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Hi everyone,

(Sorry for the repost from the Computer Science forum, but it perhaps could have been the wrong place for it. Any help would be greatly appreciated...)

I am currently scheduled to graduate in the Fall with 3 Degrees that I received concurrently; A BS in Mathematics, BS in Computer Science and AA in Graphic Design. I have a reasonably strong GPA (3.75 / 4.0) with a 4.0 in my C.S. coursework, and received a decent GRE Score (Q:760 V:600 AWA:5.5, scheduled to take again). I also have attended several smaller conferences to present multiple undergraduate projects and research topics.

However, due to some personal reasons I have been looking into Distance / Online programs to pursue a Master's degree in Computer Science. (Interested in Software Engineering / HCI / Possibly ISM). I am a bit hesitant on the application process and how it differs from the "traditional route." I am fortunate enough to have inherited enough funds to pay for basically any graduate program that I could get into, and I was wondering if anyone had any wisdom about them to share on the topic.

Here are a few of the Universities that I am looking at that currently offer fully online / distance programs (Please recommend if any if known :D)

Carnegie Mellon (The Information Systems Management Track via the Heinz College, or possibly the Information Security track)

Georgia Tech

Virginia Tech

Cornell U.

University of Southern California

U. Illinois - Urbana - Champaign

Columbia U.

Auburn U.

Thank you all for any information that might help, as I am looking to find out as much as I can.

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I took a class @ Columbia online during Summer 2008 in electrical engineering and it went relatively well. It can be hard sometimes to make yourself sit down and watch the lectures on your computer, or at least it was for me. I do feel like I learned a great deal in the course and the online system is fairly well designed. My class and many of the other classes were previous semester recordings with a TA administering the class. I felt like this was one of the greatest shortcomings of the course, because the TA often was unable to answer my questions. I was fortunate enough to be working with people who could (this was an MOS transistors course and I sat 1 cube over from a guy with a PhD in solid state physics), but otherwise I wouldn't have liked it.

In most cases (I can say for sure at USC and Columbia) the degree is exactly the same, so I wouldn't worry about that. You are going to have to be a lot more motivated and disciplined than you would be attending class in person. Columbia had rolling admissions for the online program, had I decided to go that route. I was taking classes as a non-matriculated student. If I were going to continue distance education for my M.S. I would have done it at USC. The number of courses they offer is far greater.

I'd say you could get in just about anywhere for distance education as this is essentially a cash cow for these schools. Its going to cost about $4,000 a 3 hour class at both USC and Columbia. I don't think that 30 lectures recorded 4 years ago and a few hours of grading were worth that much, but that's what it costs. I was fortunate enough to have it paid for by the company I worked for. After I took this class was when I decided I was going to go back full time, FWIW.

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