UC Berkeley Launches Online Master’s Degree in Engineering

The University of California flagship is teaming up with Coursera for an online, asynchronous Master of Advanced Study in Engineering taught by faculty from the College of Engineering.
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Updated on August 31, 2023
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  • The University of California, Berkeley is launching a fully online, asynchronous master’s degree in engineering.
  • The program will be offered through Coursera, an online course provider.
  • The degree will comprise 22 one-unit courses and is expected to take 1-4 years to complete.

The University of California, Berkeley is launching a new graduate degree program in engineering — targeting full-time workers aiming to advance their education.

The Master of Advanced Study in Engineering (MAS-E) will be offered through a partnership between Berkeley’s College of Engineering and Coursera, an online course provider.

The program consists of 22 one-unit courses and a two-unit capstone project.

There's a worldwide shortage of engineers [and] this curriculum is designed in such a way that it's for working professionals not to have to take off from work, Tarek Zohdi, Associate Dean for Research at the Berkeley College of Engineering, told BestColleges.

Individuals want to increase their knowledge in certain areas so that it's not an easy thing just simply to quit work, take out a loan, and start school again.

Self-Paced Learning

The micro-courses are expected to take students 5-7 weeks to complete, compared to the standard 15-week semester, and concentrate on five themes:

  • Infrastructure systems engineering
  • Biomedical and biomechanical engineering
  • Engineering data analysis
  • Advanced manufacturing and materials
  • Electrical, power, and autonomous systems

The courses will be asynchronous and taught by faculty from the Berkeley College of Engineering. All course materials will be available online, and faculty will offer live office hours to troubleshoot and answer questions.

Tuition will cost $42,000 for all 24 units, or $1,750 per unit. Students will also have to pay additional campus fees per semester. For the fall 2023 semester, campus fees are expected to be $910.

There's just a ton of grace built into it because it is asynchronous, Coursera CCO Marni Baker Stein said. You can personalize your pace. You could finish it a lot faster than that if you wanted to and had the time to, but if you don't, and you are balancing these heavy loads, it is pay-as-you-go.

One of the benefits of all-virtual learning is that students can learn from anywhere in the world and won’t have to relocate to get an education.

Getting to the Bay Area is so unbelievably difficult, and we've realized this for so many years that we've tried to design a degree that people wouldn't have to commute in and at the same time wouldn't have to suffer through the extraordinarily high prices of real estate to rent an apartment, Zohdi said.

Building an Online Degree

The program has been in development for over four years in order to complete quality checks to ensure the degree was up to the University of California standards. One of the main missions of the program is to reach learners who would not traditionally enroll at Berkeley, Zohdi said.

Berkeley for many years was purely a research institution that concentrated on cutting edge research, and there was really a shift maybe 15 years ago to try to do more outreach towards working people, he explained. We're really trying to make sure that society gets the most out of a public institution like UC Berkeley.

Several companies were considered to be the platform to carry out the program; however, Berkeley ultimately selected Coursera due to its ability to adapt to fit the needs of the Berkeley Engineering Department.

Cutting-edge technology is critical for this, especially for engineering faculty. We felt comfortable that Coursera was in sync with how the technology is evolving ... We wanted something that was very tailorable to the unique style of how UC Berkeley does things, Zohdi explained.

While Berkeley's program is the first degree program in California to be offered through the platform, Coursera has over 50 different degrees, spanning nearly 20,000 students.

To be able to partner with Berkeley as our first degree program in California and figure out how we can move some of these learners that we know are qualified into these excellent degree pathways that are designed for them, it's just something that we're really excited about with the partnership, Stein said.

Applications for the program open September 13 and the first cohort of students is expected to start summer 2024.