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I'm one year into a graduate program in math. In another year, I could earn a masters. However, I'm realizing that I'm more interested in web development than math. I'm fairly comfortable with python, html, css, and javascript. I'm learning Django.

What should I do? Finish the masters, even if it isn't very relevant to what I want to do? Leave my grad program and try to find a job?

Edit: How helpful will a MS in math be for getting a programming job?

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5 Answers

Definitely finish your masters, it will give you a one up on any application. Look for small side projects to learn until you are done with school. Lots of small business owners like to hire students for cheap web development.

Keep at it, you'll be surprised how.much you can learn in one year.

Edit: Depending on how competitive the job is your applying for, having the MS in Math will put you above most other programmers in education level (even if its not in computers). That masters will float your application above bachelors in the stack, giving you a better shot at an interview. I don't think a lot of coders have an MS, usually just a BS or Associates. The knowledge may not help you much, but you will look much better to employers on paper.

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Kratz, would you mind sharing your background? –  cdf Aug 4 '11 at 22:01
    
@cdf, I got a BS in Computer Science, graduated 2007. Learned quite a bit of stuff in school, but also a lot on my on and on the job. I do mostly VB.Net windows development. I work for a cabinet making company, so its mostly business and engineering related stuff. I've dabbled in quite a bit, latest being Android. –  Kratz Aug 4 '11 at 22:29
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How helpful will a MS in math be for getting a programming job?

Sergey Brin has a B.S. in Math.

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Also Massimo Marchiori has one. http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massimo_Marchiori sorry for the italian link, could'nt find his page on the english wiki. If you don't want to translate, he invented hypersearch algorithm (google's) and he's a chairman in the w3 committee.

I think maths helps your mind think in an abstract way, which is perfect for thinking about algorithms and optimizations. I have a bsc in CS, and i'm thinking about going straight to a MSC in maths (maybe computational) so i'll have a more theoretical basis i can use to approach problems related to my job (i'm a django dev too)

So yup, finish up what you started. It will help you. I'm not sure it will be a direct help, but sure you'll have your own good approach to problems.

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I bounced around a number of majors before I ended up as a web developer:

  1. Music Performance
  2. Mathematics
  3. Computer Science (very short lived)
  4. Library Information Science

I also spent a while as a webmaster for my School of Visual Arts, which is where I got to do a number of web projects before being hired at a corporation in 1999.

I've worked in Securities, Travel, Insurance, 401k, Education and now Real Estate. I'm currently a Senior Enterprise Architect. Math is where it's at. Knowing how to build simple algorithms put me ahead of my peers at my first job. Know how to build & solve complex algorithms put me further ahead at later jobs. I don't even have a Bachelor's degree.

Having a Master's degree will definitely put you ahead of the pack.

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I bounced around, too. Econ -> math -> cs. Thanks for sharing your experience. –  cdf Aug 4 '11 at 21:41
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I have a Ph.D. in math, no CS background, but I find it has been very useful in getting jobs, particularly your first or second job, and that it has allowed me to advance in salary faster than otherwise, due to my increased market value.

Trust me, many (not all) employers will see the M.S. in math, and say, "well, we can be confident that he's a smart guy." How much is that worth to you? Presuming that you aren't paying for your degree, it will pay off easily.

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But don't get the Ph.D. for this reason, it won't pay off. –  Eric Wilson Aug 4 '11 at 15:51
    
Good to hear from someone who has a graduate degree in math. I am paying for my degree, which is why I decided I definitely don't want to go beyond a masters. –  cdf Aug 4 '11 at 21:27
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