This question is somewhat broad, but this place seems like the best place to ask. I have been accepted for an information assurance program, but I am a computer science major and my main interest lies in software development. Should that deter me from deciding to study information assurance?

Another factor in the decision is that the program is through scholarships for service, so it is a 2 year program with 2 years of work in a government position for information assurance. Ultimately, I recognize it is a subjective decision. The core question I am trying to ask is, should you do graduate study even if you are only partially interested in the subject matter? In other words: how committed do you need to be to the subject matter for graduate study to be worthwhile?

On another note, we continually see news about huge networks with cybersecurity issues. Sony's Playstation network, LinkedIn, and I think I read today that Yahoo! accounts may have been compromised. With the growth of businesses and services online, it seems only natural that an adept skill-set in information assurance would be beneficial.


An unmotivated graduate student will usually be a lackluster student at best. These students will be more likely to be distracted by whatever their true interests are.

Moreover, in a program like the one you are describing, you will be making a very significant career detour. You would be advised not to make such a move unless you are absolutely sure that it's something you'll want to do for the next four years, since you will have a payback requirement. If you're not sure about it, this is the kind of move that can wreak havoc on your career—particularly if you (re-)discover your dissatisfaction after the classwork is complete, and the service period begins.

  • 1
    This is very good advice and reiterates what the little voice inside of me has been warning me of. I have great motivation, but not in the interests of information assurance.
    – Garry
    Jul 12 '12 at 21:52

Some people do further study because they are interested, indeed passionate about the topic matter. Others do it to improve their job prospects/career outlook/ultimate pay packet.

Ask yourself which category you fall into. If you are not interested, then you may not enjoy it and may not succeed unless your motivation is more financial.

  • 1
    I think this advice applies more to terminal/professional degrees than to research-oriented degrees. Certainly you should not join a PhD program to study a topic you don't care about.
    – JeffE
    Jul 12 '12 at 21:47
  • @JeffE: Which is what the question is about. Jul 13 '12 at 4:38
  • That's the OP's specific situation, sure, but the question asks about graduate study in general.
    – JeffE
    Jul 13 '12 at 18:10

Some students (especially graduate students) might take a few courses for credit to see how things go. Invariably, at a later time they can usually be used toward a degree or transferred.

The standard to be admitted as a special student varies.

Within the Ivy League, applying as a graduate level special student, say at Harvard University, is competitive.

See my answer regarding this as stated on this forum below:


  • I do not think this is an answer to the question.
    – Nobody
    Apr 27 '20 at 10:35
  • The very first sentence he states is important. So I apologize if I was I was broad To be specific, you should probably not go into anything that you are partially interested in, but that is obvious I feel Apr 27 '20 at 10:40

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