December 11, 2015 presented us with a wonderful opportunity to celebrate a very significant milestone. On that day, the first twenty students to complete their studies entirely through Georgia Tech’s Online Master of Science in Computer Science (OMS CS) received their degrees. This was in fact a milestone-in-the-making for over two years, and the culmination of so much incredible work done by so many dedicated individuals—the students themselves most of all.

But if that achievement seemed remarkable then (and it did!), today’s news is perhaps all the more noteworthy given the three-fold increase in numbers—today, we celebrate the graduation of 62 OMS CS students!

The OMS CS is a unique partnership between Udacity, Georgia Tech, and AT&T, and has been consistently hailed as a genuine revolution in higher education. Speaking at Georgia Tech recently, President Barack Obama had this to say:

“We are partnering with schools like Georgia Tech on innovative ways to increase the value [of higher education], like your online master’s program in computer science, which costs just a fraction of the price of an in-classroom program.”

The President was right to highlight the combination of cost and quality. At approximately $7000 total (NOT per semester), this program is available to so many more students than would otherwise have had the opportunity to empower themselves with learning at this level. When you factor in the global reach the online platform enables—nearly 5000 enrollments, representing 86 different countries—it’s clear this truly is a revolution in action. But it’s also more than that. It’s literally a life-changing experience.

“The OMS CS program was the experience of a lifetime: working with insightful students around the world, learning from very experienced professors, and digesting innovative concepts and technologies. Through challenge after challenge, this degree has pushed me, caused me to grow, and I am now excited to continue to explore and lead as an alum.”
~Joshua Powers, New Alumni, Spring 2016

As beautiful and heartening as Joshua’s words are, they are not unique. So many of these graduates have expressed similar sentiments:

“I am in the process of changing my career direction from technical support to something really amazing, which is only possible because of this program.”
~Jassimran Somal, New Alumni, Spring 2016

They have also shared very moving stories with us. Adriano Marques, for example—whose perseverance and dedication have been nothing short of remarkable—describes the beginning of his educational journey in stark terms:

“I am of a humble origin, born, raised, and educated in Brazil. I attended public college in Brazil, and endured an unbelievable amount of hardship to get my bachelor’s degree. I always wanted to go through a master’s program, and eventually a PhD program, but this feat proved impossible in Brazil, given the place I graduated from.”

He came to the United States seeking alternatives:

“When I got here, I could finally hope for an opportunity to get into a master’s program, since admissions here are much different than in Brazil. When I started looking, I got dismayed with the tuition costs. Having 3 kids, on an H1B, I would never be able to afford it, and would never be able to get any scholarships or loans.”

In the OMS CS, Marques found a viable opportunity, and took full advantage of it. He is a successful entrepreneur now, running many companies, and credits his OMS CS experience with changing his trajectory dramatically:

“It gave me the background to step up my career in every possible way.”

Certain graduate comments have been uniquely poignant; consider the words of Jasper Stone. In just a few short sentences, we learn so much about his life, and we witness as well such a wonderful expression of his well-earned self-confidence:

“I’ve been volunteering with several 4th grade classes this year on the curriculum. I think a combination of the volunteer time and the OMS CS degree has landed me a 2016/17 spot as a affiliate. I served 20 yrs in the USMC reserve and I have an application to the US Navy as an Information Warfare Officer (direct commission) pending the board in January. I think OMS CS will make me a shoe in.”
~Jasper Stone, New Alumni, Spring 2016

I am especially happy to share the following bit of good news, on behalf of new alumni Jiamin Zhu, who has this to announce:

“I found a job in Udacity!”

All of us here at Udacity congratulate every one of these graduates on their accomplishments, and look very forward to hearing their success stories in the coming months and years. Please join us in celebrating the newest members of the OMS CS alumni community!