An elite university has made history by offering a master's degree in computer science as a massive open online course (MOOC).
The Georgia Institute of Technology plans to offer the master's degree from January 2014 for a fraction of the on-campus equivalent cost.
MOOCs have proven popular, with thousands of people taking each course, totaling millions worldwide, but so far students taking them do not gain credits, let alone degrees.
However, Georgia Tech allegedly hopes to offer a master's in computer science for just $6,600, compared to the $45,000 it costs to take the lessons on-campus.
The course would be run with the help of Sebastian Thrun, a founder of Udacity, a Silcon Valley provider of open online courses.
The course would overcome visa issues and could attract up to 10,000 students a year, the university's College of Computing dean Zvi Galil said.
And the news is causing ripples in the education world. S. James Gates Jr, who serves on President Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, said: "Perhaps Zvi Galil and Sebastian Thrun will prove to be the Wright brothers of MOOCs.
"This is the first deliberate and thoughtful attempt to apply education technology to bringing instruction to scale. It could be epoch-making. If it really works, it could begin the process of lowering the cost of education, and lowering barriers for millions of Americans."
Udacity would take 40% of revenue and provide the computer platform and course assistants, while Georgia Tech would provide the content and professors, taking the remaining 60%.
The reported budget for the test run in January is $3.1m, rising to $14.3m by the third year of the project.