MIT has made a bold move in a time of overpriced colleges; it has made it's free online courses available for credit.
In an effort to bring the best and brightest minds to the school, the institute is offering free online courses in one of MIT's graduate programs, followed by a "modest fee" of about $1,500 and an exam. If they pass the exam and drop the cash, they will earn a MicroMaster's credential.
This is an upgrade to the four-year-old program, which has offered free courses but no credit. Since 2011, MIT and Harvard have been seen as pioneers for starting the edX program that offers the free courses.
"The new MicroMaster's is an important modular credential for the digital age, and promises to serve as academic currency in a continuous, lifelong learning world," Anant Agarwal, an MIT professor and CEO of edX, said in a statement. "It also affords an evolutionary path for universities in the face of mounting prices."
The entire process is a huge boon to students. Not only do people have an opportunity to learn for free, but students can work their way into MIT just by having a good first (free) term.
Acknowledging the difficulty students have had getting into the school in the past, MIT President, L. Rafael Reif explained "for people from outside that familiar circle, it can be hard to break in," but noting that "anyone who wants to be here now has a shot to be here. They have a chance to prove in advance that they can do the work."
It is a very exciting time for education, as so much information is available at our fingertips. It is refreshing to see the biggest schools in the world adopting a modern policy that works for the student first.