CS Internship Guide #12: Should You Go to Graduate School?

Part of the CS Internship Guide


Should You Go to Graduate School?

It depends on what you want to do.

cdl_f

Research and Academia

If you love learning about computer science, then graduate school would be a great fit for you. You should consider going if any of the following apply:

  • You want to do research
  • You want to be a professor
  • You have a non-CS undergraduate degree
  • Your dream job requires a master’s or PhD

Graduate-level courses give you the opportunity to do research. If you’re really interested in, say, artificial intelligence, you can become a world expert on AI.

If you want to be a professor, you’ll need more education than a bachelor’s degree–a PhD.

Also, if your undergraduate degree is a non-CS field, you might consider going to graduate school if you want to get a CS-related job.

Finally, if you want to work for a institution like Sandia National Labs, you might need more education than a bachelor’s degree.

software-engineers

Development and Money

Not every job needs a master’s degree. You should NOT go to graduate school if:

  • You want to be a software developer
  • You just want to make more money
  • You want to be a high school CS teacher

Almost all companies are willing to hire CS students with bachelor degrees (some don’t even require a diploma). A few years out of college, your degree (and GPA) will be overshadowed by your experience and personal projects.

Furthermore, going to graduate school won’t net you more money. You might be paying $40,000 a year in tuition when you could be earning $80,000 a year as a software engineer. And once you have a graduate degree, you’ll only be paid as if you had an additional two years of work experience.

I’ve also heard that software engineers with master’s degrees are sometimes promoted faster than those with bachelor’s degrees. However, I don’t think that justifies spending two years in graduate school unless you really want to go.

Finally, high school CS teachers don’t need master’s degrees.

The Road Ahead

I don’t have a master’s degree, but you should talk to those who do. Ask your advisers, professors, other students, and engineers in the industry for their points of view. But in the end, the decision is yours. Best of luck on the road ahead.

When do you think CS students should or should not go to graduate school?

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