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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: 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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