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To masters or not to masters

June 21, 2011

So I'm going to blame GEARS for getting all my little mind wheels spinning on this. He wrote a few topics at Engineer Blogs firstly to never pay for grad school if you are a US citizen and secondly a post on whether grad school for engineering is worth it. Of course all of this got me thinking. I hadn't planned on going back for my master's. Going through my bachelor's was like going through the gauntlet. I'm still tired just thinking about it. I don't think I'd get to go for free as I'd likely need to keep working through this whole thing. Unless I waited a significant amount of time (like 6 years).
And yet at work I am starting to realize I will have to work twice as hard to achieve the same level. Where in two years from now I might qualify for a promotion if I spent the next two years working on my masters I could easily turn that into two promotions in three years. It's possible that the longer I stick around the more people will have master's degrees and the more that will become the norm for engineering.
But thinking about it really makes me tired. Yes it won't be as long and bitter as the five years of working full time while doing my undergrad, but it'll still be probably a two year minimum commitment while I'm trying to juggle ever growing responsibility at work. I could wait, but if I wait it just seems like time wasted that could've been spent gaining the credential.
9 Comments leave one →
  1. June 21, 2011 8:50 pm

    Have you considered asking your employer whether they'd pay for your masters? I know several people who have done this. For them, it took a year or two longer, as it was understood by the university that they'd be working part time. It is considered to be part of their job, so their in office work load was temporarily decreased. But the employer pays all or a significant part of fees in return for themr promising not to leave them for a certain chunk of time afterwards, or some other such concession.

  2. June 22, 2011 12:16 pm

    Barefoot beat me to it. That was going to be my suggestion. Another aspect that may float your boat is that in UG, you didn't probably do research. But in grad school, research is an entirely different experience than just chugging away at classes.

  3. June 22, 2011 12:17 pm

    I did/ just waiting for results on a Bachelor of engineering which i studied distance learning. My place of work did pay for it, which i am thankful for, but to assume workload will decrease cannot be assumed, despite your extra commitments we are in enginering. We were offered some big engineering contracts and so extra time was required for the project to come to fruition. Therefore some modules had less effort put in than others due to the overtime commitments.I wish you luck on studying for a masters.Dan

  4. June 22, 2011 7:51 pm

    Well work would pay for a portion but unfortunately wouldn't cover the whole cost. They did the same for my undergrad so I wouldn't say they'd be thrilled or incredibly supportive of me going back to school again. The school doesn't appear to offer stipends to MS only students. I'm debating auditing for a year to get a start on the courses which is somehow cheaper than legitimately attending but obviously it's a risk if I don't get accepted.

  5. June 22, 2011 8:58 pm

    It depends on the university but I wouldn't look at just what the university is offering. Individual faculty members probably have funding for the right masters student. It costs a Prof basically the same to fund a PhD student as a MS student and since funding never comes in 4-5 year chunks (more like 2-3 years), someone working on a smaller project might be beneficial.I don't know what Uni you have in mind but look around! Pick up the phone and call individual profs. It's worth a shot but make sure you know what you want to say before you call them. Wishy-washy isn't a good intro.

  6. June 22, 2011 9:10 pm

    Well as mentioned before I'd have to keep working full time so not sure what professors would really want to work around that. I'm now the primary breadwinner with a spouse at a company prone to layoffs and a mortgage. There are two local universities, the better suggested stipends max out at around 26k. As a working engineer that's a significant pay cut (I was making more as a secretary back in the day!) Does any of that tip the equation? Knowing my current employer may or may not appreciate it but is it worth it for knowledge/educational fulfillment by itself?

  7. June 23, 2011 12:59 am

    You could do one or two classes at a time in subjects that would benefit you. After a few classes, you can decide whether to start working for the degree. The concern about how a particular employer views it, IMHO, is shortsighted. It's better to do what you think improves your abilities and then go find employers or clients who want those abilities. This is the opposite of trying to work out what an employer wants in your long-term education and follow their lead. Even if it works and they make you VP of engineering, there's not that much money in it (usually) to offset letting them direct your life decisions. Moreover, their culture may change radically in just a few years. It's a moving target. Do what you think is best and find people wanting to pay for it.

  8. June 23, 2011 4:18 pm

    OK so I have not insight into the whole Master or not. We're struggling financially now bc of my decision to PhD & have kids…BUT I did want to say congrats on finishing your Bachelors. I obviously missed that, sorry!

  9. June 23, 2011 4:45 pm

    Thanks! And I hope you mean the decision to have kids was mutual. I feel the same way sometimes about our maybe poor decision to buy a house three years ago. In the long run fine, but in the short term it's meant some dicey financial moments and a limiting of options. I like you felt that because I was the one supporting it the most I also should take most of the blame. But you know what? Our spouses were there. They don't get to pretend they are silent passengers the whole ride and complain about the destination. Anyways just a note from one guilt stricken person to another.

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