10

I hope this is the appropriate stacksite to ask this question.

I have a BSc in Computer Software Development and would very much like to study another year for an MSc in Computer Science. I had the choice of an MEng but decided to take the separate MSc.

I've heard mixed opinions on the subject but considering the climate I personally think it would be a good idea to gain a post-graduate degree. I've heard from Master students who were able to open many more opportunities from gaining an MSc - such as successfully entering the Game Industry which I know is very competitive. Although I'm not one for Game related modules, I chose more software engineering, database, and programming modules instead of rendering and games design modules throughout my BSc.

I will be getting into a considerable amount of additional debt to fund this year, but I feel like I'd be much more employable so the debt wouldn't really be a problem.

What do you think? Any advice or input would be greatly appreciated. I am 23 and an Englishman, just to put things into perspective.

  • You write that the MSc program is 1 year. Does it include research/thesis or just courses? – Bitwise Jul 30 '13 at 12:59
  • 2
    I don't think it was worth turning down the MEng for the MSc, especially considering the fact that a MEng would have been fully funded. – KillaKem Aug 19 '14 at 10:52
  • @KillaKem, can you explain more please? – graphtheory92 Oct 30 '14 at 1:20
  • @graphtheory92 If the OP had opted for MEng, he would have been able to finance the MEng tuition fees and his living allowance through a student loan, but now that he is opting for an MSc he will have to finance the MSc out of pocket. – KillaKem Oct 30 '14 at 9:58
10

You didn't mention if you want to do an MS in the UK or the US. If the former, I have no experience of how it works over there.

In general, an MS in CS does improve your chances of getting a decent job, but a lot depends on where you're getting an MS. In the US, the masters program is often viewed as a way to generate revenue via tuition, so your main benefit from the program is if it's very good at placing students. Obviously an MS from a place like Stanford or Berkeley will help you immensely because of the proximity of many tech options. But if you don't go to a place that has a good track record with placement, then the degree itself, while opening some doors, will not have provided you with maximum benefit for the price you're paying.

Also, make sure you go to a place that has strong ties to industry in the areas you're interested in. Since you mentioned games, many universities (including mine!) have specialized MS programs in game design (and we have fairly strong ties to local industry in the game world). That might be too specialized for you, but you get the general drift

  • Thanks for your answer Suresh. I will be studying at my local University in East Yorkshire. I'll make sure I look more into my university's specialities and ties to industry. I often hear how good ties they have with IBM and Microsoft since we often get visits from them as well as many of our lecturers being fellows in their hierarchies. Having good relationships with local businesses is also told of - I wouldn't mind specialising in web development, there seems to be plenty of those types of firms around here. I've been freelancing for a while and have been doing quite well on my own. – Lee Jul 31 '12 at 10:58
3

In general, I believe, that graduate science education is not a good choice from a purely financial standpoint. Not only do you have the fees, but also a lost year of wages and experience. If you are looking at a year of un/under employment, then it is easier to argue for graduate education.

  • I understand your points. Do you not think I'd be at an advantage over the BSc graduates applying for the same job? This is my main concern. – Lee Jul 31 '12 at 10:59
  • 1
    @Lee it depends what you mean. A graduate with a BSc and 1 year of real world industry experience will win out over a graduate with an MSc and no experience almost every time. Two candidates without any experience, but one with an MSc and another with a BSc, isn't even clear cut. Often the person with the MSc will be panned for being over qualified. – StrongBad Jul 31 '12 at 11:11
  • That's interesting. I always thought "over qualified" was an excuse people use who don't get their wanted job. Can you elaborate on that? I have a few years of web development freelance experience, i.e. finding my own clients from all over the globe, drafting my own specs. and contracts, communicating and developing to a deadline. Providing I can show proof of these, maybe through references and a portfolio, am I right in thinking this would be of help too? – Lee Jul 31 '12 at 11:30
  • 4
    @DanielE.Shub: As a general rule, you may be right. However, in my experience, having an MS in computer science (from a strong department) does open doors that an additional year of real-world industry experience does not. – JeffE Jul 31 '12 at 21:02
  • 1
    @JeffE not to mention the future promotion possibilities/advantages open to those with post-grad. degrees, correct? – Lee Aug 4 '12 at 11:31
1

There are two factors at play:

  1. It is going to be the cheapest point in your life to get one.
  2. Once you have it you've got it for life, like learning to ride a bike.

If you have the chance to do the course and you have the intelligence to complete it then its a good idea. The extra year not working is nothing compared to the 40+ years you are going to be working afterwards.

An MSc will make you stand out against a BSc for those jobs you actually want. Plus it should allow you to progress faster, not because you have it but because you are actually more capable and able to think with more depth.

1

Given a 24 year old with a BSc a year in industry, and a good reference, and a 24 year old with an MSc but no reference beyond their tutor's (who has a stake in his student being hired), I would take the industry kid any day.

However.

Given a 34 year old BSc with 11 years of experience and a 34 year old MSc with 10 years of experience, I would promote/hire the MSc any day.

However.

Given a life where my activities are dictated by a potential future HR employer and a life where my activities are directed by myself and myself alone, I would choose myself over HR any day.

-1

I was always taught that a year in industry is worth LOTS more than a MSc. 2 years industry experience will bring your salary to £35,000 - £45,000 range, whereas MSc guarantees very little.

If you did a BSc with a year in industry then I would forget a master's all together and just resume looking for work. Only apply for MSc if you cannot find a job.

Also consider that you can study yourself from home, and actually pick topics which are actually used in industry. My popular example is that in university they teach SQL which is old as OO-SQL is out, but in industry it's normal to use NoSQL. So will extra education from a university help with your career...?

After all, have you ever seen a job which requires a master's degree? I have not!

EDIT: First edit was removed. Here is another point: does a computer science course actually teach skills you will need in industry, as it is such a generic course? I would often recommend master's degree, but I do not see how it helps you get a job when it teaches stuff which is outdated or not used in industry...

They teach Java at uni, yet in industry you'll most likely be using a framework like Spring which you either will not be taught at uni, or you will do barely a few weeks.

  • have you ever seen a job which requires a master's degree? Yes, I do. See C++ Developer (Senior) C++ UNIX MSc / PhD – scaaahu Jan 14 '16 at 14:29
  • To the user who attempt to edit: I rejected the edit because I have no way to tell if you are the same user as the OP of this answer. I found this job ad using Google after I read this answer. It is not an exception. It is an example. There are always employers looking for people with MSc. You want to go to graduate school to receive formal training so that you have better skills. – scaaahu Jan 14 '16 at 15:03
  • @scaahu yeah, but that example is for an experienced, senior-level developer who also has a MSc/PhD, not a fresh MSc with no experience. – mkennedy Jan 14 '16 at 21:04
  • It looks like you might have multiple accunts. Also, be careful about where you are editng. Edits should be edits and not new answers. – StrongBad Jan 15 '16 at 14:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.