask Slashdot: the State of Open CS, IT, and DBA Courseware in 2014?

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  • online options (Score:5, Informative)

    by niado ( 1650369 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @02:04PM (#46662917)
    Western Governor's University [] and Excelsior [] (both non-profit) are the best online options, especially if you want self-paced. They are both very cost-effective and regionally accredited. You should check out the details of the programs that each offers to see if they provide what you want. I know WGU's IT programs are very solid, but I'm not sure about their software development options. I know they just recently added a Software Development concentration option for a Bachelor's degree, but the program guide hasn't been posted yet so I'm not sure of the exact courses offered.

    If you end up getting your bachelor's, Georgia Tech [] now offers their well-respected MS in CS degree online. The admissions requirements are stricter than the online-only schools, but not too onerous.

    If you don't really want a degree, but would like some formal training, Stanford [] and MIT [] both have strong no-credit open course ware offerings - they also have paid-for online certificate programs.
  • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @02:58PM (#46663503) Journal

    There is a way to get a bachelor's degree from a state university, and a bunch of well-known certifications at the same time, for only a few thousand dollars. I'm sort of doing what I'm about to describe, though I could have saved myself more money by planning ahead. I did earn six college credits this week, though, which cost me about $100.
    Western Governor's University ( [] ) has IT programs in which most of computer related classes are based on passing a test.
    Specifically, they use industry recognized certification tests from COMPTIA, Microsoft, etc. So passing one of these tests gets you both course credit and a certification.

    At WGU, you don't pay per-class. Instead, tuition covers a six-month time semester. You can take and pass 20 classes if you want to. That allows for the following strategy:

    Look at the list of certifications that make up a specific degree.
    Study for those certifications using Professor Messer or other free resources.
    When you're ready to take six certifications, register for WGU.
    Take those six tests in the first two weeks of the term (24-32 college credits).
    Take non-certification tests like Math, which I just took after a couple of days of study (6 college credits).
    Begin studying for the next set and get those done in the remaining five months. (12 college credits).

    In that way, you will have earned 48 college credits and received several certifications, while paying only $2,800 for the term.
    Depending on your level of pre-existing knowledge and the amount of time you put in, you might well be able to complete a BS or BA in 18-24 months, paying $8,400 for your degree and certifications.

    WGU is an accredited university founded by 19 governors that is considered a state university in many states. I just now took my math final on my lunch break, sitting at my desk at work. They use a webcam for proctoring to make sure I'm not cheating. It took me maybe three hours of study and one hour testing to pass the math class, which is 3 credits.

  • by trims ( 10010 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @03:44PM (#46664119) Homepage


    The vast majority of folks employed in IT/computing these days without degrees are the older generation (30+), who got into the fields before it really solidified. I can count on one hand the number of under-30s I know that don't have a degree in something reasonably technical (math, engineering, CS, etc) that work in IT out here. The opposite is true for the older generation: I have to use two hands, but that's about it, to count the number of aged 40+ people who have a technical degree and work in IT.

    Silicon Valley companies all want, for an "entry-level" position: (5) years experience OR a degree in something technical. If you have neither, you'll not get past HR or the recruiters, even for that entry-level position, unless you're extremely lucky.

    It's darned hard to find an entry-level job out here, with no experience. And without a technical degree, everyone ignores you. As soon as you have several years experience, well, they ignore the degree, but it's a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem there. And by "experience", they mean fulltime employment, not "I worked at a job while in college/high school".


  • Re:online options (Score:4, Informative)

    by niado ( 1650369 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @04:37PM (#46664745)

    WGU looks like a decent deal. How are they with the computer science fundamentals or are they just a code school?

    The curriculum really looks like a glorified "code school", but at least they're affordably priced. For someone who just wants the bach to get past the HR filter, I imagine it could be decent, but I do worry if they're skimping on algorithms/design to focus on a certs based degree. I admit that for some, that's all that's necessary.

    WGU is essentially a vocational school that is accredited to award bachelor's and master's degrees - which, as you say, is what many people need. Most of their IT degrees do not cover any computer science to speak of, and they don't pretend to. Their degrees are "Bachelor's of Science in Information Technology" with various concentrations - network administration, network design and management, security, etc.

    WGU hasn't released the program guide for their new "software development" degree yet, but their current "Software concentration" degree [] is very light on theory, and contains several practical IT certifications []. I expect the software development degree will be a variant of this.

    You're just not going to get a strong "computer science" degree at a cheap online school. In my opinion this isn't much of an issue, since most IT career paths really just require a vocational education anyway. Most people don't really care about CS theory (and most don't really need to) - they just want skills that are applicable to a job.

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. -- Thomas Alva Edison