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A request from Gumby [Mar. 22nd, 2010|04:37 pm]

So Gumby is looking to move up here (yay!) and possibly go back to school for a degree in CS. He currently has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Arkansas University and graduated ~12 years ago. He's been working in manufacturing and totally wants out, and we've been figuring that getting a Masters might be better than going back for a second Bachelors. And I'll just quote him here....

15:41 <gumby> can you do me a favor?
15:42 <gumby> you know several people from the computer science arena, do you think they could offer any suggestions on places to look for a masters in computer science
15:43 <gumby> reputable/affordable places
16:02 <gumby> i'd like to check out 4-5 places as far as suggested classes to take in preparation for grad school
16:03 <gumby> and hopefully put together those classes in a span of a year or so that would allow me to apply to multiple grad schools
16:04 <gumby> i'd feel better about moving after selling my house with no job, and hopefully have the core reqs would allow for a decent job while getting a masters
16:05 <gumby> enough to get my foot in the door somewhere

So suggestions? He's already looked at U Mass. (Though further comments on the U Mass system is totally useful)

Edit: I don't think I was clear in that his current degree is a BS, not a masters. And the classes he would be taking pre-applying would possibly be undergraduate level classes that he would need to be able to go to a masters program in CS.

[User Picture]From: randysmith
2010-03-22 08:52 pm (UTC)
I've heard of Northeastern as good for after-work hours study (which he may or may not be looking for). MIT should be looked into, just because if they *do* offer Masters degrees, it'd carry some weight--I'm not sure they do. That wouldn't be after-hours, though. I'd personally just scan the websites for the big liberal arts places (Harvard, Tufts, Brandeis, I feel like I'm forgetting another) as well, just to see what they offer and what they're requirements are, but they aren't really engineering schools. Doesn't mean they don't offer Masters degrees in CS, though.

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[User Picture]From: lucky_otter
2010-03-22 09:01 pm (UTC)
I've heard good things about the grad CS program at UMass. The two grad CS classes I took (Distributed Operating Systems and Robotics) were both well taught and interesting.

AFAIK, most grad programs will *not* let you take their core required classes elsewhere. I know my program doesn't; not sure about CS. That said, there may be some classes that he'll need to take before he can approach the core grad CS classes. They likely won't include basic programming classes, which he'll need if he doesn't already have those skills.
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[User Picture]From: solipsistnation
2010-03-22 09:29 pm (UTC)

Oh wait, you said "Affordable." Well, he could always apply for scholarships and so on.
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[User Picture]From: nchanter
2010-03-22 09:39 pm (UTC)
LOL. Yea... the % of schools around here that are private vs public is very different than in much of the rest of the country. I mean... are there even public schools in the area that aren't part of the U Mass system?
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[User Picture]From: marphod
2010-03-23 02:06 am (UTC)

But that's true most places. Public schools are usually funded by the state, rather than by a city or other public institution. The military academies and the CUNY system are the only exception to that that I can think of off the top of my head. Well, and U-DC, but that hardly counts.
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[User Picture]From: herbie
2010-03-23 11:01 pm (UTC)
Note that the public/private distinction is likely to not make much difference to a brand new resident of the state, as they'll be considered out of state until (usually) 1 year out.

It's worth mentioning that some reputable Universities' schools of continuing education have online/correspondence courses.
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[User Picture]From: sylvari
2010-03-23 12:21 am (UTC)
Yes but he doesn't have to graduate. WPI dropouts are more successful than the graduates I am told.
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[User Picture]From: solipsistnation
2010-03-23 02:24 pm (UTC)
WPI dropouts? I don't know nothin' 'bout that.
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[User Picture]From: zarhooie
2010-03-23 01:28 am (UTC)
I think WPI has a masters CS program, but I could be wrong.
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[User Picture]From: paradoox
2010-03-23 01:41 am (UTC)
Susan's second Master's is from BU. While I suspect it isn't as good as Northeastern, I suspect it is also cheaper.

An interesting question is "what does he want to do?" or "what sort of work does he want the Masters to get him in the door for?"
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[User Picture]From: marphod
2010-03-23 02:07 am (UTC)
Actually wrong, in both cases. BU is one of the top-three CS programs in Boston (behind or ahead of, depending who you ask, MIT and Harvard), and is WAY more expensive than NE.

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[User Picture]From: paradoox
2010-03-23 02:16 am (UTC)
I was referring to BU Metropolitan College or whatever it is called. It wasn't 40k per semester. It was part time at night and probably cost <<< $40k total. Classes were like 2k each. Although that was about 10 years ago.
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[User Picture]From: marphod
2010-03-23 01:59 am (UTC)
Affordable programs in the area?

UMass Boston and UMass Lowell. As I understand it, UMass Boston has a better reputation that Lowell for CS. I believe the costs are about the same (modulo some fees and lower living expenses, if living near the school is a priority). The key to low cost at UMass is getting residency[1], which he can't do if he wants to go straight into education.

Suffolk University. I know nothing about the program, but it has tuition in the 10k$/semester range.

There are also options like Harvard's Continuing Education program, which has Masters programs in IT and Biotechnology. More affordable than Harvard, although not that cheap and it isn't a MA/MS but a "Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies". It runs about 1800$/class, so a little less than 8k$ a semester. Many of the classes are at night, as well. There are some other colleges of lifelong learning/continuing education around. I'm not sure what all the options are.

How far is he willing to drive? I don't really know how good programs are in RI (other than Brown), Worcester, or southern NH, but those may be options.

As for other actually local options:

Northeastern is desperately (DESPERATELY) trying to lose its reputation as a after-work Masters degree factory, but it really still is one. Not cheap though (12$k a semester-ish). Tufts has a better reputation, and costs about the same (13k$/semester, IIRC. Also, for a point of information Tufts' max stipend/scholarship for masters candidates is half tuition -- some_kitten just got accepted into their masters program. Student loans and external scholarships are obviously still an option).

BU has (or had, when I was actively looking) a good reputation -- it has both a computer engineering and computer science masters program. It also costs nearly 40k$ a semester (I think -- that may be per year, which would make a whole lot more sense).

MIT and Harvard have the best reputations, locally, and are world class degree programs. MIT is 18k$/semester, where Harvard is slightly cheaper (17k$/semester).


As for transfer credits, programs differ, but almost all masters programs will not let you transfer in more than 3 classes, and some limit it to 2. This may or may not include programs taken as a non-degree class within the same school. Programs also differ about whether that can be core requirements or not. For CS, your graduate core requirements are going to be relatively consistent, so it _probably_ will be alright to transfer those (some selection of a graduate level class in algorithms, architecture, OS, theory of programming languages, discrete math, and I'm sure I'm forgetting some others).


I'd suggest also looking into graduate certificate programs. Most schools offer them, they are shorter programs than masters, and are more focused. I don't know the relative costs, either.

A significantly cheaper option, which I have no idea if it would be useful at all or not, not knowing Gumby's background, would be to get an Associates degree in CS. If he has no formal CS education from school (rather than a minor or significant coursework), it might be useful. If he does, then it won't.


[1] The definition of residency:
A person shall be classified as a Massachusetts resident if he or she ... shall have resided in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for purposes other than attending an educational institution for twelve months immediately preceding the student's entry or re-entry as a student. Physical presence for this entire twelve-month period need not be required as long as the conduct of the individual, taken in total, manifests an intention to make Massachusetts his or her permanent dwelling place.

In Iowa, the requirement was similar, and the assumption was if you were enrolled half-time or less, you weren't in the state primarily for education, even if you weren't doing anything else. (Which is how I got in-state tuition there). I don't know if MA has a similar assumption.
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[User Picture]From: marphod
2010-03-24 04:23 am (UTC)
For what its worth, residents of Somerville and Medford can audit a single class per semester at Tufts for around 100$. I don't think there is a residency requirement for that, so it is something to consider when thinking of places to live. (Assuming you're not staying where you are.)

Undergrad classes at Harvard Extension are cheaper than grad classes (about half the price).

Gumby would also have a whole lot more options for undergraduate (and therefore more low-cost) programs. A down side is that most of these places don't have a masters option, so it wouldn't be auditioning the school for further study.

Any CS program that offers a bachelors is going to have the pre-reqs for a Master's program. Some of the places with associates might, but are less likely. Wentworth has a BS program and is 680$ per credit, Simmons has a BS and is ~1k$/credit, Regis College has a BA and looks like ~700$/credit, Fisher has a BS and is 250$/credit (... whoa.).
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