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Do I need a degree?

  1. Sep 17, 2013 #1
    I currently have enough knowledge equivalent to someone with a BsC in EECS, physics, chem, bio and mathematics. I want to self-study even more to the point of PhD level knowledge in those areas. I want to be a biology researcher and work at NSA. For that, is the knowledge enough or should I pursue a double major in bio and EECS even if I already have the knowledge? i am 18 by the way.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 17, 2013 #2
    I don't believe that for a second.
  4. Sep 17, 2013 #3
    It is quite the claim. Can you substantiate it somehow? Have you taken tests on those subjects, and where were the tests taken? Was this self-study independent, or guided by a teacher/professor?

    In any case, it's unlikely you could become a researcher with the claim of 'self-studied knowledge'. The best you could do is start an undergraduate program at a college that offers placement tests for this sort of thing; if you can prove you place in upper level classes from the start, then getting your BsC won't be an entire repeat of what you already know.
  5. Sep 17, 2013 #4
    I think if you send the NSA an email stating essentially what you said in the original post, they'll hire you on the spot. Probably the CIA and FBI also, but it is best to start with just one agency and see how it goes. Best of luck.
  6. Sep 17, 2013 #5
  7. Sep 17, 2013 #6
    I was hoping that you all would answer the question presuming that my claim was true, rather then questioning the circumstances upon which this question is based on. It was self-study (by textbooks) but I have had the help of several professors from MIT. I have taken several tests yielding very good results. So, is it possible in any research organization like NIH to get a job there without a degree?
  8. Sep 17, 2013 #7
    No, not really. You need to do research, collaborate with peers and more. This cannot be replicated by a textbook. Even if you have mastered Griffiths, Kittel, Boas and the like you are not equivalent to a graduate.

    I had a teacher in graduate school with no degree. He was a master in a very narrow niche of TEMs and the like. Even though he had no degree he was published and cited. How many publications do you have?
  9. Sep 17, 2013 #8
    If some guy walked up to you and says that he read a few surgery books, but has no degree or other qualifications. Would you let him operate on you? Same answer.
  10. Sep 17, 2013 #9


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    The NSA probably knows already.
  11. Sep 17, 2013 #10


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    Haha +1.

    Realistically though, just get the sheet of paper if you know all of that already.
  12. Sep 17, 2013 #11
  13. Sep 17, 2013 #12
    Instead of questioning me and posting negative comments, I would prefer some real advice. Is it possible to get a BsC using tests as opposed to taking the courses? Also, I have had lots of research opportunities with professors.
  14. Sep 17, 2013 #13
    No, its not possible. If all an undergrad education entailed was reading textbooks then why would anybody go? If your research opportunities lead to publications and presentations then you can put that on your resume and that might help you get some job.
  15. Sep 17, 2013 #14
    I have had several publications - mainly in biology. The job I want is to be a researcher.
  16. Sep 17, 2013 #15


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    Now I know you're trolling.

    You're 18 and you've published a book? On (Arguably) one of the hardest subjects (Doctors get paid heavy for a reason).

    Be serious if you want serious advice, or at least link me to your published work so I can give you a royal apology.
  17. Sep 17, 2013 #16
    If you have publications then aren't you already a researcher? How are you getting paid? Are you not already in a university setting to be putting out publications? I dont see how an 18 year old is successfully publishing outside a university setting... Smells like bull to me.
  18. Sep 17, 2013 #17


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    Take the GREs in physics, biology, and chemistry to demonstrate your knowledge. If you nail them, any one of them really, then you would have a chance at going forward without a degree.
  19. Sep 17, 2013 #18
    Publications means papers, not books. I did them under professors, but without enrollment. I have taken GREs and done well on them.
  20. Sep 17, 2013 #19
    They will probably be fighting over you. Send a resume to each and let them know you'll be going with the highest bidder.
  21. Sep 17, 2013 #20


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    First, there are many kids who become undergraduates at 15 or younger. Some are very, very good. Some have a BS by 18.

    Second, what beyond class learning do you think is necessary as part of an undergraduate education? Maybe a few labs in science? Certainly nothing in math. If a student learns as well or better from a textbook then what else does college have to offer beyond an official credential? Sure, some do some research, but it is neither required nor all that usual. Sure learning to cooperate with your peers is a good thing, but tell that to Perelman.

    Please support your assertions with something more than incredulity and denial.
  22. Sep 17, 2013 #21
    You really think people will take your word? I think you best bet is to apply for a graduate school. Not all grad school need to have a BS degree. I did talk to a very good school call Santa Clara University about their post grad program as I don't have a degree in EE. They allow me to go directly to the grad program without a degree. If you can get good grades, then all else is forgiven, you'll be graduate at 22.

    I believe Sheldon Cooper do exist, but not that often!!!!
  23. Sep 17, 2013 #22
    Finally, some advice which is not asking me for my credentials. In biology and chemistry, I can see why class-research would be necessary but for math and EECS (considering I have completed projects from MIT OCW and edx etc), it is absurd. People will take my word because I have standardized exams to prove it. I was just wondering if I can get a BsC by simply passing the tests. Thanks!
  24. Sep 17, 2013 #23
    So whats your point? The original poster has no degree.

    What you describe here is the C's get degrees attitude that leaves many frustrated with their education. Research is a vital component of science education and it is certainly the norm. The original poster does have this, so that is good for his resume.

    Finally, my assertion is not my assertion. Its the way it is. You cannot test your way into a BS degree. Getting a high score on the GRE will not get you a degree.
  25. Sep 17, 2013 #24


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    He didn't say he had "published a book". He said he had "several publications". That could mean he was co-author on journal articles.

    Shivram3013, talk to the professors you have worked with! They are your best resource.
  26. Sep 17, 2013 #25
    Thanks. I don't know anyone who by publications in science means an actual 300 page book. I have talked to the profs and they say to go with my intuition. I thought some helpful guidance here would be useful by it's just mostly full of discouragement.
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