To Masters or not?
39 people have asked me “The case for master degrees. Should or Shouldn’t ?” This article is for those 39 people.
Well, the correct answer almost always is “It depends.”
But let me give a few points to think about. Obviously, I’m answering from the perspective of CompSci students. Students of all disciplines can draw analogies to their respective fields.
Question: Do you want to focus on theory or on practice?
If you picked theory, why aren’t you thinking of a PhD? If you picked practice, why aren’t you thinking of the actual practice of coding and joining a job? Remember, Software engineering is not the same as Computer Science!
In other words, what are your reasons for doing a Masters? Be specific and clear. List down the pros and cons of doing an M.S. degree.
For example, here are few arguments for not doing a M.S.:
You have been studying for 16 years (10 + 2 + 4) or so. Instead of studying for a further 2 years, why not take a break and work for the same 2 years? You can still do a M.S. after that if you please and you would have earned money to support yourself as well.
If you haven’t been able to decide during graduation on what it is that you want to do in life, how are you going to gain this knowledge when you’re in post-graduation? Does giving yourself “2 more years to decide” really work? Even if the answer is yes, at what cost?
Maybe the question you should be asking yourself is How to Get a Valuable Education Without Mortgaging Your Life? Josh Kaufman answers it beautifully, but obviously he has a strong opinion on the subject. You should draw your own conclusions.
Now that you have read the arguments, against doing an M.S., write down your arguments for doing an M.S.
Update : Read the excellent comments below on the positive aspects of doing a Masters.
Once you have a pros-and-cons list, it will be far easier to decide what to do. If you are still asking the same question, you might as well ask “Should I learn Java or C++?”
Whether you decide to do a Masters or not, I would recommend keeping two things in mind:
Focus on building up an impressive list of things you’ve done. Follow the Zen Valedictorian Philosophy.
If you already have a few ideas in mind that you want to achieve, then just go ahead and apply The Pyramid Method.
Thinking from a big picture perspective, perhaps The Real Question is: What do you want to do with your life?
If you don’t know the answer, then the answer is:
Fix the lifestyle you want. Then work backwards from there.
— Cal Newport
Update: See “The obsession of Indians with the MBA degree”, a similar discussion at StartupDunia.