Is it worth going back to get a Degree

jediknightjediknight Member Posts: 113

I know this has been discussed may times more or less, but I'm looking for some serious advice from others here.

I have reached a point in my IT career where I feel I have enough experience and a good amount of certification where I can try and advance a bit more up the career path. I work for a really big company as a contractor and have been with the company for over 3 years now. I guess you can say I'm "settled" into this position.

Here is my situation. I was recently offered a permanent position within the company, but the company prefers you have a degree (computer science, EE). I can still get the position, but I will be put at a lower pay grade than if I had a degree. I honestly dislike this seeing that I've been doing the work for over 3 years and the only thing that is changing are my employment terms. Also I will be required to be making progress towards a 4 yr degree as listed above.

I always hear of people having the Degree, but not enough experience or certification or people that have the experience or certification being limited by not having the degree.

I understand and respect that having a Degree is a great thing, but most of me really does not want to have to go back to school again because it would be a long hard process since I have to work full time to pay bills. If I don't get a degree however, it will be next to impossible to move up. I also don't feel that the payout for having the degree in IT is worth the ordeal getting it.

Basically, I just want to hear some opinions on going back to school and getting the Degree. Is it worth it despite the hard work and has it payed off for you? Should I just suck it up and get it done? Or any other opinions. Thanks.


  • eMeSeMeS Member Posts: 1,875
    Yes. Having any degree can often open doors that would otherwise remain closed.

    My general advice is to get a degree from the best recognized school that you can afford. Given your experience and certifications, I would propose a slightly different path.

    My opinion is that with certifications, degrees, etc.. one should always review what work or accomplishments previously completed that can be applied to the new goal. In other words, take credit for what you've already done. For example, I used my Six Sigma Black Belt projects as project time that also qualified me for the PMP.

    University of Maryland has an excellent distance program. They offer several IT-ish flavored degrees.

    One of the best things that I think they do is that they recognize that some certifications and experience can count for college credit. They have a class that I'm told is very tough where you spend the semester building a portfolio to demonstrate credit-equivalents for some classes. I believe you can earn a maximum of 30 hours credit doing that.

    I have a friend who did this through UMUC several years ago. She earned 30 credits in one semester, plus they give you 3 elective credits for taking the portfolio building class.

    See their website for more info:

    Of course there are limitations. You can't just sign up for this, complete it and graduate. I think they want you to do something like 30 hours in residence to earn the degree. However, I don't think you can beat an offer that lets you earn 1 year's worth of full-time credit in one semester.

    Please note, I didn't graduate from this school and I have no vested interest in their success.

    However, if this option had been available when I was an undergrad, I would have jumped all over it....But that was a long time ago and schools used to enjoy making it hard to get degrees (I used to have to stand in line in person to register for classes!).

  • undomielundomiel Member Posts: 2,818
    I'd say go for a degree if you can afford it. A degree is a good thing to have, just make sure you can avoid student loans. Debt is not a good thing to have and I don't believe that a degree is worth the debt packaged with it.

    Do a pro/con sheet.
    Jumping on the IT blogging band wagon --
  • brad-brad- Member Posts: 1,218
    My advice would be to first, find out if it matters what kind of degree. If it doesnt have to be Comp. Sci. or anything like that, I would look at something like communication or business admin with a minor in a computer related field.

    My experience was that the "Computer" courses were all programming based. Very little networking or admin, its was all development based for me. If I could do it over again, I would have been a Communication major with a Web I didnt pull all my hair out and lose 10 years off my life.
  • jediknightjediknight Member Posts: 113
    Thanks for all the responses so far and I'd love some more input as this is really something I need some good input on.

    It definitely seems as getting the Degree will not hurt you in any way. The cost I understand is just a hit I'm going to have to accept. A point that was brought up and that I was considering as well was getting a non IT related degree like Business or something else. It is true that I've heard from others that the courses in college do not cover networking or Operating Systems, ect... and mainly are programming courses which I do not really programming at all. Have many of you have success going that route or did you have to get an IT related degree. Do you feel in my situation it would fill in the remaining gaps for me.

    How do you feel about having the Degree and it opening up opportunities for you. I guess I need to hear a "just go and get it done it is worth it!".

    Again, please offer any input.
  • mengo17mengo17 Member Posts: 100 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Take a loot at an MIS (Management Information Systems) program/degree... some schools even do concentrations like InfoSec (which I did :D )... and YES, there was programming.... (C++).
    Even the MS in InfoSec (I am halfway) there is plenty of programming too (Java).
    Programming is one more skill you are going to have. You do not need to go the programming route.
  • AmpdChaosAmpdChaos Member Posts: 130
    way worth it... i mean think in the future.. if you lose that job.. the degree will still open doors.. everyone looks for that... it looks GOOD too..
  • eMeSeMeS Member Posts: 1,875
    As I understood your initial post you needed to get a degree in a computer science field (or my mind, EE is a long way off from computer science).

    If you have the option of any degree field, I think your life is much simpler. Get the degree that you can accomplish in the least amount of time.

    IMO, an undergraduate education is intended to be broad, to create a general level of knowledge. Very few professions require specific study at this level (e.g., architecture, engineering, accounting, etc...).

    Save your specialization for graduate school.

  • KasorKasor Member Posts: 929 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Yes x 10 times
    Kill All Suffer T "o" ReBorn
  • blargoeblargoe Member Posts: 4,174 ■■■■■■■■■□
    Yes, particularly if the company has some kind of tuition reimbursement program. Big companies often do.
    IT guy since 12/00

    Recent: 11/2019 - RHCSA (RHEL 7); 2/2019 - Updated VCP to 6.5 (just a few days before VMware discontinued the re-cert policy...)
    Working on: RHCE/Ansible
    Future: Probably continued Red Hat Immersion, Possibly VCAP Design, or maybe a completely different path. Depends on job demands...
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