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Programs Pursuing a PhD in Computer Science

  1. Jan 13, 2008 #1

    I'm currently doing a BsC in Computer Science in Leuven (Belgium). I'm in my second year and although I know I still have some few years to go, I already started wondering about whether or not to pursue a PhD in Computer Science after I get my Master's degree. I have pretty good marks and I'm really interested in the field. I'm not the kind of guy that only studies to get a degree. So my feeling goes to pursuing a PhD.
    However, the problem is that I have heard pretty negative stuff about PhD's after they graduate. I really don't want to be a researcher at a university. I do want to get a job in the industrial sector. But I've heard that employers think that PhD's are over-qualified and that they don't have enough working experience. They know a lot about not much (that is, they are specialized in a very narrow field). My question to you is, is that really true? Of course, I know that companies such as Google, Microsoft and consorts hire PhD's, but what are the odds that you get hired by such a company? Is it necessary that you are a PhD from say universities like Stanford, MIT, Harvard,...?
    This is why I'm hesitating between a PhD, which further specializes me, or enlarging my fields by doing a MBA for example. What would be the most attractive for a future job in the industry, knowing that I'd rather prefer doing a PhD? Of course, many people would say to do what you prefer to do, but I'm being realistic and I do want to get a nice job after so many years of study!
    I know this is a physics forum but I think that physicists face the same problem and I'm sure you can give some good advice.

    Thank you,

    Last edited: Jan 13, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 13, 2008 #2
    I'm also a computer science major (not getting his masters or PhD) because of that reason. If google/microsoft doesn't attend your school for career fairs than your already one step behind the students that do attend MIT or other schools that they come to.

    If you can get into google/microsoft good for you. But if you can't, a smaller company isn't wanting to pay extra for a guy who got his PhD in Comp Sci compared to a guy who has been working in the real world for the same amount of time.

    I've co-op'ed with IBM for 8 months and I can tell you I got way more experience than my peers who didn't do a co-op. So I can imagine how much more experience someone who is in the real world for several years is going to get compared to what you get in a university.

    I think the best bet is to make sure you do internships/co-ops with big company's if you can, and keep working towards your PhD that way they know you know real world problem solving skills as well as a PhD so they will feel more comfortable hiring you.

    MBA is attractive if you want to get into management but realize once you hit management your not going to be doing any programming or technical things you'll be going to meetings all day.

    Later when I get burnt out programming if I do, then i'll go into management and get my MBA.
  4. Jan 13, 2008 #3
    If you would prefer to do a PhD, do a PhD!

    Maybe it's just me and my corner of the world, but I've never known a PhD in CS who had trouble finding a job in industry. Finding an academic position and/or getting tenure, yes... but there are plenty of opportunities in industry.
  5. Jan 14, 2008 #4
    Thanks for your contradictory, but still useful advice :-). I was just wondering: what would be my chances to get into graduate school in MIT, Harvard or Stanford? What is their admission percentile? I would like to hear from people who are currently doing a PhD in a top university and from people who applied but weren't admitted. What grades did you have in you undergraduate years? What university were you at? I know that grades isn't the only thing they look at, but it's the only thing I can compare right now and it gives me an idea of my odds :-).

    Thank you.
  6. Mar 4, 2010 #5
    plz guide me;

    i have done bachelors in engineering (B.Tech) Information Technology ,1.5 yrs of experience and MBA in marketing (major) and human resources(minor subject).But no industry experience after MBA due to VISA problem.I wanna pursue PhD from any gud university in U.S.
    Please tell me what will be better PhD in computer science/IT or in management subject?which one is more lucrative and easy to do?
  7. Mar 4, 2010 #6
    Some employers do, and sometimes a Ph.D. *is* overqualified and doesn't have enough work experience. However, there are enough jobs out there, that you don't have to worry too much about employment.

    One thing that you do have to realize about getting a Ph.D. in Computer Science is that just because you have a Ph.D. in CS doesn't mean that you know how to program computers just like having a Ph.D. in English Literature doesn't guarantee that you can write novels. There are a lot of CS Ph.D.'s that can't do programming, and they tend to have difficulty finding work.

    They are pretty good. There are a lot of software companies that do this. Microsoft is a very nice company for CS Ph.D.'s to work in, since you get to more or less what you want with the condition that whatever you find, Microsoft owns it.

    Your degree is just part of your education. There's nothing to keep you from taking a few business courses or reading business books while you are doing your Ph.D. A lot basically depends on what you want to do.

    Doing what you prefer to do helps you get a nice job, since what constitutes a "nice" job is different from person to person. If you do something that you don't like doing for the sake of getting a job, you'll find yourself being hired for jobs you hate.
  8. Mar 4, 2010 #7
    Universities are different, but what matters less is the grades, than the type of courses you took and undergraduate research. Also for Ph.D.'s school ranking matters a lot less than for other degrees. There aren't that many jobs for Ph.D.'s, but there aren't that many Ph.D.'s either, so if you get a Ph.D. from North Podunk, you won't be at a huge disadvantage, whereas if you get an MBA from North Podunk, you will.

    If you get a Ph.D. from anywhere, and you go to research conferences (which you should do) then you'll run into corporate recruiters.
  9. Mar 4, 2010 #8
    I'll talk about my friend, who had a 3.9 in computer engineering, lots of research experience (and publications), and good GRE scores. He got waitlisted for MIT and offered spots in masters programs at most of the other top schools (he had applied for phd programs.) It really all boils down to how many people apply vs. who has funding and wants to take students. Basically, if some professor with funding sees your app and thinks "oh, he'd be good for our group", you'll likely get in over someone with a shinier application who doesn't match up with any research group.

    That being said, look at the research MIT, Harvard, and Stanford do. They have their niches and you may find that you're not all that interested in the topics they do. Carnegie Mellon is much better for the hopelessly confused 'cause it seems to have everything (and is the hardest to get into for CS grad), and there are lots of schools doing really cool work in all sorts of topics.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2010
  10. Mar 4, 2010 #9
    I'll agree that CMU is good for the hopelessly confused (it's where I went for my Ph.D.), but while it's up there in terms of selectivity, my personal experience is that MIT is still harder. At least they turned me down flat, while CMU didn't. ;-)
  11. Mar 4, 2010 #10
    Yeah, thinking about it now that makes sense actually 'cause CMU's comp sci grad program is huge, so they can take in far more students then the other schools.
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