Does “prestige” matter for Computer Science majors?

Beyond the big name engineering schools, the difference between ABET schools is generally not considered to be all that significant.

Is this also true of CS?

It matters for some jobs (say Google to some extent, or a hot startup, or quant swe). Doesn’t matter for many jobs in a wide band – say the top 50. Matters more for big-name product jobs in tech that softly require a CS degree. Part of the reason it matters less than for other jobs is because they have developed a process to do online assessments (called OA) without spending interviewer time. Geography matters. Just like anything else.

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Also kids who start out in CS may not end up in CS

Prestige matters more in this case :slight_smile:


For Google, it probably matters less, since it recruits widely. However, colleges with higher concentrations of strong-in-CS students will have more who pass their technical interviews. Startups may be more likely to recruit locally because they have fewer needs and lower recruiting budgets. But traditionally college-prestige-conscious industries like finance will look for college prestige.


I’ve been told of comments made by a senior person at Amazon as to what they consider are first tier schools and so on. I have also been told by ex Google people as to what they think are the top 20 schools they hire from. Yes they hire broadly. They also seem to think that some schools are better than others. One doesn’t preclude the other.


I guess it depends what type of career you want. Not all CS majors work at google or Amazon. My husband was a software developer in MA and his firm loved to hire from UMass Amherst. They couldn’t always get them so they also hired from other local colleges. His last boss had graduated from Framingham State (not on anyone’s top list).


My son graduated in 2020 from a lesser known LAC not known for CS. He was a CS major and landed a good job as a software engineer during the Covid outbreak. Major company, although not a tech company. Was not interested in working for a start up or venturing to Silicon Valley.

Probably depends on where you want to work upon graduation.


What’s the impact of any of these people at these companies believing there are tiers of schools though?

It doesn’t seem those from a higher tier school make more money (given the same job). We have heard this on CC from posters who do hiring consistently state that this is the case.

Nor can the ‘higher tier’ schools fill all the demand, hence why there are so many SJSU grads (and those from other schools some people might not place in CS top tier) working at these companies.

I don’t really understand what posters mean when then say ‘recruit from’, especially in the context of these behemoth companies anymore. They all accept resumes from students from any college (and hire them) whether or not some recruiter sets foot on campus (on the whole, on-campus recruiting is still not even close to where it was pre-pandemic).

Virtual recruiting panels and other activities are likely here to stay, and there’s really no limit to the schools companies can target and reach with that programming. And of course a great deal of recruiting has moved to LinkedIn, which also doesn’t require an on-campus presence.


This is mostly correct.

This is correct.

This is correct.

But let me give a more holistic response.
If nothing matters, we would rather send kids to community college than to even the local state college, because it is cheaper. We clearly don’t.

If nothing matters, we won’t even be on CC thinking about college admissions, because below the top 50, most kids can get into most colleges.

So clearly we care about some colleges more than others. Is it then such a stretch to think that there is a spectrum? i.e., that it is not just community college or any other college? There could be some gradation between the local directional state college to the generic flagship public to SJSU to the top ranked CS school.

Let me say that contrary to popular belief, there is a significant difference in the rigor of the program at various colleges, the quality of projects they do, the material that is covered within the same 4.5 months of a semester etc.

A friend in a senior position at a FAANG told me last year that they do hire from boot camps (as an extreme example), but that these kids don’t have the skills to get past the first promotion.

Yes Google is hiring broadly (they hire ~5k-10k a year I think), but different groups inside the firm have different standards. For example, the odds of getting into Google brain from MIT are higher than the odds of getting into Google brain from the directional state school as an undergrad.

This is not to stay that kids can’t be late bloomers – see the example of June Huh that made news yesterday. This is not to say that all kids want to go to Google/Amazon. The odds are better for getting a higher paid job if you go to a better regarded place. That is all I am saying.

Yesterday my son was saying that he found 5 kids from TJ (the top ranked magnet high school in northern Virginia) out of the 100 interns at a nationally competitive college internship. This is not by accident. Places matter.

Places matter, and this is the reason why the starting compensation in CS varies between 50k and 500k – a wide range even adjusting for COLA.

This topic is discussed ad nauseum on CC – frankly it is not interesting :-).


It matters most to the people who have “prestigious” degrees. :joy:For most in CS, the skill set is what is most important ( and soft skills which some don’t possess).

The degree will get you in the door. But have a combination of skill sets and that can get you in as well.
I have a friend who is hiring for Google. Has a number of jobs which require a fairly unique set of skills and fluency in Eastern European languages. Would be a great job for a college graduate, but few have the requisite skills.

Having worked in the tech industry for a long time, I’d say that it matters far less than some would have you believe. And some of the best people, went to schools you never heard of (often in other countries). My husband is still in tech and hires a lot, he looks at skill sets. Doesn’t care a whit about prestige. Though he does have a Fulbright double Masters guy working for him who went to a bunch of Ivy league schools. The guys combination was brilliant not his schools. Even the Phd’s are hired for their specific skills and study rather than the schools they attended. (Some are quite impressive)


And matters least to the people who don’t have prestigious degrees.

Thankfully people have diverse backgrounds and are able to be successful with a variety of pedigrees. Simply put prestige does matter but the extent varies based on individual, institution and circumstance.


For the same job at the same employer, the pay range is predetermined and narrow. Your college doesn’t matter if you’re hired.

There’re jobs with better compensations but they’re more competitive with fewer qualified applicants and even fewer openings. Whether you’re competitive for these jobs depends on how well you’re prepared for these jobs. Your own ability and your CS specialization are the most important factors, but your school may help open the door if it’s perceived (rightly or wrongly) to have a more rigorous and well-thought-of program.


I lead a global technology organization and have friends at similar leadership positions at FAANGs, so here’s my perspective on this topic…

  1. The school matters - but for its reputation and track record in producing high quality candidates that have a solid foundation in computer science principles (and not just knowing how to code). Not so much for “prestige” in the commonly understood sense of that term. So Rutgers and UMD are just as attractive to us as Cornell and UPenn.

  2. Only matters for your first job - a few years in, the school a candidate graduated from will never be a deciding factor. For these non-entry level positions, skills, experience and attitude are what count.

  3. Locality matters - yes, Google and other “Big Tech” firms hire from everywhere but most other firms tend to hire disproportionately more graduates from regional schools. So where you go to school (in terms of physical location) also makes a difference.

  4. Hiring does vary by department/unit. A tech department with jobs that requires a strong mathematical/theoretical background will go to different schools than a department that needs strong systems programming skills.

  5. The individual matters above all else. Which is why you’re by no means out of the running if you’re not at one of the “well known (to the firm)” schools but you do have to put in extra effort for that first job. Past the entry level I have seen no correlation between people’s leadership abilities/technical skills/career success and the school they graduated from.


Sounds true. But I am not even sure if this is true. I have a kid going to Rutgers CS this fall, and I want him to make sure that there are no gaps in the curriculum that he covers vs at a place like CMU. The differences in rigor are real. I hope he bridges the gap. For the sake of his learning.


Selection effect (because MIT tends to have stronger students to begin with) or treatment effect (because MIT improves hiring chances for the same student)?


Why can’t both be true?

They aren’t mutually exclusive, and the answer is more likely both than either.

I know a student who interned at Google Brain every year while in college (Google Brain rarely hires undergraduate interns) and has coauthored papers. He is obviously an impressive student but where he went to school clearly played a role (he majored in physics, not even in CS).


At my company (I am part of HR) we hire people that have degrees from other countries and I doubt anyone knows the rankings of schools outside the US. We also want diversity, so we wouldn’t want to just hire from the same small group of schools.


Not rankings per se (actually, come to think of it, I don’t think there’s an equivalent of USNWR rankings anywhere else) but we do know which the top tech and engineering schools in the UK, France, Canada, China, India, Singapore, etc are.

School name/prestige matters a lot more in certain other countries (India comes to mind) than it does here in the US.