MicroMasters: An Online Pathway to Today’s Top Jobs

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

What’s in it for students?  New skills, lower cost, and a stepping stone to a full-time master’s program!

MicroMasters programs are a series of graduate-level courses from top universities designed to advance your career. They provide deep learning in a specific career field and are recognized by employers for their real job relevance. Students may apply to the university offering credit for the MicroMasters program certificate and, if accepted, can pursue an accelerated and, overall, less expensive Master’s Degree.

Many working professionals have the desire to pursue higher education but cannot find the time or resources to be able to attend a full-time master’s degree program. It is hard to become a full-time student again if there are bills to pay. Full-time master’s programs also cost upwards of $40,000 to $60,000+ a year. A MicroMasters certificate, often completed online in one year, costs between $1,300 to $2,000 for one year. That’s thousands of dollars of savings! Even if you decide to proceed with a full-time master’s degree, you have already cut your spending by more than half. You also reap the benefits of a MicroMasters certificate that makes you more competitive in your field.

As of 2016, several top-rated universities now offer MicroMasters programs, intensive, online programs that focus on teaching students specific sets of skills that can be applied directly to prospective jobs. The courses are offered through edX, a massive open online course (MOOC) provider. These programs are designed as a bridge between bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees that allow employees to pursue higher education without affecting their employment and personal commitments. As of February 2019, 52 MicroMasters programs are being offered, with 48 in English, 3 in Spanish, and 1 in French.

In a 2017 NPR interview, Danaka Porter, a 31-year-old business consultant from Vancouver, British Columbia, shares some thoughts on the MicroMasters program in supply chain management that she completed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for only $1,350. 

A master’s degree was exactly what she needed to boost her career. "I found that people were a little bit more respected, I guess, once they had their master's," she says. "It was like they had taken that next step to go a little bit further."

But she couldn't afford to stop working and become a full-time student again. She owns a house and, "I have bills, and all of that stuff that doesn't stop because I wanted to go to school," she says.

Now, it is important to note that it is not a guarantee of admissions to MIT or any other graduate programs that accept the credential as credit. The credential makes you a competitive employer and makes you more competitive in the admissions process for any full-time master’s program. 

According to NPR, Industry leaders who say they can't find enough qualified candidates are looking for very specific skills like those offered through the MicroMasters. GE, Walmart, IBM, and Volvo have recognized MicroMasters and are encouraging their employees and job applicants to take the courses.

MicroMasters certificate holders are attractive employees because the MicroMasters trains them in hot technology skill areas, such as data science, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, robotics as well as standard business skills, such as project management, supply chain management, marketing analytics, and hospitality. Selecting the right MicroMasters program will be able to open doors in the industry of your choice.

If you are interested in pursuing higher education to make yourself a competitive employer but cannot find the time to commit to a full-time master’s program, you really might want to consider a MicroMasters credential program! It is an affordable way to climb the professional and academic ladder, which also gives you the time and space to decide whether or not pursuing a full-time master's is something that interests you.

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