To obtain a master’s degree or not to obtain a master’s degree, that is the question. A master’s degree is an enormous investment of both your time and money. With these two on the line, a question worth considering abounds. Is a master’s degree worth it in the tech industry?
The tech industry relies heavily on hands-on experience. In the past, traditional schooling was necessary to establish one’s competence in any industry, including tech. The requirement has since been lifted in recent years. This comes in response to the entry of non-traditional learning paths to tech. At the top of the list are coding bootcamps that advance short yet intensive training.
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Nevertheless, formal education still holds some competitive advantage. A master’s program gives professionals the chance to study a specific area of interest in greater depth. It also gives them solid credibility in an industry. Furthermore, a master’s degree can accelerate promotions and advancement in a company.
So, what are some master’s degrees worth earning? Moreover, what does the industry have to say about the pursuit of higher education? Read on for a review of several worthwhile master’s programs for the tech industry.
Master’s Degree Costs and Requirements
There are four levels of higher education that can be divided into two categories. There are undergraduate degrees and advanced degrees. Under the former category are associate degrees and bachelor’s degrees. Advanced degrees, meanwhile, refer to master’s degrees and doctoral degrees.
To apply for a master’s degree program, you must have an undergraduate degree. Most universities require at least two years of prior study. Once accepted into a master’s program, you will have to complete 36 to 56 credits to graduate.
This means if you commit to a full-time master’s program, it will take about two years to complete. If you decide to enroll for a part-time program, it will take four to six years.
Graduate school pricing can vary drastically from one university to another, so naming an exact value is not possible. Suffice to say, the cost of a master’s degree is estimated to range from $30,000 to $100,000 for higher-end programs. This may result in students having to take out hefty student loans depending on their financial situation.
Before committing to any financing option, it would be best to check for any aid that may be provided by the school. This may come in the form of other payment methods, such as deferred tuition. Other financial aids such as scholarships and sponsorships are great options as well.
Remember that a master’s degree is an investment. As such, you must always weigh the financial pros and cons. Determine your career prospects after graduating from a prospective program. How much will you be earning? Compare that against the cost of attendance. The returns must offset the costs.
Other Factors to Consider Before Enrolling
There are many factors to review when adding up the final costs of a program. These include:
- Type of program (Is it conducted online or in person?)
- Subject of study
- Price of books and miscellaneous fees
Online vs in-person programs: Online programs are popular right now, causing a spike in tuition pricing. However, in-person education results in transportation and other miscellaneous costs. As a result, it’s important to factor in these expenses when comparing final costs between in-person and online programs.
The subject of study: The program you choose will result in either a lower or higher tuition rate. Different programs require various credits and hours to complete the degree, which may result in higher tuition. Besides financial costs, you also need to consider the opportunity costs. A minute you spend sitting in a class can be a minute spent doing something else. Time is money.
The price of books and other miscellaneous fees: Another factor to consider is the extra fees required during the course. These include parking costs, technology fees, library fees, and lab fees.
While these fees may be minimal, they can still add up over time. One of the higher costs comes from books. On average, a student will have at least one book per semester with a price point of $60 to $100.
With all of these considered, let’s take a look at some master’s degrees that are worth earning.
Master’s Degrees Worth Earning
If you’re a working professional within the tech industry, here are some grad school programs that are worth considering:
- Saint Joseph’s University, MS in Business Intelligence and Analytics
- Georgia Institute of Technology, MS in Computer-Human Interaction
- Georgetown University, MS in Professional Studies in Technology Management
- Penn State University, MS in Education, Learning, Design and Technology
- University of South Carolina, MA in Technology and Communication
MS in Business Intelligence and Analytics
Saint Joseph’s University, which is located in Philadelphia, offers a master’s program in Business Intelligence and Analytics.
Enterprise Data, Introduction to Data Mining and Predictive Analysis are just a few of the classes that you can expect from this master’s program. You can even test if this degree program might be right for you through the university’s master’s students’ shadowing program.
Ranked in the top 20 by a US News and World Report review, the program offers four career tracks to choose from. It includes cyber analytics, data analytics, general business intelligence and data science.
MS in Computer-Human Interaction
The Georgia Institute of Technology’s Master’s in Computer-Human Interaction is a great option for professionals in the tech industry. This master’s program is a combination of four schools, including Industrial Design, Interactive Computing, Literature, Media and Communication, and Psychology.
Students can apply to the program through any of the colleges mentioned above. Graduates of the master’s program can go on to create, implement, and analyze computer-human interactions.
MS in Professional Studies in Technology Management
Located in Washington, Georgetown University offers an MS in Professional Studies in Technology Management using faculty at the forefront of the technology industry. Classes in the program focus on big data and cloud computing, as well as revenue optimization and leadership skills.
Graduates begin careers as IT project managers, IT executives, cyber security experts, Chief Information Officers and IT program managers. The program, consisting of a total of 30 credit hours, combines theory and practice within the tech industry.
MS in Education, Learning, Design and Technology
Penn State’s MS in Education, Learning, Design, and Technology offers some great courses. Some of these cover Systematic Instructional Development, Educational Technology Integration and Emerging Web Technologies and Learning. As one of the top-ranked schools in the country, this Penn State master’s program focuses on learning, design and technology through research.
MA in Technology and Communication
The University of South Carolina offers its Master’s in Technology and Communication through its School of Journalism and Mass Communications. The program focuses on journalism in the tech industry. Its courses cover Writing for Digital Media, New Media and Society and Research Methods and Applications.
Tech Industry: Master’s Degrees vs Experience
In an industry where talent trumps education, many are left wondering: Is a master’s degree worth it? The tech industry is at the forefront of alternative education opportunities, including being self-taught or attending a bootcamp. So, what does the industry think of pursuing higher education in the form of a master’s degree?
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In recent years, the ways by which aspiring tech professionals break into the industry have changed. Non-traditional learning grew in abundance. A 2019 Stack Overflow survey questioned 90,000 developers about their education.
Over 85 percent of them reported that they taught themselves something outside their formal education. Of the respondents, 43.5 percent had a bachelor’s degree and only 22.7 had a master’s degree.
Furthermore, since the tech industry is extremely hands-on, formal education is not necessarily a requirement for employment. Large tech corporations, including Apple, are hiring tech professionals who don’t hold undergraduate or advanced degrees. A bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree are not necessarily the only education options in the tech industry.
Is a Master’s Degree Worth It?
So, when is a master’s degree worth it? That all depends on your career goals. Graduate programs in tech are incredibly specialized. This leads to more credibility in your chosen profession and increased opportunities in the job market. Some jobs may require a master’s degree while others may not.
Needless to say, a graduate degree can benefit you in the long term. For one, having one can lead to promotions and salary increases. That’s not to mention the added knowledge and skills you can cultivate while partaking in the program. One can never go wrong with pursuing further education.
Master’s Degree FAQ
A report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2013 revealed that many master’s degree holders in STEM fields had wage premiums. Mathematicians, statisticians, and workers of other math-related roles, for instance, enjoyed higher wages than people with a bachelor’s degree. This also held true for computer systems analysts and computer programmers.
Normally, students earn a bachelor’s degree first before progressing to a master’s degree. This process usually lasts six years. However, some institutions do offer dual degree or integrated programs for select majors. Through these, students can take graduate classes while at the undergraduate level and complete both in five years.
A general rule of thumb when considering online learning for a master’s degree program is to check whether the university offering the program is accredited. A regional accreditation is sufficient for employers. This signifies that a university has met or exceeded the standards in quality education.
Yes, provided that you meet eligibility requirements. For the federal student loan, graduate students are considered independent students. This means that they are not obliged to provide parent information when completing the FAFSA form. Other types of aid include aid from other federal agencies, state aid, and school aid.
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