Old guy getting an engineering degree

I am going to make this as short and simple as possible, as I’m sure there are a number of questions similar to mine. I am looking for honest feedback even if you have to be brutal about it. I may be a millennial but you’re not going to hurt my feelings.

I am in a precarious situation. Like many, I worked hard through areas I did not love to achieve things I never really wanted to. I guess it was more the competition of just achieving. Now I find myself in a career I don’t truly care about.


  • Management consultant that specializes in product management. Mainly working software projects.
  • have a BS in business and MBA (smaller state schools)
  • Can be considered old in school age (30 years old)

My passion

  • Space (I’m 10 years old at heart)
  • Science
  • Math
  • Technology

So here is where I stand, I have a background that more or less does nothing to help me move into a science field. So I’m looking for advice and input. Below are my options as I see it. Can you give me some advice?

  1. Go back to school and get an engineering degree. Right now I am thinking ASU. However, will employers take me serious with a masters degree in an engineering field without the BS?
  2. If I get a masters degree in engineering, what field should I choose? Since I love space, natural tendency is to go aerospace engineering. However, with my background it seems industrial and software engineering are more natural fit. Which field would you recommend?
  3. Go back and get a PhD in business and try to enter the business through that route. Maybe in a researchers role? The drawback is the 4-5 years to get a PhD and giving up my job now that allows me to take care of my family. My wife is a stay at home mom too. This seems least likely.
  4. Go back and get an MBA from a top notch school and take a route similar to the PhD one described above
  5. Go back and get a science degree (BS or Masters). Not sure about this path as I have not researched it as much as the engineering one. I realize this is was a long babble but any input is greatly appreciated.

All of those routes offer different end points. Without knowing what you really want to do, no one can really guide you. Like space itself, space related careers are vast. The last thing you want to do is to invest a bunch more time, only to still find yourself outside looking in at something you’d wish you’d done.

As for the age thing, my dad has a BS and MS from MIT and went back to medical school when he was a little older than you. He didn’t practice medicine until he was in his 40s. He had a long, fulfilling career.

Figure out what specifically you want rather than the simplest route to get you just in proximity.

I’m not sure you could get into an engineering masters program without a considerable amount of undergrad coursework first.

I agree with posts #1 and #2. Like @intparent I suspect that you would need to take more undergraduate courses before you could get a masters in engineering. I also wonder about your getting a bachelor’s in engineering.

However, at 30 I don’t think that you are too old. If you can afford to get the education to change your career path, and if you want to do it, then I think that you can do it.

As such I agree with @eyemgh. Figure out where you want to be, then pick the path that gets you there. IMHO you do have time to do this.

Some schools have rules about not allowing people to enroll for a second bachelors degree. Surprised me when I looked into it a few years ago. So check with the schools you are considering.

There’s always a demand for computer scientists in the fields you’re interested in. I worked at two aerospace companies, one of which was Boeing, and we had lots more programmers than engineers. And the work was very interesting.

Here are some example Masters in CS programs for people without CS undergraduate degrees -




There are also schools that offer shorter certification programs in things like software engineering for those without CS experience. To break into software development, you really only need a bachelors in something, along with three or four programming classes. Just be aware that you’ll probably be doing entry level work when you start.

I have a Bachelors in CS and Masters in IE. Although I was glad I got it, nobody cared about my IE degree. Employers were only interested in the CS degree.

As a first step, why not go work for a company that does the science/engineering stuff you are interested in? Those companies are just like any other business - they need folks with MBAs. There is a non zero chance that you could find a good home. A year or two from now, you could still pursue engineering studies, and your employer would have a good understanding why.

And as others have said, not too old (heck, “old” is not the right work to describe 30).

At this time, it seems like the STEM degree that would offer the best combination of accessibility and employability would be a good BS in Computer Science.

Alternatively, Oregon State has an flexible online BS program in CS that is designed for people who already have bachelor’s degrees. Since it’s online and part-time, people can enroll without moving or quitting their existing jobs. The program can be completed in anywhere from 1 to 4 years; obviously people who continue to work full-time will move through it more slowly than those who can study full-time.

The program is apparently tough, but doable. Unlike a typical bachelor’s program, it focuses exclusively on CS coursework; the assumption is that you’ve already completed general education requirements as part of your first bachelor’s degree. So it’s like you are completing the requirements for a second major, not a full bachelor’s.

The degree is the same as Oregon State’s residential CS degree, which is well regarded and has good job placement.

I just wanted to say DO IT 30 is not old lol. I work with many driven people (career changers) I think of one woman at work (wife’s work) who is 57 and on career number 3.

1st career Chemical engineer
2nd HR manager
3rd became a nurse at 52 and loves it

Life is about passions our day are finite best of luck!!

A bachelor’s in engineering or computer science, plus an MBA could make you pretty valuable, especially from a program management standpoint. If you work at the right place (i.e., any UARC), you’d probably be eligible for tuition reimbursement to pursue a master’s in engineering.

My husband was 28 when he went back to get his engineering degree.

We had a classmate who was 48 when he went back for his BS in engineering. He ended up going on to get a PhD and then he became an engineering professor.

Get the engineering degree, forget the MBA. The MBA will make much LESS of a candidate for an entry-level engineering position.

Later, if your career is moving toward upper management, then go get the MBA.

While it makes intuitive sense that someone with an engineering degree and an MBA would be very valuable to a company, I’ve rarely seen it pay off in the real world.