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Help picking MS from UCLA vs USC vs Columbia vs Purdue

kcahmadikcahmadi Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
I was recently accepted into:

MS Astronautical Engineering from USC
MS Mechanical Engineering from Columbia
MS Astronautics from Purdue
MS Aerospace Engineering from UCLA

These are all fully online degrees that will have no difference with the in class degrees and they will be fully funded by my employer. I am having trouble choosing between the four to find a balance between course quality and reputation. Course quality so I actually learn something useful and reputation so it helps me look more impressive compared to other equally qualified job applicants. I will most likely stay on the West Coast if that matters. Which do you think would be the best of the four?
I know technically Purdue is ranked the highest of them all for graduate engineering so it would make sense if it had the best course quality but it is not a huge name and I feel like the other 3 would be chosen over Purdue becuase of their reputation and prestige.
Columbia has the Ivy league tag and is the most prestigious but I'm not sure if this applies to its graduate engineering program.
USC and UCLA are basically head to head in California and between the two I'm leaning towards USC because I like the program more.

Any suggestions?

Replies to: Help picking MS from UCLA vs USC vs Columbia vs Purdue

  • boneh3adboneh3ad Forum Champion Engineering Posts: 7,478 Forum Champion
    If your employer is willing to pay for all of them, then they are all good enough for your employer and you shouldn't worry about it.
  • BeaudreauBeaudreau Registered User Posts: 1,137 Senior Member
    I don't think you understand "prestige." Purdue is far more prestigious in engineering than your other finalists, particularly in aerospace (aeronautical and astronautical) engineering. A Purdue engineering degree will mean more to most employers than an engineering degree from USC or UCLA, and especially more than one from Columbia. Purdue has a huge alumni network and the largest career fair in the country. There are 80,000 living Purdue engineering alums. One in 50 engineers in the U.S. is a Purdue graduate. The Wall Street Journal rates Purdue second with recruiters for engineering graduates (Georgia Tech is first).
  • kcahmadikcahmadi Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
    Haha Ya I was trying to find info on program prestige but was having trouble finding it. Apparently for grad school the advisor and professors mean alot do you know how i would go comparing that between the schools?
  • BeaudreauBeaudreau Registered User Posts: 1,137 Senior Member
    That's your job. You need to decide on your grad school research focus. At Purdue, there are six options: Aerodynamics, Aerospace Systems, Astrodynamics & Space Application, Dynamics & Control, Propulsion, Structures & Materials. When my son visited, his PhD interest was rocket propulsion (He ended up focusing on plasma propulsion at Michigan.) Purdue is probably tops in the US in this field. If I remember right, Astrodynamics is an incredible program, led by Kathleen Howell. Your best bet is to narrow your interests and visit. I recommend contacting Dr. Wayne Chen, who heads the graduate education program, to coordinate a visit. He's a great guy !https://engineering.purdue.edu/AAE/people/ptProfile?resource_id=1261
  • geraniolgeraniol Registered User Posts: 147 Junior Member
    @Beaudreau OP is deciding between programs that are all Online-only. They are all coursework-based MS programs.

    Since your employer is paying for it, is there a particular skillset that they're hoping you get out of it? Is there a particular skillset that would help you advance in your company? Look through the courses offered - which program best helps you reach your goals?
  • BeaudreauBeaudreau Registered User Posts: 1,137 Senior Member
    @geraniol - Oops, my bad. Still I think we agree that OP needs to determine where he wants to go with the degree.
  • kcahmadikcahmadi Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
    @geraniol @Beaudreau
    It doesn't really concern me what my current employer wants, they just simply want me to advance my degree and develop relevant skills and knowledge that will help further my career. I believe all of the above programs will provide that.
    The question I am struggling with is first how can I evaluate which will give me the best skills to become the best engineer I can be. I think people are pointing to Purdue, but I would like to know how I can compare the professors to actually determine this.
    And second, which degree will of the four will give me an edge over others in the eyes of an employer if everything else is equal.

    I am currently planning on sticking to engineering throughout my career but I have been thinking that if this ever changes in the future maybe purdue wouldn't be the best as it has the least amount of name recognition outsid eof engineering.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 74,501 Senior Member
    edited March 13
    Compare the course work at each school. Do any of them cover topics that the others do not which you find to be of interest and use in future career development?
  • BeaudreauBeaudreau Registered User Posts: 1,137 Senior Member
    To me, it looks like you want someone to tell you not to go to Purdue. That's fine, you have good alternatives. But even if you eventually want to do something other than engineering, just about every employer in any field will know that Purdue is a top-ten engineering school, especially in aerospace engineering. Neil Armstrong and 23 other astronauts went there.
  • ProfessorPlum168ProfessorPlum168 Registered User Posts: 2,435 Senior Member
    edited March 14
    there still is the stigma of an online degree versus an attended degree, and personally I would stick with a school that is close to you. If you ever interviewed in the future, employers wouldn't question you on how you were working in California yet going to school in Indiana or New York.

    The university might matter in your first job, prestige does matter to a degree, but if you've already got a job, prestige means very little. What you learn and focus on will be of way more importance. None of the schools you have mentioned are head-and-shoulders above anyone else, they're all fairly equal and all have a good name, so quite frankly if you lived close to USC or UCLA, I would go to one of those two. (Giving a donation of $500K to them might help too.....just kidding).
  • BeaudreauBeaudreau Registered User Posts: 1,137 Senior Member
    My nephew got an online master in data science degree from Cal Berkeley. His degree does not say online. It's a beautiful Cal Berkeley masters degree. He got a great new job. Online engineering masters degrees are more and more common. I would not be concerned about a stigma.
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