I have completed my BSc in Computer Science from a local university in my home country. Universities in my home country are not that great! For example, the university ranked first locally was ranked recently in the 801-1000 range by QS and the degrees offered are not ABET-accredited.

I finished my degree with a 3.0+ GPA. The only thing that went wrong during my undergraduate studies, is that I got very bad grades (lack of studying) in all the subjects of an area that, I'm currently, after 8 years of experience as a Software Engineer, very interested to do research in.

However, following graduation, I was able to get a job with an American firm and I've been working with them for the past 8 years on cutting-edge technologies as a Senior Full Stack Developer. After a couple of years in the industry, I got highly interested in ML and Artificial Intelligence.

Please keep in mind that my long term objective is to go into academia (not now ofc). Recently I was admitted to a very respected university in the US to study MCS part-time (not MSCS). I heard that PhD admissions usually look at your undergraduate course work and you research capabilities. So what I'm planning to do is to take this MCS as a chance to strengthen my understanding and grades in AI, ML & NLP and then pursue another MSCS (with research from a local university). Would this make me a good candidate for a PhD program later on? Would MCS be worth the two years of my time? Or should I just join an MSCS right away, even if it was from a lower ranked university?

For the difference between MCS and MSCS, please refer to: https://mcs.ics.uci.edu/about/mcs-vs-mscs/ (Thanks go to @user2768 for the link)


  • For reference: mcs.ics.uci.edu/about/mcs-vs-mscs – user2768 Sep 10 '20 at 8:31
  • What is the difference between an MCS and an MSCS? I don't think that in the US these things are consistently defined. – Buffy Sep 10 '20 at 8:32
  • @Buffy MCS in this case is a taught degree (like MSCS with no thesis or research). So, it's a terminal degree. – minus Sep 10 '20 at 8:36

A MCS...is a taught degree...with no thesis or research. Although research experience isn't a prerequisite for a PhD, it helps and it enables you to decide whether you really want to pursue a PhD.

  • Yeah, this is exactly why I'm asking.. Would an MSC followed by an MSCS (from a lower ranked institution) make me a good candidate for a PhD program? or should I ignore MCS entirely and go into an MSCS program directly (given my bad grades at the field I'm interested in) ? – minus Sep 10 '20 at 10:18
  • @minus I can only present you with facts. Your questions beg subjective answers, even then you haven't given much to go on. (For instance, you haven't explained how much lower-ranked the other institute is, nor what ranking system you're using, nor ... Not that these details matter: Opinions are off-topic here.) I don't understand why you'd consider getting two degrees, only one is necessary. – user2768 Sep 10 '20 at 11:30
  • I actually did. Top tier universities in the US are usually ranked from 1-250 on QS or Times Higher Education and our local universities are ranked lower than 801-1000 as I mentioned in the post. This is not subjective. University's ranking plays a role in what higher institutions you get into... – minus Sep 10 '20 at 12:11
  • For the other question, I'm currently in the US. But as a full-time developer, I don't think I'll be able to do research too. However, I'm thinking I can get an MCS while I can from a respected university and I can do the research part maybe if I got relocated to my home country later on with a lower load job. But I want at least to have a good university in my academic resume. – minus Sep 10 '20 at 12:16
  • I didn't intend for this question to be subjective by any means. My question is, (from fellow user experiences -students and people working in admission committees-) would I be a good candidate for a PhD program, if I had a MCS from a high ranking university and a research degree from a lower ranked one? – minus Sep 10 '20 at 12:27

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