Is BA at an elite school better than an MA at a state school?

<p>Just wondering as far as career goes... Would it be better if you could get in to go to an elite university, i.e. IVY or other ivy like Stanford/Northwestern/UC Berkeley/U Chicago, or go to a state school, or even no name one and take something to a Masters Level. Was having this debate with somebody and wanted to know peoples opinion here. I.E. say Stanford undergrad and stop then go to a career vs Cal State to the Masters level.</p>

<p>Isn't this entirely dependent upon the field in question?</p>

<p>of course, lets just do English (editing/writing job) vs Political Science (gov jobs) vs Economics (biz jobs) for the sake of argument. Assume the same major at either BA Elite or MA random state school.</p>

<p>For English, having a MA in publishing or English literature is better than a BA in English from an elite school. Although a degree specifically tailored to publishing usually lands you in a dark pit of disappointment, since the industry is really drying up these days.
For political science, internship matters and connection matters even more. Therefore, if you want to be an analyst, go to an elite school; however, if you have a MA in public policy from a state school such as University of Maryland or Penn State, then you chance of getting the job is significantly greater than people who only have BA/BS.
For economics, again, it depends on what state school are you talking about. A generic state school where 90 percent of people party away their times will lead you to nowhere. </p>

<p>When determining career path, I always look for what can I do at the given situation. Don't jump on the bandwagon of "i-go-to-elite-school-therefore-i-find-a-job" route or "hide-in-graduate-school-from-recession;" if you do, you are going to end up like my friends who have to literally pay debts for the rest of their lives. </p>

<p>Degree, in the long term, doesn't really mean anything. What those "elite schools" can provide is connection. If you want to become an engineer, any big flagship state university will suit your need. In the end, it is you who is going to make a career out of your life, not your school.</p>

<h2>For political science, internship matters and connection matters even more. Therefore, if you want to be an analyst, go to an elite school; ~ Pharmakeus01</h2>

<p>I'm an analyst and I didn't go to an elite school, and none of my co-workers did either. In fact, I don't know one person who went to an Ivy League school, except for some appointees.</p>

<p>I don't think you know what you are talking about. Connections matter very little in government, as the process has been designed to counter-act all forms of nepotism. Do you work for the government? Because you really don't seem to know how it works, and if you think all government workers (Fed) are graduates of elite schools, you are sadly mistaken.</p>

<p>Connections only start to really help in promotion and titles, not that it matters because everyone gets paid basically the same based on seniority. So in the end, it doesn't really matter all that much. Besides, most of those connections are ones you make once you get in, not prior to joining the agency.</p>

<p>The government doesn't "rank" degrees, in fact it's probably illegal for them to do so. A BA is a BA, they really don't care where it's from, which is why so many government workers have degrees from University of Phoenix and other online schools. </p>

<p>The only two agencies that really have any latitude in their hiring process seem to be the CIA (which hires based on need) and the State Department, which just seems to be very competitive and attracts a "snobby" applicant pool.</p>

<p>okay then mostly targeting business then? I am also talking about the upper echelon, i.e. moving up the career ladder. From the few companies I have worked for, the higher ups all seemed to have big name schools. Now I am not sure if that played a factor, or they were just that much smarter and got into these schools regardless, while other people got cut off due to SAT/GPA. In my experience the hiring managers at these companies (I don't have any gov exp) definitely were looking at the prestige of school and not just that you had a BA. I know this because I talked to them in the hiring process and helped do several interviews.</p>

<p>Bigeast:</p>

<p>I'm thinking pharm is alluding to the fact that in order to successfully make it in politics, you need some decent connections. It just seems like when people think of political science, they think that everybody with a BA in political science has aims of being a huge politician.</p>

<p>^ Perhaps, but he used the example of being an analyst, which is totally false.</p>

<p>Most of the analyst I know went to very "normal" colleges. Many went to small liberal arts schools that most people never heard off, and of course many went to large state schools like Penn State (many just went to satellite campuses).</p>

<p>Of course, I haven't checked this, but I'm sure there is a rule against a government agency "ranking" applicants based on schools. In federal government, a degree is just a check mark, you don't get preference points if you went to an Ivy League school.</p>

<p>Many analyst are former enlisted military personnel (Intel often) who didn't get their degrees until after they left the military or they obtained it while still in the military. So a large percentage of them now have degrees from online colleges and state schools that most people on this board would consider lower tier/unranked.</p>

<p>Analysts for non-profit organizations would be different, as those organizations aren't handcuffed to the GS hiring process, so they can hire anyway they like.</p>

<p>As far as "prestige", it's all a matter of opinion.</p>

<p>I don't know many (any) adults who read the US Newsweek (or whatever it is) college rankings, because frankly, nobody cares about that stuff other than people in academia and HS students applying to universities. </p>

<p>I've worked in the private sector and public sector, and I never saw our HR departments ranking an applicants degree, mainly because they care about work experience and performance, not a college degree from 10, 15, or 20 years ago.</p>

<p>Now, if an entry level applicant came in with a very impressive education (Ivy), they'd probably get a second look, but that's also because no Ivy League schools are located near my area so it's rare to see an applicant from a school like Yale or Harvard, which are usually grouped in the NYC/DC/Boston/Philly areas.</p>

<p>BigEastBeast: just wondering why you think it is illegal for them to rank degrees (not that I agree/disagree...just wondering).</p>

<p>The federal government has very strict hiring procedures, which often do the exact opposite of it's intention.</p>

<p>The intention is to make sure that everyone goes through an equal hiring process, free from discrimination and nepotism. But, it's often counter-productive, because it's so inefficient that good candidates simply walk away, and less-qualified candidates get hired.</p>

<p>Basically, it's a point value you system (sort of). </p>

<p>Here is how applications typically work.</p>

<p>Question 1: Do you possess a 4 year degree from an accredited institution?</p>

<p>You then click YES. </p>

<p>And that's it - that's the most in-depth question they ask about your college education. Later you are asked to upload your transcripts for verification.</p>

<p>You could upload transcripts from Bob's State University, or Harvard University, it don't matter. Either way, that applicant meets the educational requirements and is able to move forward.</p>

<p>The reason they couldn't "rank" college is because they would have to assign a point value to each institution, which is not only difficult, but very unfair. You can see the problems that would arise if they started giving Harvard grads 10 points, and Penn State grads 5 - it's obvious that wouldn't fly. Within in a week you'd have lawsuits.</p>

<p>The strength of your college degree really only helps once you get to your panel interview and you can say, "I went to X college and did X program." That may or may not impress them. But remember, the hiring panel will all be GS workers, all making relatively the same money, regardless of where they went to college. So, say you do get hired at a GS 7 (standard entry level position), you will be making the same amount as every other GS 7 in the agency, adjusted for cost of living. So, you could get an Ivy League education, get hired at a GS 7 (a masters qualifies you for GS 9, without work experience), and be making 35K per year. The Bob's State University grad who also got hired at a GS 7, will also be making 35K per year. In two years you get promoted to GS 9, as does the Bob's State grad, regardless of work performance - it's raises based on on time, not performance.</p>

<p>Now you may get promoted to hire positions, but the pay don't change that much. Eventually you can make it to GS 13, or GS 11, it depends on what job you have and where that ceiling is. Some can make it to Senior Executive Series, which is a pay boost up, most don't.</p>

<p>I keep saying, and most don't believe me - the government doesn't give a crap about your degree. It's nothing but a check mark. </p>

<p>It may help for promotions, and getting better assignments, but there is no guarantee.</p>

<p>Example, my brother-in-law works for an agency that I really can't say. He's been there 2 years. He has a BA in Poli Sci from a small Liberal Arts school no one has ever heard of. One of his co-workers has a BA/BS double major, Poli Sci and Computer Science from Penn State University, and got his law/JD degree from University of Pittsburgh (I think).</p>

<p>They make the same amount of money - completely equal.</p>

<p>It sounds like the government is completely awful to work for if you're interested in advancement. When I'm doing career and internship searches, I've noticed on corporate websites that "performance and advancement based pay" is a recurrent theme -- I'd imagine these types of pay structures take away the most qualified job applicants in the public sector?</p>

<p>^ Yep.</p>

<p>But, it keeps many people because of quality of life, stability, and pension/retirement. </p>

<p>Depending on your interests, a good route is to get into government, get you security clearance, then go work for a government contractor like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, BAE, General Dynamics, ect.</p>

<p>nice information about the government jobs... They should really refine that somehow. Sorry if somebody is a genius I think they should move up extremely fast.</p>

<p>Why? A genuis could be a horrible employee.</p>

<p>It should be based on work performance, but that will never happen.</p>

<p>bigeast, sorry for not clarifying, that is what I am getting at. I take it even if you were by far a better worker than other people that started the same time as you, you would still move up just the same.</p>

<p>It sounds like by your own admission that many places are looking for people with an advanced degree from an elite school. It's going to vary by how "elite" the school is and how good the state school is, but let's consider someone who earned a B.A. at an elite school in 4-years and someone who manages to pull at 4-year B.A./M.A. at the University of Nowhere at Middle. (Elite school also varies, a state school could have a top program in one's particular field)</p>

<p>The advisors at the Elite school should be able to direct a student to job opportunities and should know quite a bit about competitive graduate-school admissions, not to mention that the professors should be from elite schools and have contacts.</p>

<p>Depending on the state school, your advisors and professors may have come from places with what's comparatively open-enrollment (we accept everyone who can read--and a few who can't). </p>

<p>In my personal opinion, a B.A. from an Elite school is going to likely know more in his or her subject field and have more connections and opportunities than someone with an M.A. from the University of Nowhere at Middle. However, it might take an graduate degree from an Elite school to get where you may want to go. That Stanford B.A./B.S. might get more job offers than the Cal State M.A/M.S., but maybe neither gets the job they want.</p>