Graduate Degree vs Second Bachelor's Degree (Computer Science)

Hello all. I’m looking to change careers (from a career in education) and to do so I am looking to get a masters degree in Computer Science. My bachelors degree is in Technology Education. I have some programming experience, but I would still need to take at least a year of prerequisite undergrad courses before I could begin my masters degree. By the time I complete my masters I would be in my mid 30’s.

My question is, would somebody in their 30’s, with no real world experience directly related to computer science with a masters degree stand a good chance of getting employed? OR, would my odds of finding a job be greater if I went back to get a second bachelors degree in computer science instead. Both would take around the same amount of time to get, although I would probably still one day like to get a masters degree either way. Personally, I would prefer to go straight for the masters degree now, but does anybody here work in the field and know the job market? What do you think I should do? Thanks.

Full disclosure: all that I know is from parenting three engineering sons (one in a PhD program, one who has completed his masters, and one who is half-way through his part-time masters), doing a lot of on-line research with them, and getting great advice on this board. Several possibilities come to mind.

If you have completed a significant amount of undergraduate math and CS courses already and have great grades, you may be able to get into a masters program directly, but have to make up your deficiency courses before taking grad classes. Here’s a link to Arizona State’s list of deficiency classes.

You could also look for an undergraduate school that offers an accelerated masters degree. Starting from scratch, you could complete your BS and MS (normally six years) in five years. With enough university and major prerequisites (like your calculus and introductory CS classes) out of the way, you might be able to get admitted as a junior and then graduate in three years with a joint BS/MS degree.

Universities also offer a lot of one year (9 months or 12 months) masters degrees. These are intended for someone who wants to improve their skills and employment opportunities and has no interest in a PhD. Many of these are available on-line. In theory, you could complete your undergraduate degree in a couple of years, get a job, and then pick up the masters degree. Many employers will pay for them.

Don’t let your age hold you back. In my thirties, I got a 90 credit law degree and a 60-credit MBA, both with honors and while working mostly full time. it was all worth it, but I don’t do well on pop-culture trivia from that decade.

Good luck!

I know several who have done exactly what your stated preference is-had Bachelor’s in a different discipline, then went to a Master’s in CS-and all got jobs immediately upon graduation from the graduate program. So I’d strongly encourage you to follow your plan.

If you’re doing a career change, It’s a lot easier to get a masters in IT. In fact, most CS graduates end-up in IT jobs and spend their entire career never doing a math problem.

Why not just do a coding academy and start working/earning in IT immediately? Then you’ll figure out if the Master’s is worth it for what you want to be doing- and you’ve solved the “no practical experience” problem at the same time?