Beginning with evening courses in 2010, I slowly worked my way through a full master’s degree by 2014. Half way through, I joined a research group which focused on the intersection of programming languages and security. Though my course work specialized in “Theory,” this group guided independent studies and my graduate thesis: “Formalized Forensics”. I maintained a 4.00 GPA throughout my studies.
Completing a four-year degree in three, I graduated in 2008. While taking the maximum course load, I audited non-degree classes and worked nearly half time. This led to a healthy mixed curriculum of STEM and liberal arts. Entering with an Honors Scholarship, I was recognized on the Dean’s List and ended with a GPA of 3.69.
Largely through online instruction (notably: Coursera, edX, and Udacity), my academic study has continued long after completing traditional university. In fact, I can safely claim to have completed a second bachelor’s-worth of study. Often, this work is recognized through semi-formal certification.
Of course, not all education programs end with a degree or certificate. While still following academic progression via a structured content, if the bulk of the material is covered through self-study, there’s less incentive for institutions to certify learners. This shouldn’t diminish the courses, however; many are on par with their degree-granting kin.