IIT Madras launches world’s first-ever online B.Sc. Degree in Programming and Data Science

This unique online open to 10+2 students of all streams and others and expected to reach to 2.5 lakh students will be offered in three different stages – Foundational Programme, Diploma Programme and Degree Programme. At each stage, students will have the freedom to exit from the program and receive a Certificate, Diploma or a Degree, respectively, from IIT Madras

Building on its legacy and experience of running National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) since 2005, Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras, ranked No.1 in India Rankings 2020), on June 30, 2020 took a quantum jump and leapfrogged to launch country’ s first ever online B.Sc. degree programme in Programming and Data Science, which is expected to enroll 2.5 lakh students. Data Science which is one of the fastest growing sectors is predicted to create 11.5 million jobs by 2026 was chosen for its job potential and ease of administering online.

The programme, which is a historic and serious effort at making quality education affordable and widely available,  is open to anyone who has passed Class XII, with English and Maths at the Class X level, and enrolled in any on-campus UG course. Even the current batch of students who are completing their Class XII in 2020 is eligible to apply.

In contrast to the typical admission processes of IITs which are constrained due to the limited number of in-campus seats, in this programme all students who clear (with an overall score of 50%) the qualifier exam will be eligible to register for the foundational program. 

Graduates and working professionals can also take up this programme. This unique offering removes all barriers of age, discipline or geographic location and provides access to a world-class curriculum in data science which is in huge demand for skilled professionals.

The programme was launched virtually by Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, Union Minister of HRD and Sanjay Dhotre, MoS HRD with Dr. Pawan Kumar Goenka, Chairman, Board of Governors, Director and the faculty of the Institute. Prof. Anil Sahasrabudhe, Chairman of AICTE was also part of this historic launch. The portal for the programme is: https://www.onlinedegree.iitm.ac.in/index.html

The programme, which will bear the rigor and high quality standards of IIT system and therefore need of serious study, will be delivered on a state-of-the-art online learning platform that is closest to a classroom learning experience. The program will hone students’ skills in managing data, visualizing patterns to gain managerial insights, model uncertainties and build models that assist in producing forecasts to make effective business decisions. The program will have videos from the faculty, weekly assignments and in-person invigilated exams just like any other regular course. 

“The pen paper examination and evaluation will ensure higher standards of the programme through a network of centres across the country,” say the team that is overseeing this path breaking initiative. It also means that the programme though online will not be available outside India.

Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT Madras, said, This programme not only embraces the trend of moving education online but also provides a platform to create skilled and employable women and men in a data-driven world. With our rich experience in the online education space, we are well-equipped to handle scale and seamless delivery and provide an enriching and engaging experience to all students. We are confident that this program will maintain the high standards that the Institution has set for itself.”

 Based on the eligibility, interested candidates will have to fill a form and pay a nominal fee of Rs. 3,000 for the qualifier exam. Learners will get access to the 4 weeks of course content of 4 subjects (Mathematics, English, Statistics and Computational Thinking). These students will go through the course lectures online, submit online assignments and write an in-person qualifier exam at the end of 4 weeks.

There will be three qualifiers in a year and a student will get six years to complete the course,  

Students who are currently enrolled in a different on-campus program anywhere in India can pursue this degree program without needing to switch careers or courses. Even employers who want to upskill their employees can consider this option without loss of productive time on the job.  The program brightens up job prospects for students in a lucrative field, provides opportunity for working professionals to switch careers and also provides learners an opportunity to get a degree from a recognized institution such as IIT Madras.

Data Science is one of the fastest growing sectors that is predicted to create 11.5 million jobs by 2026. Online education is a trend being rapidly embraced for high quality education on a large scale. Faculty from IIT Madras are addressing the need of this sector using online education processes and present an inclusive and affordable education model that will extend IIT’s reach by orders of magnitude.

Congratulating IIT Madras on the launch,  ‘Nishank’ said, “Analysis reveals that every year 7 to 7.5 lakh Indian students go abroad in search of better education and our talent as well as our revenue goes outside the country. Institutions such as IIT Madras have the vision and mission to help the nation move forward on its path to self-reliance by bringing such quality education and unique courses right here in India.”

Speaking on the occasion Sanjay Dhotresaid, “In the world today, education is a continuous process. Students and professionals have to continue to upgrade their knowledge to stay competitive and work within the constraints of time and location. This has become even more challenging due to the prevailing COVID situation. I am confident that this course will reach a diversity of learners as it provides multiple entry and exit points and serves as a priceless contribution to the nation.”