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Is a big name computer science degree worth the cost?
Do I need to go to a big-name university?

I'm just wondering if employers care about what school your degree is from as much? Obviously a degree from MIT is much better than one from some local college. I have a chance to transfer to Virginia Tech, and their Engineering department is pretty good compared to the one I'm at now.

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marked as duplicate by World Engineer, dietbuddha, Mark Trapp Oct 27 '11 at 4:52

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All else equal, I would care, so switch if you can afford it. –  Job Oct 27 '11 at 3:35
Most employers have no clue about the quality of each major in each institute. However, top names are known for all and will draw initial attention, but is not enough. –  Emmad Kareem Oct 27 '11 at 5:34
You should not care about the employers sentiments. Better think of what you will get from that college. Will you be grateful for the knowledge and skills from a college in 10 years? 20 years? If not - it does not worth it. –  SK-logic Oct 27 '11 at 8:42
Note that this varies a lot between countries. My impression is that the prestige bonus from "elite" institutions is of medium strength in the USA, much weaker than e.g. in Japan. –  Michael Borgwardt Oct 27 '11 at 11:19

2 Answers 2

Employers looking for capable graduates actively search at the better schools. In other words, a degree from a good school will get you an interview, but it won't get you a job. However, what you can learn at a good school may very well get you a job. If you have a chance to transfer, and it is affordable, I recommend that you do it. You are likely to find that the general level of discourse at Virginia Tech is much higher than it is at your current college, and that is invaluable.

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Remember it's not necessarily that you learn anymore at a good school but employers use it as a pre-screen = He got accepted by MIT, he must be good (see selectivity in joelonsoftware.com/articles/SortingResumes.html) –  Martin Beckett Oct 27 '11 at 4:42
That may be true for getting through the HR screen. But once you get to the engineers knowledge is what counts not the school. –  Loki Astari Oct 27 '11 at 5:23
@Loki, this is true, and you can find great programmers at any school. But a community of great programmers will teach other. A great programmer all alone must be self-taught. –  kevin cline Oct 27 '11 at 16:22
@Martin: My experience is that you do learn more at a great school. The students are more capable in general, courses move faster and cover more material. –  kevin cline Oct 27 '11 at 16:23
@Kevin - possibly true, although that's the same thing, more selective = better students. –  Martin Beckett Oct 27 '11 at 16:33

Your undergrad degree and college matter less and less as your career progresses. A degree from a better school can open the door more easily for your first few job opportunities, but as you build your career, the things you've learned on-the-job will matter more. Depending on the type of work you'll be doing after graduation, a M.S. may be more useful than your bachelor's degree. For certain companies, such as Google, a Ph.D. might be essential.

In your situation, all else (including tuition) being equal, graduating from a better school will make your initial job search easier. Good luck!

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In my experience companies are more likely to hire PhDs to write VBA macros than to let HS graduates write compilers. So, undergrad degree matters because one can easily get stuck at a dead-end job. It takes very hard work to accumulate cool practical knowledge like multi-threading, algorithms. Most programmers are CRUD maintainers. –  Job Oct 27 '11 at 4:43

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