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Online bachelor CS degree to prepare for a master CS program
#1
Hi everyone,

I'm looking for an online CS bachelor program with the ultimate goal of doing an MSCS. My current goal is Gatech's OMSCS though I might consider an MSCS at a brick-and-mortar university in Melbourne where I'm based.

About myself: I don’t have any tertiary degree but have more than 5 years of experience working as a software engineer. I also completed a number of courses at RMIT University that is equivalent to one year of a traditional 3-year Australian bachelor program:

Code:
[ID]     [Course Name]                     [Grade]
COSC2429 Introduction to Programming       (3.64)
COSC2081 Programming 1                     (3.28)
ISYS2089 Software Engineering Fundamentals (3.56)
MATH2081 Mathematics for Computing         (2.52)  
ISYS2077 Database Concepts                 (3.12)
ISYS2422 Business Database Fundamentals    (3.12)
ECON1193 Business Statistics 1             (2.96)
ISYS2109 Business Computing 1              (3.32)


I decided not to come back to RMIT to finish the degree because it's very expensive. Instead I'm looking for an online CS bachelor program satisfying the following criteria:
  • It accepts international students.
  • It can be completed in around 1.5 year (taking into account transferred credits, alternative credits and maybe competency-based credits).
  • It fits into my budget of $15k.
  • It is a CS program with enough core CS courses to satisfy entry requirement of an MSCS (so IT programs are not qualified), and those courses need to be letter-graded.
So far I'm only aware of the BACS program from TESU. I plan to complete as many alternative credits (i.e. from Study.com,...) as possible to minimize cost while still maintaining a reasonable amount of CS courses taken from TESU (to have them letter-graded). Specifically: 
  • General Education Requirements (60 credits): Fulfilled with transferred credits and alternative credits
  • Electives (21 credits): Fulfilled with transferred credits and alternative credits
  • Computer Science (39 credits): Fulfilled by taking TESU courses
My questions:

1) Do you think 39 letter-graded core CS credits is a reasonable number to satisfy entry requirement of MSCS programs? Should I take less courses from TESU (to save money), or should I increase the number of courses taken from TESU (e.g. by allocating the 21 elective credits into extra TESU CS courses) to have more letter-graded CS credits?

2) Does TESU's full-time flat-rate tuition schema have any upper limit on the number of credits per term I can take?

3) Is it doable to complete 39 credits of CS courses within 2 terms? I'm working full-time but can dedicate around 20+ hours per week for the program. Also I think my work experience may help speed up the learning.

4) When doing a large number of courses per term, will tests/exams overlapping each other become a problem?

Thanks for reading my post. Any advice is greatly appreciated!
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#2
I would think that trying to use the flat rate tuition for TESU CS courses (10 credits in a term) would be a lot to take on, especially for someone who is working at the same time. I honestly could not imagine trying to do 18 or 20 credits in one term, even if they would allow it. I thought the max was 16 credits in a term, but when I went searching for that, I couldn't find it.

It's hard to guess what an MSCS program is going to consider enough graded credits. I was able to get into the GT OMSCS with my TESU BACS, and you can see where I got my credits in my sig. I had the advantage of TESU's old flat rate tuition which allowed me to spread the courses out over a year. I didn't do it that way to get the extra graded credit, but because the courses were not available as alternative credit back then. If I were doing it now, I would simply use all alternative credit instead of the mix of PLA and TESU courses that I did.

Grad school applications are a package. Experience can make up for academics to a certain degree. The main thing I've heard about OMSCS is that they are most concerned with whether they believe you will succeed in the program. They do not need to limit the number of students and are therefore not competitive that way. Traditional programs will be all over the map, and you would do best to contact the one(s) you would like to apply to and ask them the questions you're asking here.

If you decide you need the extra graded CS credit, I would recommend trying one term of the flat rate tuition, and be ready to either drop or extend courses if it proves to be too much to handle.
NanoDegree: Intro to Self-Driving Cars (2019)
Coursera: Stanford Machine Learning (2019)
TESU: BA in Comp Sci (2016)
TECEP:Env Ethics (2015); TESU PLA:Software Eng, Computer Arch, C++, Advanced C++, Data Struct (2015); TESU Courses:Capstone, Database Mngmnt Sys, Op Sys, Artificial Intel, Discrete Math, Intro to Portfolio Dev, Intro PLA (2014-16); DSST:Anthro, Pers Fin, Astronomy (2014); CLEP:Intro to Soc (2014); Saylor.org:Intro to Computers (2014); CC: 69 units (1980-88)

PLA Tips Thread - TESU: What is in a Portfolio? - InstantCert Credit
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#3
Ah yes, I remember you from your earlier thread about a competency based degree program offering that has to have international ranking. You've made a good choice!

You may want to review that thread here: https://www.degreeforum.net/mybb/Thread-...#pid299571

I would follow davewill's advice above and also in the previous thread. Now, here are my suggestions to your questions.

1) TESU courses are expensive, paying for graded credits is not worth it here. If you want to pay for graded credits, the only option to have it done cheap/easy/fast would be from community colleges that accept international students. Example, Clovis, Luna, NMJC etc.

2) TESU flat rate doesn't have an upper limit, but your amount of 20 hours a week is not enough for assignments and studying. You need a different action plan/approach to this in order to get the full benefit of the tuition rates. I would mix it with Online, Guided Study, and E-pack courses.

3) 39 credits in 2 terms? If you're using alternative credit, you can finish the degree by then. However, taking courses is a big NO for 39 credits. If you do 12 credits a term, that will be 3 terms in the shortest time frame, review point #2 above.

4) Tests don't overlap, you schedule an exam during the exam times available to you. As long as you get your assignments, discussions, projects, etc done before the deadline, you should be fine with the midterm/finals.
Done: TESU ASNSM Biology, ASBA/BSBA (ACBSP Accredited in 2017)
Business & IT Certs: Cisco, CompTIA, 6Sigma/Lean/Scrum, ITIL, MTA, etc
Coursera Google IT Certs & Udacity Nanodegrees

Working on: TESU BA Biology & Computer Science
Universidad Isabel I: ENEB MBA, Big Data & BI, Digital Marketing & E-Commerce
Deferred: **Deciding on several Masters/PHD programs**

2019 BALS and BSBA Spreadsheet using mainly SL/Study.com (post#28,31)
The Basic Approach | DegreeForum Community Supported Wiki
~Review: Beginners Guide sticky for info on TESU BALS/BSBA in 4 months (post #16)
~Note: Read Wiki guide links for TESU equivalency - CLEP/DSST/SL/Study.com, etc
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#4
Maybe you should consider a school other than TESU or the big 3 seems like TESU doesn't meet your needs and would be expensive.
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#5
One thing to keep in mind in those graded credits (which you may or may not need): you need them to be GOOD grades, not just "grades" so to try to take too many in a single 12-week term would probably create a worse situation for you than if you had fewer graded credits. A bunch of C's is not a good plan.

Instead, I would look for graded credits (maybe) for some of the UL courses, and even then, I'd look someplace cheaper than TESU, $509/cr is WAY too much to spend on this degree. (or $399 or whatever they charge for Study.com affiliates).
TESU BSBA/HR 2018 - WVNCC BOG AAS 2017 - GGU Cert in Mgmt 2000
EXAMS: TECEP Tech Wrtg, Comp II, LA Math, PR, Computers  DSST Computers, Pers Fin  CLEP Mgmt, Mktg
COURSES: TESU Capstone  Study.com Pers Fin, Microecon, Stats  Ed4Credit Acct 2  PF Fin Mgmt  ALEKS Int & Coll Alg  Sophia Proj Mgmt The Institutes - Ins Ethics  Kaplan PLA
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#6
have you checked the University of London's online BSc in Computer Science?

With your current work experience + modules done, you can try to get a prior learning credit transfer, they accept a maximum of 120 credits (which is all of Year 1)

That means you only need to complete Year 2 and 3 to graduate.

It's slightly longer than your 1.5 years requirment, but I believe it would meet your budget, and the program would have 'enough CS' courses.

and i would think the branding is better compared to TESU.
https://london.ac.uk/computer-science-structure
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#7
(12-04-2019, 07:33 PM)nyvrem Wrote: have you checked the University of London's online BSc in Computer Science?

And don't forget UK Bachelor degrees are 3-year Vs the 4-Year pattern. May not be a big deal for most, but can be a small challenge for immigration.
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#8
Thanks so much for the inputs, everyone! From your answers I have gained a lot of insights and really appreciate them.

Totally agree that getting letter-graded credits from TESU is expensive, but for now it seems that TESU is my only choice to earn a CS bachelor degree in the shortest time possible.

I realized that doing 39 credits in two terms won't be feasible. So I have reviewed the list of TESU CS courses and pick 10 courses (see below) that I think should be letter-graded for the sake of OMSCS admissions (I also emailed my list to OMSCS and will have an update here once I hear back from them).

So now my plan is paying flat-rate for two terms and completing all 10 courses (30 credits) during that period, and then pay per-credit for the capstone. So my final cost would be: 
$4,928 * 2 + $1,527 = $11,383 
(not taking into account cost for completing the remaining 87 credits with external providers like Study.com and OnlineDegree.com)

I know doing 5 courses per term while working full-time is still hard but I'll try my best. Also I'm already familiar with many topics in these courses thanks to my work experience so hopefully that may help. What do you think about this new plan?

Code:
[Pay flat-rate for two terms]
Introduction to Programming
Programming Languages
Data Structures
Calculus I
Discrete Math
Operating Systems
Computer Architecture
Computer Arithmetic Algorithms
Software Engineering
Artificial Intelligence

[Pay per credit]
Capstone
 
Also thanks for your suggestion on University of London's online BSc in CS. It looks like a good program and I'll definitely apply to see how many credits I'll be exempted.
Reply
#9
(12-05-2019, 09:54 PM)npvn Wrote: Thanks so much for the inputs, everyone! From your answers I have gained a lot of insights and really appreciate them.

Totally agree that getting letter-graded credits from TESU is expensive, but for now it seems that TESU is my only choice to earn a CS bachelor degree in the shortest time possible.

I realized that doing 39 credits in two terms won't be feasible. So I have reviewed the list of TESU CS courses and pick 10 courses (see below) that I think should be letter-graded for the sake of OMSCS admissions (I also emailed my list to OMSCS and will have an update here once I hear back from them).

So now my plan is paying flat-rate for two terms and completing all 10 courses (30 credits) during that period, and then pay per-credit for the capstone. So my final cost would be: 
$4,928 * 2 + $1,527 = $11,383 
(not taking into account cost for completing the remaining 87 credits with external providers like Study.com and OnlineDegree.com)

I know doing 5 courses per term while working full-time is still hard but I'll try my best. Also I'm already familiar with many topics in these courses thanks to my work experience so hopefully that may help. What do you think about this new plan?

Code:
[Pay flat-rate for two terms]
Introduction to Programming
Programming Languages
Data Structures
Calculus I
Discrete Math
Operating Systems
Computer Architecture
Computer Arithmetic Algorithms
Software Engineering
Artificial Intelligence

[Pay per credit]
Capstone
 
Also thanks for your suggestion on University of London's online BSc in CS. It looks like a good program and I'll definitely apply to see how many credits I'll be exempted.

I might be a little more selective in which courses you get graded credits in.  Intro to Programming, a programming language or 2, calc I - no.  I think you spend your money on the UL courses to get the biggest bang for your buck.  Even if it's fewer credits, or you choose a few interesting courses that are IT-related that might not fit in your AOS, I think it's worth doing instead.

If you still want those courses graded, I'd find a much less expensive way to get that. An inexpensive CC or other option is a better way to do this. NMJC is fairly cheap for online courses for out-of-state students, Westcott courses has Calc I for $569 and it's self-paced, I'm sure there are more ways to get these LL credits graded for a lot less than TESU.
TESU BSBA/HR 2018 - WVNCC BOG AAS 2017 - GGU Cert in Mgmt 2000
EXAMS: TECEP Tech Wrtg, Comp II, LA Math, PR, Computers  DSST Computers, Pers Fin  CLEP Mgmt, Mktg
COURSES: TESU Capstone  Study.com Pers Fin, Microecon, Stats  Ed4Credit Acct 2  PF Fin Mgmt  ALEKS Int & Coll Alg  Sophia Proj Mgmt The Institutes - Ins Ethics  Kaplan PLA
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#10
You can get Calc 1 and Discrete Math from BYU Independent Study for cheaper than TESU. Intro to Programming you could get from ASU Earned Admission, but I'm not sure when their next start date for that class is
Completed:
BA History & Psychology, Thomas Edison State University (completed, set for March '20 graduation)
ASNSM Mathematics, Thomas Edison State University (completed set for March '20 graduation)

Up Next:
JD, School To Be Determined

Link to all credits earned: Link
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