How a 6 month ‘degree' could put you ahead of the competition

Google is now backing a scheme to get people a 'nanodegree' in just six months.

How a 6 month ‘degree' could put you ahead of the competition

Story Highlights

Nanodegrees is a new online learning format that focuses on tech-related subjects.

The company that runs them is called Udacity. They have strong links with Google

They could change the way business is done if they are successful


Google has a new scheme that allows people to earn a "nanodegree" in six months. College degrees can take many years and cost thousands of dollars.

Nanodegrees, developed by Udacity in the U.S., are online courses that provide up-to date qualifications on specialized tech topics like 'Android Development,' a 'full-stack web developer,' and a 'data analyst.'

They say that they are more practical, shorter and more focused than traditional degrees. In today's rapidly changing environment, it is easy to keep up with them. They say that the benefits are an affordable, high-quality education, which is easy to access.

Early adopters

Udacity reports that over 11,000 people enrolled in nanodegrees over the past year. Clarissa Shen is Udacity’s Vice President of International. She believes that there's a shortage of skills in the tech sector, and traditional education cannot fill it.

Shen adds, "If you take a look at the macro-trend, the need for skills is not going away." We believe the current college model will not be able meet this demand. Alternative paths will be needed to help students reach these highly skilled jobs.

Udacity and Google have close ties. Sebastian Thrun, former Stanford professor and Udacity CEO, used to be the head of the Google [x] Research Department. He was also responsible for the self-drive project.

Peter Lubbers has worked with Udacity as a senior program manager at Google. He says that Udacity's goals are very similar to his own, which is democratizing education and making it accessible globally.

Google doesn't go it alone, because as Lubbers says, "it's a fantastic platform to do it on...partnering up gives us sometimes the extra speed and Velocity."

Udacity says that this partnership gives them access to the best teachers in the industry, including those from Google, Facebook and other companies.

Students can get a degree for $200 per month, which is a lot cheaper than the traditional degrees. Udacity is investing heavily in India, where the cost of the course is 9,800 Indian Rupees ($150) per month. Udacity refunds 50% of fees at graduation. Most students finish their nanodegree within six to nine month.

Students do not need a degree to pursue a nanodegree. However, they must meet the specific entry requirements for their program. Anyone considering the data analysis course must have some programming experience, and be able to understand 'descriptive statistics' and 'inferential statistics'.

India is the second-largest developer country in the world, with over 3 million software developers. Udacity reports that its nanodegrees have been a huge success in India. It has partnered with Tata Trusts - one of India's largest charitable foundations - to make it even more accessible and connect graduates with employers.

Survival of the Quickest

Jappreet Sethi, an Indian HR professional who runs believes nanodegrees could help job candidates stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Sethi says that if you receive 10 resumes, and the fifth or sixth one has a nanodegree, then you already know the candidate is in the running. You don't have to wonder if he is qualified or if he knows how to code.

Sethi continues, 'The first wave of revolution will be seen by the IT companies'. Once you see IT embracing it, the other players are likely to jump on the bandwagon.

Microsoft, Accenture and Udacity are among the companies that have hired Nanodegrees.

Udacity also says that the content of the courses can be easily updated, which is important, as the pace at which technology changes makes it difficult for traditional education systems to keep up. Shen notes that two years ago the primary employer requirement was web development talent. It's all mobile now.

Shen says that employers are aware of the need for recruits with sharp skills and a good sense of direction who can fill this role. Shen says that employers are aware of the need for change as they realize they are competing with each other to attract talent.

"When there is a shortage of workers, the companies feel it immediately."