WGU for MSIT, or a more expensive school with more prestige?

Discussion in 'IT and Computer-Related Degrees' started by meadeam, Sep 2, 2013.

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  1. meadeam

    meadeam New Member

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    Hello. First time poster, long time lurker. These boards seem to have a lot of thoughtful and insightful posters.

    I will be finishing my BS in IT at WGU in August 2014. I've started looking into MSIT programs, and have all but decided to go the InfoSec/Cybersecurity route. I've been very happy with WGU thus far. When I chose WGU for my BS, I was not worried about prestige. I already have a good job, and earn a salary at the upper end of what I can expect in my area even with a BS. I chose them based on cost effectiveness, and ability to accelerate.

    For my MS I am more concerned with prestige than I was before because I may eventually be looking to better my prospects. Is it worth it to go to a school with a high reputation and high name recognition at significaqntly higher cost? Sometimes I think I should just stick with WGU.

    My employer does offer tuition reimbursement, though I am unclear on how much they will cover until after I've applied for the program. And I have an obligation to them after I've been accepted into the tuition reimbursement plan. I think it is 12 months, which isn't bad really.

    Of course there is far more to this decision than the school's name, but that is definitely a factor. I know my dilemma is common around here. Thanks for reading, and thanks in advance for any thoughts.
     
  2. Randell1234

    Randell1234 Moderator

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    I completed my BS from Charter Oak and wanted to improve the school name for my MS so I went with Touro (which was locally known for their B&M presence). I later added University of Florida to my resume. I think adding a school name is a factor to consider especially if you want to relocate to other areas.
     
  3. meadeam

    meadeam New Member

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    Yeah, you seem to have the same philosophy as I do. I have a long-list I'm looking at now.
     
  4. instant000

    instant000 New Member

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    A lot of people have not heard of either of the schools that I have attended. This only leads to an unnecessary asking of questions. If there is another degree in my future, it would likely be from a school that is nationally broadcast on Saturdays in the fall, if you know what I mean.
     
  5. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly

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    For my Master's I chose GW over a similar program at Fort Hays in part because GW is better known and regarded, particularly in the area of the U.S. where I am most of the time. It was more expensive, but only by a few thousand dollars. Had it been a ten grand difference or more, I doubt I'd have gone through with it.
     
  6. mcjon77

    mcjon77 Member

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    Steve makes a great point.

    While it is certainly great to get a degree from a school with a bigger/better name, make sure that you do not overpay for it. If your employer is paying for most of it and your out-of-pocket costs are going to be nominal, then go for the school with the best reputation that you can. However, IMHO, there is a limit to how much certain names are worth (besides personal satisfaction reasons).

    While WGU does have a somewhat variable tuition, if we assume that it will take about 2 years (for terms), the tuition should come to a little more than $12K. I know of of programs that are around the same cost, I also know of programs that are 5-7 times more for a similar degree. At a certain point, it becomes a question of whether the price difference is warranted by a difference in earning potential. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't.
     
  7. curtisc83

    curtisc83 New Member

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    This is the prime reason I attended Liberty University. I'm from Texas and if a University doesn't play ball no one knows anything about it. My neighbors kid knew exact who LU was when my wife told him where I went to school. He saw them play in the NCAA D1 Baseball Tourney last season, he is 7.

    A grad degree is a perfect time to upgrade your school name. WGU is a fine school but in my opinion it should be at the bottom of any grad school list.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 3, 2013
  8. ahardinjr

    ahardinjr New Member

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    I concur with the other respondents. You should definitely look to attend a B&M school with good name recognition (at least in your local region) for you graduate degree.

    I have an undergraduate degree from University of California, Davis, and MBA from California State University San Bernardino and am currently enrolled in WGU's MS IT Network Management. I would not have enrolled in WGU's program if I didn't already have a graduate degree from a good regional B&M school simply because most people don't have a clue who WGU is.

    With that said, WGU's MSIT degree really isn't graduate level work either. I'm not impressed at all with its program design and the assignments ("tasks"). You're not going to get a graduate level education at WGU versus a B&M school if you enroll in this program. It is a newer program with lots of growing pains issues. If I knew all of this before I enrolled, I would not have attended WGU. But I'm 7 months into the program and only have 1 class and the capstone project to go and I'm done - so I'm sticking with it.
     
  9. meadeam

    meadeam New Member

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    At this point I'm only considering WGU a fail safe, and maybe not even then. I think I could upgrade to a state school with more name recognition and not pay too much more. My current employer has a tuition reimbursement program that I have to look into. By the time I am going for my Master's, I'll have been with them long enough to qualify for the program. I would imagine there are limits to the amount they are willing to reimburse.

    So here is another question I hope has not been beat to death on these boards: Are there doors that become open when you have a degree from a high prestige school like Boston University, Brandeis, or Carnegie Mellon? If my employer will reimburse enough, I'll go for the best name possible, academic rigor not withstanding. CMU is outrageously expensive though. Is there some upper stratosphere of opportunity that suddenly becomes available to one who has graduated from a Carnegie, or a Boston, etc? Are their alumni associations such that you join an exclusive club from which the benefits outweigh the investment? I realize that a person gets an outstanding education from such a school, but there has to be something more to it than that.
     
  10. meadeam

    meadeam New Member

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    wow, it takes forever for a post to be moderated around here....
     
  11. TEKMAN

    TEKMAN Semper Fi!

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    I did the same thing except Doctorate as I have no other choice.
    Troy University (Regional South Tier 1 #80)---> Southern Methodist University (National Tier 1 #60) ---> Georgetown University (National Tier 1 #20) ---> Nova Southeastern University (National Tier 2)

    I started with Capella University for Ph.D, but dropped out and move to Nova Southeastern University. Currently, NSU is one of the best for Ph.D in Computer out there in term of limited residency Doctorate.
     
  12. rebel100

    rebel100 New Member

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    I don't disagree with anything that's been said so far. In a perfect world where I have plenty of money and time WGU probably wouldn't have entered my mind as a serious prospect. I don't live in that world and there were other considerations.

    WGU's biggest advantage, to me, is the self paced nature of the program. I'm 3 courses and a capstone from finishing my MBA and simply could not have completed a traditional program. There have been months when work and family prevented attention to my WGU work. Had I been in a traditional program in March when my boss got sick I would have had to just drop out....at WGU I just didn't do anything for weeks at a time. Needing to keep up with the 8 credit/semester requirement I was able to tackle the "easier" courses as I saw fit, some of these I was able to complete VERY quickly, WGU is competency based and if you feel you know the subject matter you just write your papers...they review it and pass it or return it if required...you get to fix any deficiency.

    A WGU semester also runs 6 full calendar months and you can complete as much of the course load as you can fit in. Many people complete a Masters in 1 year, a few gifted individuals (or idiots with plenty of time) have completed the MBA in one 6 month semester. WGU won't hold you back if you demonstrate mastery to their expectation.

    I would love to have put UF or UCF or an Ivy on my resume...but there was simply no way that could happen for me. WGU will put regionally accredits letters behind my name that start with "M", that was the overriding goal. With tuition reimbursement the degree will essentially be free of any cost.

    Be sure you fully understand what makes WGU unique before you discount it...and pick the school that makes the most sense for your particular situation.

    Best,
    Mike


    edited to add: I will likely look for added exclusivity for any further degree's/certs. At some point the returns diminish too much to justify odd ball schools no one has heard of. There are some online offerings from the big football schools and the ivies that are really attractive....Management Cert from Harvard Extension, Emergency Management Cert from the CEPH accredited program at University of West Florida, or some other "traditional" school will be my next education move most likely.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 12, 2013
  13. Maniac Craniac

    Maniac Craniac Moderator

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    Try upgrading to a paid account.
     
  14. 03310151

    03310151 New Member

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    Check out University of Illinois Springfield. They have a good Masters in IT (not sure if its cybersecurity focuses) but that would at least give you some name recognition. Other than that, if you are staying in the area you are now living in you should just go with the school closest to you with the best program (even if you have to attend nights and weekends) the reputation and networking will be better the closer you are to your location.

    Good luck.
     
  15. meadeam

    meadeam New Member

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    The school closest to me with the best program is Carnegie Mellon. It's actually not entirely out of the question depending on how much my employer is willing to reimburse. I guess my next step will be figuring that out.
     
  16. ahardinjr

    ahardinjr New Member

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    From what I have heard from professors from my IA program who had the chance to visit and tour Carnegie Mellon, they have an excellent program with state of the art technology.
     
  17. spmoran

    spmoran Member

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    Can you elaborate on "not getting a graduate level education"? What does that mean? Thanks.
     
  18. CogitusInterruptus

    CogitusInterruptus New Member

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    In some cases, yes. CMU, Stanford, and MIT are the big three in US computer science schools. Not only will one of their names on a resume open some doors, also many a successful startup has been born from recruiting within the alumni networks of these schools. However, they are not necessarily the best places for your preferred specialty in cybersecurity.

    If I were to oversimplify their reputations, I'd say Stanford is known for entrepreneurial spirit (with many students forming companies and launching products before they even graduate), MIT is known for research, theory and innovation (AI, robotics, etc.), and CMU is known for producing able engineers who are grounded in theory but can still quickly get to work in the real world.

    That being said, I would focus on reputation within your chosen field and look for schools that have a highly-regarded InfoSec program.

    The NSA's list of Centers of Academic Excellence is probably the best place to start for that. I know CMU has a well-regarded cybersecurity lab, but maybe that list can help you find a less costly program that is still well-regarded in the InfoSec trade.
     
  19. ahardinjr

    ahardinjr New Member

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    Definitely. Coming from a AACSB accredited brick and mortar MBA program, along with being in the Cyber Corps Scholarship for Service program, I became accustomed to a certain level of rigor in my graduate MBA courses where I was constantly challenged to think on a deeper level and produce much more higher quality outputs than in my undergraduate studies.

    At WGU, I find it to be almost the exact opposite. For many of the classes, I felt the course syllabi were lacking with inadequate, piecemeal topics and readings. Moreover, most of the course writing assignments were composed of overly-vague, 1-2 paragraph case scenarios with 3-5 part answers. In contrast, in my MBA program I became accustomed to regularly reading and analyzing 10-20 page Harvard Business Review cases with thorough analysis and discussion. Additionally, in my MBA program many of my papers ranged in the 10-15+ page range with several revisions and ample feedback from my professors. In contrast, in WGU's program many of the course mentors only expected only 6-8 pages double-spaced; moreover, they rarely sent them back for revision and provided only 2-3 sentences of feedback on the average. Granted many of my papers were in the 15-20 page length, I expected better feedback than I received.

    I'm 9 months in the WGU MS IT Network Management program and have completed all of the courses. I would have completed them earlier, but I took several 2-3 week breaks. I have only the capstone written project to complete, which I anticipate I will be done with in 1 to 1.5 months maximum - if I write it quickly, hopefully I can complete it in 2 weeks. Of the 11 courses, I was able to complete most of them in 1-2 weeks or less simply by writing 2-3 papers per course and quickly reviewing course materials. Granted I have 10+ years experience in IT and most of the courses overlapped with my MBA IA concentration classes, I felt the WGU program has been way too easy for a graduate-level program. In fact, most of the classes are 10 times easier than my undergraduate program at U.C. Davis.

    In my own opinion, I would not expect to learn new found knowledge and information in this program. If you read a Network+, Security+, organizational management, and risk management book, you have covered most of the program. Expect it to be a quick-paced program that provides a broad overview to many topics you should be experience in already. Don't expect to get into the weeds and learn the details regarding any of the topics in this program because if you do, you'll be disappointed. If you can find a good quality program from a respected B&M school, I'd go that route. But if you don't have the time or money, WGU will do to put a graduate degree education on your resume.

    I just can't wait to be done so I can start studying for the CISSP and CEH.
     

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