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bachelors or masters?

Hi to all experienced IT pro's and hiring people. My conundrun is that I've been working in the field for five years started out in first line support bu have now moved on to managing an IT infrastructure for a medium sized company. I need to progress further at some point and a degree of some sort will definately help(or so I've been led to believe). I need to decide between spending another four to five years working for a bachelors(part time) or spend less time and money working towards the masters degree(part time as well), which I feel is the sensible option because I've already got five years of experience in the field? Tell me how will it be pereceived that even though I did not go to a red brick university but have gone through the effort of gaining the masters degree, will I be less of an attractive prospect in comparison to someone who has been through uni got a bachelors then maybe their masters plus the relevant experience? I know that some employers will not even look at you if you do not have degree from a full time uni (some even make you feel slightly less human because of this). Your thoughts and opinions please?

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by master3bs In reply to bachelors or masters?

It's hard to say. For one, it sounds like the educational structure is slightly different in the UK.

I think the best solution would be if you can work on the Masters and attain an undergraduate degree while you do it.

I'm currently working on a Masters and considering a Doctorate in the far future. If I had the ability to do both at the same time; I would.

If I were hiring and saw a resume with a Masters but no bachelors, I'd certainly ask questions about that; but then that is not a situation that often happens here in the US as you can see by most of the answers.

Bottom line, it depends on what you want to do with it. And if it is a common practice where you're from to get the Masters without a bachelors, then why not do it?

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Sure, it can happen. It's just paper.

by O/Siris In reply to bachelors or masters?

Having read a couple of the responses so far, I have to say... I don't buy it.

Not you. That offer from that university. Certainly, there are legitimate universities that will account for professional experience in order to lessen the time it takes to get a degree. But to skip right over an undergraduate degree, and straight to a Master's?

It's not unheard of. I understand that. But I still think "degree mill."

I can't help but think most employers would agree.

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What are you missing out on?

by mwfrench In reply to bachelors or masters?

I have found that people that come "up through the ranks" are very good at what they know. The problem is what they don't know. By taking the time to get your Bachelors degree there are fundamentals that you will be exposed to that you can't get at one company.

Every company that you apply to for a job will require a different process for doing your job. If you are not at least familiare with the fundamentals then you have a large handicap to overcome. I am less than a year out from finishing my Bachelors degree and have worked in the "Industry" for over 13 years and I can tell you that there is always something to learn.

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What do you want?

by Don'tQuitYourDayJob In reply to bachelors or masters?

This is more about you (what you want) than anything else. I think there are over 3600 colleges and universities in the USA. I have been working for about 20 years now and never gone to a college or university in the "traditional" sense.

I'm one of those people that went to night school at traditional schools to earn my B.S. (engineering technology) and then did my MBA from a distance-learning program. This was through an online program that required a face-to-face residency at the beginning and end of the program.

I found the education and content in the MBA program just as challenging as I did the on-site instructor led programs. I found that there was a lot more reading and writing involved. I still spent an average of 15 to 20 hours/week on each class.

The one thing that I would say for you to consider is whether or not the school still has a "traditional" bricks & mortar campus. I am afraid that some people are not trusting and are skeptical about online degrees. Also, make sure it is at least regionally accredited or chartered (UK) by the same body that accredits the traditional programs.

Distance learning or correspondence study is not a new concept and people have been earning degrees in this manner for decades. Technology and, specifically the Internet, has made it more convenient for people to gain a quality education.

Remember that a degree is something that is used to distinguish you from others competing for a given position. It does not make a person better than or smarter than people without degrees. However, you can determine the following about a degreed person without picking up the phone or interviewing them:

- Has some dedication toward self improvement
- Has demonstrated the discipline to start and finish something
- Is willing to learn new things ? even if they do not like the subject
- Can work within the established system

I?m sure that there is more that can be added but there?s one thing that I can?t place emphasis on enough. In the USA, there are about 150 million people in the workforce. Of those, only 24.4% have a B.S or B.A degree and only 8.9% have a Master?s degree. If you reside in the US those of us with a B.S or B.A can say we have something that 75% of the workforce does not have and those of us with a Master?s degree have something that 90% of the workforce does not have.

There are many people out there w/o degrees (Bill Gates) that are very successful but they are greatly outnumbered by well-educated individuals. Without the degree, it?s more like playing the Meg-Millions lottery instead of investing. There are many more people that become wealthy through investments (time-value-of-money) than there are lottery winners.

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thank you

by RAMROD In reply to What do you want?

Many thanks for that advice it has certainly been very helpful. My only worry really is that I don't want to go my whole life with no formal qualification(s) and lose out just because I don't have that piece of paper even though I've shown that I have the experience and track record. Taking four years to do it is a bit much for me but I must bite the bullet at some point though. I am really trying to get the best accredited university, I was thinkin of the 'open university' here in the UK. Do you have any knowledge of this institution and how people view it?

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by Don'tQuitYourDayJob In reply to thank you

I did my Undergrad at the University of Dayton (Dayton, OH). They do not offer an online degree. I went to Franklin University (Columbus, OH) for my MBA. Franklin Unioversity is accredited regionally in the States. The MBA was accredited by IACBE not AACSB. The school is well thought of regionally, especially in Ohio but not well known nationally or internationally.

You are in the UK? Have you looked at Heriot Watt University?

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The Open University

by mark.lambert In reply to thank you

Dear Ramrod,

I did my MBA at the OU (at the age of 39) and I would definitely recommend it. I did a BSc at Imperial College, London then an MSc at Durham at the 'normal' age and I can say that the OU course was not an easy option by comparison. As an IT manager and recruiter, I am very interested to read about people who have taken the time and effort to study part-time and my own view is that any degree taken in this way, be it bachelors or masters, is indicative of a motivated, organised and determined person. Personally, I'd get a bachelors first, but I'd say the actual course is of secondary importance. Just being able to complete any degree part-time is a significant achievement of which you will be justifiably proud.

Good luck and best regards!

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Anything is possible... Yes, you can.

by mail In reply to bachelors or masters?

I found this dialogue to be interesting since I asked myself these questions about a year ago and got replies that were mundane, deflating and ultimately loaded with disinformation.

The short answer to the question "Can I get a masters without a bachelors?" is YES.

My personal experiences are that small schools WILL NOT entertain a master's degree without a bachelor's degree first. To be blunt, small schools are really worried about keeping up appearances and they would be laughed out of academia if they let someone in without a baccalaureate degree first. I was rejected when I requested small midwestern schools matriculate me into their master's programs with zero college experience.

On the other hand, the top tier B-schools were mildly receptive. Large, presigious schools have the balls to do what they want. They know that the world of Gates, Dell and Jobs exists and that not every business leader has a bachelors. ALL the ivy league schools have and do accept people into master's and even doctoral programs without undergraduate degrees IF the person is truly unique and offers something special to their classroom dynamic. In the midwest three such examples in the top 10 would be Notre Dame, U. of Chicago and Kellogg(Northwestern). I am currently enrolled at one of the three aforementioned schools for my executive MBA and I can personally vouch for an acquaintance that graduated from another of the programs in 2004.

So a couple of things to consider if you want to go back for a Master's but you do not have a bachelor's degree:

1. Prepare to explain why you didn't believe college was right for you back then and why it is the right choice now. (more money or because you were lazy are NOT going to be acceptable answers)

2. Prepare to demonstrate acumen and competency in business that justifies why you are worthy of such an opportunity when they pass over candidates with bachelor's and 4.0 GPAs.

3. Demonstrate thought and business leadership through action. Provide journals, publications, video, or other media showing your contributions to industry. Copyrighted works, patents and designs go a long way towards getting you in the door. I showed some of my IT strategy documents that I've lectured on in the past and they were well received.

4. Be prepared to jump through hoops and ask "how high" you must jump on their command. I was asked to get a 600 on my GMAT to enter the program of my choice so I studied hard and exceeded the requirements to show my dedication.

5. Get as many passionate recommendations as you can. Executive MBA candidates sponsored by their employer get serious consideration. If your company thinks you're a business leader the top tier business schools will at least listen to you for a few moments so you can make your pitch. Recommendations from Exec VPs or Board members can make a big difference on your application.

6. Have a positive attitude and don't accept no for an answer. Shoot for the moon and occasionally you'll actually get there! Try for the big and ultra-prestigious schools first (Harvard, Sloan, Kellogg, Chicago, Wharton, Notre Dame, Carnegie-Mellon, Goizueta, Fuqua, etc.) If you believe you have something exceptional to offer the world the institutions will probably believe you do as well...the hard part is that you must deliver!

I hope my experiences will help you out as you consider a leap back into academia!

IT executive in Chicago

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thank you once again

by RAMROD In reply to Anything is possible... Y ...

Many thanks for those words of encouragement. Just a couple of quick questions as well. Are you enrolled on a full time basis? Also the colleague you can personally vouch for, what has siginifcantly improved for them as a result of doing the msc course?

Many thanks


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