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A Stackable Online B.Sc in Programming and Data Science for ~$3300 from IIT Madras

The program gives learners the flexibility to earn a foundational certificate, an undergraduate diploma, or a full degree.

IIT Madras is launching an online BSc

IIT Madras, founded in 1959, is India’s top university for the last two years and top engineering institute for the last 5 years, according to the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF).

Last week, IIT Madras announced an online Bachelor of Science in Programming and Data Science that costs ₹242,000 or about $3300. The program is expected to receive its first cohort in January 2021.


The degree is broken down into three levels, each leading to a different type of credential.

Foundational Level

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.

Diploma Level

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.

Degree Level

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.

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Dhawal Shah

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.

Comments 13

  1. Ramaneswararao Rongala

    It’s a good move for quality education.. when it is online, let the exams also be online from anywhere at the candidates convenience under computer proctoring…

    No where it is mentioned that the degree is on par with IIT’s regular degree for all purposes.

  2. Dr Ravi Dawra

    I am 65 years do medical doctor,pediatrician to be precise.matriculated at 16 years,plus 2 at 18 and B.Sc in biology and chemistry at 20 followed by MBBS and DCH.looking for a change in career.Am I eligible
    Do you see me potentially able to complete the programme as I have studied math upto matriculation and physics upto +2 only?Never studied higher math.

    • Abdul Ghaffar

      Dr Why you want to change the career, i think Medicine is a good choice why not think further like FRCS or FCPS in Pakistan. ?

    • Asif Laskar

      I’m 45, into interior design and project management and am thinking of enrolling. I have watched a couple of the sample videos and they start the math classes off at a very basic level. You are eligible and should b easily able to follow from what I can see.

      And it does not even need to be a complete shift in career as medical sciences/pharma industry should have a HUGE requirement of data science. The course will be a boon to you and to the industry in my opinion. I think you should go for it.

      As for me, I’m scared if I can juggle this, my job and another course that I am doing from a premier B-School as IIT sure is bound to make you grind for the degree via assignments and exams. Your problem should be less in that aspect.

      Kudos to you for considering the course even!

  3. avanish garkoti

    Is it worth to spend 2.4lakh in this course as it is completely online nd lakhs of student will enroll in it without giving any entrance as lakhs of student have that certificate will companies give such importance to that degree which they used to give btech/mtech degrees???

    • DBP

      An entrance exam will be taken before any student is admitted. If the student does not pass the entrance exam he/she will not be able to enroll for the online degree.

  4. Hariharan

    Even at 30 i am thinking about a career change, but still afraid!. Sir you are an inspiration, Thank you.

  5. Mohammad Rafee

    Why is the benifit of doing this course? Course is online while fees is much more!! How we Indians can afford this course?

  6. Eric Christopherson

    Is this available to students outside India?

  7. Manos Tsikalakis

    Hi. I live in Greece and can not travel to India for exams. Is there another way?

  8. Maya

    There is a Qualifier Exam to get into the course. Not everyone who pays fee gets it, some amount of filtering is processed for sure!

  9. Nany

    In person exams mean that i have to travel at least three times per year. Flight cost in total may be more than the degree cost.

    I hope they will mix between online and in person exams

  10. Pratiksha

    This is a very important read for students wanting to pursue B.Sc in Programming and Data Science. Students can gain a lot of technical information from this. ITm Institute also provides this course along with management courses, B.Sc Industrial Chemistry, etc.


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