Yes, maybe, and no
Update (2019/06/11): I?m offering tutoring for OMSCS courses. Feel free to reach me through my request for tutoring form and I?ll get back to you as soon as possible!
I normally talk about very technical subjects, but given that I finished Georgia Tech?s OMSCS program last week, I thought it would be the correct time to write a piece on whether or not I?ve found the program to be useful to help prospective students make the right decision whether or not to entire the program as it is a very long time commitment in order to complete the program. The short answer is that it is worth it. The long answer is it?s only worth it to those who have certain goals of what they might receive from the program. Now to help those who are unsure if they have the right goals of what they might get out of the program, I?ll discuss what I?ve seen to be the right and wrong reasons for doing the entire program.
Wrong Reason: For a 10k pay bump
This is the absolute worse reason to the program. While it?s documented there is a pay bump in doing a MS in CS, the time commitment required for the program, which on average is 3 years for 10 hours a week, costs much more than the 10k a year you might get in a pay bump from getting an advanced degree. In the technical field, it is much more profitable to switch employers to get a 10k pay bump which takes a lot less time than completing this degree. So please, do not do the program for the pay bump you might get from completing this degree.
Wrong Reason: I have nothing to lose if doing program, my employer is covering it!
While yes it might be valid you might be able to have any of the costs associated in doing OMSCS covered by your employer or through government financial aid, you forget about all of the opportunities you might have to miss out on because of your commitment to the program. There are hard due dates and deadlines which must be followed which means potentially missing on advancing your career at your current company as you cannot put in as much time and effort as when you were not doing OMSCS. In addition, OMSCS does tend to make people miss out on a lot of family and friend events so don?t forget about what you might be losing on with your relationships when doing the program.
Right Reason: Curiosity of CS
Doing this program out of a curiosity is a great reason to do the program. Why might you ask? The content of the program is top notch and you won?t feel like what you?ve learned is superficial. It will satisfy your curiosity in any subject that it covers. In addition, I?ve noticed that people who do this program out of curiosity will tend to complete it no matter, even sacrificing their grades, what so that they can get the most out of it. In fact, it actually has shocked me at how many students in OMSCS do the program out of curiosity as every class I?ve been in has had a sizable amount of students who do a class out of curiosity.
Right / Wrong Reason: To get a CS degree so I can get a technical job
For generic software engineering jobs, no degree is necessary to get an entry level position which makes trying to get a software engineering job a wrong reason to do OMSCS. For more advanced positions, an advanced CS degree is needed. So I?m neutral on this reason to do OMSCS as being the right or wrong reason, however, I will say that there are many ways to get a technical position without a CS degree so make sure it?s a hard requirement to have an advanced CS degree in order to do what you want to do.
Right Reason: To move out of a stagnant technical career
This is the main reason why I completed the program. I felt like when I started the program that my career as a web developer had repeated itself 3 times in a row and I wanted to try something new. In fact, even before I started the program, I had little idea of what Machine Learning was. I personally wanted to try something new and different which the program successfully introduced me to. If I was perfectly happy as a web developer, I wouldn?t of done this program at all. In fact, if you?re perfectly happy with what you do right now, there?s no reason to do OMSCS.
Right Reason: Refresh or learn new technical abilities
This goes in conjunction with moving out of a stagnant technical career. In order to do that, a refresh on your current technical abilities and learning new ones is required. The program covers a lot of new and old technologies which modern companies use so it is helpful for those who might be weak or lacking in using those technologies. More importantly, the program will teach you exactly how those technologies work at their core so you?ll be able to exactly figure out what is going on when they don?t work as expected versus having to take a superficial guess instead.
I hope reading this, and a class review guide I wrote, helps people who might be considering entering the program make the right decision. The program is a huge time commitment, as mentioned earlier, so it?s much better to commit to doing the entire program beforehand or to never take a single class at all. There are also a bunch alternative pathways to learn about the topics OMSCS covers if OMSCS is not the right fit for you. Whatever path you take, I hope it is a successful one!