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CS Master's Degrees - US vs. EU Programs? 124

Posted by Cliff
from the are-things-really-that-different-across-the-pond dept.
Monty asks: "I'm currently exploring my options and I've been wondering, is it worthwhile to seek education overseas--specifically the EU? Edsgar Dijkstra was of the opinion, though controversial, that American and European CS programs were fundamentally different (see his later writings in the E.W. Dijkstra Archives). What makes the EU interesting, in that light, is that it seems to have more openly embraced things like functional programming. So, if I want to focus my study on something of a more functional nature, are schools in the EU a better choice? What are the implications of returning to North America for employment with a foreign degree? Do they have to be accredited as proof of validity or are they usually recognized by themselves here in the US?"
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CS Master's Degrees - US vs. EU Programs?

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  • by MerlynEmrys67 (583469) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @07:52PM (#6916186)
    US/EU/India/AU... all of these degrees come down to, what is my impression of their program. If I had to choose someone from MIT/Stanford/UCB vs. someone from noname tech.germany of course I'd pick someone from MIT, however if the choice was from a top graduate program in Finland vs. someone from a no name school in Iowa... Well Finland wins that one.

    Of course it never comes down to someone from one school, vs someone from another, there is history, communications ability, interviewing skills etc.

    so in that sense it doesn't matter where you get your degree, it is what you learn, and what you can show to an interviewer

    • I agree that Iowa may not be the most glamorous state, but you have to give our Universities a little credit. Iowa State University is a leading school for engineering and sciences. Iowa State is the birthplace of Computer Science, not some "no name school in Iowa". The first digital computer, the ABC or Atanasoff Berry Computer [iastate.edu], was invented there after all, and its design concepts were used in the first programmable computer, the Eniac (not invented there).

      Iowa State is also leading the way with VR
  • by xutopia (469129) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @08:09PM (#6916289) Homepage
    and if you live in europe go to america for a bit.

    If not for the degree at least to be more open to the world.

    • This is actually an important point. Not only is it going to be an experience for a life time, but it looks good on your CV. Going across the globe to live in a foreign country shows courage and initiative. Important qualities that are highly rated especially in the software industry, where we have more than our share of introvert nerds.
      • Additionally you learn to appreciate all the things we take for granted. There hasn't been a single day in the past decade that I wasn't absolutely thankful that hot water (and plenty of it) came out of the shower head when I crank the knob.

        Fresh vegetables and fruits, fresh cuts of meat, blueberries, watermellon, refills for your Cross pen, batteries for your calculator, a strapless bra that is your size ... these are all things we take for granted here in the US but are often difficult to get abroad. I
        • Excellent point to which I have to add: Stores that are open after 7pm, or on sundays. Air conditioning (especially this year). Fresh fruits available year round - regardless of season. And my personal favorite, foods from a multitude of cultures, not just the homogenous "native cuisine".
        • ....granted here in the US but are often difficult to get abroad.

          when you say abroad what do you mean? I've never had any problems with anything you list. It implies that *only* the US has running hot water.

          • In Soviet Russia, for example, all hot water is boiled downtown in big Three Mile Island looking heat exchangers. They shut those down for between a week and a month (generally July / August time frame) for repairs - homes don't generally have hot water heaters so when they turn it off downtown ... you are pretty much correct.

            When it works (which is most of the time) you get unlimited hot water for long showers. When there is down time (occasionally because a hot water main leaks and needs to be repaired
        • Fresh vegetables and fruits, fresh cuts of meat, blueberries, watermellon, refills for your Cross pen, batteries for your calculator, a strapless bra that is your size ... these are all things we take for granted here in the US but are often difficult to get abroad.

          Electricity

          *ducks* =)

      • I had this conversation with this Danish PhD student once about why he was visiting the institute I'm at (in Germany). He said that he'd studied in Canada briefly before, so he didn't want to go there again. He really wanted to go to Australia, but nobody there was working in his field or something like that. When it came to the US, he said something like, "well I have no interest in going to that place".

        Maybe he didn't know at the time I was American (why do people always think I'm Canadian?), but it

  • Beware! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Urgoll (364)
    I have no opinion on EU computer science programs, however I know for a fact that many EU countries don't have the equivalent of the US Master's degree. For example, the French 'license' is often thought of as being the equivalent, but most US universities will not recognize it if you apply for a PhD.

    As far as I know, most EU PhD are recognized in the US.

    My 0.02$
    • Re:Beware! (Score:3, Informative)

      I agree that there is no direct mapping between US and EU diplomas. Heck, there is no harmonization between EU countries (but they are working on it).

      However, for France, the equivalent to a Master's degree is a Maitrise+(DEA or DESS).
      • I believe there is an ongoing effort to harmonize EU diplomas. For example I heard that France will now start to offer 2 year masters degrees instead of the 1-year DEA. It will also include a full-blown thesis instead of the small 4 month "stage".
  • by D.A. Zollinger (549301) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @08:18PM (#6916345) Homepage Journal
    I think a major portion of your concern is the ability to get a job in a different market after graduation. While I do not know about the advantages of the programs offered overseas, I do know of two things that will capture a potential employer's interest. A well known school (even if it isn't known for their CS degree), and what extra curricular projects you have been involved with.

    For example, if you come back to the States with a Doctorate in Computer Science from Oxford University, and contributed heavily to the SATA, USB2, and Firewire code in the Linux Kernel, your interviewer will drool at the opportunity to have you working for them. On the other hand, if you come back with a Doctorate in Computer Science from St. Etienne Community College, and contributed heavily to gwine [tuxfamily.org] (with no disrespect to Sylvain Daubert or his work), your potential employer might be asking you where St. Etienne is, and what gwine is ("is that related to the Wine is not an emulator project?").
  • A few points (Score:4, Informative)

    by timur (2029) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @08:22PM (#6916379)
    One thing to keep in mind is that European universities consider their 4-year degree to be equivalent to a Bachelor's AND a Master's from our Universities.

    I was a student at a German university for a semester. I had received a BS from an American university and wanted to continue my education in Germany. Four universities accepted me (that was the easy part). However, three of them would only give me 2 year's credit for my 4-year degree, making me a Junior in college. The 4th university would only give me 3 semesters' credit, making me a Sophomore!

    But that was the least of my problems. Once I got there, I was like a fish out of water. I thought my German was good, but it wasn't anywhere near good enough. I had an impossible time following the classes. Combined with a bunch of other personal problems (e.g. my landlady was a bitch!), I dropped out after a couple months.

    One of the reasons why I got into all those universities so easily was because the idea of an American coming to Germany to study Comp Sci was unheard of, so of course they had to let me try.

    Frankly, I don't think European universities are better than American universities for any of the computer fields. Sure, there are American universities that are worse than the average German university, but so what?

    If you're going to study in Europe, don't do it because you think the schools are better, but that's just stupid. Do it because you want to study in Europe.

    • ... they don't spend any time teaching you basic stuff you should've learned in High School (Calc, Physics, Biology), so their first year is like your junior year. According to some studies published in Time (and other magazines) as far as Math and Science, foreign h.s. students (England, Hungary, Japan, Hong Kong) leave American h.s. students in the dust, so we have a little catching up to do.

      Good idea anyway - really, it can't be harder than a Chinese student following English, spoken in a Texas accent,

      • Not just England, the whole of the United Kingdom. I know that Northern Ireland for instance has a higher standard of h.s education than England.
      • According to some studies published in Time (and other magazines) as far as Math and Science, foreign h.s. students (England, Hungary, Japan, Hong Kong) leave American h.s. students in the dust, so we have a little catching up to do.

        I remember reading something interesting about these tests a few years ago. Basically, this article was claiming that the groups of students being compared were not necessarily equivalent. For example, in France they would only test students in the schools for university bou

    • Re:A few points (Score:3, Informative)

      by neglige (641101)
      European universities consider their 4-year degree to be equivalent to a Bachelor's AND a Master's from our Universities

      No, I guess we think it's actually better ;) (SCNR, please not the smiley!)

      I'll drop in some info about german universities, because some aspects seem to be overlooked in the discussion. Please note that the following is NOT about which universities in which country are BETTER. It's just some background information that may help. Furthermore, it's not really a reply to the parent, bu
    • Some of the smaller European countries have a lot more programs in English that do big countries like Germany. For example, here at TUDelft all of our MSc. programs are now taught in English instead of Dutch specifically so that foreign students can follow them.

      Note that many of Europe's most prestigious universities are in small countries (think Uppsala, Leiden, some of the Irish ones, Helsinki, even (dare I say it) TU Delft).
  • if you have a choice (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ender Ryan (79406) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @08:52PM (#6916534) Journal
    If you have the option, study overseas, then work overseas. Just take a look at the industry in the States, we're fucked. The U.S. is going to potentially fuck open source, and on the other end of the spectrum Microsoft and other proprietary vendors are moving all their development overseas, to India, etc. That's what business is about in America these days, fucking ourselves...

    If I didn't already have family, friends, and own a house here, I'd look into leaving. It just seems to me that the U.S. is on a slippery slope downhill. I think whatever your political viewpoint is, it's all downhill...

    But that's just my opinion, and I could be wrong.

    • "It just seems to me that the U.S. is on a slippery slope downhill. I think whatever your political viewpoint is, it's all downhill..."

      I think that the US will survive this current slump. Ashcroft and Bush have certainly detracted strongly from the freedoms of the US, as has the DMCA and PATRIOT act. But we saw the same thing happen during the "Red Scare". Eventually, people will wise up and the country will pull through. Are we going downhill? Definately. But we are still far better off than we were in th
  • A couple arguments (Score:2, Interesting)

    by blate (532322)
    1. As a hiring manager, unless you go to a school I've heard of, in an English-speaking country, I'm probably not going to think very highly of your degree. Honsetly, for most geek jobs, the cultural diversity factor you'll gain is rather irrelavent. If you end up doing some important work or publishing in major journals, then you might be OK.

    2. From a pragmatic perspective, you're going to end up spending more money (tuition, exchange rates, visas, long distance, airfare) and at best get the same educatio
    • by sasami (158671) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @01:59AM (#6918727)
      As a hiring manager, unless you go to a school I've heard of, in an English-speaking country, I'm probably not going to think very highly of your degree.

      You may have lost countless excellent graduates as a result of that mentality. I once heard a hiring manager insist in the strongest possible terms, over countless objections, that they had never heard of Carnegie-Mellon and therefore the CS program couldn't possibly be any good. I would never accuse you of being that ignorant. But it is still fair to ask: how many schools have you heard of, and how familiar are you with their programs?

      Ask anyone on the street to list every college they've ever "heard of" and you'll rarely find anyone who can name a couple of dozen (not counting "University of [STATE]"). With 3400 colleges in this country, a couple of dozen is less than 1%. I usually follow up by showing them a list of the top 10% of US colleges -- 340 schools, mind you -- and watch as they realize how little they really know. And why should they? Who besides college counselors can recognize 340 schools?

      It might be interesting to go through your own company's roster and see where people went as an undergraduate. You may well find the prestige schools are quite underrepresented, and rightly so: as with many things, college reputations are pure popularity contests and have relatively little to do with merit.

      --
      Dum de dum.
    • 1. As a hiring manager, unless you go to a school I've heard of, in an English-speaking country, I'm probably not going to think very highly of your degree.

      That actually makes sense if that's all the thought that you put into it, but I would like to think that you wouldn't let the fact that you hadn't heard of the school cast a negative mark over an interviewee. I mean, how many schools have you heard of??
    • 1. As a hiring manager, unless you go to a school I've heard of, in an English-speaking country, I'm probably not going to think very highly of your degree. Honsetly, for most geek jobs, the cultural diversity factor you'll gain is rather irrelavent. If you end up doing some important work or publishing in major journals, then you might be OK When thinking of the name of a university there are two types of employer to consider. Those that accept the name to mean a quality education and good standards and t
      • The Open University [open.ac.uk] is a case in point. It is a correspondence university that has been going for a few decades. It is a matter of pride for OU that many of its degree courses are recognised as equal to the courses offered in the top 'traditional' universities of any given field (see here [qaa.ac.uk] for the independent audit report for 1999. At this site you can also see audit reports for most of the UK universities and centres of higher education.) Anecdotal evidence suggests that the Psychology, Law and CS cours
    • > 1. As a hiring manager, unless you go to a school I've heard of, in an English-speaking country, I'm probably not going to think very highly of your degree.

      Your loss, but no offence. How many schools have you heard of?
      A major difference between universities in the US and in some European coutries, is that European universities have to meet some standards to call themselves "University". The US has the best universities in the world as well as the worst. Countries like Germany, France, the Netherlands
    • Since when do non community colleges and universities offer degrees in microsoft programs?
  • Alright, procedural programming is obviously here to stay. There's a reason the Linux kernel is written in C. There are a lot of very nice things about OOP. The Java API is really is a good example of what wondeful things a well thought out class library can do for a language. But FUNCTIONAL programming, *homer shudder*. I've programmed in a couple of dozen languages, ranging from assembly, C and it's other procedural relatives, FORTH (which is pleasently unlike any other language), and I'm sorry to say, ML
    • Hm. Getting offtopic here, but I rather dislike it when people blame the tool they can't use.

      Here's what Paul Graham (yes, of Bayesian filtering fame) has to say about functional programming [paulgraham.com]. There is an amusingly appropriate quote: In business, there is nothing more valuable than a technical advantage your competitors don't understand.

      Alright, stretching to get back on topic, I'll assert this: To a programmer, knowing functional programming is about as useful as reading literature, analyzing politics,
      • I rather dislike it when people blame the tool they can't use


        Okay, try this: go to the dollar store, buy a cheap Chinese toolset, then try to rebuild your engine with it and see how far you get. Good fucking luck. Having the right and proper tools is critical to getting the job done correctly and efficiently. Nobody uses functional programming, and there are reasons why, face the facts.
    • Well, that depends on what you define as "functional programming". Programming languages, like political parties, have extremist sides. In politics it is usually the ultra left who are totally socialist and the ultra right who is totally individualist (although the Nazis and Sascists were pretty damn socialist too, with all the "All for one Nation" thing, but I digress).

      Like politics, studying the extremes in programming languages makes you understand the center so much better. In programming languages the
    • ~ is the unary negation operator, for example, although I dunno of you can even really call it an operator in ML. Wait a minute. Isn't the unary negation operator in c ~ also? I don't understand your point.
  • by Tom7 (102298) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @09:45PM (#6916901) Homepage Journal
    It's true that there is a lot more functional programming going on in Europe. But there is also plenty in the US. If you have an interest in a particular subject, find faculty who have published good, readable papers in the area, and then apply to the schools where those faculty work. I can tell you that CMU and Cornell have great typed functional programming groups (very European style, in fact), although CMU at least does not have a general CS masters program; you'd have to do a PhD. Several other schools like UPenn, Berkeley, and Harvey-Mudd are building strong programs in the same vein as well.
  • by Zachary Kessin (1372) <zkessin@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @01:40AM (#6918630) Homepage Journal
    First of all you can't compair "US Programs" vs "Non-US Programs" in a general way. you have to look at specific departments at specific schools. If University X has a good program in what you are interested in start thinking about it.

    But before you go remember these things, unless you go to an english speaking area most programs are in the local language. How well do you speek it? To take a masters level class in Computer Science you will need to speek it quite well.

    Costs, not just tuition, but also things like airfare back to the USA to visit people and so on.

    Quility of Life, I have lived in the USA, England and now Israel, life is different, in some ways better in some ways worse but different, think about how it will affect your lifestyle.

    Now if you decide that going outside the USA is for you, go for it, there are some very good universities in many places around the world (and some very bad ones)
    • by Anonymous Coward

      In defense of the original poster, click the Dijkstra Archives link and take a look at what Dijkstra had to say. So far, I've found this one, Computer Science: Achievements and Challenges [utexas.edu] (beware, PDF).

      The major differences between European and American CS are that American CS is more machine-oriented, less mathematical, more closely linked to application areas, more quantitative and more willing to absorb products in its curriculum.

      No, the two programs can't be compared in a general sense of which one

  • Using a foreign degree in North America could be a risky thing. I will derive anecdotal evidence from ' The National [www.cbc.ca]' which is a show aired by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation [www.cbc.ca]. The article can be found here [tv.cbc.ca], and you'll have to find the phrase, "Designer Immigrants" within the article.

    The evidence does not completely fit with your question, but it is definitely an eye opener.

    The article talks about a man coming from England who has a degree from Middlesex University. In addition, this man has five
    • The question is, is this more to do with the field than the fact that they received their degrees overseas? Engineering, medecine, accounting and other business areas strike me as fields where there'd definitely be some difficulty in finding jobs outside of the degree-issuing country because each has very strict rules in practice that differ from one country to the next. Thus, immigrants might come in to the country as valid skilled workers, but realistically can't get equivalent jobs to what they could g

    • Canadian employers have taken to looking for what they call "canadian experience", in order to weed out recent immigrants from applicants. It's really a disguised form of xenophobia, and it's worrying the hell out of me, as I'm planning to move to Canada for a few years in the near future, and don't even have a degree in my current field.
      • I have a hard time believing this given that I've lived here all my life. In the three major cities, the immigrant population is so overwhelmingly large, that in many places, it outnumbers Canadian-born people (just take a look at Richmond, BC if you don't believe me). I really don't think employers look at foreigners with distaste out of xenophobia. Instead, it's more of a question of how well you fit in. It comes down to the age-old question of how good your communication abilities are and how well yo

      • I am Canadian, born, educated and working.
        I was in engineering co-op at UW, worked with many foreign trained people.
        I am now working on international development teams.

        My view. (yes I know I can't spell)
        Different focus in different countries. Thinking and approach is VERY different in some.
        There are some very excellent foreigners. There are some terrible foreigners.
        Typically I'd guess that the abilities are about the same, compared to some I think Canadian trained is a bit higher on theory, others a bit mo
  • by den_erpel (140080) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @02:33AM (#6918880) Homepage Journal
    I've seen a lot of comments which are mainly outdated and ill informed.

    First off, indeed, some European countries did not have a Anglo-Saxon Ms/Bs system in the past. I believe some countries adherred to a more German system, where you had the 'candidatures' (after 2 years) and the 'licenses' (after 2 or 3 years; 2 for 'normal' studies, e.g. history, archeology, ... and 3 for engineering and some medicin studies). The candidatures are not really accepted as a final degree, but a way to the licenses (hardly anybody stopped studying after a candidature). These are the broad lines.

    One of the formost problems with this was the diversity of the degrees. You typically had 'universities' and 'high schools (=/= american high-schools). For some long term degrees (4/5 years) the degree of a high-school did not get accepted abroad (including some engineering degrees), while the university degrees were universally (pun) accepted.

    Then there were the differences between countries... Over the last decade, countries started to simplify and reform their studies. If I remember correctly, Sweden had at some point over 100 different engineering degrees.

    More recently (and which has been the cause for quite some protest), all the EU countries signed an agreement to take up the Master/Bachelor system (Bologna Accords). As far as I know, this system is currently being introduced (if you start now, you should be in this system) and is retro-active (if you graduated in the old system, you can call yourself Master).

    Of course, there are still discussions going on (and I basically lost the thread by now) between lobbying groups (which are sometimes powerful and recruite off campus) that e.g. think that an engineer of a university should be an MSc while one from a high-school should be a 'simple' Master (and so on and so forth). [some weven wanted to have high-schools only deliver bachelor degrees while leaving masters to the universities]. I will not go into the ramafications of these discussions, it's enough to say that if some ppl had their way, it would be more chaos again.

    I just hope the politicians get their act together and for once, take some rational decisions, once and for all making the higher education homogeneous. After all, if there would be an objective difference between degree X from school A and degree Y from university B, I assume recuiters would take up on this (as they already do now for some degrees that are offered on both universities and high-schools).

    But in the discussion about degrees, all rationality seems to be gone out the window at some times... Some people seem to like protecting the education and degree with all kinds of laws, thus decoupling 'capabilities' from 'person' but linking 'capabilities' with 'degree/institution'.

    As for your question, if you come to the EU for studies, pick a university with a good reputation. You can hardly miss. Another note that I want to add (from my limited experience with US degrees) is that the EU educations (also depending from institution to institution) put more weight on theory (mathematics).
    • I can see how bologna will make comparison easier between member states' degrees. But in the end, graduating from Vigo, Sate College in Spain with a master's will not weigh heavier than a german bachelor... that's just the way people think.

      bologna is bad mmmkay
    • More recently (and which has been the cause for quite some protest), all the EU countries signed an agreement to take up the Master/Bachelor system (Bologna Accords). As far as I know, this system is currently being introduced...

      Yes, but the result of the <language="en-au">Bologna</language> accord is that a Bachelors is 3 years, a Masters is an additional 2 years, and a PhD is an additional 3 years. The Bachelors and PhD seem way to short. For the PhD, three years is to short to both teac

      • by lylum (659581)
        >On the flip side, I haven't heard that it's necessary to teach basic algebra or spelling / grammar to college freshmen and sophmores in Europe like is often the case in the U.S.

        That's exactly it. If only the brightest 20% get a high school diploma, then that should say quite a bit about its value. Generally, in Europe you are required to fulfill all the broad education requirements in high school... whereas in the US it is put off to college. I would say for this reason it makes sense that the bachelo

      • Thus a U.S. associates degree looks to me like the equivalent of a European bachelors degree, a Europen masters degree becomes the equivalent of the U.S. bachelors degree, and the European PhD like a U.S. PhD candidate.

        No. A five year programme in e.g. Germany is five years of full time study devoted to a single subject. After five years of physics, including writing a one-year thesis, I am at least worth a US physics master.

        chl

        • No. A five year programme in e.g. Germany is five years of full time study devoted to a single subject. After five years of physics, including writing a one-year thesis, I am at least worth a US physics master.
          Will it stay this way, or will Germany be "harmonized" to conform to the Bologna agreement?
          • I can't speak for Germany but here at TUDelft the BaMa system as is is known introduces minimal changes in the curriculum. The difference is that at the end of 3 years we hand the students a BSc. and it's a bit easier than it was for people who did the first 3 years somewhere else to join at 4th year. The TU is still working through the subtleties of BaMa e.g. if you have a BSc. in mechanical engineering or physics, should you be allowed to switch to civil engineering for the last two years? (I think the an
          • Will it stay this way, or will Germany be "harmonized" to conform to the Bologna agreement?

            All the physics departments fight to keep up the level of their degrees, i.e. they want to keep the current curriculum with minimal changes to acommodate the bachelor after three years. Currently, if you leave after three years, you have nothing, so they basically add an extra bachelor examination (for the quitters who do not want a "real" degree).

            The old Diplom degree that you got after five years would then al

          • Will it stay this way, or will Germany be "harmonized" to conform to the Bologna agreement?

            As far as I know, in Germany the "harmonization" has already begun, but is happening gradually. They seem to be converting programs in fields that have a more international bend (things like English lit, business, and computer science) first.

            To some extent, I think it's a good thing, because it allows students to study in different countries. I'm actually doing an MS in Computer Science in Germany right now (the

  • by sbszine (633428) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @04:20AM (#6919188) Homepage Journal
    I assess international qualifications for an Australian university, and we consider US qualifications to be about a year behind Aussie and western European quals (UK etc). The US education system is about on par with Hungary and Pakistan in the view of our assessors, but we consider UK and many Indian quals to be on par with our own.

    The main factor in deciding the quality of a particular country's qualifications is not the curriculum, facilities, or anything along those lines. It's the quality of the students, determined mostly by whether students gain their place at university through academic merit, or by buying a place. In the US you mostly buy a place, so consequently the value of degrees from the US suffers.

    I would advise anyone trying to choose between the US and Europe for a degree of any kind to go to an English university. They don't hand out testamurs from Oxford to any sub-literate with a fat wallet.
    • > They don't hand out testamurs from Oxford to any sub-literate with a fat wallet.

      However Oxford is (or was) unique in the UK for one thing - If you did the hard work of obtaining a BA degree at Oxford, then held down a job and stayed out of debt for a year - your degree would instantly be upgraded to an MA!!!!!

      I am not aware of any other UK university that does this. Bugger really. I had to work hard for my masters degrees.

      When I was apply for degree courses 9 years ago, I did notice that Oxford on
      • "If you did the hard work of obtaining a BA degree at Oxford, then held down a job and stayed out of debt for a year - your degree would instantly be upgraded to an MA"

        Well, yes and no. They're not quite the criteria, but the idea is right. But you're obliged to refer to it as BA (Oxon), and those paranthesis give the game away. No reasonably competent employer is going to be fooled (especially when the studying period fails to appear elsewhere on your CV).

        Oh, and Cambridge do it too (MA Cantab).

        G Ow

        • I am wondering what the purspose of this practice is for - is it simply to show that the holder of the title is not a recent graduate?

          I have a similar 'false' Masters in the form of an undergraduate Masters in Engineering. I did the 3 year Bachelors + the 1 year of the Masters in one go and ended up with a single MEng as a first degree - the give away is the fact that the MEng is an hounours degree which most(?) Masters are not.

          Steve [Msc, MEng(Hons)]

          • I am wondering what the purspose of this practice is for - is it simply to show that the holder of the title is not a recent graduate?
            Tradition, in the Oxbridge case. Real reasons lost in the midst of time, now it gets done because thats how its always been done.
      • Cambridge does it as well.

        You see, the idea was you get taught the theory at University and become a bachelor. However you haven't mastered your art until you have some experience to back it up (and anyone that has ventured outside academia knows how much they still had to learn!). In fact, as Oxbridge invented the concept, it's really the other universities that are trying to grab an extra buck by teaching the masters.

        Oh and the Arts thing is something to do with any subject, taught to a high enough

    • They don't study CS at Oxford at all (their closest course is part of the maths dept.) For computer science it's Cambridge you want.

      Part of the reason for this extra depth has to be the extent to which UK students specialize. By A-Level (age 16) I was down to my favourite 3 subjects, by second year (age 19) I had only a "major" and that was slightly specialized by the end of University. Supposedly, in the England, we were a year ahead of Scotland/Europe by the start of University and some 2 years ahead
      • I seriously considered doing a PhD at MIT but was put off by the 5 year course of which you're apparently treated like an undergraduate for the first 2 - compared to a 3 year course here.

        I heard similar complaints from Europeans who came to the US to get PhDs. But I think from the American standpoint, if you get a doctorate in computer science (or whatever field) you should have some background in all the major areas of CS. If you just do research in some specialty (for me it was graphics), you would h

    • Much debate occurs in the UK as to whether the way our A-level exam system (the exam grades that matter when applying to Universities) is set up ensures that standard remain consistent. Knowing the qualifications assessor in our UK computer science department, they repeat this concern. They also know the games that must be played to ensure that applicants using the UCAS system (the service that handles UK University admissions) choose this University first. ie University's in the UK ask for high A-Level ent
    • The Quality of the students is definitely dependent on the curriculum, atleast that is how most of the top schools in US would evaluate the credentials for the Master's program. Switching tracks, I have had first hand experience with Australian Masters degrees which in terms of curriculum are behind the US. In most cases an Indian Bachelor of Engineering degree is almost a bachelors and 1/2 of US master's degrees combined. There are several universities in Australia too where one can get in by buyi
    • I guess I'm going to have to step in on this 'buy a place' comment. I'll try not to flame, but I'm pretty angry. In this country, the vast majority of candidates for a given university are admitted based on SAT/ACT standardised tests, secondary schol transcripts, essays, and for better/smaller schools, interviews. I would argue that this is a merit based system. I worked hard for a place at a top 10 school, and my family had neither influence nor money to help me- just encouragement. I paid for it alone, th
      • I guess I'm going to have to step in on this 'buy a place' comment. I'll try not to flame, but I'm pretty angry. In this country, the vast majority of candidates for a given university are admitted based on SAT/ACT standardised tests, secondary schol transcripts, essays, and for better/smaller schools, interviews. I would argue that this is a merit based system.

        Yes and no. I am not trying to flame US students. Plenty of excellent folks have come out of the US system, including a huge number of great engi
        • I just don't think that you understand how it works here. My undergrad and graduate schools, like all the schools I have applied to and a majority of schools in the country, has a 'need blind' admissions policy. You get accepted before they even know if you can pay. There are exceptions to this, but they are exceptions, not the rule. Its theoretically possible for a school to have 100% of it's incoming class on 100% financial aid- completely unable to pay. That would be a disaster for a school financially,
          • I just realised I did an exceptionally poor job of explaining financial aid in this country. For undergraduate students, you fill in a federal form, which includes info about your income and your parents' income (if you are a dependent). The schools you apply to assess your 'family contribution'- how much money you can pay- and come up with a combination of loans, grants, and work study (student jobs) to meet your total need, including costs like housing, food, and even a tiny bit of pocket money. Need blin
            • You spoke about a Chinese immigrant family, from the sounds of it, but how do international students fit into this, if at all? I might be wrong, but it seems like unless you're doing a PhD, it's relatively hard to find funding for a masters....? Canadians, and I'm guessing most other foreigners, mostly have the idea that an American education is prohibitively expensive....
    • I don't work in any recruiting function, but I am an American that's worked in London for the last few years.... and from what I've seen, English tech graduates are pretty good, but very, very specialized. Folks from, say, Imperial, or UCL (University College of London) are good programmers, but the three-year degree system keeps people from being well-rounded... (even three years in maths from Oxford doesn't imply much significant post-A-level education in anything but maths...) From what I've seen, th
      • Yeah, it varies from school to school. Ireland is very good for CS and IT stuff, the English ones are good but perhaps a bit Microsoft centric (although arguably the industry is Microsoft centric in England). And, as I was saying to a poster above you, there's plenty of excellent computer folk who have come out of US universities. At any rate, I think most employers aren't too bothered by the origin of a computer science degree, providing the candidate has relevant experience.
      • I worked in an american acedemic research lab, with alot of foreigners, and I'd say you are dead accurate, especially in reference to Asian countries.

        The Asian kids knew their fields dead to rights -- but ONLY their fields. We did visual research, so these guys knew Matlab, C, and Linear Algebra like *nobody's business*. But *anything* out of that field, Calculus, physics, even basic computer knowledge was beyond these masters and doctoral level students.

    • That's only 'cos Australia is sort of Englishy.

      Even Oxford and Cambridge are lagging behind American universities like Harvard, Yale, Princeton.. etc.

      Check out any lists such as Best MBAs or whatever, it'll mostly be American universities.

      And Hey; even within the UK, new universities such as Manchester and others are becoming better than Oxford and Cambridge.

      My girlfriend studied in American and English universities. Yes, English universities are more difficult but that difficulty comes out of il
  • having worked with some guys from Stanford, MIT and CMU, I can tell you people that many MIT graduates are dumb as hell (no flame), but will get a job anyway just because they are MIT graduates. How did they made it, I dont know. But your discussion about MIT being better than Univ-of-EU-Whatever is just plain stupid.

    What have MIT done in the past 10 years in the field of, say, AI?? Functinal Languages [which I happen to hate]?

    Why should someone from no-name-german-univ be worse than a guy that paid $xxxk
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Um, I'm not sure what you mean, because I think the original story implies EU has the US beat over some of the more theoretical aspects of CS, and not the other way around, but ok... The real question doesn't seem to be about reputation of the school and how much social status it'll earn, rather, he's asking about the type of education that he'll get.

      Yes, the majority of people seem to hate functional programming, but if it's this guy's interest, then he has every right to pursue it. And quite frankly, i

  • Granted I'm a bit different when it comes to interview people and making recommendations for hiring precisely because I don't have a degree. However, that being the case, when it comes to going over their credentials, there are a few things I look for.

    First off, I look at what they did. Did they write a thesis? If so, what did they write about? Did they intern anywhere? What kind of projects did they work on? If I'm looking to have a Linux cluster put in, all the people who interned and highlight non-Linux

  • I had a chance to speak to our head of HR at a company I previously worked at (in the US) that hired a lot of people overseas. Our company helped drug companies go through clinical trials in the US and sometimes overseas. I asked him about degrees from europe and he said they usually step them down compared to US degrees. So basically 4 years of college in Europe there was equal to 2 years in the US. I don't know if he was doing it out of ignorance or if it is standard practice so take it for what it's
    • At Cambridge University in the UK, it's not uncommon for foreign students to come and visit for a year, at least in the science-side subjects. Those who spend their second year of studies here would typically join our own second-year students, IME, and while the background might be somewhat different, the overal standards seem to be comparable.

      However, if anyone told me that four years of study at Cambridge was equal to just two years in the US, I'd laugh. Then I'd suggest that they look up what the Certi

  • by Monty (7467)

    Does anyone have any information about Sweden? Chalmers [chalmers.se] comes to mind as being somewhat famous in the area....

    • Re:Sweden (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, Chalmers is heavily into functional programming, specifically using Haskell [haskell.org]

      Most of the other unis tend to focus on algorithms and numerical analysis, notably The Royal Institute of Technology [www.kth.se] and Uppsala University [www.uu.se]. In general all the unis are more into computer engineering type research rather than comp sci.

  • Even in the UK, it varies widely...
    But no "high school" awards degree's of any type in the UK - only universities do that.

    Most universities subscribe to the 3years==Batchelor's degree (BSc / BEng)
    +1year == Masters

    Some also do 4 year masters in engineering subjects (where you don't get a BEng, you go straight to the MEng after 4 years).

    The top UK universities (eg. Cambridge) use a totally different system altogether...

    • The top UK universities (eg. Cambridge) use a totally different system altogether...

      That's not entirely true. You still get a BA after three years, and in subjects like sciences or engineering, a four-year version gets you a Masters.

      NB: Masters degrees in the UK tend to come in two forms: taught and research. A taught Masters -- usually called MSci, MEng, MMath, etc. -- typically means an extra year of higher study on the end of a Bachelors degree, but still doing the same sort of lectures, practical

  • by JamesP (688957)
    You should focus on HL2 instead.
  • If you want the degree for purely academic interests, look at several universities and go to the one that has the faculty and program that focuses on what you want to research, whether that be in the US, EU, or anywhere else you know the language.

    However, if you want a job in America, go to an American university. There are many quality CS degree programs here. You can probably find one that matches your interests wothout going overseas. More importantly, US companies focus their recruiting on American

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