The degree is broken down into three levels, each leading to a different type of credential.
The foundational level represents about a fourth of the degree. It comprises 8 courses and costs ₹32,000 (about $500). It covers introductory data science, computing and programming, and English.
Students who exit the program at this level earn a Foundational Certificate from IIT Madras’ Center for Continuing Education.
The diploma level represents about two thirds of the degree. It comprises an additional 12 courses and costs an additional ₹110,000 (about $1500).
Students who exit the program at this level may earn two diplomas from IIT Madras:
Diploma in Programming — covers algorithms, databases, and development process.
Diploma in Data Science — covers machine learning and business data analytics.
Students may choose to only complete one of these diplomas — that is, 6 courses for ₹55,000 (about $750). In addition, they may skip the foundational level and enroll directly in the diploma level. But in that case, they won’t be allowed to continue past the diploma level to earn a full degree.
Note that unlike the foundational certificate, the diploma is offered by IIT Madras itself rather than its Center for Continuing Education.
The degree level represents the full degree. It comprises an additional 11 courses, costs an additional ₹100,000 (about $1350), and invites students to pick one of three specializations:
Computer systems — covers operating system and computer architecture.
Computer applications — covers software engineering and testing.
AI and machine learning — covers analytical problem solving and deep learning.
After completing all requirements, students earn a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) in Programming and Data Science from IIT Madras.
In total, the degree costs ₹242,000 or about $3300 and involves taking 31 courses.
The academic year is divided into 3 terms: starting in January, May, and September. Students may take up to 4 courses per term and are expected to finish the degree in 3 to 6 years.
Each course involves three quizzes and a final exam. Both quizzes and exam must be taken in-person at an examination center. So, although the learning material is delivered online, IIT Madras is sticking to more traditional methods when it comes to summative assessments.
In addition, students will have to complete formative assessments in the form of weekly assignments. Although they don’t count toward the final course grade, these assignments determine whether students are allowed to sit the course’s final exam.
The students’ quizzes and exam scores are combined to determine the course grade, which ranges from S (highest distinction) to U (fail). Students that fail a course have to take it again.
To be eligible to enroll in the degree program, learners must:
Have studied mathematics and English in Class 10 (ages 15-16).
Have completed class 12 (ages 17-18).
Have graduated with, enrolled in, or dropped out of a bachelor’s degree program.
The last requirement is interesting: to enroll in the online degree, applicants must at least have tried to graduate from an in-person degree program first. This suggests that for now, IIT Madras sees this degree more as a complement to traditional education than as an alternative.
Eligible applicants must then go through a trial month where they’ll study English, mathematics, and computing, and submit online assignments. Students who pass all the assignments will earn full acceptance into the degree program.
Dhawal is the CEO of Class Central, the most popular search engine and review site for online courses and MOOCs. He has completed over a dozen MOOCs and has written over 200 articles about the MOOC space, including contributions to TechCrunch, EdSurge, Quartz, and VentureBeat.