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I am a cybersecurity professional well employed. I am almost 50 year old so since my employer would pay a graduate or undergrad degree I thought about going back to school to enhance computer science skills and apply more software development in my career.

My background: 18 years experience in various roles in network engineering & cyber security. BSEE, MBA Multiple computer certifications Intermediate level in programming (Python, C)

Question is, I am not sure I can be admitted into a masters in computer science if I am not working mostly in programming.

Would an undergrad degree be suitable or just take certification training/bootcamps in programming?

  • Note that there are professional masters programs that are almost completely separate from the main academic undergrad-graduate track. These are more to assist with your career, rather than doing research, however. They'd be more like a certification but much more involved typically. – Bryan Krause Jan 30 '19 at 20:28
  • The CS grad program at my university wouldn't exist if we only accepted people with a BS in CS. Your experience in network engineering and cybersecurity would put you light years ahead of the other grad students in those classes. – Kathy Jan 30 '19 at 21:00
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Actually, the CS undergraduate degree isn't just about programming. True that our students learn programming first so that they can build some interesting things in later courses, but there is a lot more to it. Perhaps you have this skill, certainly you have some of it with your background. But algorithms, and data structures are important as is computability theory and information theory.

You already have an undergrad degree and a masters. If you are in the US, an additional undergraduate degree would probably waste a lot of your time. But you might need to fill in a few things.

I suggest that you go visit someplace that has good graduate programs and talk with a faculty member or admissions councilor to see where you might fit in and what things you might want to do before you start formally. Some places will have flexible programs in which you can pick up the missed requirements formally.

Every place will have different requirements for a Masters. In some you will probably be a pretty close fit already. In others, not so much. But only a specific institution can tell you for sure how you stand and give you an estimate of your probable success. Visit in person so that you can get a feel for the place and they can ask you meaningful questions about background and intentions.

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This is about two things:

One, what you want, ie think about what the courses offer in terms of the programming skills you want - which will give you the tools?

Two, are there any entry criteria imposed by the institutions you are looking at?

Not being mean, I was a mature student and the academic entry requirements were "adjusted" with "professional experience", based on an interview with a professor...

So, work out what each course offers compared to what you are looking for and, most of all, ENJOY IT !!

You could, easily, end up doing both... depending how you want to start.

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If you want to formalize your software development skills and move up in your career, an undergrad degree in CS may be your best option. A graduate degree (without first getting an undergrad degree) would likely be a bad fit. Note that most graduate programs in the U.S. would require an undergraduate degree. Graduate degrees will also be more research oriented and would care very little about your industry experience. I would not look to a graduate degree as your first move. (Although, maybe after doing a bachelor's degree you will want to pursue a master's degree!)

If you are just looking to obtain more software skills in order to broaden your abilities in your current role, certification training/bootcamps in programming would be a faster path to doing so.

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