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Undergraduate degree in Computer Science and Masters degree in other discipline

Danish Shaukat
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 16, 1999
Posts: 340
Hi all,

What is your opinion about people who have undergraduate degree in computer science and a masters degree in other discipline (electrical, mechanical, chemistry)?

I have a undergraduate degree in computer science and ten years of programming experience under my belt. I am considering a masters degree in some other discipline. I wanted to know how it would help me in my career.

Thanks!
Tim Cooke
Bartender

Joined: Mar 28, 2008
Posts: 1128
    
  59

It depends on what you want out of your career after doing that Masters in Chemistry.

My education was similar but the reverse. I did an undergraduate degree in an Electronic Engineering discipline, then a few years later did a Masters in a CS discipline because I wanted to use it as a springboard into a career as a Software Engineer. So from my point of view the answer to the question "Why did you go back and do a CS Masters?" is "Because I wanted to work as a Software Engineer". That makes perfect sense, and turns out it worked a treat!

So think of it in terms of your career. What do you want out of doing an unrelated Masters? Is it because you think a Masters in anything at all is going to magically launch forward your Software career? I doubt this will be true, in fact it makes little sense at all and may even put into question your logical thinking skills. However, if it is because you want to start a new career in Chemistry (or whatever) then it's probably a good starting point.

If you are dissatisfied with your current career progression but are still wanting to work in Software then start talking with your peers. Try to get a feel for what kind of Engineer does well in your geographical / business domain area. Think about what you enjoy doing. I find if you enjoy something you are more likely to excel at it, and excelling at things gets you far. Talk to you boss at work about how to progress in your current company. No boss worth his salt is going to respond negatively to an employee enquiring about how to further themselves.


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Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30753
    
156

I agree with Tim that it matters what your goals are. A new career in subject X is a good goal. So is wanting to do programming in that domain. Understanding the business better is a good thing.


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Danish Shaukat
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 16, 1999
Posts: 340
Tim and Jeanne thanks for replying.

I am considering a MS in Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). Its all about navigation based on a system of satellites. The GPS is a good example of GNSS.

I think this degree programme will be a good combination with my computer science degree and programming experience. If I want to continue working as a programmer then the GNSS sector could become my domain (industry or vertical or field of expertise).

Also at some point in time the new degree might help me switch careers, if I want to.

From what I have read there will be lot of growth in this field in the years to come, especially in Europe.

Tim Cooke
Bartender

Joined: Mar 28, 2008
Posts: 1128
    
  59

Danish Shaukat wrote:I am considering a MS in Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS)

You would need to be absolutely serious about wanting to undertake a Masters Degree of this type because I reckon it will be unbelievably hard. I studied a lot of these topics as an undergraduate and they are not trivial.

Danish Shaukat wrote:Also at some point in time the new degree might help me switch careers, if I want to.

An interesting point about this is that if you do want to switch to a new career in the GNSS field then the best time to do it will be immediately after completing the course. Party because the longer you leave it the harder it is to answer the interview question of "What have you been doing since you completed the Masters?" and "why the wait?". But mostly because the technology and techniques move on so fast in Electronic Engineering that it won't take long for your new found knowledge to become outdated. Granted the fundamentals don't change but everything else does. Then lastly, if you don't keep going after your degree then you will forget most of what you learnt surprisingly quickly. That was my experience anyway, but perhaps that is just me having a terrible memory. Where was I going with this again......

A 2 year full time Masters course is a huge financial, mental, and physical undertaking. A decision not to be made lightly.

However, if you want, and can, commit then it looks awesome and all the very best with it.
chris webster
Bartender

Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1772
    
  14

One thing to consider might be that this looks like a very specialised area, so you should research the likely job opportunities before committing yourself to spending a lot of time and money on what might prove to be a very interesting but expensive cul-de-sac. By the time you finish the master's, your CS degree and programming experience will be out of date as far as the job market is concerned, so you need to be sure the master's will generate new opportunities instead.

Are the jobs likely to be restricted to particular industries e.g. the aerospace sector? Are they limited to certain countries? Are some jobs restricted to citizens of certain countries e.g. in the defence sector? If you were just finishing the master's now, would you be qualified for one of those jobs, based on your other qualifications and experience plus the master's degree? And does this kind of work appeal to you?

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