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Best Grad Program For a Computer Science Major? 372

Posted by Soulskill
from the doctor-of-underwater-basketweaving dept.
ryanleary writes "I am currently a junior computer science major at a relatively competitive university. I intend to remain here for some graduate work, and I would like to get a master's degree. What would be a good field to study? An MS in computer science appears to be highly theoretical, while an MS in IT seems more practical due to its breadth (covering some management, HCI, and design). What looks best on a resume, and where might I expect to make more money in the not-too-distant future? Computer Science, Information Technology, or something different altogether — perhaps an MBA?"
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Best Grad Program For a Computer Science Major?

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  • Resume (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 29, 2009 @11:10AM (#27379627)
    I think choosing the type of degree based on what looks best on your resume isn't the best way to go. Graduate school is a lot of work. If you pick something just because it looks good on a resume and not because you actually like it, I can't imagine you'd enjoy getting your masters.
    • by WCguru42 (1268530)

      I think choosing the type of degree based on what looks best on your resume isn't the best way to go. Graduate school is a lot of work. If you pick something just because it looks good on a resume and not because you actually like it, I can't imagine you'd enjoy getting your masters.

      I'm gonna have to disagree with you on this one. Sure, if you're going for a PhD you better choose something that you like but with a technical masters degree I believe it's perfectly fine to choose something that is a career advancer above personal preference. Graduate school is a lot of work but if you've got a motivator, like advancing your career, then it's not nearly as difficult to plow through that degree in two years and be done with it. Having said that, I wouldn't recommend choosing something c

    • I can't imagine you'd enjoy getting your masters

      I agree. OTOH not liking it isn't always bad. I hated the place I was doing my masters. As a result, even though I was also working to support myself and then gf, I was in and out of there in 16 months as opposed to the more normal 36-48 months. I believe this was the fastest they had ever seen, even including guys whose companies were paying them full-time to do their degrees. Then I went somewhere I liked, had excellent scholarships and significant addit

    • If he intends to stay in academia and get a PhD (or go to Google) and fancy-ass school on the resume will definitely help with employment, as will publications.

      If it's something else, though, then yes, do what you like to do, just make sure you pick a reputable school.

      In the end, none of this shit matters once you get your first decent job. What will matter is your network, references and reputation. No one will put you in a leadership position just because you took some classes in school five years ago.

      If

  • Disclaimer: I got a Bachelors of Science in Computer Science and a Masters of Science in Computer Science from two different schools.

    I am currently a junior computer science major at a relatively competitive university. I intend to remain here for some graduate work ...

    Ok, I'm not going to be able to tell you which degree to pursue but I am going to tell you that remaining at the same university you got your undergrad in is a mistake. I was once like you and my professor told me that it was a bad idea for me to remain at the same university for my masters. I didn't care, I wanted to be closer to my family and there wasn't another decent university around. I never got a good explanation why but due to some circumstances, I ended up moving and the result was my masters at a different university.

    I am thankful this happened.

    I now understand why it's better that you go to another university for your next degree and it has a little bit to do with what some people consider the most important aspect of college. I've oft heard that it's not what you learn at college, it's who you meet. And while I agreed with this about the bullshit degrees in college (like business, architecture, law, etc.) I had never considered it a matter of importance at all in computer science. But it is! Not because of this connection is hooking you up with this position here but more so because of the ideas that sometimes arise between two particular individuals or the new perspectives other people can put on how you see things--yes, even technical things like algorithms.

    And so, by staying at the same university, you are wastefully throwing away a chance to work with, learn with and be with 100s of new talented people. If you stay, you most likely know the staff at your current university and will have everything settled but I urge you to consider throwing away that comfort zone and take a gamble at meeting new people with different ideas and concentrations. I think this helps both universities from becoming too stagnant and focusing on the same damn thing year after year. I don't know, I'm no longer in academia but think about it.

    An MS in computer science appears to be highly theoretical ...

    It doesn't have to be that way. I was given a set of courses to choose from (as long as I satisfied breadth and depth requirements) and I think there were quite a few practically useful classes I could take--even software business classes. At least at my university it wasn't highly theoretical but an individual could certainly go that way. I knew what I wanted to do with my life: code. And it seems like everything I took in my grad classes was in some way useful. I'm given a large set of requirements and one of the first things I do is theorize with others about practical ways to implement it. Thankfully, you can usually spot the choke points and problem areas with designs and although patterns like proxy, caching, model-view-controller and polymorphism are theoretical concepts, they are often considered and analyzed without being implemented.

    The point is, everything will look good on your resume as long as it's a masters. And I'm certain you could go down any of the paths you listed and still land a job doing something one of the others is geared towards.

    The real question you should be asking is to yourself and it should be "What do I want to do with the rest of my life?" Once you answer that, you'll get a better idea of what masters program to take. The other degrees, probably also useful. I'm pretty biased though and wanted to be working in computer science for the rest of my life so it was an easy answer. Had I done IT I could probably still be where I am right now but I had no desire for that part of the field. Call your own shots.

    • by bob_deep (61331) on Sunday March 29, 2009 @11:46AM (#27379917) Homepage

      my professor called this "academic inbreeding".

    • by jefu (53450)

      Absolutely! If you have any way to move to another university, do so. You'll meet a whole new group of people, both students and faculty. With some luck the students will be from a variety of universities and the faculty will have different interests and different approaches to things. You might find that they'll expect you to learn some stuff that they do at the undergraduate level, but your old school did not, but that's a good thing.

      Staying in one place, unless the program is huge and you get t

    • I agree 100% with the need to change schools for a graduate degree. You get a very different perspective because you'll be working with new people. Also, don't throw away the benefits of knowing even more people when you go looking for a job. Having contacts and networking is not about getting a free pass to a job, it's about getting your foot in the door. You might have a very impressive resume, but unless you've invented something completely novel then you're going to be competing against people that

  • Ahem... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drolli (522659) on Sunday March 29, 2009 @11:12AM (#27379649) Journal

    My advice is: do what you really want to do. If you really like it, you will be above average. That is the average which asked: what looks best?

    When i started to study (physics) the future for physicists looked very grim, according to everybody. Now i can't complain.

    • I completely agree with drolli. Follow what you enjoy doing more than anything, really. The post also asks:

      What looks best on a resume, and where might I expect to make more money in the not-too-distant future?

      That's a completely different question from pondering CS vs IT. If it was 1995 and you asked this, I would have said "fuck it all and get into flipping real estate until the house of cards crumbles, then take your money and move to Belize..." I didn't do that because I don't care much about money

  • With the financial sector meltdown, MBAs seem to be worth less than even a year ago. Universities are responding by offering more courses in ethics, but it's an open question how quickly the field will recover. My degree is in Comp. Sci., but I've been in IT my whole career and it doesn't seem to have made much difference; I make as much as my peers with the same amount of post-grad work. Arguably, I could have moved to "Californie" and made a killing at some startup, but that always seemed a bit of a lo
  • by moehoward (668736) on Sunday March 29, 2009 @11:18AM (#27379699)

    I found that an MBA with a CS degree was the best for my own career. In general, I found that there are two career paths, and which one you choose depends on your personality/goals/ambitions... You can go either the technical management route or the business management route. I chose the latter for myself and found that it allowed for great flexibility. I've been through 3 recessions now and the combo business/CS made me more nimble when things changed. I have never been laid off or out of work. I ran my own company for several years, and I am now self-employed. But, those friends of mine who went the technical route have had different types of success. Generally, they have grown to be technical managers at companies of various sizes. So, overall, the major difference between folks that took the MBA route and those that took the Masters/PhD in CS/IT is that the latter work 9-5 corporate jobs. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it seems to just be that way. You easily could get an MBA and end up working in a corporate environment as well. To be honest, the two people I know with the greatest success did technical BS, then MBA, then (gag) a law degree.

    Sorry for the long rant. My bottom line is... Stay in school, kids!

    • by PDG (100516)
      Agreed, I see the trio of tech, business, and law creating a juggernaut of a CIO/CTO executive.

      BA - check
      MBA - check
      Law Degree - currently in progress

      :D
    • by plopez (54068)

      Exactly. Before even asking us you should have defined your goals. I would recommend going to your school's career counseling center and taking a skills and interest survey first.

      Then define your goals.

      Then and only then look for a school. When looking for a school, and an adviser, use word of mouth and interview potential advisers carefully. Look at their research and see how you fit in with their research and their personality. I was offered a free ride, but the potential adviser struck a wrong note with

  • by TerranFury (726743) on Sunday March 29, 2009 @11:20AM (#27379719)

    "What looks best on a resume" depends entirely on who is reading the resume. If you want to work I.T., and simply have a lot of I.T. experience, then you have a good resume. But if you want to work for Microsoft research, then that same resume is worthless.

    So, your first priority should be figuring out what you want to do. The best way to do this is to try different things. Get internships. Try everything. Then make a decision; this will tell you what degree to get.

  • by sirket (60694) on Sunday March 29, 2009 @11:23AM (#27379733)

    Stop worrying about what's going to make you the most money and figure out what you enjoy. An MBA that hates his job is worthless. A computer scientist that isn't passionate about math and theory is worthless. An IT guy that isn't obsessed with all things tech will never be as good as the guy that is.

    Figure out what you love doing and do that. If you really love it you'll be better at it. The best people in any field always make plenty of money.

    As an aside- the last thing this world needs is more lawyers. The second to last thing this world needs is more MBA's.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by chdig (1050302)
      The problem is that most kids in university don't actually know what they enjoy. They may have an idea, but I have a feeling that choosing a grad program is oftentimes taking a stab in the dark that it'll be something the student will want to continue with.

      So my suggestion: Don't Go Back To School! (well, not yet) Go get a job in a field you 'think' you may enjoy, and gain some perspective on the industry, and how your talents fit in. After a year or two of that, then make an informed choice of grad sc
  • by oldhack (1037484) on Sunday March 29, 2009 @11:24AM (#27379745)

    I told you last week, nursing school!

    Next question.

    • Re:Are you deaf? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by intrico (100334) on Sunday March 29, 2009 @12:13PM (#27380119) Homepage

      Despite being an attempt at humor and being modded funny, this is actually really solid advice.

      The field of health informatics is going to skyrocket in the next few years. It has become glaringly obvious, as of late, that the health care field overall is lagging behind other industries in leveraging IT to increase efficiency. Anyone who happens to be educated in both nursing and computer science will have skills that are at no less than a "critical" level of demand during the next several years at least.

      • Another option, for similar reasons: Statistics. There's a lot of places where the two intersect, and if you've got the stomach for stats, it's a powerful combination.
  • by portscan (140282) on Sunday March 29, 2009 @11:24AM (#27379747)

    I would say don't bother with an MBA until you've worked for a few years. Personally, I thing the degree is joke in general, but if you haven't even had any work experience, it means nothing to have an MBA.

    if you are just going for a masters, you probably want to be a programmer/engineer, so theoretical is likely not the best way to go. that's the best i can do without some more information about your ultimate career goals.

  • If you look at industry 20 years ago it looks nothing like it does today. However, what was "theory" then (functional languages, AI, data mining, natural language processing, test driven design, parallel distributed computing) is practice today. In 20 years, the "practical" IT aspects will be completely different, but the theoretical foundations will still matter. You're going to need to learn how to keep up with practice yourself on your own as a matter of a) career maintenance and b) personal interest. Fr

  • Consider an MSEE (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SwedishChef (69313) <`ten.slaitnessekrowten' `ta' `giarc'> on Sunday March 29, 2009 @11:34AM (#27379817) Homepage Journal

    I've found that, as an engineer myself (originally) the greatest lack of understanding among computer science majors are the details of the hardware itself. I've had guys with CS degrees try to control 120VAC equipment using the parallel port!! And then not understand at all why this is not a good idea. Control systems are a burgeoning field all by themselves and because they're all computerized now it's a great area.

    • by vrmlguy (120854)

      I've found that, as an engineer myself (originally) the greatest lack of understanding among computer science majors are the details of the hardware itself.

      Ditto. I started out working on a BS in EE, but my school didn't have a good digital program at that time, so my advisor suggested I switch to CompSci. Later in grad school, I took as many EE courses as my electives allowed. I now work in professional services for a major manufacturer of computer equipment, and while I don't use my EE background every day, I don't think I would be where I am today without it.

      • by Plekto (1018050)

        I have to second this suggestion as well.

        The nation is flooded with CS and MBA and similar "tech" people. Many are out of work or worse, when there is a job, it's moved overseas.

        But a degree in engineering is gold. There is a massive shortage of them in almost every nation on the planet, and it's a solid degree that can be leveraged into almost any technical field. Doubly so if you have a BS in Computers. It's essentially the MBA of the science world. But it doesn't have the glut or the backlash that th

    • OTOH I've met engineers practising in computing who didn't know why a scsi cable should terminated. I couldn't believe it but it turned out to be true. When I tried to explain impedance mismatch and reflections to them they thought I was making it up. Another engineering grad had no idea what was in a stack frame and how to debug using the frames.
  • by philipgar (595691) <[ude.hgihel] [ta] [2gcp]> on Sunday March 29, 2009 @11:36AM (#27379831) Homepage
    Seriously, if your concern for going to grad school is solely to have something on your resume that looks better and gets you paid more, don't go. As a grad student in computer engineering, I can't stand the people who want to get a masters just because it makes them look better. And, if you do get a masters, don't bother getting it at a big name university, because that likely won't mean anything once you get it. The big name universities have the name because of the research they do. The research determines the ranking of their graduate program. If you plan on going just to get a degree, and not do any research, you'll end up shorting yourself of a better education elsewhere, and you'll waste the time of professors and other students who are actually interested in doing research. After graduating from one of these schools it won't really make you look much better either. You'll talk to companies and get in the door for having a big research school's name on your degree, and they'll ask you about what research you did, or ask for recommendations from faculty etc. You likely either won't know any faculty very well (as they're concerned with doing research, and not some masters student who only cares about making more money), or they'll have a low opinion of you for wasting space in their program (that space could have instead been used by someone interested in pursuing research).

    Sorry if I sound really negative about this, but this is the truth of academia. The big name schools are concerned with research. That is why they have a big name, and that is what they will focus on to maintain their reputation. They often do not offer a better education, and in fact they are often less concerned with teaching than smaller lesser known schools. The professors just can't afford spending too much time teaching, because in the end (for getting tenure at least), research is what matters. In fact, at many of these schools, it is looked down upon if a junior faculty members wins a teaching award. The rest of the university assumes they're spending too much time on their teaching, and not enough on their research.

    My recommendation is to talk to the faculty at your current university. See what they recommend, and be truthful about why you want to go to grad school. Slashdot is not the place to find out about this stuff, most people here have no clue. Also remember that as far as graduate programs at top schools go, it's not really that one school is better than another. In reality its that one school is better in one particular specialty area. The choice of which school is best for you depends much more heavily on what you plan on specializing in rather than the US News ranking. Employers know what schools specialize in, and base decisions on that. If you don't plan on specializing (as you don't seem to be concerned with research), the rankings immediately become relatively worthless. Talk to faculty that you know and trust. They can help you, but you have to show that you're worth spending time on. They likely have more important things to do, and don't want someone wasting their time.

    phil
    • All that being said, a good MS program should involve some research -- not as much as a PhD obviously, but a decent amount, say 1/3 to 1/4 of the total program -- and being at a school known for research in an area you're interested in can be a big plus. I have two MS's, one in CS and one in biostatistics, and for both degrees I was lucky enough to have advisors who specialized in areas very close to my own interests. What I learned in the course of my RA and thesis research with them was enormously usefu

    • There are at least some "big name" universities that offer separate "academic" and "professional" graduate tracks.

      Perhaps you do attend an ivory-tower institution with a disdain for the practical side of things. (Or perhaps that's just your perception of things.) But there are certainly institutions that are more than willing to take on Masters students who aren't just checking off a box on their way to a PhD.

  • Do what you find interesting.
    Only that will ensure you'll do it right and get good+experienced in your area of work. Which will result in good income and enjoying your everyday work.

  • by mpapet (761907) on Sunday March 29, 2009 @11:38AM (#27379853) Homepage

    There's nothing like a few years in-the-field perspective before going back for an advanced degree.

    This will give you a chance to see "which way the professional winds blow" for you.

    Take those few years to work and have lots of safe, happy sex and generally have a great time. you know, live.

  • Clarification (Score:5, Informative)

    by ryanleary (805532) on Sunday March 29, 2009 @11:39AM (#27379857)

    Thanks for all the replies so far, the reason I ask what will look best on a resume is with the economy the way it is, I've begun to wonder what combination of education and experience will give me the most opportunities down the road.

    I am an excellent programmer, but working 9-5 in a cubicle writing code scares me and does not seem like a good way to spend the next 30+ years of my life.

    That being said, I have done some freelance web design and web database application development and really enjoyed it. I have also worked in various environments doing IT work and found it alright.

    So further complicating the issue, (and no offense to people who have a BS or MS in IT) but I often hear that IT degrees are for people who couldn't make it in Computer Science. So does going from a competitive CS program to an IT program look like this?

    I don't know how graduate school works. I'm not worried about being miserable at school. I can do anything for one year. It's after school that I'm most concerned with.

    And finally, regarding staying here at the same Uni for graduate work, I had never really thought of leaving. A big part of that, however, is I have worked really hard while here and will be completing my B.S. in a total of 3 years. I will still have quite a bit of scholarship money that may be applied to my graduate work if I stay here.

    Again, thank you all so much.

    • by langelgjm (860756)

      I don't know how graduate school works. I'm not worried about being miserable at school. I can do anything for one year.

      Most master's programs, at least in the U.S., are two years. Maybe you can do it in one year at your school because they offer some kind of smooth track into it, but if you went somewhere else, it's almost guaranteed to be two years.

    • Re:Clarification (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Sunday March 29, 2009 @12:10PM (#27380089) Homepage

      Thanks for all the replies so far, the reason I ask what will look best on a resume is with the economy the way it is, I've begun to wonder what combination of education and experience will give me the most opportunities down the road.

      Apples and oranges, fuzzy thinking at best. By the time you get your degree, economic conditions will have changed.
       
      The first thing you need to decide is what *you* want to do and learn - and resorting to Ask Slashdot indicates to me that you haven't done the basic groundwork in that respect that you should have done years ago.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      One year of experience in the industry will do more for your career then an additional year of schooling. Every programmer I've hired from college took at least two years to start understanding what they're doing no matter how advanced of a degree they have. Programming is like everything else, you need a lot of intense practice to become really good at it and school generally doesn't give people enough time to really hone those skills.

      See if you can get a job writing code for a couple of years so you c

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by syousef (465911)

      I am an excellent programmer

      You have a B.S. in Comp Sci and you think you're an excellent programmer? You could be some kind of genius but that's probably not true. They say it takes about 10 years of constant effort to become good at something. More likely than not you're either not being critical enough of your own work or you're not taking on big challenges.

      Think about what an excellent programmer will have accomplished. If you've made major contributions to a kernel or file system, solved a major proble

  • by spaceyhackerlady (462530) on Sunday March 29, 2009 @11:56AM (#27379969)

    University was never intended to be job training. Grad school even more so.

    Do it because you are interested. This is the only reason to do so. Do it because you want to, because you want to learn new things and find things out.

    Do it whether they are going to pay you afterwards or not. Though it must be admitted a Masters degree is highly saleable. I paid for mine in 3 months after I graduated.

    ...laura, B.Sc., M.A.Sc.

  • Human interaction (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Sunday March 29, 2009 @11:57AM (#27379977) Homepage

    Whatever you pursue, add some psychology to the mix. Coding can be outsourced, but human interaction can't. There will always be a need for people who can understand both the human mind as well as computers, at least until the two merge... ;)

    I was planning to study cognitive science myself, but faith had different plans for me it seems. But never underestimate the power in understanding other people. The hardest part of many software projects is figuring out the real needs, and that nearly always starts with human beings.

    • by barzok (26681)

      Coding can be outsourced, but human interaction can't.

      Psychology is good, but remember that human interaction also involves a lot of communication. Take at least 2 classes which are centered around verbal and spoken communication - whether it be a "speaking" class and "writing" class or classes which cover both. If you're doing any programming in a business setting, technical writing skills will be a huge asset (if I have to choose between working with a "stellar" programmer who either can't or refuses t

  • Professional Degree (Score:4, Interesting)

    by UserChrisCanter4 (464072) * on Sunday March 29, 2009 @11:59AM (#27379993)

    Your motivation appears to be purely focused toward employment and earnings (not that there's anything wrong with that). As such, I'd have to advise against graduate studies in CS or similar. While they don't have to be theoretical - Master's degrees offer a lot more flexibility in this department than PhDs - they are still focused at their core on contributing to the common knowledge. You're probably better off with a masters or doctorate that falls into the category often described as professional degrees: things such as MDs, Law degrees, MBAs, etc.

    You've mentioned an MBA. It's too early for that; while it's certainly not a hard and fast rule, the general consensus is that an MBA works much better after you've been in industry for a few years. You'll be better equipped to discuss and apply the relevant ideas when you know how things work "in the real world." On top of that recommendation, it's important to realize that MBAs have literally become the new "dime a dozen" degree. As the popularity of the degree exploded, every commuter school and online university has begun offering them. Without stooping to elitism (I'm sure the education is sufficient), you risk entering a glutted field with a less than stellar name on your diploma. That's a bad way to make a stack of money and a 2-ish year time sink worthwhile. If you decide on an MBA, you should work for 3 or 4 years, then aim to obtain your MBA from one of the top 40 or so schools. Again, I'm not saying that you'll get a sub-par education or won't succeed with an MBA from tier-3 State U, but it will be more difficult to stand out from a crowd waving MBAs from the big names.

    With all that said, may I recommend pursuing graduate studies related to health informatics? At it's simplest level, it's a practical and always-necessary application of CS to the medical field. With the current push from the Obama administration for Electronic Medical Records and the enormous flow of government money sure to follow, it's likely to be an enormous growth industry in the coming years. The basic ideas about DB structure and interface are translatable to other industries if you ever need to leave. Health Informatics-focused graduate programs are available through some Business schools as a hybrid of MIS studies and through the bigger Health Science schools as their own degrees or as specialized variations of Health Administration degrees.

  • get a job (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gonar (78767) <sparkalicious@verizon.n3.14et minus pi> on Sunday March 29, 2009 @12:01PM (#27380011) Homepage

    get a job. work 5 years. figure out what you want to do in life.

    if you work for anything approaching a decent company, they will pay for your grad school when you figure out what you want to study.

    • Re:get a job (Score:4, Informative)

      by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Sunday March 29, 2009 @12:45PM (#27380371)

      get a job. work 5 years. figure out what you want to do in life.

      if you work for anything approaching a decent company, they will pay for your grad school when you figure out what you want to study.

      This is the route I followed, and it's made pursuing my PhD very difficult. It's way harder to focus on PhD work when you've got a family to provide for. I probably could have entered the PhD program at the Ivy League school where I got my Master's, but they required full-time participation in the PhD program, and that wouldn't have let me support my wife and kids.

      All of this would have been avoided if I'd gone straight into grad school right after my undergrad work, and I probably would have had my degree by the age of 26-27, plenty young enough to still start a family.

      So now my advice to people considering grad school is: start ASAP, if you even suspect you want to go for a PhD.

    • by H0p313ss (811249)

      if you work for anything approaching a decent company, they will pay for your grad school when you figure out what you want to study.

      I'm not sure that's great advice with the job market the way it is this year. It might we wiser to hide in grad school...

    • Re:get a job (Score:4, Informative)

      by mako1138 (837520) on Sunday March 29, 2009 @03:31PM (#27381565)

      get a job. work 5 years. figure out what you want to do in life.

      This I agree with. Getting a job and making some money is better than spinning your wheels. However 5 years may be too long, and likely it will only take a few years to come to a decision.

      if you work for anything approaching a decent company, they will pay for your grad school when you figure out what you want to study.

      These days, you can't expect the company to pay your schooling. My friend graduated a couple of years ago and has been working for HP. He had been planning to get some company to pay for higher education, but at his current job it seems unlikely. So he applied to a Ph.D. program and got in, and is going to quit his job.

      On the other hand, another friend of mine did an internship with VMware during undergrad (I think) and now he's getting his Master's tuition paid by VMware.

      So YMMV, but these days the mileage is a lot lower than it used to be.

  • You are considering the wrong criteria in getting a degree. You should instead be asking yourself, "What would I enjoy doing more?" The passion in doing what you enjoy is the best way to maximize your earning potential. You will enjoy going to work everyday, you will be excited to take on and complete diverse projects, and your passion and drive will be obvious to anyone who is around you. People will interpret this as a hardworking ethic at the company , and/or love of the company you work at which wil

  • by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Sunday March 29, 2009 @12:23PM (#27380193) Homepage Journal

    While on the topic, I would like to ask a similar question. What places can people recommend for doing programming language research? I have a MSc in computer science, and I am thinking about getting back into academics after a few years of working. I have been studying and inventing programming languages as a hobby for a number of years now, and I am thinking that, perhaps, I could combine the two and do a PhD project related to programming languages. However, next time I go to university, I want the environment to be a bit more intellectually stimulating than what I have experienced so far. Since I am not tied to any specific location or even country, I have a vast number of universities I could potentially turn to. But which ones would be a good choice? Can anybody recommend some? Or perhaps I should turn to specific people, instead of universities.

    • by Animats (122034)

      What places can people recommend for doing programming language research?

      It's not that popular in the US right now. Today, to launch a new programming language, you need a big launch budget. Sun spent $20 million to launch Java, and they were giving it away. Microsoft probably spent more launching C#. You can't just put it out there any more.

      Also, to do programming language work, you need to be really good at compilers, or the performance of your language will suck. We don't need another language r

      • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)

        ``We don't need another language run on what compiler people call a "naive interpreter".''

        I agree. Languages like Ruby and Python are hard to beat on easy of use and programmer productivity. However, current implementations don't offer stellar performance. I think there is room for a language that allows both great programmer productivity and great performance, and the work I have been doing is all on languages that compile to efficient machine code. Besides that, I seek to integrate a number of other featu

  • The key to really setting yourself apart in the real world is the ability to take the theoretical knowledge and being able to creatively apply it in real world, "practical" situations.

  • Do both.

    My thoughts, coming from the interviewer side, is if you come to us with *zero* work experience and an advanced degree - it won't go well for you. There is probably an expectation that you might be able to 'jump' to a higher pay grade because of the advanced training, thinking it might be equivalent to field time. Unlikely.... When we were looking at some candidates a couple weeks back, we ranked folks with experience greater than those to spent more time in academia. One fear was the person com

  • Why did you study CS? For a job? Did you study to learn about Computer Science because you are interested?

    What are your future plans? Do you want to run your own company, work at google, be a mid level technical manager at some company?

    Without knowing your goals and motivations it is impossible to answer this question. It sounds like maybe you are in CS for a job in which case a Bachelors will get you a job programming (and in fact there are many many programmers who didn't even get a college degree
  • by PhotoGuy (189467) on Sunday March 29, 2009 @12:41PM (#27380349) Homepage

    I'd definitely recommend getting a more industry-specific graduate degree. Advanced degrees in computer science are common. Someone with a strong degree in C.S., with a post-graduate in a specific field, will be golden (assuming the field of choice isn't dying itself).

    It's so incredibly hard to find computing/programming/design talent for specific industries; typically, you get a CS-only person, with no knowledge of the domain, trying to implement a solution for a domain-only person, with no knowledge of C.S. It's a painful process. There's incrdible value for being a strong computer programmer/designer in a specialized field. Again, assuming the field is lucrative to start with.

    I'd look at the best-paying fields in general, and find one that piques your interest. Learn more about it, and see if it's something you'd be passionate about, and that would reward you well. Then go for it.

    I had a lot of programming experience prior to reaching university; so I took a B.Comm. to start, then finished with an M.Sc. Best choices I've ever made. Having business case insight, and a strong programming/design ability, has really helped me achieve things I wouldn't have been able to, otherwise.

  • The Master of Science in Software Engineering degree program may be just what you're looking for. But it's a relatively new degree and isn't offered in many schools yet.

  • by khendron (225184) on Sunday March 29, 2009 @01:21PM (#27380621) Homepage

    I did my Masters (in Engineering, not Comp Sci, but my example might still be relevant) and discovered that, although I enjoyed the program, as far as my career was concerned a Masters degree was worse than useless.

    After I graduated I was hired at a starting salary. My Masters' experience counted for nothing. I was therefore making less money and had less seniority than my former Bachelor's classmates, and was essentially doing the same work. When I was looking for a job, some employers were openly suspicious of my intentions, saying that since I had a Masters degree I would probably quit after a couple of years and go seek a Phd (so why hire me?).

    Would I do it all again? YES! Because I really enjoyed doing my Masters and was very very interested in the research that I did. That is the most important thing. If you don't love the subject, you will hate doing your Masters.

    I know many people who have done Masters degrees, and the only ones who benefited career-wise were those who continued on to their Phd and those who did MBAs.

  • Am I the only one that finds it odd that OP decided where he wants to be, but not what he wants to do?

    Seems rather odd. If I wanted to be a doctor, I'd look around for medical schools and apply to one. I wouldn't be like, "Gollyjeez, no med school here at Collegetown, so Basket Weaving it is!"

    Maybe the chicks there are like totally hot?

    • Maybe he is able to reduce the expense of college by living with his parents in that particular town. Maybe he is in a long-term committed relationship with someone and he doesn't want to end it to pursue his education.

      Don't assume you have all the facts.

  • a relatively competitive university

    First off don't know what that is suppose to mean.

    Secondly, the amount of work involved in your choice would lead me to say do what you enjoy most. The pay difference between the different options would be offset by how much better you would do it if you liked it (and thus would be better compensated).

    Picking based on how much you hope to get paid afterwords probably isn't the best way to look at it.

  • If you decide on IT, be sure you donate your brain to the university so that you'll fit in with the rest of the group. I mean, donate it when you graduate, not when you die.
  • But WHY???? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by guacamole (24270) on Sunday March 29, 2009 @06:27PM (#27382705)

    You have a CS degree. Go get a job! Yes, this is not the greatest market ever, but working for a couple of years is the best way to find out what kind of career is the best for you. There are of course tons of graduate degree programs where a CS graduate would fit: industrial engineering, operations research, statistics, financial engineering, MIS/CIS, and of course CS, MBA, and law. All of these could lead to good jobs and lucrative careers, if you work hard on it. For what its worth, if you play your cards right, you could get a decent job without these degrees.

It was kinda like stuffing the wrong card in a computer, when you're stickin' those artificial stimulants in your arm. -- Dion, noted computer scientist

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