2nd Undergrad Degree or Master's Degree in Computer Science? - Tech With Tech

2nd Undergrad Degree or Master’s Degree in Computer Science?

Here’s everything about getting a 2nd undergrad or a master’s degree in computer science:

To oversimplify, you should pursue the master’s degree if you’re able to get into a master’s program, particularly if it’s a funded program.

If you can’t get into a master’s program, then the decision is made for you.

For the most part, the master’s program is better for your career and will often take less investment.

So if you want to learn all about which computer science degree is right for you, then you’re in the right place.

Keep reading!

2nd Undergrad Degree or Master's Degree in Computer Science?

Getting a Second Undergraduate or Masters Degree in Computer Science?

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Should you go for the master’s or a second undergraduate degree (often called a bachelor’s degree)?

That’s a tough question to answer, and as you might imagine, it depends heavily on your personal circumstances.

I’ll take you through a number of thoughts, questions, and ideas that can help you make this determination.

Ultimately, since I don’t know you, I can’t give you a definitive answer.

I can only give you tools and resources that can empower you to make an informed decision.

What Are the Differences Between a Bachelor’s and a Master’s Degree in Computer Science? (3 Things)

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One of the best ways to really get into this question is to think more about the two separate options.

Sure, they are both computer science degrees, but you’re still looking at substantially different experiences depending on which path you choose.

Let’s get into the primary differences between a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in computer science.

You might be surprised by a few of these points.

#1 Admissions Requirements

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Naturally, the curricula are going to be quite different when you compare a bachelor’s and a master’s program, but before getting to any of that, admissions are completely different processes.

If you already have a degree, it’s likely that you could get into an undergraduate program for computer science.

Admissions are fairly general, and the fact that you have a degree demonstrates that you’re qualified to pursue another degree.

Master’s programs are another matter.

In order to get into such a program, you have to demonstrate proficiency in the core material.

You don’t necessarily need a bachelor’s in computer science, but your degree will need to be related to computer science at least a little bit.

Several other STEM degrees tend to transition into computer science well, and those include software engineering, computer engineering, physics, systems engineering, and electrical engineering.

This isn’t an exhaustive list; it’s possible you could get into a master’s program without one of these degrees, but they will give you the best chance.

Part of this depends on your desired specialty.

If you want to get into cognitive science (a branch of computer science among other disciplines), then a background in biology, neurology, or even psychology could do you better than one in computer science or the other degrees I listed above.

It’s really going to be a case-by-case thing, but one way or another, your other degree(s) needs to translate into your computer science specialty.

You may also have to take an entrance exam and/or the GRE before a master’s program will admit you.

I’ll circle back to this a little later, but this is pretty much the most important thing to consider.

Whether or not you can even get into a master’s program pretty much seals your fate.

#2 Scope

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I’ve already hinted at this, but undergraduate and graduate degrees in computer science are very different.

Undergraduate degrees try to build a foundation of knowledge.

They will require you to take relevant math classes, coding in multiple languages, and a slew of classes that help you think about how computers operate at all levels.

A master’s program will really depend on the specialty.

Some aspects of cognitive science won’t involve much coding at all.

On the other hand, if you want to get into neural networks, then you will be up to your ears in algorithms, matrices, and calculus-based reasoning.

There are many, many different specialties in computer science, so your master’s experience can vary widely.

This can help you determine which route is right for you.

Are you trying to get your foot into the door of computer science in general, or do you already have a specialty in mind that you think you can pursue?

The answer to that question is the answer to the original question.

#3 Jobs

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Naturally, you also want to consider the implications your degree choice will have on your career prospects.

The jobs available to someone with a bachelor’s in computer science are a bit different from those that require a master’s in computer science.

There is certainly a crossover where some jobs would be available to someone with either degree. 

Really, though, it comes back to specialties.

A bachelor’s in computer science does not qualify you as a specialist in any field.

Such a degree does open doors to work in coding, software development, aspects of IT, and even computer science research.

More often than not, someone with a bachelor’s in computer science will work on a specific section of a project.

Meanwhile, the person with the master’s is more likely to be designing or even heading the project.

On top of that, the jobs you will be able to pursue with your master’s will reflect your specialty.

It might have nothing to do with coding at all, depending on the specialty and the application you are after.

How to Decide Whether to Get a Second Undergraduate or Masters Degree in Computer Science? (4 Questions)

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Let’s come back to the original question.

Should you get a second undergraduate degree or pursue a master’s?

To really make this decision, you have to weigh a few ideas.

I have four questions listed below.

Each covers an important aspect of choosing your degree path and all of them matter.

Ask yourself these questions and think about the explanations attached to each one.

It can help you really think about this decision and make a good choice.

#1 Can You Get into a Master’s Program?

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Let’s revisit this idea and really drive it home.

If you can’t get into a master’s program in computer science with your current credentials, then the decision is made for you.

Only a bachelor’s is available at the moment.

If you can get into a master’s program, then in most cases, it’s the better choice.

It caters to your existing skill sets and passions (presumably).

On top of that, your career prospects will be a lot better.

People with a master’s in computer science tend to make a lot more money than people with only an undergrad degree in the field. 

The bottom line here is that unless you have a powerful reason to the contrary, you should pursue the master’s if you can.

#2 Do You Have a Plan?

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What would constitute a powerful reason to the contrary?

Well, that boils down to your plan.

Why are you pursuing computer science at all?

What do you hope to accomplish with your education?

Let’s put this in the simplest terms.

Most people who transition into computer science from another field do so for a reason—especially if you have a background that can get you into a master’s program.

Basically, there’s something specific that you want to pursue.

Since that’s the case, the master’s is the better option.

Your master’s program (assuming you get accepted as intended) will enable you to steer into your plan and focus on the topics that interest you the most.

But what if you don’t have a plan at all?

What if you’re transitioning out of a career into computer science because you’re just looking for another option?

That’s fine, and it’s a strong indicator that you’re better suited for an undergraduate degree.

Since it’s less specialized, it can actually open more doors.

More importantly, the undergrad experience will expose you to a broader range of computer science topics, enabling you to explore the vastness of the field to find what excites you the most.

#3 What Is Your Current Degree?

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This is another important question.

What is your current degree, and why is it insufficient for whatever you’re trying to do?

This really leans back on the idea of having a plan.

One way or another, you feel that your current degree(s) can’t get you the career or life that you want, so you’re exploring computer science as an alternative.

Do you need a master’s for that plan?

Will a bachelor’s suffice?

Which one will get you where you want to be more efficiently?

The answers to these questions are completely unique to each person and their circumstances, so I can’t summarize them for you.

Just think about these questions and your answers and allow that to inform your decision.

#4 What Can You Finance?

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Nobody really likes that finances often determine these kinds of decisions, but that’s the world we live in.

So, let’s talk about money. What can you afford?

If you can get into a funded master’s program, that means you won’t be paying tuition.

If you can’t get into a funded program, things are very different.

The same can be said for undergraduate studies.

Bachelor’s degrees typically require more years in school (although that will primarily depend on how many of your other degree credits can count towards computer science).

That makes a bachelor’s degree more expensive on average.

But, it depends on the school and the program, so you’ll have to really look at all of the numbers in play to make a good decision.

Here’s the bottom line.

If you are qualified for both options but only one is affordable, then the affordable choice is the prudent choice.