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BS vs MS (MechEng)

  1. Dec 20, 2011 #1
    I am currently a senior in mechanical engineering and will be graduating next semester. Although I have a fairly good GPA (3.55) and have been building experience and extracurricular activities this past year, I am worried about finding a job. I have been trying to decide whether I should get my MS immediately after school, or go back to school later on.

    I was hoping that any MEs out there could provide some advice. Is an MS worth the extra time and money, and if so, is it better to do right after your undergrad? The degree I would be interested in doing is a professional degree (MSE) that is non-thesis and would instead consist of an applied project.

    Thank you for any replies.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 20, 2011 #2
    personally i would prefer to do a BS/MS right away and get it over with, while everything is still fresh in my head
  4. Dec 20, 2011 #3
    Consider what you would do with the degree. What do you gain by having it.

    I opted to get out into industry for several reasons. One being student loans. The second being that I was unsure what I would use that MS (or ME) for. Do I want to become a Professional Engineer and get a masters in the hopes of heading some major projects? Or will I want to get in on the business side (probably not for a while at least)? I didn't know. I figured experience was more important for me than continued education.

    I will almost certainly not be going back to school unless a future employer is willing to pay for it. I don't know what I would gain from having an MS, given the direction that I want to go in. After all, you don't need an MS to become a PE, but you do need experience.

    I agree though, if you are adament about getting it. Stay in school and get it right away.
  5. Dec 20, 2011 #4
    I don't have any personal experience with this, only what I have heard from friends, professors and some people in industry. But from what I have heard I personally think a non-thesis MS is not worth it if an employer is not paying for it. I believe many employers would prefer someone with work experience as opposed to someone who has taken a few more classes. So I am not sure that it will help you get a job when you are finished. Then you have to consider the financial cost. You need to determine if it is likely that your increase in pay because you have the MS will offset the cost of obtaining it.
  6. Dec 20, 2011 #5
    Thanks for the replies guys.

    From what I have read, and as you mentioned Travis, those with graduate degrees lead engineering teams. Also, the majority of job postings I have seen they prefer applicants to have an MS. The higher average pay is also a plus.

    RandomGuy, what exactly is it that makes an MS look better to employers? I always assumed it was the extra classes taken and added work. I can't see how an applied project and a thesis would look all that different to an employer that is not looking for a research engineer.

    As both of you said, I'll have to take a look at the financial side as well.
  7. Dec 20, 2011 #6
    Some employers aren't willing to pay the higher salary for an MS--especially one with no work experience--IMO, of course.
  8. Dec 20, 2011 #7
    my point is that Im not sure that the ms is more attractive to employers. If you only take classes I don't think it makes you any better of an engineer because you don't have any more practical experience then someone with only a BS and now they have to pay you more.

    But keep in mind I am a grad student so I am no expert. Just an opinion I have formed from talking to others.
  9. Dec 21, 2011 #8
    No matter what, for a similar job, experience will trump education almost every time.

    With that said:
    You can lead engineering teams with a BS. A project manager is a project manager. But a person with an MS will probably be on a faster track to large scale project management and coordination, as in being a discipline lead, or leading groups of teams, etc. We all start out doing roughly the same thing. If you've never had any industry experience (as in, working full time) then you are pretty much as useful as the guy with the BS.

    In this economy, it is much harder to find a job with an MS (not that it is too hard that I would reccommend against it; just harder than those that require a BS) (1) because there are less of them by the nature of the work, and (2) because they'd rather pay a guy much less and train him to do the work you'd be doing.

    But, just as the jobs for PE's are pretty limited (though their pay is pretty well worth it), many companies like a significant portion of their engineering staff to have higher level education, as they can use that as leverage in selling themselves to clients.

    And, as you say, the jobs that you do get are likely to be a bit more challenging, and probably more rewarding

    It's a big decision. Figure out (or make a best guess at least) what you want to do with the MS. Don't do it for the money. If you do your work well, that will come. Don't get a degree because you think you'll get a higher salary down the road. There are firms that pay their starting BS engineers more than some places pay their 3 year MS employees. Do something that you will enjoy when you get into industry, because if you enjoy it, you'll work hard at it, and that is what pays off.
    If what you want to do with your career requires higher level education, then i'd say get the degree now while you're still in that mode. (but do summer internships, get experience or you'll be way behind)
    If not, or you're not sure, then get out into industry and fiture it out while getting experience you can use to sell yourself throughout your career.

    And take what I'm saying with a grain of salt. Only you know what's best for you.
  10. Dec 21, 2011 #9
    It REALLY depends on where you live.

    For example, where I live, pretty much everyone expects you to get a MSc after finishing a BSc in engineering. Not that this should affect what you want to do, per se, but this means there are a lot of engineers with MScs who try to get a job, so you can expect trouble if you only have a BSc. On the other hand, if most people only have BScs, then this is much less of a problem.
  11. Dec 21, 2011 #10
    Just to make sure you understand: DON'T get a degree for the job prospects, DO get a degree for the type of job you want to do.
    Remember, sometimes companies will pay for your higher education (a lot of times they wont). Don't just get a degree because you think more is better. Consider what you like and where you want to go with your career.
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