Should I do a CS Masters after a BSCS?

<p>So I got into my school's CS Masters (Top 3 program) program last year, which is an additional year of coursework for both a BSCS and MSCS (5 years in total). I'm graduating my undergrad this year and was set on doing a masters (duh! it's a great deal!), but now I'm reconsidering it. </p>

<p>Like many mentioned, the opportunity costs are insane right now. Assuming an MSCS gives me a 10k bump in salary, it would take me over 7 years to make that up, 10 if you include the cost of tuition. And I hear the masters diminishes in value as you get more experience. </p>

<p>And I don't want to sound like I'm obsessed with money, one of my main reasons for doing a masters is for extra the breadth in computer science. But since I had the masters in mind, I started doing coursework for that the end of junior year and have a good amount of CS done. I'd say I have done more CS than an MSCS that didn't do a CS or EE bachelors (15 CS elective by the time I graduate, twice as much as required for the BSCS).</p>

<p>Also, I really wanted an advanced degree, just for the sake of having one. I know, it's a horrible reason, but I have pride.</p>

<p>What are your thoughts? Should I just skip it and enter the industry now? Or maybe defer my masters for a year? </p>

<p>Thanks!</p>

<p>Depends. Do you have any good job offers lined up? Do you have any research interests?</p>

<p>I'm personally considering entering industry for at least a year and then coming back to do a master's (hopefully with the support of my company), but it depends on if I get into the 5th year master's program at my school.</p>

<p>I know what you mean about wanting an advanced degree, though. My family is full of them, and I've always wanted one myself (not mention, I definitely think I'm capable). It'll happen at some point, but the details are sort of hazy right now.</p>

<p>Unless you plan on doing some serious research, I PERSONALLY do not see the need of a MSCS.</p>

<p>Why?...because...</p>

<p>NO CS specialty will be 10-12 courses (30-36 credits depending on the school). A certain CS specialty is what...3 to 5 courses? I would use that masters degree for something like systems engineering or engineering management where either degree allows for a 3-4 course specialty area in engineering or CS. A typical M.S./M.Eng in systems engineering or engineering management is like the following (as far as courses):</p>

<p>1) Graduate Probability & Statistics
2) Project/Program Management
3) Engineering Economics
4) Systems Engineering
5) Operations Research
6) Simulation
7) Engineering or CS Specialty
8) Engineering or CS Specialty
9) Engineering or CS Specialty
10) Engineering or CS Specialty</p>

<p>These graduate degrees allow you to have the background in managing teams and qualifying for senior engineering/CS positions while still giving you a specialty.</p>

<p>Note: This is assuming that the person already has a B.S. degree in engineering or CS.</p>

<p>


</p>

<p>Graduate school in CS and other academic subjects is typically for going into some subarea in greater depth; undergraduate study to a bachelor's degree is typically for getting breadth in terms of the various subareas of the subject.</p>

<p>@guitarhero5</p>

<p>To sum up, it sounds like your reasons for considering finishing the MSCS are the following: it will be easy; it will be quick; it will give you breadth; it will satisfy your pride; it might make you marginally more money at a job you could do with a BS. In my opinion, none of these reasons are any good; there are good reasons for doing an MSCS, but these aren't them.</p>

<p>What?? I think those are very good reasons to do a CS Masters. Easy, quick, a nice boost in salary and a measurable accomplishment. Go for it for sure, full-time employment isn't going anywhere and believe me, its not as fun as school.</p>

<p>In my experience, getting an MSCS did not give me a lot of breadth. (Arguably, my concentration was in network modeling and analysis. Undoubtedly, there are schools where one can get more breadth.) You really need to shop around for the graduate program that offers what you want. WRT the opportunity cost of grad school vs. full-time work, there is the possibility that you'll graduate into a weak economy, have trouble finding a job, and have (possibly) lost some earning opportunity. However, the same could be said for graduating with a bachelor's degree into a weak economy, not going to grad school, and thus being unable to defer any loans you might have. Essentially, it just depends on what you want and what sacrifices you're willing to make to get it.</p>

<p>
[quote]
What?? I think those are very good reasons to do a CS Masters.

[/quote]

Well, you're certainly entitled to your opinion!</p>

<p>
[quote]
Easy

[/quote]

If school is easy, you're doing it wrong. Graduate degrees should add value... if you already know enough going in to get the degree, the school's doing it wrong, too.</p>

<p>
[quote]
quick

[/quote]

Haste makes waste. Why bother going to graduate school if you're just going to rush through it?</p>

<p>
[quote]
a nice boost in salary

[/quote]

There's a lot more to this equation, and several people - including the OP - have pointed out other factors, which include opportunity cost, risk, the repayment period, diminishing returns on further education, etc.</p>

<p>
[quote]
and a measurable accomplishment.

[/quote]

There are lots of ways to get "measurable accomplishment." In many ways, I consider completing a (meaningful) graduate education to be a terrific accomplishment, although I would argue that it's one of the least measurable kinds of accomplishment you can get (whether or not people treat it as such is another matter).</p>

<p>
[quote]
Go for it for sure, full-time employment isn't going anywhere and believe me, its not as fun as school.

[/quote]

Putting off your ultimate goal - to get a regular job in the software industry - by going to graduate school is not a good reason for going to CS graduate school; of course, that's my opinion. I for one am glad that readers can see various opinions on the subject.</p>

<p>@yagottabelieve: </p>

<p>For what it's worth, I'm beginning to see an argument for using graduate school as a way to hide from an industry downturn. I tend to believe there are probably more appropriate ways for students in this situation to succeed, but I haven't thought long enough to argue for any.</p>

<p>


</p>

<p>A college senior who applies to both jobs and graduate school and gets no job offers but does get funded graduate school admission would be well advised to spend a year or two in graduate school rather than the unemployment line*. Otherwise, there is the very real risk of ending up long term unemployed, which can make one almost unemployable.</p>

<ul>
<li>A third alternative is to attempt to start one's own business, though that does require some sort of idea that can work even during an industry downturn, and a business model that does not require a lot of venture/angel funding, which tends to be afraid to fund startups during industry downturns.</li>
</ul>

<p>^ If the decision is whether to go to graduate school for otherwise bad reasons or risk joining the long-term unemployed, I agree that going to graduate school is the better choice... or perhaps the lesser of two evils? It's hard to say, especially since I've never been in that situation.</p>

<p>Hmm, I don't think I'd be unemployed right now if I tried to look for a job, since they seem to be in high demand? However, I am worried about the future and that I won't be competitive if everyone is getting an M.S. (which everyone in my school seems to be doing).</p>

<p>Not "everyone" goes to graduate school, even at selective universities:</p>

<p><a href="https://career.berkeley.edu/Major/CompSci.stm%5B/url%5D"&gt;https://career.berkeley.edu/Major/CompSci.stm&lt;/a>
<a href="https://career.berkeley.edu/Major/EECS.stm%5B/url%5D"&gt;https://career.berkeley.edu/Major/EECS.stm&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>DS did the thesis route. But his work was more product i/o and product design and not so much in computer stuff. But he graduated into falling Job market 2008 on his MS. Spent the next 3 yrs on interesting projects but nothing permanent or financially rewarding. Now doing smartphone work, degrees helped but he dabbled with smartphones as a personal project, at home, which really got him the current job.</p>

<p>he learns from doing rather from. classroom work. A lot of CS is done by doing. MS may not help.</p>

<p>DS, MS was on scholarship plus stipend. but he still lost in opportunity if he took a job in 2006.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Hmm, I don't think I'd be unemployed right now if I tried to look for a job, since they seem to be in high demand? However, I am worried about the future and that I won't be competitive if everyone is getting an M.S. (which everyone in my school seems to be doing).

[/quote]
</p>

<p>No one can predict the future, but the current trend is for people who have experience with specific technologies and can be productive quickly (read: write shippable code quickly). For example, if you're an undergrad who has worked on an iPad or Android app that's attracted a userbase, you're probably already getting calls from recruiters asking you to interview at companies looking for those type of app developers.</p>