I am a new graduate student pursuing a master's degree in computer science. I currently am working in industry as a developer while in school. I see many posts on here and elsewhere about master's research. The university I'm attending doesn't require research (although there is a research path for the degree) but I'm on the course track. Is this a downside? I would like to get the most out of my degree but I am working 40 hours a week and can't really squeeze another 20+ hours working on research, plus my classes.

What are some (if any) of the downsides of not doing research for a master's degree when you plan on working in industry?

Edit: By research I mean writing a master's thesis or a paper on a subject, not research for classes on topics I'm not familiar with.

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    If the program meets your needs, why worry about it? Your work in industry satisfies many of the purposes of master's level research (showing that the student has the ability to move beyond mere book knowledge). – John Coleman Sep 19 '17 at 18:45
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    I guess because I've read so many different stories about master's level research that I worried about what I'm learning to be "lacking" even though it covers all areas interesting to me at a challenging level. – CS2020 Sep 19 '17 at 18:47
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    You can't do everything in life. Time permitting, you could perhaps do some light research on the side -- maybe create a git-hub account (if you don't already have one) and do things like create projects which e.g. implement various machine learning algorithms for interesting problems (if this is the sort of thing you are studying in your program). – John Coleman Sep 19 '17 at 19:04
  • Realistically, I guess many universities have non-research masters (I'm sure my home university does). Course work is about learning well existing knowledge that was selected as important by your professors. Doing research is about inventing new knowledge, which might or might not end up being "useful" in industry or "interesting" in research—it's hard to tell in advance even for experienced scientists; for master theses a good supervisor will pick a good problem. Research experience matters for research-level industry jobs, but those are few. – Blaisorblade Sep 19 '17 at 19:31
  • If you're planning to go on and apply for a PhD after getting the master's, having a research degree will probably increase your chances of admission to a good program. Otherwise, I don't think it makes much difference. – Peter Shor Sep 22 '17 at 11:59

Yes. The simple answer is that a research master's degree is, all being equal, a higher degree than a taught master's degree. Just like a PhD is higher than a research master's degree, and a taught master's degree is higher than a (implicitly taught) bachelor degree.

I don't think we can comment on "downsides" in having a higher or lower degree. It depends on ones preferences in life.

EDIT: This is an answer to the original question: "Is a master's with research "better" than a taught one?".

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  • Is it? In Germany you get a M.Sc. degree for them which you can also get from very many taught master programs. (Research master programms are not common at all here. Most people I asked don´t even know they exist.) – asquared Sep 20 '17 at 11:08
  • @JayFromA, can you explain what you're saying more precisely please? – Dilworth Sep 21 '17 at 22:30
  • What I mean is that in the German context there is no practical distinction between taught master and research master. Both (can) give you a "Master of Science" degree. An the second point that reenforces the this is that in Germany practically no one knows that something like a "research master" even exists so people don´t really look out for this. (Even in academia. I had to explain to a professor that I do a research master program and he didn´t even know what that was.) – asquared Sep 26 '17 at 9:26
  • I see. But still, the fact that people don't know that one degree is higher than the other doesn't mean it isn't. – Dilworth Sep 27 '17 at 17:35

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