Here's my situation. I'm an American (US) undergraduate computer science student about to enter his 4th year. I would like to attend graduate school to get my masters degree (in computer science). As it stands, I have no experience in research (aside from a study abroad experience in a foreign university's lab in which I mainly did translation), though I have had a few internships and a decent amount of general programming experience. My grades in my undergraduate are not bad per-say, but not amazing. (~3.25 GPA)
I am interested in seeing what research is like and seeing if I would enjoy it, but I can't really decide if I would want to pursue a PhD after my masters until after I've seen what it's like. As I've been looking into various graduate programs, I've noticed the difference between a professional masters and a research-based masters. From what I've gathered, a professional masters program would be easier to get into, but afterward, it likely wouldn't be able to lead me into a PhD program.
My other dilemma is that, at this point, I have no idea what I would want to specialize or do research in. Frankly, I find all of the various specializations of computer science fairly interesting, but none of them particularly pop out to me in any way.
So, pros of doing a professional masters:
- Shorter time period
- More generalized, since I haven't chosen a specialization yet
- Research not required, so likely easier
- Easier to get into a program
And pros of a research masters:
- More rigorous, which is a good thing in my opinion
- Likely looks better to employers and other schools
- Could lead into a PhD if I decided I wanted to do
So mainly, my question is moreso a request for advice regarding what my options are. I'm leaning towards a research masters for its rigor and flexibility in choosing whether or not to get a PhD afterwards, but I'm hesitant because it'd be harder to get into a good program, I don't know what I would specialize in, and I don't even really know if I'm willing to dedicate two years to doing research when I don't know what it's like. Is my idea to lean towards research a good idea, or do you think I'd be better off in a professional masters program?
(Also, in preparation for this, I'm going to see about doing some research in my last year of my undergraduate, but there's no guarantee I'll be able to, and even if I do, it'll likely be too late to put on my applications for admissions offices to see.)