Will IIT Madras’ Online Data Science Degree Be A Game Changer For Learners?

IIT Madras made the historic launch of the online BSC degree program on programming and data science. This is the first-ever online degree program at undergraduate level in data science offered by an IIT. The institute recognised the value in data science given its widespread applications in various walks of life, and governments, industries and social organisations. There is a need for employable graduates in this area, and the degree offered by IIT comes at the right time. It is slated to be a game-changer for learners in the data science domain in numerous ways. 

Having An IIT Degree Sitting From Home

IITs are one of the strong pillars of the Indian education system. It is the dream of millions of students in India to attend an IIT. But only one per cent of the students who write JEE exam get admission because of the limited availability of seats. Given that the degree in data science is online, it will allow students to attend it from home, with a wide increase in its reach. At the launch, the institute said that education has to be more inclusive, and there needs to be more flexibility in the way we offer it. 

“This was never possible before. There’s a lot of restrictions on how many students could get inside an IIT, and now those restrictions have been removed. The system has been liberated from the constraints placed by the physical presence in the campus,” said Prathap Haridoss, Professor-in-Charge, IIT Madras Online Degree Programme in an introductory video. 

Flexibility Like Never Before

The flexible curriculum has been specially designed with inputs from industry experts in data science. It also takes into account all the flexibilities that an online process permits, benefiting students to build their career and a knowledge base without the need to go to a physical university. 

“This is a great outreach program from the IITs in the sense that we are reaching out to the entire nation and students. It is a great opportunity to get a high-quality education and a college degree from IIT without the constraints of an entrance examination, without the constraints of the physical limits of the campuses,” said Prathap Haridoss. The program will be taken by some of the best faculties in the country. 

Unlike other BSc programs, there is flexibility on who can register for the program — allowing candidates from any stream or age group to enrol. Anyone who has finished the 12th standard and has English/Maths at the 10th standard can enrol. At the same time, it is open to all professionals who are working in various fields and no age limit. 

All the content and assignments are available online. The main evaluation tests will take place every month, and final exams will be made in person across different centres in India. Learners can take 3-6 years to complete the BSC degree. 

“We have lots of discussion with industry and faculty to develop a fully self-contained program starting with the 10th standard and going all the way up to the BSC degree level. It will allow picking up all the skills at a good pace, covering everything comprehensively and things relevant to the industry. So when hiring happens, it’s easy for people to hire qualified candidates,” stated Prof. Andrew Thangaraj, Professor-in-Charge, IIT Madras Online Degree Programme in an introductory program video.

What About Placements?

While the quality of the course is expected to be great because it’s a leading institute, but since they’re taking in so many applicants, will it be comparable to that of the offline courses in terms of placement? 

This is what Prof. Andrew Thangaraj  said during a live stream: 

“We will have strong industry relationships, and placement teams will work to help students grab onto various opportunities. Students will have to apply and qualify for them. For students who do well in an online degree, we will work very hard to get the internship and placement opportunities. The graduates getting jobs with the degree is an absolute requirement, and the IIT will closely track these numbers. It is going to one one of our top priorities, and we have a very active team working on placements.”

Stirring Up The Online Education Industry 

Of course, a premier institute such as IIT Madras entering into the online education game is going to increase the competition among online education vendors for technologies such as AI and data science. Private players have typically partnered in the development of their specialised certificate courses with IITs. In fact, IIT Madras also has a program with upGrad. 

When asked about the comparison between IIT Madras’ online program done in collaboration upGrad, Andrew Thangaraj during a live stream said that there is no comparison and the 1-year certificate from upGrad is not an online degree from IIT. He said, “The program with upGrad is provided through the Centre for Continuing Education at IIT-Madras. Whereas what we are now providing is a college degree through online mode from IIT-Madras, and you become an alum of IIT-Madras after this. So, there is absolutely no comparison.”

In terms of the fees of the program, you will find that it is very comparable to what most university colleges charge for similar education programs. The faculty says that the program is going to be very affordable and no student is going to find any great difficulty in accessing this program. IIT-M says it is working on scholarships as well as raising money for learners who are financially needful.

Wrapping Up

The Indian education system is good at STEM, and this helps open up the opportunities that get created with analytics and data science. India will continue to have a competitive advantage if young talents are nurtured early on in areas like data science and business analytics. This is an exciting program overall, and people who complete it will find themselves to be extremely qualified to obtain multiple professional opportunities. Online education is here to stay, and there are a lot of institutes offering online degrees. Overall, it’s excellent for a premier institute to come in and set the standard for what an online education degree should look like.

If you are curious to know about the course structure and fees details, check this official page

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