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Thread: Affordable BS to MS Computer Science path

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    SpicyMe23 is offline Minor Noble
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    Default Affordable BS to MS Computer Science path

    I am 25 years old and looking for the next big career step. I currently work as an account manager - most of my day is customer service related work. There is little room for growth and it isn't what I want to do long term. My ultimate goal is to transition into the IT field and my dream job is to work as a Sys Admin.

    I have a BS in Biology and a lot of student debt already so I wouldn't be eligible for any more financial aid for undergrad education. I also have a family to support and cannot quit my day job, so any educational pursuits would need to be done online and in an affordable manner. Unfortunately my local community college doesn't offer any of their CS courses online or at night

    I am studying for the MCSA certification and it is also my goal to get the CCNA, CompTIA A, and CompTIA Network+ certs. I am also currently learning basic programming and scripting (still have a lot to learn).

    I realize that after I get some certifications and programming under my belt I should be well on my way to gaining some experience and hopefully landing a job in IT. I have been told by several IT professionals that a degree in CS isn't necessary. But, for advancement purposes and my own personal goal of getting a master's some day, a MS in CS or something similar is ultimately what I think I should pursue.

    What is currently the most affordable route to get a BS in Computer Science and MS in Computer Science, or something similar? I am not really sure where to start. I have looked at the TESU CIS degree, but it does not look like it would allow me to get into a master's program which is a personal goal of mine. Please share your thoughts and stories!!!

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    AJ_Atlanta's Avatar
    AJ_Atlanta is offline Knight Champion
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    What about WGU or similar - perhaps IT Management or am MBA with a focus in IT. I would lean toward MBA personally as it offers utility and may be more desirable for a management role later in life. From personal experience my life was far more about business than technology when I was at that level; I had subject matter experts to keep me informed as a company director, the only time I was at the keyboard was for email and checking my next meeting.

    Now if you are interested in being that SEM perhaps a different degree would be better, but computer science is more about building computers than operations or programming (unless you want to create your own language) - you would want to look as CIS or IT degrees

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    SpicyMe23 is offline Minor Noble
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    Would you then suggest I continue working on certifications and taking courses through courera, edx, etc. without worrying about a second bachelor's or master's in CS? I already have a BS in biology with a fair bit of math work (through Calc III and DiffEQ, but I never took linear algebra or discrete).

    If certifications and continued education through those (mostly free) means would be sufficient for getting an entry level job for now perhaps that is what I should focus on.

    I was worried that if I cannot get a MS in Computer Science that it would prohibit my ability to grow career-wise later in life.

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    No when I hired people in IT I generally looked for certifications and/or experience to setup interviews, including a technical one. At least for starting positions, HR liked a degree (any) and I wanted someone who was current.

    No offense to degree holders - but at some point the value of an IT degree is that you had the discipline to earn one and that you valued learning. Technology moves all the time, it's continuing education (and to some degree certs) that I valued. Well that and soft skills, hence why I liked business degrees. The people that moved beyond keyboard jockey were the ones that could communicate with the business units and understand their needs. Technology (no matter how cool) is a tool for competitive advantage or minimizing costs, the folks who got that moved ahead.

    my .02

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    SpicyMe23 is offline Minor Noble
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    Thank you for sharing your 2 cents! It is very similar to the advise I received from someone close to being the Chief IT Officer at their company. They said to focus on certifications first and self-study, get an entry level job and go from there. Basically, worry about the rest later =)

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    Quote Originally Posted by SpicyMe23 View Post
    Thank you for sharing your 2 cents! It is very similar to the advise I received from someone close to being the Chief IT Officer at their company. They said to focus on certifications first and self-study, get an entry level job and go from there. Basically, worry about the rest later =)
    You are most welcome. At some point I think that MBA with CIS focus would help you out, never stop learning but don't let it stop you from actually doing

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    TrailRunr is offline Viscount / Viscountess
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    IMHO, sysadmin and to a lesser extent network admin are two areas in an otherwise hot IT environment that are slowly dying due to devops and SDN. Sysadmin/infrastructure is a money pit for companies so this is a losing area of IT where beancounters think they can cut costs without consequence. The move to the cloud is also reducing the need for sysadmins. I would recommend going to security (very hot right now) or software development or pretty much anything else in IT.

    As far as degrees, experience trumps all. But my HR requires job candidates to have degrees in specific majors at my work as a way to weed out resumes automatically. I can't rescue resumes from otherwise brilliant folks with no degrees or degrees in liberal arts as a major. This is where the checkbox degree is important. TESU has a CS-lite degree where you can plug in MIS courses that is good for the HR checkbox and little else. WGU has a bunch of excellent IT degrees that come with certs. The certs are useful at the beginning of your career, but pretty worthless after that except in corner cases like DoD.

    The problem with the MSCS is that it is very difficult, expensive (except Georgia Tech OMSCS), and time consuming just to clear prerequisite courses like linear algebra, software engineering, etc. Then you have to do the MSCS which can take five years. Unlike WGU's master degrees in IT which an be completed quickly by experienced IT folks, you won't be able to accelerate most MSCS degrees due to the mountain of work. The OMSCS is the affordable part-time option, but plan on a huge sacrifice in time for the next four to five years.
    JTP, jsd and AJ_Atlanta like this.
    TESU BA CS and Math (graduated December 2016)
    Courses/exams for both CS and Math: SL Calc 1, SL Calc 2, APU Linear algebra, TESU capstone
    Courses/exams for CS: TESU Computer Architecture, DSST MIS, DSST cybersecurity, CSU-Global System Analysis, rest B&M courses from the past
    Courses/exams: TESU College Geometry, TESU Mathematical Modeling, edX differential equations (2 courses), rest B&M courses from the past

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    JTP
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    https://www.omscs.gatech.edu

    ^link for the Gorgia Tech program TrailRunr referenced. Really neat program, but very technical if sysadmin is your end goal.
    B.S. Cybersecurity - COSC - August 2016
    A.S. - COSC - May 2015

    Next Goal: MS CSIA From WGU

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    SpicyMe23 is offline Minor Noble
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    TrailRunr - that is a very interesting perspective. A side I haven't heard before. Where I am from sys admin jobs are still thriving and although more and more is going to the cloud the jobs are simply transitioning to encompass that. However, I will def add s/w development and security to my list of concentrations to look into as I get further in my learning journey. I'm not really sure s/w development is personally where I would like to go. To be honest, I have always received high praises in past jobs for my leadership and management skills (I briefly worked in some management positions) and that is where I would see myself eventually going within IT. Of course, I would need to work my way up and get experience first and I really would like to work for a while as a tech.

    It is unfortunate that the HR department would weed otherwise strong candidates with a non CS degree, but I can understand why that is their strategy. I also find it interesting that you think certs are worthless at a certain point. I have heard the exact opposite from people I have also asked for their thoughts (including IT managers and top tier techs).

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    SpicyMe23 is offline Minor Noble
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    I will definitely file this away as a possibility for the future. If I were to pursue that particular program, I wouldn't feel comfortable with a CIS TESU degree which seems very "light" IMO. They do indicate an undergraduate degree in mathematics would be sufficient and I could easily test out most of a second bachelor's in mathematics with the large amount of math courses I took for my biology degree (I was stupid and didn't apply for a math minor even though I had the classes).

    For now, my gut says to start with certifications and self-study and see if I can get an entry level job that way. Then, once I am working in tech I can hopefully have a better perspective on the necessity (or not) of a second bachelor's, master's, or just further certifications.

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