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UC Berkeley Extension program for IC design or semicon tech

  1. Apr 8, 2015 #1
    Hello everyone,

    I graduated with a BSEE in 2008 and tried a PhD program in EE (semicon device specialization) for a while but it didn't work out. I struggled with an illness that forced me to drop out. I have been working in industry (NOT The semicon industry) since leaving the PhD program. Now I would like to get get into the semiconductor (either on the manufacturing side or design/verifification/validation side) industry but this industry is not in my geographic area and my lack of a formal masters in this subject is holding me back, even though I do have part of the masters done. I am thinking about finishing the masters online at the program I started the PhD, but this would cost about 18K in tuition (I think I can transfer in some of the other credits I earned) OR I could do an IC technology or IC design certificate through UC Berkeley Extension. This is only ~3.5K (not including course materials) but it might not be as useful of a credential as a full blown masters in EE. How credible is the cert from UC Berkeley Extension?

    What do you think? What is the best way to break into the semiconductor industry? I did interview at Intel a couple years back but I didn't get the job. I haven't been able to land any other interviews in the semiconductor industry since then, perhaps because I lack a masters in the semiconductor field, my geographic location and the fact that my BSEE is from a school not well know to the semiconductir industry. What do you suggest I do to break into this industry?

    Thanks for your help.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2015
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 8, 2015 #2
    What do you want to do in the semiconductor industry? It sounds like you want to design IC which requires a PhD for the most part. With a BSEE you could be a technician or process engineer. But the jobs are very competitive.
  4. Apr 8, 2015 #3
    Honestly, any technical job in the semiconductor industry would be great, but not a technician or process operator job. I also think I would like a process engineer job. I do have a lot of coursework in this area but no MS or PhD.

    I don't necessarily only want to design ICs. I also know IC designers that don't have PhDs. I just wonder if the Berkeley certificate will help me get a position in this field. It is cheap and very convenient.
  5. Apr 9, 2015 #4


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    I disagree. A lot of IC Designers don't have a PhD. A lot do, however. My group has seven IC designers. Four have PhDs, one is ABD, one has an MS (and he's the group leader), and one has a BS (but she has 25 years experience). In my experience the current entry-level degree for IC Design is an MS.

    The Berkeley certificate would help you I think. The classes are excellent (I have specific knowledge of this program). It's not the same as an MS and I would urge you to plan on completing it eventually. You should also prepare yourself to moving to either California or Texas. IC Design jobs exist in other places but then you get stuck in a company and it gets hard to move (or you're forced to move). I got laid off in 2010 (10% of my company did too) and I was forced to leave the state I was in and move to California for work. It was painful and would have been a lot better if I just lived in the Bay Area already.

    My opinion would be the IC Design certificate would probably get you interviews at entry-level jobs at places like Maxim or TI. You will have to really know your stuff. These jobs are competitive but you could parlay your certificate into a job as an applications or product engineer. These are good, exciting jobs but slightly less "credential-oriented" than IC Design.
  6. Apr 9, 2015 #5
    great! Thanks analogdesign. I will look into doing the program. Maybe I will do this program in IC design AND finish my solid state devices masters.

    Do you think there is a lot of software required for this program to do the projects (like cadence, etc). How does one pay for these software packages? The cert program is definitely a lot more affordable than the MS program, that is for sure.
  7. Apr 11, 2015 #6
    Can anyone else comment about this program? Would I be better off just paying for and completing the MS? Ultimately, I would like to do IC design (either digital or analog) or process engineering in a semiconductor plant (yes, I realize these are very different jobs).
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