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Importance of first job out of CS grad program

anom217anom217 Registered User Posts: 110 Junior Member
edited April 2011 in Graduate School
I've been admitted to Master's programs for Software Engineering. I was wondering how much of a difference going to a higher ranked school is, especially after you get your first job coming out. For instance, I'm deciding between the software eng. programs at Carnegie Mellon and USC. CMU has a better reputation, but is more expensive. If I go to CMU and get an average job coming out, then if I look for a more ambitious job in a couple years or so, will employers still look at my degree from CMU as highly as a fresh graduate? Or is it the kind of thing where landing your first job out of grad school is really crucial and the biggest payoff from a MS program?

After being out of grad school and working for a couple years, are employers going to care much where my degree is from?
Post edited by anom217 on

Replies to: Importance of first job out of CS grad program

  • JamesMadisonJamesMadison - Posts: 619 Member
    I know people with biology degrees from unaccredited universities who have been hired as Microsoft engineers. I believe USC vs CMU will make zero difference in employability.
  • BrownParentBrownParent Registered User Posts: 12,776 Senior Member
    I don't know. CMU is the magical big 4 that are supposed to be far and away above all others; I think you are going to have better recruitment options. what is the cost difference? Did you ask about TA opportunities?
  • MomwaitingfornewMomwaitingfornew Registered User Posts: 5,821 Senior Member
    Is CMU substantially more expensive? If the difference isn't crippling, I'd go with it. I agree with BrownParent that CMU is often the Holy Grail of computer scientists and will be hard to turn that down. You will be taking classes from some of the top CS minds in the country. That said, I don't know if there is a huge gap between their master's and their PhD programs. Do you take the same courses? Does the best of the faculty teach courses that master's students can take?

    There is a reason that there's a Google building in Pittsburgh.
  • anom217anom217 Registered User Posts: 110 Junior Member
    Tuition difference is about 15K more at CMU, and I think I can get a small fellowship from USC worth about 5K. I know the CMU program offers no TA or anything to help pay, USC might though. So the difference will be around 20K more expensive at CMU, possibly more if I could get a TA at USC.

    I'm looking at CMU's professional-oriented Software Engineering program, which is separate from a CS degree. SE programs aren't that big yet, so they aren't really ranked. It's still in CMU's School of Computer Sciences though. Both CMU and USC have very reputable professors in the SE field.
  • southeastmomsoutheastmom Registered User Posts: 317 Member
    Microsoft has full time recruiters at 5 universities: CMU, MIT, UIUC, Stanford, and Waterloo. An employee told me this.
  • ivictorivictor Registered User Posts: 70 Junior Member
    Michigan as well.
  • tetrahedr0ntetrahedr0n Registered User Posts: 1,954 Senior Member
    Microsoft has full time recruiters at 5 universities: CMU, MIT, UIUC, Stanford, and Waterloo. An employee told me this.

    MS has full time recruiters at way more schools than this. And very few people come here from MIT or Stanford, which are comparatively tiny. In general these big software companies aren't dying to get people exclusively from the top 3 programs.

    I think USC would be perfectly fine. The important thing is to do well and stand out.
  • anom217anom217 Registered User Posts: 110 Junior Member
    I'd likely prefer a job on the East Coast after graduation, so would that be a lot more difficult coming from USC?

    CMU has a better reputation, and its SE program is a lot more rigorous and would prepare me better than the program at USC (not that it's not solid). I'm just concerned about spending the extra $20k or so and having to do a lot more studying/work, only to end up with a job that I could have gotten after USC as well. Once I have the job, it doesn't really matter where I went to school at, right?
  • MomwaitingfornewMomwaitingfornew Registered User Posts: 5,821 Senior Member
    It's true that the more job experience you get, the less where you received your degree matters. And it's true that CMU would get a lot more respect east of the Mississippi.

    Given the cost difference, I was all ready to tell you to go to USC until I read, "(CMU) is a lot more rigorous and would prepare me better than the program at USC." You're going to have to put a dollar value on this difference. You'd also be wise to adjust for cost-of-living and, if possible, include the odds for getting all or partial funding for your second year.

    It sounds like that, all things being equal, you'd pick CMU. Now you just have to determine what it's worth to you.
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