Banking

The new minimum: A Masters degree

Not that long ago, all you needed was a high school diploma and some brains to land a good job with good pay. Slowly, the educational bar was raised, with the Associates/Bachelors degree becoming the ticket. Today, the Bachelors degree is a bare minimum at best when it comes to IT leadership positions and the Masters degree is the new soup of the day. Scott Lowe provides his thoughts on this topic and his plans for his own development.

A long time ago in a galaxy... ok, it wasn't really all that long ago and it was probably right down the street.  The story: A high school diploma was the minimum necessary education required to earn a good wage at a good job.  Higher education was not a necessity, although it certainly helped one achieve positions in the higher echelons of an organization.  My parents are both high school grads - neither had the opportunity to attend college - and both did well for themselves.  That was then.

More recently, but still not that long ago, a Bachelors degree or, in some cases, an Associates degree, became the new entry level requirement for many more desirable jobs.  During crazy boom periods, such as during the dot com boom, simply having a pulse and a few letters after your name would suffice, but in general, employers wanted to see some kind of formal accredited credential in the form of an undergraduate education of some kind.

Today, the bar is slowly but surely being lifted yet again.  Although I'm not looking for a job, I still see a lot of job postings.  In most of the announcements for positions with any kind of management responsibility, seekers must have a Bachelors degree.  However, most of the job listing describe a Masters degree as a desirable trait and many more make the Masters degree the minimum requirement.  I expect that, over the next few years, we'll continue to see this desirable trait moving into the required category.

Personally, I'm in the Bachelors degree crowd right now with an eye toward starting a Masters degree program in the relatively near future.  Frankly, I'm very lucky to have obtained my current CIO position without that graduate credential.  Although my employer preferred to locate an individual with a graduate credential, I was fortunate to have a strong enough background that the lack of the credential didn't disqualify me.  But that won't always be the case.

There are a lot of paths one can go down when it comes to continuing education - in both program and delivery mechanism.  As for delivery mechanism, that one is easy.  I don't think I have the patience anymore to sit in a classroom and be talked at... I'm probably going to go the online route.  I actually think it's a little harder to go the online route sometimes simply due to the fact that there isn't a set class schedule.  I've done classes both ways, though, and prefer the distance method.  I do lose out on the in-class discussion that takes place, though.

As for program, I've gone all over the map on that one.  I could go deeper into Information Technology and get a graduate credential in my chosen field.  Or, I could go down the educational technology path.  However, I'm more than likely heading down the MBA route (possibly with an IT concentration) in order to better round out my experience.  For me, I think an IT concentration would be sort of a waste of time; I can learn whatever I need in that realm.  Further, although I've learned a lot about finance, I want a better, broader understanding of all that goes along with it.  I think this will provide much more value to me personally and to my employers, both present and future.

What about you?  How do you feel about the Masters degree credential?  Will it become a necessity or is it already?  What did you or would you choose as a program concentration and why?  How do you feel about classroom lectures vs. distance education?

About

Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive w...

50 comments
sjbourne
sjbourne

I have to agree - to a point. But a word of warning. I work in IT and I am two thirds of the way through a Masters in IT. I took leave at an exit point with a Post-Graduate Diploma, because I wasn't 'encouraged' to go further by management. Now I realise why. I am the most qualified person in IT! So be careful, it has held me back from advancing in my career. Not badly, but enough to realise that being better is not always what is wanted. I discovered this after a lot of soul searching. "Is it me?", "Am I cut out for better positions?" and "What am I doing wrong?". The truth is, it's not me. I have done a good job and worked hard. So, what have I learnt? I pick myself up and get into a place of work that wants what I have to offer. And then, I will go back and complete a Masters. That's a promise to myself.

michael.a.conforti
michael.a.conforti

I have over 20 years of experience in the computer business. I have an Associates in Specialized Technology and I have certifications from all of the major hardware and software vendors. And to date I haven't met a person with a Bachelors or Masters degree that can outperform me. Most of those that have a Masters look great on paper but don't know a monitor from a computer or a switch from a router. And heaven forbid they try to setup security in a Windows SBS environment. I can't even begin to recount the number of times I have had to bail out a paper degree pro because he didn't know what he was doing in the field. Give me a person with a high school diploma and the willingness to learn and do things right and I'll show you someone who is worthy of a title and good pay. I'm sick of people with degrees and titles who can't perform the job they were hired for because they can't talk-the-talk or walk-the-walk. Take that paper degree and turn it into toilet tissue.

djluna
djluna

Not sure why you would get a Masters in CS if you want a management career...Working on an MBA right now, and I really do appreciate the broader knowledge. If I wanted to work on more complex technical projects, however, I would have gotten the CS degree. As it stands, I'm looking to manage those who manage complex technical projects--MBA is perfect for that.

MikeGall
MikeGall

HR/hiring manager whatever decides that a manager should know more then their employees. So in your parents day, the university grads managed the high school grads. But then the high school crowd decided that they wanted the big salaries they saw all the engineers, doctors etc getting. So they started to go to university. The HR guys still think that the manager should be "better qualified" than his/her underlings so ... you need a masters if you want more than a technical position. I'm studying for a masters now, MSci Management of Technology from U of Waterloo, in Waterloo Canada. They aim it for IT/engineers/technical leaders. The courses are similar to an MBA but you get extra goodies like "change management", datamining, etc as optional courses. Fun so far (this is my first term).

SolutionRevolution
SolutionRevolution

I want to get to the master's level, too, but I'm concerned with the school I should attend. I don't want to spend 4 yrs in a Master's program, which I would have to do because of my schedule... do you think University of Phoenix would be a good place to go? I think it's about 2 yrs and it's all accredited. I need some advice!!!

Marty R. Milette
Marty R. Milette

Information is here: http://www.itmasters.edu.au/ The program is rather unique in that it combines both a master's degree and industry certifications. In fact, if you happen to already hold the necessary industry certifications for your chosen track (as I did), you can cut 50% of the time off what it would take you to earn the degree. It is 100% distance learning -- with full on-line support and hard-copy binders couriered to you for every course. There is also the option of obtaining a Graduate Certificate -- with about 50% of the course load if you weren't sure about pursuing the degree or not. I started this, but switched over after completing the first 2 courses. I know there are a lot of nay-sayers for both degrees and certifications -- some with reasonable justification, others with wildly obsolete stereotypes in mind. I won't bother to address either here. I's suggest that my case is rather different as I have experience with each of the different perspectives. First, as someone without a degree or certifications for over 15 years. Plenty of experience, but none of the paper. For those who think experience is all that matters -- you've got to wake up and face reality -- like it or not -- paper DOES matter. With only experience -- you'll find a lot of doors are closed to you. Of course, it may be done in such a subtle way -- you may not even notice -- you most likely won't be told why. In my case -- I wanted to teach Microsoft technical courses -- and, until I got certified -- that door was closed and locked. Period. I then began the persuit of certifications. Over 14 years, I've passed over 40 industry certification exams -- more than 30 of them Microsoft. As a trainer, the difference in daily billing rate for teaching the certified vs uncertified courses is about double. As a result, I've paid for every course and certification exam I've ever taken within the first 6 months of work and can enjoy the pay differential for the rest of my working life. It also gives you a strong advantage over competitors even when competing for non-certified training work -- and a definite advantage over anyone with similar levels of experience. Having the necessary 'letters' opens a whole new set of doors. Yes, part of this just gets you past the 'gatekeepers' -- HR, the agencies or whoever uses automated searches. The other advantage is having a 'known' base level of qualification. Whether it is 'fair' or not is irrelevent. Nobody promised life would ever be fair. As well, let's face it -- any idiot can hang out a shingle saying they are an 'expert' in something, and brag about having all kinds of experience -- but -- one would have to wonder WHY that person, if they are such an 'expert' and hopefully a 'professional' would not make the investment in time, money or effort to become certified if such a program was available? Excuses don't cut it. Time? Money? Motivation? Resources? -- Whatever excuse you have for NOT doing it -- you need to evaluate the difference it could make to your life and set your priorities accordingly. I did my Master's degree while working a full-time contract that included 20 to 30 hours per week of overtime -- while commuting between Russia and the UK every 2 weeks. Don't expect a lot of sympathy if the only excuse you have for not improving yourself is because the company won't give you time off work or pay for your courses or certifications. For those who claim certification is too expensive -- I have a simple answer -- when you invest in your own education and recognized qualifications -- your value increases at least 10 times whatever you spend over the course of your career. You can't get that kind of interest leaving your money in the bank. I didn't have any money when I started. I bartered to sit in on the certification courses by volunteering to teach the applications courses FOR FREE. A little creativity goes a long way. Finally, about 2 or 3 years ago, I figured I had reached about the top of my 'technical' career, and wanted to make my way into a position that was a combination of management and technical. This is where the idea for the degree came from. At first, I was seriously concerned that so late in my career I'd not have time to recoup the effort and expense but finally located a program which would recognize and give credit for 50% of the program based on my previous experience and certifications. So, 2 years later, I now hold a Master's degree in Management and more doors mysteriously start swinging open in Program Management, Outsourced Project Management and other areas I am very much interested in. The other important factor is that not only is there great demand, but the daily billing rates are higher than anything I've made doing purely technical work previously. Of course, with all of this, one must set reasonable goals and objectives in order to develop the right education development plan for YOU. Some people will never want to do anything but management -- others will never want to stray from the technology -- these are choices you must make for yourself and plan your own career path appropriately. I would never suggest anyone to follow the route I have. It has been extremely long and difficult -- with many setbacks and disappointments along the way. The golden rule -- YOU are YOUR OWN career manager! Don't expect the government, or your company or anyone else to take responsibility for your development. And don't expect much sympathy if you can't land the job you want when you clearly don't meet the stated requirements for it based on WHATEVER the company has stipulated. If they want a degree for someone sweeping the floor -- it isn't going to do you the slightest bit of good to whine about how 'unreasonable' it is. The employer has the money -- and therefore has the right to demand whatever qualification they want no matter how rediculous you may think it is. Just a different perspective...

kitico
kitico

Please don't be offended by my comment, but I think online degrees are a kind of joke. If I were hiring, I would never consider an online degree seriously when trying to fill a position. I have 3 college degrees; a bachelor's in economics, a master's in economics, and a bachelor's in computer science. I work as a web programmer these days, although I used to be an economist. My MA in economics seems to help me get jobs in the financial sector (banking, brokerage, and insurance). I have been programming for some years now and I have not seen a boost into management yet. If you want to be in management then an MBA is certainly the way to go. My wife has an MBA and it seems to be rather like a club membership. If you are a member of the businessman's club then you can be eligible for the executive jobs. Good luck to you.

mwesthoff
mwesthoff

Scott, I grew up where you work! Your comments are good. If I were you, I would pursue an MA in Higher Education; an MBA is okay, too, for your career.

Larry.Barnhill
Larry.Barnhill

Unfortunately, I've never had the time to acquire a degree, even though I have amassed at least the equivalent to a Masters Degree, just in the amount of information I've had to acquire to master my profession. At the same time, I have learned that today, any degree in any field, only means that the holder has had the time, or was forced in to it by peer or parental pressure. It does not mean that the holder is in any way an intelligent person with a work ethic. And therein lies the fallacy of making any degree a measuring device or qualification for a particular position. What is needed is a metric for evaluating the work ethic of a candidate for a position. Knowledge can be acquired through many means, formal classroom training, online, or through simple observation. But a "work ethic" can only be learned from an intact social structure which may be a family, friends, school, or co-workers. These are things that are overlooked by most, if not all, HR persons. Does a degree of any sort hinder a person in their career? Definitely not. Does a degree of any sort imply a strong work ethic? Generally not, although there are exceptions. Those persons that carry business cards listing their numerous, or few, degrees, quite often use them to bolster a lack of those qualities which would entice me to hire them.

piyush_303
piyush_303

Instead of Master Degree , Company has to put more effort on experience , knowledge , maturity , Once missed master degree due to some reason doesnot mean that person is not capable

gallupb
gallupb

How could a HR department even think in these times that a Master's would be relevant, or even require such a degree. The economy is in a shambles and 4 yr. graduates can't find entry level jobs as it is, why ask them to sink another 15K on a graduate program just to get a job?

DHCDBD
DHCDBD

I have yet to have seen a Masters program or a Ph.D program add one period to Donald Knuth's "The Art of Computer Programming." I have seen these programs rehash the information Mr. Knuth presents. I have also seen several CS programs that take a single semester program and manipulate it until it requires three semesters. Then again, this is not limited to CS.

cdnbeachgirl
cdnbeachgirl

The problem is that MBA's are starting to become a dime a dozen. There's nothing that differentiates MBA grads - they all come out of the same program with the same "critical thinking" skills and learned applications. I do think that a graduate degree has its time and place and when chosen appropriately should provide the next level of knowledge and skills. It shouldn't just be about who's put their time in at school and paid the most money. Because sadly, there are enough MBA-type degrees out there that if you pay enough money are basically handed over with minimal effort. Just my two cents...

VikingCoder
VikingCoder

Like certifications, degrees don't actually mean you can do anything, aside from pass classes. I see evidence of this all the time. Really, there ought to be better criteria than that.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

I'm a couple classes away from completing my Master's degree program. Every class I've taken, I've completed online (though, the school I'm attending has a suburban campus close to home, as well as one a few blocks from my downtown office...so I have sat in a few class sessions when necessary). I take a commuter train each day, and I use the 45 minutes to catch up on reading, assignments or viewing videos of the class sessions. With two young kids, a full-time job and outside interests, the flexibility has been tremendously helpful. While I feel the Master's degree has been a great value, I'm not sure if it should be a requirement. Whenever I read about hard requirements, I always think about people like Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Michael Dell, Dan Snyder, et cetera. Any policy that would potentially exclude great skills (despite what one may feel personally about the aforementioned group, they didn't get rich by being mediocre business people) from entering the organization seems to be a bad one, to me. Taking it a step further, having worked closely with HR folks in the past, I get the impression it is just an easy way for them to filter out applicants and avoid having to do 'heavy lifting', such as conducting thorough critical behavioral interviews. Just my thoughts, though.

No User
No User

The BEST IT pros have no degree at all. Only inhuman unresources Dept retards would hallucinate that you need a graduate degree. In my 22+ years as an IT pro only shops that are dominated by those slime balls even ask if you have a degree. My position is when I encounter those shops is run don't walk get as far away as possible and never look back.

cmaritz
cmaritz

Important questions! Here's what I think ... I get your point about 'wasting time' with taking a Masters deeper into the IT/tech route, when you could do an MBA instead and just learn whatever else you need in IT/tech along the way. While the opposite can also be said, this way would still let your education look well-rounded in your CV. Regarding classroom learning vs. distance learning, go with what fits your own learning style. Whichever you choose, one necessary ingredient should be lots of team discussions/projects. In my case, even the final EXAM was (partly) a team discussion. Some observations of master's programs in general: - "We need LESS Masters of Business Administration, and MORE Masters of Business Entrepreneurship". I first heard this statement about 6 or 7 years ago, and unfortunately not much is being done about it. Suffice to say that there are already many MBA holders out there, so simply holding an MBA is becoming less of a distinguishing characteristic. Also, that there are many people who already 'administer' but arguably not enough who 'innovate'. - "There are MBA's and then there are MBA's". Certainly, it depends a lot on the institution and/or the actual content of the course. It might even boil down to a particular lecturer or classmate that could mean the difference between an average MBA experience and a stellar one. Regarding the course itself, apparently the 'badly designed' MBA's take each business function (HR, finance, CR, operations, etc.) and go into great depth in each and teach you how to run each one the 'best'. Problem with that is that it doesn't work, much the same way that a car engine made out of the world's best compressor, the world's best transmission, and the world's best exhaust system won't work either (because the parts don't fit together). The 'better designed' MBA's include a smacking of so-called systems thinking, which tries to convey that the relationships and connections between things are just as important as the things themselves. - What is it that is being 'mastered'? Hopefully, is it not just a bunch of CONTENT. Because most new content has a best-before date stamped on it. The thing that is being mastered (at the end of the day) should be a learning PROCESS of some kind. Some say it must be the Scientific Method, nothing wrong with that. Others say develop your own process of learning, testing, acquiring, synthesising concepts, putting knowledge into practice, etc. Nothing wrong with that either. The point is to make the process explicit so that it can be used and critted and improved. In this way an MBA can be a very profound and beneficial personal experience. As usual, this is my 2 cents, to be taken with a bucket of salt :-) Cheers & thanks for reading this far and NOT snoring.

don.howard
don.howard

Jared, I think University of Phoenix has been gaining in terms of being accept by employers. But they are not the only option. I don't know where you are located, but many schools now have programs that are completely online. Check out the local traditional universities. They might surprise you with what is available.

drn
drn

I absolutely agree with the previous posting. I've been in IT for 25 years, 15 without a degree. I was limited to sysadmin and programmer jobs, and had less capable people were promoted over me to leadership positions. So I finished my B.S. and then did an MBA (each had a weekly on-site component, but most work was on-line, so best of both worlds). I also avoided an IT concentration for my MBA, since I had already been dealing with those topics (change control, business intelligence, etc). Instead, I took an entrepreneurship concentration. I also picked up a PMP cert (project management). With that said, I'm seeing a bit of push-back when I say I have an MBA -- even though the training has been incredibly useful, MBAs have a reputation for being know-it-all asses. A lot of this is related to the fact that, historically, MBAs have been about number crunching and had no people-management component. If I were to do it again, I'd go for a masters in management, as long as the degree also hit most of the business analysis topics in an MBA. This is really all about being a life-long learner. You can't just get a BS or some IT cert and then coast for the rest of your life, for several reasons: Technology doesn't stand still. Certs, particularly vendor certs, quickly become outdated. (Vendor-neutral certs like CISSP & PMP have the greatest long-term salary value.) Even if you don't want to to climb the ladder, the bar keeps being moved higher. As you gain seniority at a company, you are expected to have greater depth of knowledge (both tech & business) and show more leadership. So if you do want to climb the ladder, you need something to differentiate yourself from the rest of the masses. Nowadays, a masters degree is that differentiation.

doug.duke
doug.duke

Or rather ... a practical, engineering-based equivalent based on 3 years of study and writing of a mini thesis. I also have over 30 years practical industry experience. Knowledge, training and models are great tools to have ... to back up practical experience.

thallenb
thallenb

You are so right that a degree really isn't a good indicator of anyone's ability to do anything! I see a lot of people in positions just because they have a bachelors degree, but they don't know anything and all they do is break stuff. Here I am working as an intern doing the work of an employee but not getting paid for it just because I don't have that piece of paper. I don't believe that a masters in anything is necessarily going to improve the skill levels of individuals applying for jobs. I believe that people need more experience working in the field to become more productive and knowledgeable.

nsaunders
nsaunders

Before December 2008 I was one of those people constantly looking over my shoulder because all of my colleagues (old and young) had a degree and I did not. I am now 38-years-young and just completed my BSIT. Only now do I feel like I'm on the SAME playing field with everyone else. I'm due to start an MS in April and only for the purpose of being able to provide for myself. Incidentally, I found going back to school, newly divorced with 3 kids to be challenging but I possesed something that the youngsters can't appreciate just yet...patience to learn. If I weren't planning to move back to the east coast I'd leave my education at a BS. I admire the gurus and know one who is in demand around the country...he has no degree. He never managed to finish and basically lies on his applications. He's 50+ now, so who cares?

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

The best IT pros love what they are doing. Regardless of if they have a degree or not. I love IT and I agree there is no replacement for experience, but I found that education has helped me in a few ways. 1) I better understand some basic IT concept that had never been explained to me. For example, routing always just was, but now I understand how it works. 2) The reasoning and logic behind certain programming techniques and some good ideas on what's good programming and what' not 3) Clean room programming (Toward Zero Defect Programming http://www.amazon.com/Toward-Defect-Programming-Allan-Stavely/dp/0201385953). Excellent read if you haven't done so. 4) Organizational Behavior and basic business economics that had NEVER been explained to me. While I agree that IT doesn't require a degree, I disagree that shops that require a degree are bad shops to work for. I've worked for both shops that had requirements and those that didn't and both were a mixed bag of good and bad IT folks...

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

While I agree that the best hands-on techs seem to be the ones that are in it 'for the love of the tech', so to speak, I do think extra schooling proves beneficial once you hit the management ranks (and the author was specifically talking about management positions). I'm near the end of my Master's program (IT Project Management), and I can honestly say that there have been some topics broached in the coursework that weren't touched upon in either my undergrad program (education, but took quite a bit of LAS classes to find my niche) or in day-to-day work environment (mentoring has gone the way of the Dodo...so it seems). I'm not talking hard core tech stuff. That will always be best learned with hands-on experience, I think. I'm talking the financial (being able to communicate in terminology the bean counters understand goes a long way in getting stuff approved) and human aspects (more to management than just getting stuff done). Does extra schooling immediately equate to being a better leader? I'd be lying if I said I felt that was absolutely true. However, from my experience, there can be tremendous value in pursuing a Master's degree. Combining the factors of p_ss poor leadership that got us into the current economic environment (wasn't like there was a great drought or other natural disaster...everything that was done to tank the economy was avoidable...which makes it all the worse, in my opinion), exceptionally tight competition (due to economy) and the countless resume padders out there, I'm not the least bit surprised to read that firms are looking to raise the minimums of consideration for strategic positions. The bigger question is whether or not this will start to filter downwards in an organization? If you get enough 'leaders' that have higher education, you can easily move towards the 'well, we did it, so should you' mentality. That is when I think this trend gets to be going too far.

ndekwe
ndekwe

Masters degree matters a lot...You can get a new job during your forties but getting an education from campus in your forties would be harder, for many reasons (new responsibilities, age, fading memory, etc. ). Jobs are available all the time, unless you're retired, but there are times when you can not dare going back to school to get education. Please seek education first (degrees). My $0.02

unhappyuser
unhappyuser

I've found the most knowledgeable IT people are the ones that have few degrees or certs but loads on hands-on experience. I've found many people with mutiple degrees or certs to be snobs, are argumentative and think anyone without a degree/cert does not deserve to be in the profession. I'm 100% certain that IT is more of a hands-on lerning arena. Taking courses to stay on top is important but those little pieces of paper take you into the realm of "keeping up with the Jonses". We've seen where that has brought us economically. Just my thoughts. EMD

don.howard
don.howard

Whether we like it or not, education requirements are changing. Kids that would be better off going to tech school are pushed to go to college. This lessens the value of an associates or bachelors degree and has shifted the differentiation mark to the masters level. In this world of key word searches, it can be invaluable. Think of it as a cert that never expires. In terms of real world ability, it may not mean anything, just as we've all known MCSEs who don't even understand how to perform basic operations. However, it is indicative of a certain level of intelligence and ability to learn new concepts. Personally, I have a bachelors in business administration and obtained a masters (MIS) to get my foot in the door of IT. Did I learn how to perform my present job (server and SAN administration) in the classroom? Absolutely not. However, I did learn many things which make me more valuable to the organization. While I agree that formal education does not necessarily make a good tech, not everyone wants to stay at the tech level. And, I'd bet that those that do appreciate it when they have management that understands their side of the organization, not just the pointy-haired business types.

dkearney
dkearney

If nothing else, the Master's Degree is going to keep doors opened and may prevent one from hitting a so-called glass ceiling. I obtained an IT Master's Degree after working hands-on in the tech field and the experience did open my eyes to a whole other experience (experiencing formal education as an adult, building relationships, working a 50 - 60 hr/week job while doing it, etc.). ...as my Dad says "It Builds Characture". I did chase the IT certs for a while, but found that a Master's Degree would add to my arsenal and may provide me a path/better path to other jobs, better jobs, and maybe even a job outside of IT some day. Earning the degree did open doors that might not have been otherwise opened, so spending the approximately 18K may add a level of security to my job, help me find better opportunities, and give me a little boost during an interview/selection process. It does not outweigh "real-world" experience, but it does enhance it.

jck
jck

I already decided: If I go back to school, it will be to leave the IT field. Probably into either a profession like law or medicine, or to go into a more outdoors job such as forestry.

Ed Woychowsky
Ed Woychowsky

We learn by doing. The purpose of books and school is to point us in the right direction.

nsaunders
nsaunders

I have worked in IT for more than 10 years and I just finished my degree (took me 15 years). I could stay employed with my skills but I wanted more opportunities and management experience. Programming and problem solving is my passion and it was time to validate it with a piece of paper. It means never having to defend your right to hold a good job.

No User
No User

Mentoring largely went away in the 70's right along with the "jobs for life" and "companies that will always be there". Many vendors have the training information available FREE on their web sites that you will need for certifications. Cisco and Microsoft for instance. All you need to do is aim your browser to their site read and practice. You can download FREE trail VMware and trail Windows and other products you have technet and there you go practice, practice, practice all for FREE. My point is that you certainly don't need to go to graduate school to get a MUCH better understanding then undergraduate school and OJT bring to the table. To suggest otherwise is nonsense!!! Your statement "Organizational Behavior and basic business economics that had NEVER been explained to me." Come on how many folks who run companies most of which are small to mid size dabble with theory? Not to be rude but it's an inside joke that if you need it then explaining it to you wont necessarily be informing you. ;)

No User
No User

I'm saying that it is not a necessity and the HRD is transfixed on it like it's the holy grail and solution to everything. If an advanced degree means so much then how do the retards that have them keep hosing everything up so bad? It was not the non degree folks nor high school drop outs that tanked the economy (YET AGAIN) it was the ones with PHDs YET AGAIN!!!! Question: does anyone see a cycle with the economy? Let me spell it out.. You college folks should be familiar with the economic circle.. The economy is bad and they sprinkle magic fairy dust and then we have trillion dollar surpluses as far as the eye can see then we tank and need to borrow billions and now trillions and everything is doom and gloom and then they sprinkle magic fairy dust.... get it? Those are your advanced degree folks hard at work. Not to mention that there are always scandals that rock the market and we find out that those scandals artificially stimulated the economy (hence the magic fairy dust ;) ) and those higher ed folks are the source of all of it. I have over 6 years of college but no graduate degree. Getting a credit transferred is harder then sliding an elephant through the eye of the average sowing needle. Oddly enough both 2 year colleges blew away the 4 year colleges I attended. In fact you can't even compare the curriculum it's so one sided in favor of the 2 year colleges. I consider the money and time spent at both Embry Riddle and UPJ a complete waste of both time and money. At this point it's senseless to go to grad school. I have done more then they teach. The OJT, professional training and self education I had once again you just can't compare to a graduate degree because it over whelms the education you get at school. In my experience people who have a lot of common sense and also very knowledgeable in their field make the BEST managers and the rest are at their best when they just keep their mouths shut and stay away and let folks do their job dot period.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

[i]...being able to communicate in terminology the bean counters understand goes a long way in getting stuff approved...[/i] It's great to be able to sell your recommendation based on ROI and the potential improvement to the bottom line. Unfortunately, the bottom line had better improve [u]now[/u]. The problem as I see it is that the bean counters are in charge. I think the main reason the economy is in the shape it's in is that our businesses are being run by people of no integrity whose vision of success extends no further than the next quarterly report. edit: clarify

DHCDBD
DHCDBD

>"I'm talking the financial (being able to communicate in terminology the bean counters understand goes a long way in getting stuff approved) and human aspects (more to management than just getting stuff done)." Do you mean the communications skills? I am unable to speak for the school you are attending. However, at the University of Utah these skills are pretty much covered in depth with Eng 1010, Eng 2020 and Eng 3500. Most 2 year programs also have Communications programs that are required curricula.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

Jerks exist in all walks of life, it's not just those with degress/certs. The fact that you equate education to our economic mess is strange, at best...what do you mean?

jperick.mbei
jperick.mbei

I must agree with you. When you look at, say graduates from Harvard or Yale or Princeton Law School. Do they all become great attorneys? Maybe 2 in 10 become sought-after attorneys. Furthermore, it might be an illusion to expect classroom education to make anyone anything! The exception might be with medical schools, but even here, they need to intern after graduation. Why do they need that? To gain real world experience and truly "dirty" their hands. Classroom education is nothing but a springboard, i.e., it provides us with the foundation skills, or knowledge without which, true professional success can remain an unfulfilled dream. This further brings me to what I wrote earlier, i.e., context, not content is king (or queen). Let me further elaborate on this concept. If you simply want to become, or be a programmer, then in my humble opinion, seeking a master in IT might turn out to be a waste. On the other hand, if you want to seek management responsibilities, then obviously, a master degree is worth the effort. You would still need to think carefully before deciding which master you want. If you have a BA in Computer Science, maybe an MBA or MIS would be a better option. I know people who have law degrees but end up doing programming. To me, these are examples of misfits, or poor academic orientation. Why would one waste time and money studying law if it is to end up doing coding? Someone mentioned MBE (Master of Business Entrepreneurship). Well, this is ideal indeed. Just remember though, again, that no school is going to make anyone anything, let alone a successful entrepreneur. Maybe if we looked hard enough, we might find out that the most successful entrepreneurs do not hold graduate degrees, some might not even hold a college degree (no offense intended). It remains that our education system (in the US) really needs revision. We, in IT also need to probably step back and re-think the concept of IT. I know people who cannot handle Algebra II equations, yet call themselves "IT" just because you know how to fix a PC. How can someone who cannot logically demonstrate a transitive relationship claim to be true IT people? So, the question is, who are IT professionals and who aren't? Maybe the secretary who can do a "ten blind fingers" typing and type 60 words in less seconds, who can build spreadsheet files, run work processors, and so on, is an IT professional. So, can one tell me what the universal, or standard definition of Information Technology (IT) is? Maybe, if we are not clear on this, we will keep on quick-sanding. J-P

kdrew225
kdrew225

I am 26 year old and I feel like I learn so much more on the job. I have taken a short break from school. It was really hard to manage my Masters program at UMUC. Some things are repeated from undergrad computer science programs. I have been able to move up pretty fast in the IT world: software development and database. But, I need to complete my degree at my own pace. I would should I just get a Master Certificate...

No User
No User

We agree!!! You are right on with the "HR (or other hiring folks) don't know how to quantify that in terms that could cover their hineys in the event of a FUBAR hire." and both "'School Prestige' and HR gets into the nitty gritty of GPAs " Excellent!!! That is correct. First HR required a degree then it was degree and GPA then it was degree, GPA and "The Name of the School" then it was all of that and a graduate degree. What next only Ivy league PHD's need apply? Among other things they play statistics and of course you must find out who keeps those statistics that they use.. Things that make you go Hmmmmm. If you don't have both the knowledge, skills and talent to deliver them then you rely on statistics. Then presto you get companies that appear out of the Blue that keep the statistics that HR depends on for their life's blood. Just like you said when the inevitable FUBAR hire happens then they have an instant get out of jail free card. It was those darn keepers of the all mighty statistics not HR they followed the "self serving rules they created". Get it everyone?

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

...we actually agree on the point more than we disagree. Like I said in a different post, when you put a policy in place that potentially excludes great employees, the policy is ill-conceived, in my opinion. Just like with anything else, you can get great leadership qualities from a myriad of ways. The problem is that HR (or other hiring folks) don't know how to quantify that in terms that could cover their hineys in the event of a FUBAR hire. So, the path of least resistance is to require a Master's degree. You also start going down the road of 'School Prestige' in determining candidates, which I think is another ill-fated way to make a hiring determination in my estimation. Really, the only "truth" that you have when viewing a degree from Northwestern (snooty private) as opposed to Southern Illinois (party on) is that the Northwestern grad paid a lot more. Unless HR gets into the nitty gritty of GPAs and what not, there is no way to know who really had the better academic experience. Which, in my estimation, is another strike against such a hard line policy.

No User
No User

You are so right on!!!

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

"I think the main reason the economy is in the shape it's in is that our businesses are being run by people of no integrity whose vision of success extends no further than the next quarterly report." I'm currently taking a class in Management Ethics (yeah, I know, see PARADOX in dictionary). Not that it will come as any great surprise, but just about any best practice you can imagine for ensuring associate satisfaction and strong performance in the workplace has been thrown out the window so these twits can fly around the country on Cessna jets with armed security guards sipping Dom Perignon. Its the main reason I was/am against the various bailouts. Giving money to those nimrods is analogous, in my opinion, to putting a convicted pedophile in charge of a daycare center. People would gasp in horror at the latter, but we see to think the former will change the economic fortunes of our society. R-I-G-H-T!!!

DHCDBD
DHCDBD

Bill Gates had not completed his undergrad when he started Microsoft. He bought a CP/M like OS that a friend of his was working on for $500 and turned MS into what if was/is. Thomas Edison did not complete high school, he just hired competent engineers - without regard to degree's. The current global financial crisis can be attributed to higher degreed types applying theory to corporations rather than common sense. But reality is that those in the management field currently place emphasis on education rather than ability.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

...I like when my skepticism is proved wrong! :) "You don't need a Masters in anything to state..." I agree with you on that. Most of what I have learned in my master's program could have been learned in other ways; no question. When I started out in the tech field, there was someone who took me under his wing and 'showed me the ropes' for the technical stuff. However, when I rose through the ranks, I noticed that management professionals didn't seem as inclined to do the same; hence, I wanted to go back to school to further my understanding of some things (business acumen side). Additionally, at the same time, I started working closely with some HR folks, and saw the handwriting on the wall (requirements for this and that), and it reaffirmed my decision to go back to school. So, I suppose, long story short on my take is this: Is a Master's Degree worth the cost? Sure; if you select something that is worthwhile personally, and it helps the career. Should it be a firm requirement for management positions? I would say no; but I understand why it is becoming a default requirement.

DHCDBD
DHCDBD

My intent was not to insult... at least not to insult you. My intent was to comment on the sad state of higher education. You don't need a Masters in anything to state "You will loose money if you implement the course of action you are contemplating because..." You simply need to communicate in a fashion that the person will understand. When I attended University of Utah and earned my BSEE English was exhausted with 101 and 220, likewise Calculus was exhausted with 220 and if you were a math major 221, C was also covered in a single quarter. Many years later I returned to school to earn a BSCS. Because of curriculum changes for which my previous work was disallowed, and because of life, I had to retake all three. Tested out of Eng 101, decided that there might be something new to learn in Eng 2200, and was compelled to take 3500. I needed a review of math, so the work that was done in math 220 was retaken in Math 2100, Math 2200, and Math 2300 - three semesters for what had been covered in a single quarter before. I also retook C, or as it was C++. Two semesters for the same level and depth of material that had been covered in a single quarter many years before. I moved on and earned a Masters as well. Started on a Ph.D. and made a decision that I could no longer handle the academic BS and quit. Before you go to the obvious, the government payed the costs, including living expenses. The only thing that I personally had seen the academics do was to minimize the ROI of the student and maximize the earnings of the University without adding any new material. I also was allowed to witness first hand how the University was wasting the money by building parking lots instead of hiring more instructors then using the lack of instructors to justify raising tuition, and then using insufficient parking and teaching facilities to justify more buildings (recurse to sentence beginning ad-infinitum). I was also permitted to witness how the University allowed one tenured Professor avoid teaching any course so as to devote 100,000 hours of computational time in deterministic theory on a 600 core machine to model the path a flame would have taken. Of course, that is just my viewpoint.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

....since I can't tell what the intent of your response is (still trying to determine if it was a serious query or an attempt to insult). I suspect the latter (if so, it was pretty lame), but that may be due to my skeptical nature. At any rate... NPV ROI Payback Period Amortization IRR MIRR (bean counter lingo examples) As for the management part, communication plays a role, true, but there is still more to it than that. Understanding personal motivators goes a long way towards being able to coax maximum effort out of employees without resorting to tyrannical means. Being able to forecast the Max Q point on a project could help with resource allocations, as well as maintaining a positive team temperament during hard times. Those are just a couple of examples. The problem that I see in the real world is that, quite frankly, most leaders don't care about anyone other than themselves; which renders any theory or best practices moot.

jdclyde
jdclyde

someone without certs/degrees. Funny how people that have one of the other seem to try to validate themselves by putting the other camp down. As someone with decades of experience, two degrees, AND certs, I can say they all complement each other very well. Each one fills in blanks from the other and gives a more COMPLETE picture. B-) I would never look down upon, nor discredit anyone based upon a degree or not though. That shows ignorance, to say the least.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

[i]I know people who cannot handle Algebra II equations, yet call themselves "IT" just because you know how to fix a PC. How can someone who cannot logically demonstrate a transitive relationship claim to be true IT people?[/i] Allow me to respond appropriately: I know people who cannot handle a screwdriver, yet call themselves "smart" just because they can write a script. How can someone who cannot tell the difference between Philips and Torx truly claim to be intelligent? Do you see the point? [i]...can one tell me what the universal, or standard definition of Information Technology (IT) is?[/i] There are as many universal and standard definitions of IT as there are IT specialists. Take it as it is.

jperick.mbei
jperick.mbei

This debate is not new. It is not going to end soon either, and I wonder if it will, some day, conclude. The debate just seems to change contextually. Are IT master Degrees a Waste? Yes and No. IT Masters Can Be a Waste: Remember the old saw, "other times, other customs?" Well, at some point in time, an IT master can prove a waste. This fact is true if the school one attended failed you. I am not implying that schools make anyone a successful IT pro. However, if the school fails--woefully- to provide its future graduate with a solid springboard, it will be pretty hard for such graduates to add value to their degree. Let's not be fooled. No degree by itself has intrinsic value. The bearer values the paper. A great number of universities are doing business. They don't seem to really care about the future of their students. All that seems to matter is money. This academic mercantilism is hurting our education, and jeopardizing our future. Global competition is tough (e.g., China, Brazil, India, and so on). Placing the blame on academia alone will not be fair. Academic success of students depends on more than one player. It depends on the student's family, the student, the university/school and those who make education policies. A number of students spend more time partying than doing school work. This is no secret. relative to education policy, I think that schools and those whose job is to make major education policies share responsibility for this state of affairs. Most of our colleges continue to teach by the books. We all know how fast technology changes today. By the time a book is published, Microsoft may have released two versions of Windows loaded with new technologies (this is just an example). The need for On-Demand Education: Given the dynamics of today's business world, teaching by the books has become an anachronism. New graduates who enter the workforce are not readily productive, because their bookish knowledge does not meet the demand of the business world. There is urgent need for a paradigm shift, i.e., a move from the old way of teaching--by the books to On-Demand teaching/Education (ODT). ODT means that colleges and universities will start teaching the skills that businesses expect new graduates to possess, not the Just-In-Case(JIC)teaching. The other reason why some view IT masters as a waste is because too often, new graduates work under managers who only have their high school degree, or a a BA at most. This state of affairs sends a wrong signal to new graduates entering the workforce. Why would one want to invest in graduate education if it is to be supervised by someone who has a high school diploma and, in many cases, would do everything to prevent the new employee from being promoted (view you as a threat to their career)? IT Masters Are Not a Waste: There is a substantial difference between a BA/BS degree and a Master Degree. Graduate programs are supposed to teach advanced skills. The level of thinking and reasoning in graduate school is supposed to be substantially higher than the undergraduate level. Remember, a graduate degree is also supposed to prepare one to hold managerial responsibilities. Anyone who aspires to management should consider graduate education. I know that management does not occur overnight because, again, the culture is so pervasive that those who are entrenched in management are not willing--sometimes not able--to give new graduates the necessary growth space. Managers who consider themselves true leaders are a rare species. In fact great leader help people around them grow into future leaders, whereas incompetent managers will do everything to block your promotion while strengthening their grip on power. If you access to graduate school was the result of a well-thought decision, a well designed plan, then you should not consider your IT master as a waste. Additionally, some (like myself) enter graduate school because they want to earn a terminal degree. While it makes great sense to earn enough--good money with a graduate degree, the bottom line is, context, not content matters first. An IT master can prove a waste, if the holder had set a short-term goal, or unrealistic expectations (well, they won't kick out managers with a high school diploma to accommodate you even if that appears common sensical). I am fortunate to have a management team that is composed of managers with graduate degrees, and the company I work at also has a significant number of managers holding terminal degrees. That is not always the case in Corporate America. Jean-Pierre E. Mbei, MBAIS/MS

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