Help me decide which online software engineering masters

Discussion in 'IT and Computer-Related Degrees' started by LiChao, Nov 15, 2012.

  1. LiChao

    LiChao New Member

    Hi, I've narrowed down my selection to these 5 schools.

    All will take me about 2 years.
    Any opinions on whether Brandeis, Regis or HES are worth the extra cost?

    North Dakota State Uni, 12k
    West Virginia Uni, 12k
    Brandeis Uni, 30k
    Regis Uni, 24k
    Harvard Extension Shchool, 24k

  2. ryoder

    ryoder New Member

    If you want to make a ton of money, pick one you can do part time and learn Android and iPhone development. There are contract rates at 60-100/hr to be had all over the place.

    TEKMAN Semper Fi!

    West Virginia University is out rank of Regis University in term of reputation. So, there is not need to spend $24K vs $12K. Harvard Extension School requires almost half of the program on campus during the summer terms; unless you live closer to Cambridge, MA otherwise not recommended. And HES reputation is not the as other colleges within Harvard University. Brandeis University is great; however, if you can afford the price, then go for it.

    Other free source course I would recommend:
    - by Stanford University, University of Virginia, and more
    - by Hundred of universities around the world (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and etc)
    - by Harvard University
  4. LiChao

    LiChao New Member

    Thanks Tekman, I'm leaning towards West Virginia Uni because of the price, no GRE/GMAT required, and their is an option to apply by averaging a B on 3 courses first.
    Can you tell me why you think Brandeis University is great? Is it the name and reputation or something else? Personally, I had never heard of it before looking it up this program.
  5. LiChao

    LiChao New Member

    What do you think are the advantages of choosing Brandeis? Is it worth the extra price?
  6. mcjon77

    mcjon77 Member


    What is your academic and professional background? What do you want to do with your degree?
  7. LiChao

    LiChao New Member

    McJon77, I have an a bachelor's in psych from UCSD and 2 years in SW testing. I want to work in the corporate world most likely as a project manager/product manager.

    Actually, I'm still a bit hazy about my career goals but I'd really like to get a job where there are business trips to China/Taiwan so I can visit my relatives while I'm over there.
  8. markos

    markos New Member

    can some one help me on 100% online distanse college or univarsty degree.
  9. mcjon77

    mcjon77 Member

    I'll throw my 2 cents in.

    I am currently a student at HES in the information management systems concentration. However I have taken many of the same courses as are in the software engineering concentration, and was going to do the software engineering concentration before they came out with the information management systems concentration. I am also considering pursuing a software engineering masters AFTER I finish my ALM in IT at HES (last class Fall of 2013), so I have done some research into other SE masters programs, including NDSU.

    The first thing you have to ask yourself is what you wish to study/learn. The ALM in IT is a Masters in Information Technology, with a concentration in Software Engineering, it is NOT a masters in software engineering. The distinction goes beyond what looks better on a resume. A Masters in Software Engineering will (or at least SHOULD) focus EXCLUSIVELY on software engineering. In contrast, the ALM in IT covers a broader section of IT, with the opportunity to focus on software engineering. Think about it this way. There are people who have MBAs with a concentration in Accounting, and people who have Masters degrees in Accounting. IMPORTANT NOTE: I am talking about SOFTWARE ENGINEERING not just PROGRAMMING.

    A master's degree in software engineering should delve DEEP into those principles and practices that make software engineering an engineering discipline. This goes beyond programming and into areas such as testing, performance modeling, requirements gathering/analysis, project management, etc. Many masters in software engineering have separate courses for each of these topics. At HES, there are really only 2 or 3 courses that I would call "pure" software engineering, CSCI-E247 (a design patterns course) and CSCI-E275 ( the software engineering capstone course). Many of the topics I mentions are touched upon in various other classes, but entire courses are not devoted to them. This does not mean that HES is light on programming courses. There is TONS of programming in the HES degree programs. In fact, I would argue that unless you are already a proficiennt programmer, it would be very difficult to complete the ALM in IT.

    My personal (extremely biased) opinion is that a standard Masters in Software Engineering is best for someone who is looking to become a lead developer or project manager working are very large software developement projects for a large corporate or government organization. Essentailly, if you want to be the guy on a large team who DOES NOT do a lot of programming, but is in charge of managing (and perhaps even being an architect for) large software development projects, a Masters in Software Engineering might be for you.

    In contrast, I feel the the ALM in IT Software Engineering concentration is best for someone who still wants to code, and perhaps also wants to work on bleeding edge technology in small teams. I see an ALM in IT candidate as an IDEAL technical co-founder or first employee for a new tech startup. For example, I have had courses in mobile application development and cloud computing, and will be taking a course dealing with big data analytics next semester. In fact, one of my course projects this semester is going to intergrate mobile with cloud computing. Other than possibly the Software Engineeing Capstone course, there is very little in the program that deals with working with large teams of developers.

    In terms of quality of teaching, I can honestly say that HES has had the highest quality of teaching I have experienced anywhere. All of the teachers that I have had were experts in their field. One interesting thing to note, I think that I have had only 2 classes where the instructor was neither a Harvard University Instructor, nor a Harvard/MIT alumnus. The workload is fairly high (significantly higher than that of my friends who are in similar programs at other schools), so be prepared for that. One other issue is that HES, unlike some other schools, has lectures on video for ALL of their online classes. I thought that this was normal, but I have recently discovered that many schools don't video tape their lectures, and istead rely on lecture notes and readings.

    Lastly, I will speak about reputation and job prospects. I can really only talk about HES here. From talking with actual graduates of the HES ALM in IT program, I have heard nothing but good things about how well it was received. As long as you are open and honest about what your degree is, most employers seem quite excited to hear about it.

    Also, there have been some changes in the past two years that GREATLY improve job opportunities for HES ALM in IT graduates. Specifically, HES students with a 3.5 gpa or higher can now particpate in the Faculty of Arts & Science's On Campue Interview (OCI) programm. It might seam like a little thing, but it is not. THIS is the recruiting method used by the big investment banks like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, as well as the big tech firms like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. OCI is the reason why some of these places (especially the financial firms) seem to be filled with Ivy League grads, whereas grads from state schools can't even get an interview.

    Priviously, HES students had access to all of the same recruiting resources as the Graduate School and the Undergraduate College (HES, GSAS and HC are all under FAS) EXCEPT the On Campus Interviews. That changed in a pilot program last year. In fact, when Mark Zuckerberg came to Harvard Last year to recruit, select HES ALM in IT students were invited to attend the recruitement event. Appearently the pilot program was a success, because they made it permanent.

    Also, it is quite common for companies to contact instructors looking for employees and for the instructors to pass those offers on to their students. Every other week or so, last semester, the instructors in my mobile app programming class was forwarding job opportunities to the class because he was contacted by an employer. The same thing is happening this semester in my cloud computing class.

    In addition, ALM in IT graduates are full alumni of Harvard University and have complete access to the Harvard University alumni network. Another minor (but still pretty cool) benefit of Harvard alumni status is that we have reciprocity agreements with alumni clubs of other elite universities around the world, and can use their facilities. So for instance, if I was in London, I could stay at the Oxford and Cambridge Club, since they have a reciprocal agreement with the Harvard Clubs of New York and Boston.

    For me, since I have ZERO desire to return to working on big teams in a large corporate environment, HES was as close to perfect for me as it gets. I love working alone (preferably) or in small teams on really interesting projects. I love to code and can't see myself being in a position that doesn't involve some coding. I am also a freelancer, who is looking at founding my own startup, so the tools learned at HES are extremely applicable.
  10. LiChao

    LiChao New Member

    McJon, thanks so much for your input.

    I think a MS in SE suits me more. Here are the reasons:

    1. I prefer working for a big corporation (even though I enjoy working alone)

    In my short real world experience I have worked for a small start-up of about 10-30 people and most recently a large corporation. I can say that I enjoy working for a large corporation more. My view may be biased but I just don't like the politics and arrogance of some people in a small team.

    2. I don't know how to code.

    I feel like if I knew how to code, I would be much more valuable and have more job security but I don't think I'd really enjoy coding.
    I sometimes wish I could code but I took a class in high school and I passed it with a lot of help from my friends and dad.
    I'd like to know basic java/C/perl but I want to code everyday.

    3.I like to work in teams if they are a high performing team, if not I'd rather work alone.

    I do like people if they are smart, competent, respectful but if they are arrogant or incompetent then I hate it.
  11. LiChao

    LiChao New Member

    Mcjon, wow thanks for typing all that up!

    I feel a MS in SE suits me more. Although I would like to have the skills of an ALM in IT.

    I think the testing, performance, req analysis, project management is more in line with what I want to do but I know some project managers who are very stressed (gray hair, losing weight.)

    1. I prefer working in big corporate organizations

    I've worked in a small start-up and big corporate and I prefer the big corporate and would like to be a test lead, product manager, project manager someday.

    2. I don't know how to code and I don't really like coding

    I would like to learn basic perl/java/C so I feel more valuable and secure but I don't enjoy just coding

    3. I would like to start a business in a few years

    Don't know in what but I want to have a passive income or be self-employed.
  12. LiChao

    LiChao New Member

    Seems like MS SE is more what I'd like to do.

    1. I can't program/dislike it
    I would like to learn the basics though

    2. I like big companies more.
  13. unprez

    unprez New Member

    Really good post! I hear so much opinions but you threw in some actual examples.
  14. Jeff Walker

    Jeff Walker New Member

    Also, consider Kansas State University. Haven't looked at it recently to see what its price is, but it used to be one of the lower priced options.

    I would choose one of the less expensive ones based mostly on the curriculum. For example, I would personally lean towards a program that took a more agile approach rather than a more formal approach to software development.

    I'm intrigued by access to the on-campus interviews through the Harvard program.

    Carnegie Mellon probably has the most prestigious online software engineering program available, though it is very expensive and hard to get into (and they push heavyweight methodologies - I have some philosophical issues with CMM).
  15. jam937

    jam937 New Member

    The University of Illinois Springfield has an online MS Computer Science degree. Since 7 of the 8 courses you need to take are student choice, you could take software engineering courses. The degree would still be a CS not SE. It is 32 semester hours but each class is 4 hours (not 3). So you only have to take 8 courses. One course has to be the graduate research seminar (not thesis). Online tuition is the same as in-state tuition no matter where you live. So it's about $12,000 total for the degree.

    Here's some of the software engineering courses available:
    Web design
    Web programming
    Client side web development
    Network Programming
    Software testing and reliability
    C# programming & .NET
    Usability engineering
    Cloud computing

    Here's the main link
    Department of Computer Science
  16. mcjon77

    mcjon77 Member

    It really is amazing how inexpensive some of the IT related masters degrees are at these state universities. This is a great time to be looking for a low cost masters program in the field.
  17. LiChao

    LiChao New Member

    Thanks for the suggestions. The problem is I don't have a lot of programming experience. How much do I need to learn before I can complete these programs and where can I learn it?
  18. Petedude

    Petedude New Member

    These sound intriguing. I just wish these were under IS/IT rather than CS, but it is what it is.
  19. Jkate

    Jkate New Member

    Master of Software Engineering16-month degree program for practicing software engineers who have at least two years of experience and are interested in becoming the technical leaders in their organization.
  20. Sauron

    Sauron New Member

    I would take a look at the introductory computer science courses at Udacity, Coursera and edX. Formally, I would recommend, at minimum, 2-3 courses in object oriented programming such as Java, Discrete Mathematics, Algorithms and Data Structures. You can fulfill most of these entry requirements at a community college or online.

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