OT: College Advice

Celeste Lyn Paul celeste at kde.org
Wed May 13 13:19:08 BST 2009

On Wednesday 13 May 2009 07:52:56 am christopher fletez-brant wrote:
> Hi guys,
> I have a BA in Liberal Arts and am considering taking a master's at Capitol
> College (www.capitol-college.edu) in Computer Science.  The biggest
> advantages to me are that they do not ask for my GRE's, which I have not
> yet taken, and that their MSCS program is entirely online, which is great
> because I just can't afford to stop working.  I am concerned, however,
> about how this school (or any online degree, for that matter) is received
> by potential employers and/or PhD programs. I'd appreciate any thoughts,
> comments or info about this program or any others (especially since I'm
> considering beginning in the fall).

Hi Kipper, 

For the most part, I think people get Master's degress in order to refine their 
education (usually you hone in on a discipline with a master's) and get that 
stepping stone which is required for the next level of salary or job position. 
Prestige wont matter most of the time unless you are applying for a very 
competitive job. However, unless you are going to a tier 1 school, no one will 
care where your degree came from, and online degrees are increasingly more 

If you are considering a PhD program, you might want to look for a MS rather 
than an MA. A PhD program is an academic achievement and so the "science" part 
is pretty important. You also might want to consider a more prestigious school 
or biting the bullet and going to real classes. Even at a tier 3 university, 
competition for PhD programs is very high. Most programs will get tens to 
hundreds of applications a semester and will only accept 1 or 2 students.

Also, is price an issue or are you getting loans/employer is paying? If 
prestige is a factor, there are a number of CS/IS programs offered by notable 
universities online. Syracuse and UMBC have online master's degrees in IS. 
UMUC has several online technical degrees and is probably more well-known in 
the DC Metro area.

In summary:

If you are just getting the piece of paper/progressing your career:
* Online school is fine
* Be sure to do research for online programs not in the DC area
* For more prestige go for a well-known Uni online program

If you are seriously considering a PhD:
* Seriously consider a meat-space program
* At the very least, go for a Uni online program rather than at an institution 
which "specializes" in online edu.

Hope this helps

~ Celeste

Celeste Lyn Paul
KDE Usability Project

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