From PE to CS, a Career Change

<p>So here is my ‘master’ plan for quitting my job in Reservoir Engineering to pursue my passion in computing.
I already have a BS in Petroleum Eng. from the Colorado School of Mines and 4 years of work experience under my belt. My goal is to earn a Master’s degree in CS, but since I have few CS credits and no research experience I know that I am not likely to get into a strong program right now. Thus, I have applied as an Undergraduate Degree-Seeking student with the goal of A) taking the fundamental courses and then applying to a graduate program or B) applying to one of the joint MS/BS programs and earning an MS+BS or C) applying to a joint program, then saying to hell with the BS, and walking away with an MS (is this possible?).
And as to my main question: Should I go for the University of Maryland--College Park or UT--Austin? I have been admitted to both schools for Fall 2012 as a transfer Undergraduate degree-seeking CS Major (Admitted for Spring 2012 + Deferred 1 semester). My considerations are 1. Maximizing likelihood of getting into the graduate program 2. Program quality and 3. Cost.</p>

<p>Here are the factors I have weighed so far:</p>

<ol>
<li><strong>UMCP</strong>:
(*Est. 5 Semesters for MS+BS)</li>
</ol>

<p>Pros:
a. Easier to get into Joint MS BS program?
b. Easier to get into MS program?
c. Lower tuition ($21.4k/yr).
d. Fewer core requirements that I have not transferred (~3 core courses for BS).
e. More flexibility in the CS sequence pre-reqs.</p>

<p>Cons:
a. Higher cost-of-living (my guess $3.6k/yr vs. Austin).
b. Further from family.</p>

<ol>
<li><strong>UT</strong>:
(*Est. 6 Semesters +- 1 Summer for MS+BS)</li>
</ol>

<p>Pros:
a. Highly ranked school,
b. Strong in the CS specializations I think I'm interested in (scientific computing, machine learning).
c. 3 hours from my folks.
d. My wife would love Austin.</p>

<p>Cons:
a. Risk: very selective admission to MS program.
b. I lack 9-10 core courses for BS (TX Govt, Am Hist, ...)!
i. again this is just in case my only option here is to do MS+BS and complete the BS.
ii. or as a failsafe, I'd like to at least walk away with a BS.
c. Cost ($32k/yr, OOS tuition is expensive).</p>

<p>*estimates based on my transferred coursework and MS&BS requirements.</p>

<p>Also if it matters, I am 25 and recently married. </p>

<p>Thanks for the input!</p>

<p>Ummm....</p>

<p>A CS degree from U-Maryland or UT-Austin will get you into a graduate program without much hassle. I know first-hand that Maryland has engineering graduate programs (for part-time students) that does not even require a GRE...basically relying on your past experience and undergrad background.</p>

<p>Both are considered good schools which are attractive to traveling recruiters. Each will, however, draw in some additional recruiters from local or regional companies that do not want to travel far to recruit. Where would you like to work after graduation?</p>

<p>A master's degree is not generally a huge advantage over a bachelor's degree in the computer industry, although if you happen to complete a bachelor's degree during an industry downturn, doing a (funded) master's degree during the downturn and delaying entry into the job market until (one hopes) the economic and industry conditions are better than graduating into the unemployment line.</p>

<p>Your wife's opinion matters more than ours. Where would she rather be?</p>