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Does IS/IT/CIS vs. CS degree really matter?

SteveFTSteveFT Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 149
I know there are many threads related to this question. I think that the general consensus seems to be that if all else is equal, the person holding the CS degree will take the job. This isn't all that helpful because there is hardly ever a case where all things are equal (personality, experience, certifications, etc). My question is: will not having a degree in computer science limit you in systems administration and security roles, if you have the knowledge base? Also, does the grasp of calculus and/or low level languages really help in the real world, specifically in these IT roles? As I have the IT degree planned out, it will be all Unix/Linux Admin, Shell Scripting, C, and Network Security & Architecture.

While I am not attempting to flood the boards, I am trying to validate my plans with people in this field. In my predicament, I can have a BS in IT for 30 credits, for BS in CS for 60-70 credits. At 25 years old, this is the difference in graduating in ~2 years, versus 3.5-4 years, assuming that I work full time. I am motivated and have no problem teaching myself new topics, so I can pick up any deficiencies in knowledge on my own time. My biggest concern is losing out on a job due to the name of my major. I know some people are of the opinion that you should work first and then get the degree. While I respect this opinion, I would prefer to start taking a course or two at a time while working full-time.

I appreciate the insight in this forum. You're all very helpful.

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    networker050184networker050184 Mod Posts: 11,962 Mod
    It's all in the eye of the beholder really. The only opinion that really matters is the person reading your resume.

    That being said I seriously doubt not having a CS degree will hold you back. There are many more important factors that an employer would look at first when choosing a candidate before type of degree.
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
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    jibbajabbajibbajabba Member Posts: 4,317 ■■■■■■■■□□
    I don't have a degree (Hardly ever mention my degree in electronic engineering, which isn't even a bachelor) but I am sure I am at the top of possible "IT junky" salaries here, unless you go into management (I am in Europe / UK, mind, I am sure US is different).

    What helped me? Initially names on my CV, names of companies that is (Xerox, HP, Symantec, Intel, IBM). Even though I just worked as tech-support monkey - I am sure it helped.

    Next, certs. Then .. experience ..

    Make no mistake - it took me almost 10 years to get to that stage .. Would a CS degree have helped me ? Honestly doubt it .. most companies I worked for wanted people who work on stuff end to end - from brain to dirty hands and I think a lot of times (unless proven on your resume otherwise), people with just degrees are considered "pencil pushers".
    My own knowledge base made public: http://open902.com :p
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    ITcognitoITcognito Member Posts: 61 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Similar question to TC: does the reputation of the institute you've attended matter in IT?
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    ptilsenptilsen Member Posts: 2,835 ■■■■■■■■■■
    Honestly, CS is great (see signature), but it isn't for everyone in every situation. As you said, all else isn't equal. Frankly, unless you want to be a software engineer or do something heavily involving programming, I cannot fathom you, specifically, opting for CS at the cost of another 30-40 credits to do traditional infrastructure roles. Even if you got into really heavy scripting, I think you could get by just fine without CS knowledge, and your career will certainly be fine without it. I have certainly not felt I was missing out on anything without calculus, discrete math, and OOP in infrastructure roles over the last eight years, and even lacking a bachelor's degree has barely slowed me down. Now this being said, I would still advise CS to anyone just starting college who isn't afraid of math and programming, but this isn't your situation so that doesn't matter.

    The time and money those extra credits would take would be better spent on certifications, IMO. That doesn't apply to everyone, but I think it clearly applies to you in this scenario.
    Working B.S., Computer Science
    Complete: 55/120 credits SPAN 201, LIT 100, ETHS 200, AP Lang, MATH 120, WRIT 231, ICS 140, MATH 215, ECON 202, ECON 201, ICS 141, MATH 210, LING 111, ICS 240
    In progress: CLEP US GOV,
    Next up: MATH 211, ECON 352, ICS 340
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    DissonantDataDissonantData Member Posts: 158
    It probably doesn't matter for 95% of jobs. My guess is that the scientific research jobs (those that require PhDs) are looking for people who studied CS, Math, Physics, etc.

    I am kind of disappointed with the way colleges are teaching CS. They just throw programming projects at you and teach you math, but do not teach you how real world IT works. When I took a CS course on database management systems and another on networking, I got a much better idea of what programming is and how to apply math in the real world.
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    holysheetmanholysheetman Member Posts: 113 ■■■□□□□□□□
    no. It does not matter unless the job requirement says "Computer Science degree REQUIRED" - Welcome to 2013.
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    010101010101 Member Posts: 68 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Depends on what you want to do.
    To my knowledge most universities only offer (2) IT degrees.
    CS which is for computer programming. (Writing software)
    Computer Engineering which is for networking.
    Some schools offer a 'business' IT degree which is a lot easier. No math, no coding, etc, but it's also not really an 'IT' degree. It's a business degree.

    IMO, a computer engineering degree is overkill for networking. It will help you land a job at google/nasa/CIA/etc. But 99.999% of networking people don't have a computer engineering degree.

    A CS degree does seem to be almost a requirement to get a job writting code.

    One thing to note, I'm amazed to see new CS majors graduating not realizing they got a degree in writing software.
    CS has nothing to do with networking....
    Are schools telling kids different now days?



    .
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    SteveFTSteveFT Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 149
    It's all in the eye of the beholder really. The only opinion that really matters is the person reading your resume.

    That being said I seriously doubt not having a CS degree will hold you back. There are many more important factors that an employer would look at first when choosing a candidate before type of degree.

    Thank you very much for the feedback.
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    SteveFTSteveFT Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 149
    jibbajabba wrote: »
    I don't have a degree (Hardly ever mention my degree in electronic engineering, which isn't even a bachelor) but I am sure I am at the top of possible "IT junky" salaries here, unless you go into management (I am in Europe / UK, mind, I am sure US is different).

    What helped me? Initially names on my CV, names of companies that is (Xerox, HP, Symantec, Intel, IBM). Even though I just worked as tech-support monkey - I am sure it helped.

    Next, certs. Then .. experience ..

    Make no mistake - it took me almost 10 years to get to that stage .. Would a CS degree have helped me ? Honestly doubt it .. most companies I worked for wanted people who work on stuff end to end - from brain to dirty hands and I think a lot of times (unless proven on your resume otherwise), people with just degrees are considered "pencil pushers".

    I will definitely try to see if I can get into some of the bigger name companies once I am finishing up my degree and have more experience. I know that there are many other factors that are more important than what your degree is in, but I would not feel great about losing a dream job because the hiring manager prefers people with CS degrees. In any case, I always have the opportunity to study it in a Master's program and take any necessary courses at that point.

    Thank you.
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    SteveFTSteveFT Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 149
    ptilsen wrote: »
    Honestly, CS is great (see signature), but it isn't for everyone in every situation. As you said, all else isn't equal. Frankly, unless you want to be a software engineer or do something heavily involving programming, I cannot fathom you, specifically, opting for CS at the cost of another 30-40 credits to do traditional infrastructure roles. Even if you got into really heavy scripting, I think you could get by just fine without CS knowledge, and your career will certainly be fine without it. I have certainly not felt I was missing out on anything without calculus, discrete math, and OOP in infrastructure roles over the last eight years, and even lacking a bachelor's degree has barely slowed me down. Now this being said, I would still advise CS to anyone just starting college who isn't afraid of math and programming, but this isn't your situation so that doesn't matter.

    The time and money those extra credits would take would be better spent on certifications, IMO. That doesn't apply to everyone, but I think it clearly applies to you in this scenario.

    That is what I was thinking at this point in my life. At 25 years of age, I'm not old, but I'm not getting younger either. I would really like to find a job that pays a decent salary ($40,000+) in the next 2-3 years. My biggest reason for considering CS was both to make sure that I wasn't disqualified for not having it, and because I really want to learn how the whole system works. That being said, I'm sure I can do some self-study to learn the basics of the topics that I am interested in. I know there are a number of free courses out there now.

    As always, thank you for the feedback.
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    SteveFTSteveFT Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 149
    no. It does not matter unless the job requirement says "Computer Science degree REQUIRED" - Welcome to 2013.

    When you consistently see jobs postings that read "Computer Science or related degree" or "Computer Science, Engineering, or Business", it makes you wonder why they don't make mention of Information Systems, or Information Technology. I wonder when they are seeking a certain degree, yet make no mention of another. Granted this is not all of the positions out there, but there are quite a few. Why aren't the job listings "Information Systems or related degree"?
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    sratakhinsratakhin Member Posts: 818
    Isn't a degree in IT or IS related to CS?
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    paul78paul78 Member Posts: 3,016 ■■■■■■■■■■
    There's a pretty big difference between a CS and IT degrees. Generally speaking, my own biases favour a CS degree.

    The reason isn't about the math courses. But the algorithm and data structure classes which are a normal requirement in a CS degree. And if that candidate has CS classes with OS and compilers design - that's an added plus. My reasoning has always been that such a candidate is typically more well-rounded with IT topics and will have a greater understanding of how technologies work.

    As for the question on reputation of the college - I have my own personal biases.

    But - and this is a big but - despite my theory and biases of above, I cannot recall an instance in my career where I actually looked at where a candidate attended school or if it was a CS or other degree. Possibly because I don't actually have a college degree - but that's a different topic.

    If all things are equal, I would favour the candidate with a CS degree. But there is never ever 2 candidates which are equal. Whenever the discussion of job candidates occurs, the topic of the type of degree or where the candidate attended college - never ever comes up, ever...
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    SteveFTSteveFT Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 149
    Thank you for the feedback, Paul. The IT degree that I am considering has a complete lack of structure, meaning I could take nearly any courses I want. They only require Information Systems I & II or Project-Based Information Systems. The other eight courses would be up to me to choose. As I mentioned before, I will likely use the other courses for Linux/Unix classes, shell scripting, C programming, data structures, a SQL course or two, and networking security and technologies. I'm hoping that these courses, along with my future experience and certifications, will be enough to prepare me for a junior system administrator position.

    All that being said, perhaps I am overthinking all of this. The second part of your post was reassuring. I would suppose that the degree type is more of an issue if you are new to the company, or don't know someone who can put in a good word for you. That probably comes back to the "all things equal" assumption, which is almost never the case.

    Thank you again.
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    ptilsenptilsen Member Posts: 2,835 ■■■■■■■■■■
    Just out of curiousity, why are you talking C programming? While programming skills in general are hardly a bad thing, learning C at all seems like overkill if you're interested in pure infrastructure roles.
    Working B.S., Computer Science
    Complete: 55/120 credits SPAN 201, LIT 100, ETHS 200, AP Lang, MATH 120, WRIT 231, ICS 140, MATH 215, ECON 202, ECON 201, ICS 141, MATH 210, LING 111, ICS 240
    In progress: CLEP US GOV,
    Next up: MATH 211, ECON 352, ICS 340
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    Moon ChildMoon Child Member Posts: 198 ■■■□□□□□□□
    When I worked in IT the degrees that seemed to hold the most weight in the industry was actually engineering degrees not Computer Science degrees. It is true when I worked in IT that they did seem to show preference to Computer Science degrees and really employers over value them in my opinion. Where I worked though maybe 3 guys had CS degrees. The guy who was the best programmer, networking tech, system admin all rolled in one and the backbone of the company did not even have a college degree or any computer certifications. He had 30+ years of experience in the IT industry and was by far one of the smartest guys I have ever met in my life. The guys with the engineering and CS degrees were always going to him to figure out logic problems and how to troubleshoot either code or networking problems.
    ... the world seems full of good men--even if there are monsters in it. - Bram Stoker, Dracula
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    SteveFTSteveFT Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 149
    ptilsen wrote: »
    Just out of curiousity, why are you talking C programming? While programming skills in general are hardly a bad thing, learning C at all seems like overkill if you're interested in pure infrastructure roles.

    I just like to learn. I know that it is overkill and that I might not use it much, if at all, in a sysadmin role. That being said, I think that would put me one step closer to a better understanding of operating systems, considering that many rely heavily on C for the kernel, from my understanding. I also look at C as a challenge. Currently, I am learning Python, which I know is a high level language. I think that it would be interesting to learn the language that Python is coded in.

    I believe that a sysadmin job will allow me to earn a decent living, while enjoying my job. I enjoy coding so far, but I'm not sure how I would feel about it after 40-50+ hour work weeks for many years. That being said, I was wrong about my career choice the first time around, so I want to get as much coding experience as is practical, in the case that I am wrong again.
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    SteveFTSteveFT Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 149
    Moon Child wrote: »
    When I worked in IT the degrees that seemed to hold the most weight in the industry was actually engineering degrees not Computer Science degrees. It is true when I worked in IT that they did seem to show preference to Computer Science degrees and really employers over value them in my opinion. Where I worked though maybe 3 guys had CS degrees. The guy who was the best programmer, networking tech, system admin all rolled in one and the backbone of the company did not even have a college degree or any computer certifications. He had 30+ years of experience in the IT industry and was by far one of the smartest guys I have ever met in my life. The guys with the engineering and CS degrees were always going to him to figure out logic problems and how to troubleshoot either code or networking problems.

    When you say engineering, I'm assuming EE? The only thing I wonder is what the difference was in their salaries. In any case, it is good to hear that the experience does mean the most in the end.
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