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For TOP universities: Are acceptance rates higher for online masters programs?


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So this is something that has been bugging me for awhile and I haven't been able to find much, if any, information anywhere online. It's a long shot that anyone on here will know much but figured it was worth asking.

I've been trying to decide where to apply this fall and have been trying to find "under the radar programs" to apply to. I ended up stumbling upon Harvard eDX, which grabbed my attention. I looked more into "top programs" and discovered that most of them offer a decent amount of masters programs, almost exclusively online, for the same or less than on campus classes. I found this surprising and started poking around. Turns out a lot of Ivy League programs offer masters degrees that are entirely online, and when you get your degree/transcripts there is no distinction between the online program and on campus ones (meaning no employers or even future PhD programs would even know it was done online). For example, Columbia University has online masters programs in engineering that are identical to on-campus programs. On top of that, the online programs still qualify for the same (or similar) financial aid packages. I found a non-complete but relatively comprehensive list here while trying to find information today. 

So my question to you guys is this:

Do any of you know anyone, or have you personally, applied to or been accepted to one of these types of high end online grad programs? There is no information anywhere on what the acceptance rates are like for these programs. My gut says that they are less saturated with legitimate applications than the traditional on-campus programs, so your chances of being admitted would be higher. That said, they make a point of saying that the standards for admission are the same as the on-campus versions (for example, Stanford says it repeatedly, and even makes note of only accepting similar GRE score standards).

That's all well and good, and I'm sure they aren't accepting 2.5 GPAs and 145 GRE scores--but do you think they're honestly just as competitive as their brick-and-mortar counterparts? I've scanned literally every applicant profile on physicsgre.com, mathematicsgre.com, and gradcafe over the course of this last year trying to figure out where to apply with my stats. Not once did I see anyone say they applied to an online masters program. It seems like serious applicants (those that take the requirements seriously) might be dismissing these programs out of hand just because of the association between online degrees and crappy proprietary schools. 

If anyone has any information on this I'd be super interested to hear your thoughts or experiences. It seems like these types of programs, if indeed less saturated with applications, would provide a really good stepping stone for a lot of grad applicants. Perhaps those that didn't take their undergrad GPAs as seriously as they should have (like me) but still want to get into a good PhD program down the line. An engineering or applied physics degree from Columbia, esp graduating with good grades, would probably be enough to ratchet up my CV enough to get me into a higher tier program a couple years down the line. 



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