Home > 2016 > Students

Is MIT Offering a Free Degree?

Advertiser Disclosure Comments 0 Comments

Free online courses have been available through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the last several years, but students taking those courses were out of luck if they wanted them to count toward a degree. That’s all changed, however.

A new pilot program is allowing students to take a semester of online graduate courses in the school’s supply chain management program for nominal fees, and then earn a MicroMaster’s credential if they can pass an exam.

So no, it’s not a free degree. But it’s a significantly cheaper alternative, and provides students who might not otherwise be accepted into the traditional program based on previous academic performance to prove their abilities.

“Anyone who wants to be here now has a shot to be here,” MIT President L. Rafael Reif was quoted by the Associated Press. “They have a chance to prove in advance that they can do the work.”

That MicroMaster’s credential will count toward half of MIT’s one-year master’s degree in supply chain management, Arthur Grau, community manager for the Supply Chain MicroMaster’s program, said. Students who do well can qualify by exam to apply for the second semester on campus.

The cost of the MicroMaster’s includes $150 for each of the five online classes, plus an additional fee of up to $800 to take the exam, according to Grau. The first courses launched last winter, Grau said.

The first group of students to take part in the program — about 2,000 students thus far, Grau said — have started two of the five required courses and should have completed all five by March or April of 2017, just in time for the first qualifying exam in May, 2017.

“So they’re about one-third through the entire process right now,” Grau said.

“We have not done any official launches yet,” Grau said, though the university expects to make an official announcement of the program on Sept. 20. “At that time we’ll probably see a bump in the numbers.”

Grau did note that approximately 30,000 students take the online supply chain management courses, but only 2,000 have paid the fees necessary to qualify for the degree program. That’s good news for an industry in need of qualified workers.

“We produce 40 students a year, and they say that’s a drop in the bucket; we need thousands,” Yossi Sheffi, director of the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics, was quoted by the Associated Press.

As tuition rates continue to climb (a four-year degree at a public college is on track to cost $94,800 by 2033, according to data from the College Board), finding alternative solutions is becoming attractive to more and more students and student hopefuls. It’s also becoming more attractive to higher-education institutions, which are offering more and more free online classes in hopes of reaching a wider student audience.

That’s not surprising when you consider that tuition and fees have outpaced inflation over the last several years, while wages have stayed the same or fallen, according to 2014 analysis from the Pew Research Center.

Those statistics can seem even more daunting when you consider that the average student now graduates with more than $37,000 in student loan debt. Government funding (or the lack thereof) also is a significant part of the many things affecting students’ access to affordable education. (Credit scores can also play a role, specifically if you need private student loans to subsidize your education costs. You can check two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com to see where you stand.)

Image: Zoran Zeremski

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team