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NPS, AFIT Launch First Distance Learning Master’s in Cost Estimation

A distributed learning (DL) student uses Elluminate to attend class and interface with classmates located around the world. The first-ever Master in Cost Estimation and Analysis DL program will use the system, in addition to asynchronous and video tele-education deliveries, over a 24-month program targeted to defense department civilians and military officers in the cost estimation profession.

The Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), in a joint effort with the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT), recently launched what is to be the first jointly developed, jointly instructed, part-time, Distance Learning Master’s Degree in Cost Estimation and Analysis (MCEA).

The MCEA is a 24-month program with the first cohort set to begin Mar. 28, 2011, is sponsored by the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), and is being offered to DoD civilians as well as active duty personnel.

“The targeted audiences are DoD civilians working in the Cost Estimation field,” said Dr. Daniel Nussbaum of the NPS Department of Operations Research, part of the Graduate School of Operational and Information Sciences … Nussbaum is one of the program managers for the curriculum. “We accept candidates from the pool of all federal workers, including active duty military.”

With DoD focusing on improved management skills in cost estimation, the demand for cost assessment and program evaluation qualified personnel has increased. The MCEA is designed towards advancing the skills of decision makers in this field to meet the demands of the DoD.

“This program is an immediate response to educate DoD employees in cost estimation as a result of the Weapons System Acquisition Reform Act of 2009,” said Nussbaum. “DoD needs a larger cadre of individuals with both the education and experience in cost estimation. With the current aging workforce leaving civilian service, there will be many who will be hired to take their places. The curriculum provides these individuals with a great head start on their careers.”

The MCEA program is the only one of its kind, added Nussbaum, as it is the only distance learning graduate degree in cost estimation available to government employees. It is meant to give decision makers the training to more effectively estimate the cost of their programs and make better decisions on how to allocate resources.

The program is lead by Nussbaum and NPS Operations Research Professor Greg Mislick, in collaboration with Professor Alfred Thal of AFIT. It will include selected courses from the Operations Research department, the Graduate School of Business and Public Policy, and the Air Force Institute of Technology with focus on specific military cost-related topics to prepare students for an array of demanding functions in the DoD.

The curriculum will be delivered by three methods, Asynchronous, Elluminate live, and Video-Tele-Education (VTE), which offer students options and flexibility with a combination of Web-based, online, and video conferencing.

Asynchronous, meaning without a scheduled classroom time, allows the student to choose the time to work on the course work with only a virtual class meeting per week that would permit real-time question-and-answer sessions with the instructor.

Elluminate is a web based collaboration system that would allow a wider but still virtual and flexible interaction between the instructor and students such as video and voice over IP, text chat, interactive whiteboard, application sharing, document sharing, and video sharing.

VTE offers a more traditional interaction where students would attend a video teleconferencing (VTC) facility where they would attend class via VTC.

The registration period will be open through Jan. 15 for classes projected to accommodate approximately 30 students per class. The first of these classes will begin Mar. 28, 2011, and the second on Mar. 26, 2012. All following classes will begin every six months afterward.

Applicants are required to be U.S. Government Civilians (GS), U.S. Military Officers, Enlisted Personnel, or DoD Contractors. They must have a Bachelor’s Degree with a GPA of 2.2 or better and a Multivariate calculus course with C or better. However, waivers will be considered for personnel that don’t meet these requirements.

For more information on the program and for applications visit

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