Is there value in a Master's in Engineering?

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  • Thread starter Jabberwoky
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  • #1
Hello all, first time poster here, looking for some advice regarding going back to school.

I have a BS in astrophysics but have been working for the years since my undergrad (3yrs) as an engineer for a small company. Astrophysics has not directly helped me in my current job but having a good intuition for physical phenomena has been useful.
I have convinced my boss to help pay for me to go back to school to get an engineering degree, but I am not sure if I should be pursuing a master's degree without a bachelors in engineering.

My questions for you all are:
1.) How valuable is a master's degree in Engineering, vs a BS in Engineering?
2.) Would I be better off getting another BS and then taking higher level courses directly related to my job?
3.) Would having a Masters make me more "mobile" if I ever wanted to leave this company or is years of work experience just as valuable as a Masters?

Thank you for your opinions ahead of time.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
fss
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My questions for you all are:
1.) How valuable is a master's degree in Engineering, vs a BS in Engineering?
Depends on what you want to do with it. Without more information this is not a meaningful question.

2.) Would I be better off getting another BS and then taking higher level courses directly related to my job?
I don't think a second bachelor's is a productive use of your time, especially if you get accepted into an engineering Masters' program.
3.) Would having a Masters make me more "mobile" if I ever wanted to leave this company or is years of work experience just as valuable as a Masters?
Depends on the job. A Masters' degree is usually considered a higher level of qualification for a relevant job, but not always.
 
  • #3
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Second Bachelors are worthless. Avoid them at all costs. I speak from experience. As long as you are accepted into a program you will have the opportunity to rectify deficiencies. If you have good physical intuition and work experience, this should be easy.

If you are interested in working as an engineer, a Masters degree in your preferred discipline would probably be useful. As fss noted, the value is difficult to ascertain without further details. However, there used to be a rule of thumb that said a Masters was worth two years of experience in the field for a new engineer. Often this translates into two years worth of pay raises in initial offers, but your mileage may vary. Some companies used to offer automatic pay raises upon the completion of an advanced degree, but this is less and less common.

If you think of education and experience as somewhat convertible, you are getting accelerated experience by doing both at the same time. This is not a hard and fast rule, but the degree is more likely to help you than not.
 
  • #4
Thank you for the comments so far,

Depends on what you want to do with it. Without more information this is not a meaningful question.

Since I am not able to predict exactly what my career path will be, I am not able to say exactly what I would ultimately do with the degree. At this point in time my motivation for more education is to fill in gaps I have due to studying Star Formation rather than Materials during my undergrad. My hope is that doing this will help me become better at my current job (designing test instruments) and make me a more valuable engineer on the open market should I ever find myself wanting to leave this company.

Would a Master's degree help me achieve the above goals?
 
  • #5
fss
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Would a Master's degree help me achieve the above goals?

Yes, an engineering degree will probably help you in designing test instruments... but if you're already doing well in your current position it's questionable how much "better" you'll get. Having a masters' might make you a "more valuable engineer" for certain positions and it won't for others.
 

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