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engineering graduate school question

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by panfilero, Jun 18, 2007.

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  1. panfilero

    panfilero Guest


    I know this isn't really a technical question, but I was wondering if
    anyone in here might be able to offer some insight on this. I
    recently got my BSEE, and am considering going for a Masters, and my
    question is, is it worth it? Does anyone know what the major
    differences would be graduating with a BSEE or a MSEE, I don't know if
    it would be better to start working and trying to learn stuff in
    industry or continuing school, I'm 30 right now, which is a bit older
    to have just got a BSEE. The University I attend isn't a top 100 or
    top 200 in the country as far as EE goes either.

  2. cpope

    cpope Guest

    The master's says

    *you were a good enough student to make it into grad school
    *you can handle advanced material
    *and (for most schools) you can handle a large independent project, e.g. a

    I think you'll find from salary tables that the MS pays for itself, i.e. you
    make more in higher pay than you lose in the 18 to 24 months it takes to get
    the degree.

    However, these days you shouldn't have to choose. Many schools have night
    time MS programs and you can probably get your employer to pay for it. Not
    really the same experience as being on campus, full time, with a research
    team but valuable none the less.

    Good luck,
  3. Joel Kolstad

    Joel Kolstad Guest

    That sounds more like the "non-thesis project" option to me... My experience
    was that the "thesis" option was, "work on the professor's current pet
    projector that he's been working on for some years prior and will continue to
    work on after you leave." Nothing wrong with that, but I'd stress that it's
    *very important* to make sure the professor is working on something *you
    actually give a damn about!*
    I suspect that it'd be very hard to find a school offering an
    off-campus/night-school MSEE in IC or RF design, as these typically require
    the use of large labs outfitted with lots of fancy equipment few people could
    realistically duplicate at home. For MSEEs that are more "computer science"
    oriented, I'm sure it works fine.

    I was a little disappointed that there were various HP employees in some of
    the classes I took who were there only because HP required them to get a
    degree to advance in title and hence salary. From an employee's point of
    view... ok, fine, I can understand why they do it (no worse than going into EE
    in the first place primarily because the pay if good and you find the work
    "tolerable")... but from a corporate point of view, I'm amazed that HP
    condones such activities.

  4. Randy Yates

    Randy Yates Guest

    I would caution the OP that, from what I've seen, employer-supported
    (in either tuition pay and/or time away from work to attend class)
    masters degrees are on the downswing. This was the reason I left my
    previous employer, even though they advertised support in obtaining
    an advanced degree.

    If you're accepting a job based on an employer's promise to pay for a
    masters, get it in writing.
    % Randy Yates % "She's sweet on Wagner-I think she'd die for Beethoven.
    %% Fuquay-Varina, NC % She love the way Puccini lays down a tune, and
    %%% 919-577-9882 % Verdi's always creepin' from her room."
    %%%% <> % "Rockaria", *A New World Record*, ELO
  5. mpm

    mpm Guest

    Experience counts too.
    So, if you were not in the EE workforce before or during your BSEE
    years, you might hold off on the Masters program, at least for now.
    Here's why:

    Time was, a Double-E degree was a guarantee of life-long employment.
    Perhaps with a Fortune-500 Company, great benefits, retirement....

    Nowadays, a lot of EE's (newly minted and otherwise) find themselves
    scrambling for contract work. (Not all, but a lot.) Times ain't what
    they used to be. You are at the perfect crossroads, in a sense. Take
    some time, and find out.

    If you find yourself leaning towards more education simply because job
    prospects appear bleak (be honest!), I personally would face that
    situation square in it's own reality. Jobs are hemmoraging from the
    US in general, (and on the whole, they are being replaced by lower-
    pay, lower-skill, and much lower-satisfaction jobs IMO.) Or they are
    off-shored. If that is an underlying reality in your part of the
    world, or in your particular field of interest, make sure you bring it
    to the surface before making a decision.

    Also, I don't personally think 30 is too young to get your BSEE.
  6. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    It depends what you want. If you love going to school, then do that. If
    you want to actually do something useful, then get some practical

    If you already have all of the money you need, then retire. ;-)

    Good Luck!
  7. Jerry Avins

    Jerry Avins Guest

    I too was 30 when I got my BEE. It was too long ago for my experience to
    be relevant, so I can offer only an observation, not advice. I got on
    fine without an advanced degree, but they are more necessary now than
    they were then. And even considering the more than 40-year interval, I
    was lucky to have advances as far as I did. (I was good. The luck was
    working for people who valued achievement more than credentials.)

  8. Salmon Egg

    Salmon Egg Guest

    Of the responses I have seen so far, this is the best advice. What do you
    want to do? Do you have any passion for some specialty? In my day, I am
    retired now, amateur radio was a passion for many a potential EE. That seems
    to be replaced by computers now and ham radio is dying. Do you like working
    at the bench in preference to design and analysis? Let that guide you.

    Good luck!

    -- Support the troops. Impeach Bush. Oh, I forgot about Cheney.
  9. Bret Ludwig

    Bret Ludwig Guest

    Amateur Radio killed itself off by allowing appliance operators to go
    wild. They should have insisted on taxing imported ahm equipment and
    put a practical test in place like the one for an A&P license for the

    As a career decision the MSEE makes sense only if very, very
    carefully evaluated in terms of the future of the H-1B program, which
    has killed EE/CS as a desireable career path for many Americans.

    You can't compete with an Indian who will work for thirty or forty
    thousand a year in Silicon Valley and live eight-up in a one room
    apartment. I know a man that with a master's in EE and several years
    experience in defense plants bought a bus and headed out to Silicon
    Valley with the idea he'd live in the bus for awhile. This was a very
    nice MCI MC-8 conversion formerly used by a famous country singer on
    tour. He couldn't get hired in any engineering job at any rate of pay,
    he even applied for engineering tech positions and they turned him
    down, of course, as overqualified. He FINALLY (speaking very good
    Spanish) had the wild ass idea of getting a Matricula Consular card
    under a fake name-and to understand why it's funny he's a really
    Nordic looking guy-and got a job at a big semiconductor company as a
    fab maintenance person. He finally was able to get an engineering
    support job under his real name, but the pay isn't a lot better. If he
    didn't own the bus, and its economical 'toad' (a towed small car
    behind it) outright he couldn't possibly live out there. As it stands
    he dreads having to get California tags and insurance on the bus: the
    toad will never get past CARB.
  10. msg

    msg Guest

    Salmon Egg wrote:

    How on earth did the hierarchy descend into such idiocy
    (except for the homebrew ng)? I hadn't looked there for many years and am
    aghast at what I see. This situation is certainly reflected on other
    online amatuer radio venues on the Internet as well.

    In the US, one could argue that FCC policy that has downgraded licensing
    requirements since the late 1970s has played a significant role in
    deficits of character, but what explains the online bad conduct of
    amateurs from elsewhere?

    Do you see any hope of restoring an engineering orientation to the
    amateur radio services and if so by what instrumentality?


  11. Re-edjimucate 'em!
  12. Salmon Egg

    Salmon Egg Guest

    The purpose for most amateur radio activities has vanished. Operation during
    emergencies such as Katrina is about the most useful activity I can think
    of. Under ordinary circumstances communication is so cheap and more reliable
    through submarine cable and satellite that the thrill is gone. In my day,
    phone patch traffic for the military and others provided a service that was
    not otherwise available. Today, even if I were active, I would prefer paying
    a few cents a minute for a transcontinental phone call compared to running a
    I was a partial victim of the H-1B program in the 70's. That is why I am
    against amnesty and guest workers at this time.

    -- Support the troops. Impeach Bush. Oh, I forgot about Cheney.
  13. Salmon Egg

    Salmon Egg Guest

    Not really. Modern electronics and radio is not really feasible or
    economical for home construction. I can get an FM stereo radio with
    earphones at the 99¢ store. You cannot buy the parts for a transceiver for
    what it costs for a much better piece of equipment commercially.

    Don't blame the FCC. The US Navy no longer uses Morse code as far as I know.
    Even short wave broadcasters have given up good frequencies because internet
    over fiber gives more reliable and cheaper service.


    -- Support the troops. Impeach Bush. Oh, I forgot about Cheney.
  14. Benj

    Benj Guest

    Years ago this same question faced me. Research showed the answer is
    clear! GET THE MSEE!!! Believe me the year or two (you should have
    asked this question LONG ago Bunky! Many schools have programs that
    let you get a BSEE and MSEE at the same time.) spent getting the
    master's degree MORE than pays for itself. This is true in all
    engineering fields, but especially in EE. Your starting salary will
    jump-start and the BSEE guys who graduated with you will never catch

    For what it's worth, getting a PhD. is NOT worth it! The extended time
    needed to get that degree, means that you fall back behind the MSEE
    guys who are working and getting promoted. You NEVER catch up! Hence
    the bottom line is one gets a PhD ONLY for reasons where it is
    required, like say teaching but never to try to fast track your

    And there is more. Once you hit industry and the job scene, you'll
    find that although everyone makes a huge fuss about how important it
    is to get on the job training and how nobody teaches anything in
    college that is useful in a job setting (well except for bureaucratic
    politics, of course), Fact Is, that the company you chose to work for
    will invariably advance the guy with the MSEE sheepskin over the
    smartest BSEE with all the company training they have to offer. Trust
    me on this!

    Get those forms in!

    I hope this helps.

  15. julius

    julius Guest

    Joshua, I am assuming that you are in the United States
    and you are interested in jobs in the United States.

    It's hard to say anything that holds in generality, but some
    companies nowadays don't even accept BS-level, fresh out
    of university, new hires. So at the very least it will open some
    doors to you. Whether those doors are attractive to you
    depends on opportunities and the values you assign to them.

    That said, given your hesitation (isn't that why you posted
    this question), maybe the best thing to do is to go for the
    master's if and only if you can get yourself into a good
    program that makes you happy, or a project that you think will
    make you a better engineer. The increased potential salary is
    worth it only if you can get to it :). And that is helped with a
    degree from a better-known school or with an improved resume.

    I don't think that age has much to do here, except for the higher
    likelihood of having dependents. That always imposes tough
    constraints and challenges.

    One thing that makes the scene a bit complicated is the
    increasing popularity of the 5-year BS/MEng combo in the
    United States. That murks the waters a bit. I think it's a great
    deal for those who stay in school for the 5 years, because it
    offers a chance at working on a good project before they leave
    school. But I don't know what that means to those who are
    going back from full-time employment to pursue a master's

    Finally, going for a PhD may not be sensible from a salary
    perspective, but I'm glad to have done it since I was paid to do
    it (albeit only student stipend and/or fellowships), I didn't have
    to pay tuition, and now I can work at the level that I want to
    within my company. Your mileage may and probably will vary.

    Cheers, and good luck on your decision.
  16. larwe

    larwe Guest

    This is utter nonsense. You're not actually in the workforce, are you?
  17. Congrats on asking yourself the hard questions before making a decision.
    When an undergrad informs me of such a decision, I always suggest that
    the student take a really close look at why they want the advanced

    I think as a fresh BS at age 30, you might stand out a little in an
    applicant pool of other BS's, with employers seeing you as a little more
    mature than the rest of the pool -- especially if you write the right
    sort of cover letter. There is also the risk that they view you as
    indecisive, so make sure you have a good story about why your career path
    is just launching now.

    Whether or not the above gives you as much boost as a Masters might, or
    whether the practical experience you'd get as a working engineer would
    offset this, or whether your career clock is ticking too fast right now
    to justify the Masters is a lot harder to pin down, and your own personal
    goals will have much to do with the decision.
  18. larwe

    larwe Guest

    I would suggest you get a foot in the door experience-wise and get
    into the workforce now, if you are able - and pursue the MSEE part-
    time. Note that this also starts the clock on work experience for the
    PE qualification, if you want to become one of the two or three
    licensed PEs in your state.

    One really good reason for doing it this way: many (most?)
    corporations will pay for some or all of the tuition costs. If you
    stay in school, you'll be further behind in terms of useful (on the
    job) experience and deeper in debt. Free money is good; one of the
    main things that pushed me to the job I'm in right now is that I can
    soak up $20k of tuition for free (or more; it's limited only by the
    number of credits I can take while keeping an A average).

    Even if you graduate with an MSEE you will, by and large, still only
    be eligible for entry-level positions because of your inexperience.
  19. Ali

    Ali Guest

    Without any solid reason i want to say to grab some commercial
    opportunity and consider your further education as a part time thing,
    perhaps life is itself a learning process. Yes, having a Master degree
    does help to get certain jobs but some advertisers do prompt for age
    factor as well. Like, Should be having master with below age 26 to or

    Getting BSEE over 30 years does exhibit your passion for particular
    profession. So, why not giving a chance to some commercial world?
    worth a shot , BTW you can get to school at anytime for your Master.

  20. Ali

    Ali Guest

    In Addition to Joel:

    If you feel that your purposed project or expected professor is doing
    something really extra then just go for that.

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