The cost of online education

Georgia Tech is now offering a Master of Computer Science degree, available as a series of “Massive Open Online Classes,” for a total of $6,600, according to an article on

A traditional master’s program costs $45,000 from Georgia Tech, according to the article.

At 36 credit hours and $617.50 per credit hour, a master’s program at Oakland University costs $22,230 not including books or transportation.

At the same ratio, Oakland University could compete with Georgia Tech, offering its own program at roughly $3,260.

But whether online or in-person, credits still cost the same amount at Oakland University.

The benefits of having online students are patently obvious. Online students don’t require housing, parking, restrooms, classroom space or other amenities. They use little-to-no on-campus resources.

If Oakland University truly is a nonprofit public university, wouldn’t its administration have a vested interest in providing the lowest possible tuition for the highest level of students? A “MOOC” would allow this to happen.

Of course, there would be drawbacks to Oakland University offering massive online classes as well. A student paying only 14.5 percent tuition wouldn’t really be able to provide the school with the necessary revenue to construct additional buildings, advertise in professional sports games or pay large severance packages to outgoing administrators.

Tuition at public four-year universities has grown an average of 3.9 percent annually, according to, and doesn’t show signs of stopping.

And as much as undergraduates struggle with rising tuition rates, graduate students often see higher prices per credit hour. 

At Oakland Univeristy, in-state graduate-level tuition is $617.50 per credit hour, compared to $386.75 for undergraduates – over one and a half times the cost.

Other Michigan states have similar tuition structures. Michigan State University costs $428.75 per credit hour for undergraduates, but $621.25 for graduate-level students.

In other words, sity, that pretty much disappears at the graduate level.

The price differential between getting a master’s degree at OU and one at MSU is the cost of a few trips to a fast food restaurant.

Lowering the cost for online students would not only raise Oakland University’s profile, but also give it a competitive edge against other colleges.

Online classrooms have changed the face of education, but tuition rates remain unchanged in most colleges whether students are online or not.

In addition, out-of-state students pay higher tuition rates at OU, even if they never set foot on campus.

It’s understandable that non-Michigan students don’t receive the same state tax abatement that residents do if they’re taking up classroom space.

For students whose only connection to OU is the occasional login to Moodle or an email, perhaps Oakland University should consider lowering the cost a little.

Change doesn’t happen overnight. But whenever Oakland University spends money on a new building or structure, the first thing we hear is how OU needs to be competitive with other schools.

Shouldn’t they try to compete with online tuition as well?