Second bachelors or masters in Computer Science
February 19, 2021 7:48 PM   Subscribe

I've been taking programming classes at city college and having a really good time. I'm thinking of keeping the party going with a second bachelors or (necessary post-bacc work and then) a masters degree. What are the relative benefits of each? Why would I choose one over the other? I like my job and can see doing basically the same thing until I retire, but -- real talk -- if I wanted to get a programming job could I do that... at 50-something?

My BS is in Biology (Physiology).

I see that in order to enter the masters program in CS at California State University Dominguez Hills (which is right by my job) I'd need the following, because my BS was not in CS:
CSC 311: Data Structures
CSC 321: Programming Language Concepts
CSC 331: Computer Organization
CSC 341: Operating Systems
MAT 281: Discrete Mathematics
MAT 361: Finite Automata
Proficiency in a programming language (or CSC 123 – Computer Science II )

That sounds like fun stuff to me, even if I didn't get into the program.
posted by pH Indicating Socks to Education (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Well from my experience in the US software industry there's not much practical or career benefit to having a Masters over a Bachelors in CS unless you are in a specialized area. But as you are doing this as more of an educational thing, the real question is if there are masters-level classes that you can't take as a Bachelor's student or if you want to do a Thesis. The program you list has two specializations and you would need to be interested in one: the Software Engineering track has a higher level focus on building commercial software in larger teams for end users, and the Distributed Systems Network track is lower level and more focused on designing efficient complex programs.

Honestly I think the answer is pretty school dependent, and I'd recommend trying to get in contact with an academic advisor if you have specific questions. As you would need to take a full 7 classes to qualify, that's almost an entire bachelor's degree in some programs. That class list is pretty standard and would teach you a lot about being a professional programmer, and that would probably be helpful in finding some sort of hybrid programming/science job given your other bachelors
posted by JZig at 9:32 PM on February 19 [3 favorites]

While in the US *some* positions do want Masters, but it's mostly an HR thing. They are more interested in knowing you can do your job coding, and experience (sounds like you already have a job in the field) is more important than degree. I would probably pursue more certifications in your field than actual schoolwork, unless you think you are deficient in some CS basics like data structures and algorithms.
posted by kschang at 1:41 AM on February 20

A masters degree is a much more cost effective way of switching careers than a second bachelors, and it looks much better on a resume.

As a former hiring manager I would pick a candidate with a masters degree rather than one with two bachelors. A masters shows you can handle a lot of learning in a short time.
posted by monotreme at 11:35 AM on February 20

Consider looking for a "professional master's" in programming. They exist (source: me, the uni I work for has one) and cover the programming-related stuff you'd get in a CS bachelor's, without the uber-theoretical stuff I'm guessing you don't want, and without breadth requirements and the other bachelor's-degree faff designed for traditional-age college students.
posted by humbug at 1:27 PM on February 20

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