Mason, NOVA announce joint degree program in partnership with Amazon Web Services


Panel speaks at AWS summit.
Dolica Gopisetty, left, and Shadman Hossain, third from left, are George Mason University students representing the AWS Sector Summit in Washington, D.C. Photo by John David Hollis.

George Mason University and Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) have announced a new bachelor degree program in cloud computing in partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS).

The new Bachelor of Applied Science pathway in Cloud Computing degree will offer a seamless transfer pathway from a two-year associate degree to a four-year bachelor’s degree in cloud computing. The formal announcement came Tuesday at the AWS Public Sector Summit at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

“We are proud to be part of a collaboration that is working to expand Virginia’s tech talent pipeline,” Mason President Ángel Cabrera said. “This degree pathway marks the beginning of a ground-breaking initiative that will deliver innovative educational opportunities to students across the commonwealth. The collaboration with AWS helps give our students—and our region—a competitive edge.”

The new degree program has been designed to guide students through NOVA to bachelor’s degree completion at Mason. NOVA and Mason faculty worked in unison with AWS Educate curriculum designers to create a path that will help students pursue careers in cloud architecture, cybersecurity, software development and DevOps, a system of software development and delivery.

“This new pathway demonstrates our commitment to creating both educational and employment access,” said Michelle Marks, vice president of academic innovation and new ventures. “These students will be prepared to compete for our region’s most in-demand jobs.”

Mason students Dolica Gopisetty and Shadman Hossain were among six college students enrolled in cloud computing degree programs who shared their experiences during a panel at Tuesday’s summit.

“What I wanted to get across was how important cloud computing is and how important it is for kids to get into cloud,” said Gopisetty, a senior information technology major from the Volgenau School of Engineering. “They’re able to grasp anything complex very quickly.”

The Northern Virginia region is home to one of the largest concentrations of IT jobs in the nation, as well as one of the greatest demands for employees with cloud computing skills. The arrival of Amazon’s new headquarters is expected to increase that need, with the new HQ2 campus promising to deliver 25,000 jobs to the Northern Virginia region by 2030.

“BAS is different from traditional degrees,” said Kammy Sanghera, the associate professor of Information Sciences and Technology who serves as the executive director for the Engineering School’s STEM Outreach program. “Because of the transition of public and private sectors to the cloud, the demand for cloud computing skills is on the rise. This program will prepare students to address industry needs.”

The new degree pathway will launch in fall 2020 as part of the ADVANCE Program, the NOVA/Mason partnership that is streamlining the path to a four-year degree by eliminating traditional transfer obstacles, providing students with additional coaching and financial incentives, and highlighting pathways to high-demand careers.

“Developing a cloud-ready workforce is an urgent challenge and an incredible opportunity,” said Teresa Carlson, vice president for AWS’s Worldwide Public Sector. “Both George Mason University and Northern Virginia Community College have been global pioneers in developing cloud curricula for students. We are delighted to be working with these innovative institutions to turn the growing demand for cloud skills into pathways in technology for students from all backgrounds.”

All students in the program will receive membership in the AWS Educate program and gain hands-on, real-world experience with leading cloud technology and tools.