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I'm getting close to graduation and am strongly considering continuing to a Master's Program. My long-term goal for the future is to stay in industry rather than pursuing a Ph.D/Academic career. While communicating these thoughts with some of my peers, I've been told that staying in the same University for both a Bachelor's and Master's degree is ill-advisable. The reasons seem to be based along the lines of lack of exposure to other opportunities, programs, and faculty.

My question is, if I intend to pursue a career outside of the Ph.D/Academic spectrum, will staying at the same university for my master's really decrease my value in software related positions? If so (or if not), why?

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If you don;t want to go into research, then don;t get a Master's directly from your BS. You willhave two more years of college to pay for and will still be looking at entry level jobs and may be less attractive to most employers because you will be perceived as too expensive for an entry level job. Get a Masters after 4-5 years of work experieince instead. –  HLGEM Jan 12 '11 at 14:30
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closed as not constructive by Yannis Rizos Mar 7 '12 at 17:45

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6 Answers

up vote 17 down vote accepted

It isn't so much about reducing your value if you stay. You should be asking, can I increase my value if I move? If you can, then move. If not, why bother?

Some Pros for staying

  • You're comfortable there, so you'll just glide into the work
  • You know the quality of the institute
  • You will already have working relationships with the professors

Some Pros for going elsewhere

  • It will expand your network
  • It will give you fresh perspectives you might not have known/thought about/experienced where you are
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It really comes down to the reputation of your school. No one is going to turn away a student who got an B.S. + M.S in CS from MIT because of "lack of exposure" conversely if your school is ranked 2999 out of 3000 for CS schools you should transfer for the masters. Additionally I am choosing to do the masters + phd at one university.

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The real answer is more of an economic one than the one you've phrased.

  • If you are getting your masters because the economy is bad and you want to ride it out, I'd advise against doing so.
  • If you are getting your masters because you want to learn more, then go ahead and get your masters.

Many folks are having troubles getting their first job out of college. Consequently many are staying in school to get a masters in order to wait out the recession/downturn. I think this is a mistake because far too many folks are doing exactly the same, and they'll end up graduating and competing with folks who lack the student loan burden.

Anecdote: I was having lunch today and at the table next to me, one college senior was chatting with her father (oh hell, I'm older than him) describing her boyfriend having a 4 hour programming test at a recent interview.

My first bachelors degree was in electrical engineering. I had thought about going ahead and completing my masters right away, until I did the math. At that time, the median salary for a masters was less than 10% higher than the median salary for a bachelors. Once you account for the lost earnings of the year or two that it takes to complete the masters, how long does it take you to recover the lost earnings? At that time, the differential would have taken almost 30 years to pay itself back. Sure, my career trajectory would have been completely different. But then my career trajectory would also have been completely different if I had gotten my PE.

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I think this is very specific and depends on the undergrad school you were from.

Think about a scenario ( Eg MIT or any top Universities as the undergrad Uni ) why would go a notch down and switch universities just for the sake of it?

If the department is reputable I would stick to same uni or one that is a step higher.

Side Note: Most people also look good projects the Uni offers/current staff research and also scholarship they might be able to get before selecting the Masters. (Trust me Masters isnt a walk in the park)

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I thought that most people got the Bachelor first and then the Master, so naturally you'd do it at the same university. See no point in switching.

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As with Developer Art, things are different in Sweden vs. the US. There's generally no automatic progression from a Bachelor's to a Master's program; you generally have to specially apply to start a Master's program in an American university, even if you're already at a school that has a master's degree option. The "Diplom" or is ostensibly close to a Bachelor's degree, but is less valued in Europe than a Bachelor's degree is valued in the US. –  JasonTrue Mar 17 '11 at 4:36
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It is a good idea to stay where you are, complete your Master and then go.

It's what most people do.

I've been told that staying in the same University for both a Bachelor's and Master's degree is ill-advisable.

staying at the same university for my master's really decrease my value in software related positions

No it isn't and it won't. In fact I bet it will be the other way around. If you switch universities, employers will suspect you didn't get along with your peers or something and had to go.

Do not risk switching the university. Who knows what will await you at the other place? Bachelor2Master is just 1-2 years and then you are free, it should be your first priority to finish it.

communicating these thoughts with some of my peers, I've been told

I feel something else here. Your peers might have had some plans for you to promote you to PhD or something. When you told them you were not interested in academia they felt like getting rid of you. Just a guess.

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"If you switch universities, employers will suspect you didn't get along with your peers or something and had to go." That's a bizarre statement. Anyone who just assumes that for no reason is not worth working for. "Who knows what will await at the other place?" Presumably, he'll do his research and not just apply willy-nilly to schools. He'll probably have a more informed opinion than he did as a high school student picking the university for his Bachelor's as well. I disagree with your psychoanalysis as well. –  Matthew Read Jan 11 '11 at 21:19
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I gotta say this answer is full of nonsense throughout. I wish I could downvote it, but my rep is less than 125. –  user5794 Jan 12 '11 at 4:33
    
I suspect that this is based on Developer Art's experience in Germany, where getting a Master's is almost the "normal" degree at full universities; there's a sort of checkpoint before that which gives you almost no credibility when looking for a job. In the US, since you have to specially apply for a master's program, the situation is essentially reversed. –  JasonTrue Mar 16 '11 at 21:11
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