Tuesday, September 21

Are edX MicroMasters worth it? We break down the pros and cons for prospective graduate school students.


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  • On top of free online courses, edX offers MicroMasters, which cover up to 50% of a master’s degree.
  • MicroMaster credits can be converted and cut down on the time and cost of a full master’s program.
  • edX has 60 MicroMasters, most around $1,000-$1,500. Below, you can find answers to FAQ.

edX, an online learning nonprofit with over 35 million students, was founded to bring two things that are usually lacking in traditional academia: wide accessibility and (relative) affordability. Partnering with many of the world’s top 90 universities, nonprofits, NGOs, and corporations — Including its founders, Harvard and MIT — the platform offers many free online courses with optional, paid certificates of completion.

Beyond individual courses, edX also has online post-graduate programs like its MicroMasters series. The credits from MicroMasters can be applied to full master’s degree programs later, putting students on an accelerated — and lower cost — track to finishing their degree.

Each MicroMasters program is a fraction of the price of on-campus instruction, ranging from $1,000- $1,500 and accounting for up to 50% of a full master’s program.

Below, you’ll find answers to common MicroMasters FAQs, with insight from Anant Agarwal, edX’s founder and CEO.

How many MicroMasters programs are there?

There are currently 60 MicroMasters programs. Topics range from MBA Core Curriculum to Corporate Innovation and Water and Global Human Health. MIT’s Supply Chain Management program was the first MicroMasters program, and it remains one of the most popular options.

Gain expertise in the growing field of Supply Chain Management through an innovative online program consisting of five courses and a final capstone exam.

Who is a MicroMasters program best suited for?

Anyone can sign up for and complete a MicroMasters program, but it’s a particularly great fit for people who have a bachelor’s or associate’s degree and want to begin a pathway towards a master’s or professional certificate, whether to help them launch a new career or move up in their current role.

How much is an edX MicroMasters degree on average?

Most MicroMasters programs cost between $1,000-$1,500.

What’s the average time commitment for a MicroMasters?

Most programs involve 4-8 hours per week, and take 6-12 months to complete, depending on how many courses are in the program.

Do edX’s MicroMasters programs have enrollment caps or admission requirements?

No. Just like most edX programs and courses, anyone can sign up, and there’s no enrollment cap.

According to Agarwal, they’re designed “from the ground up to be delivered at scale to thousands of students,” and the site supports more than 50 different assessment and learning tools that instructors use to engage with students and test individual knowledge.

What percentage of a full master’s program is represented in edX’s online MicroMasters programs?

MicroMasters programs typically represent 25% to 50% of a full master’s degree.

Can edX students complete a full master’s degree, or are only portions of a master’s degree available?

edX offers 13 straightforward master’s degree programs. You enroll, complete the program, and earn the same master’s degree you would on campus.

edX’s MicroMasters programs, on the other hand, are focused on acting as a stepping stone toward credit for a full master’s degree — or to strengthen stand-alone skills that help learners advance in their careers. Successfully completing the program earns you a certificate of completion to add to your LinkedIn or resume.

According to Agarwal, all of the site’s master’s degrees also include a MicroMasters program, so learners can choose to finish a MicroMasters program first to make sure it’s the right fit. If they choose to apply to and pursue the full degree after, their MicroMasters program will count towards the degree requirements (as long as they are accepted into the program).

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Do you have a better chance of getting into a master’s program if you finished a Micromasters?

You certainly have an edge — universities can evaluate your performance in the MicroMasters program when they’re evaluating edX master’s degree applications.

Successfully completing a MicroMasters “demonstrates an applicant’s ability to tackle rigorous, master’s-level content and thus succeed in the master’s program,” Agarwal says.

How can you convert a MicroMasters certificate to degree credits?

If you’ve successfully earned a MicroMasters program certificate, you can apply to an on-campus or online master’s that’s a “credit pathway” for that MicroMasters program (each program’s landing page has more specifics on which schools accept MicroMasters credits).

Once you’re accepted, you can apply your program certificate toward a segment of the full master’s degree, thus reducing your cost and time commitment significantly.

Can you buy one MicroMasters course at a time?

You pay a one-time fee for a MicroMasters program. You can buy courses on an individual basis, but if you bundle all the courses in the program at once, you typically save 10% overall.

All courses in edX MicroMasters programs are free to try, so learners can test them out before deciding to upgrade to the verified track.

Does edX offer financial assistance?

Yes. edX offers financial assistance for learners in need whose goal is to earn a verified certificate.

According to the website, edX offers up to a 90% discount on verified certificates to learners who cannot afford to pay full price. Enroll in the course as a free audit learner, and then complete the financial assistance application.

Browse edX’s 60 MicroMasters programs here.



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