A graduate degree program that appeals to me

The other day, I filled out a survey for the development of a joint Masters in Engineering and Business program at Georgia Tech. If I recall correctly, they plan to implement it in the next couple of years. This sounds like the sort of graduate program I would like to pursue, if I find that it will help me reach my goals. While there are some things I would like to study further in Engineering (e.g. Heat Transfer), I don’t want to get into it as “deep” as a typical graduate program would require; my interests are more practical than theoretical. At the same time, I’m interested in learning more about the Business side of how a company functions, and would like to steer my career in that direction somewhat, without necessarily pursuing an MBA. I’m well aware that Stanford has a similar program (AIM), but it’s geared more toward Manufacturing Engineering – feh. MIT also has a similar program, but it would cost me about a jillion-gazillion dollars to participate. I have more cost-cutting options available to me if I went to Tech, such as living in my parents’ basement or, if Mullinator would let me, Daisy’s doghouse.

One caveat: Even though the program would probably offer distance learning, I’d just as soon attend on campus, full time, and finish the program expeditiously. I absolutely do NOT want to pursue a degree one class at a time, working full-time, over a period of five years. A couple of possibilities I’m kicking around in my head are: 1) Taking a 1 year leave of absence to go to school, perhaps renting out my house while I’m gone, or 2) Co-oping (alternating between working a semester and going to school for a semester) until I get the degree. Of course, I would discuss these ideas with my director at work as well. I’m still considering my options and have a while to do so. Regardless, I realize that this would require great sacrifice at the time, in the hopes that I would be rewarded later, not just financially BTW.

Opinions, past experiences, ideas, advice, and $0.02 are welcome.

Sounds good and I’m jealous. I wish I could find a program much like this one that more or less specializes in IT-Engineering and Business. The business aspect is sorely lacking in todays engineering programs, while the business programs just aren’t up to the current technology boom at all. I think before my dream Masters comes along there will have to be eCommerce or IT degree programs at the undergrad level. Computer Science is as close as most schools get, but thats too frequently theoretical and unapplicable in real practice.

Sorry for the hijack, good luck and I fully agree that working and taking courses is the worst option. Full time would be most ideal IMHO, and maybe you could make arrangements to still draw a salary with your current company. Otherwise I’d seriously look into possible opportunites in the University. I’m sure that a new program will provide the potential chances to work in and around the department, and they might be willing to offer scholarships to build a base of good students. Grant programs should be abundant in this type of field it the corporate world has any foresight. Again, Good luck and keep us posted.

If there’s any way to go full-time, I’d say do it, no matter what short-term hardships you go through. Mr. Legend went to school part-time for ten years to get his BSEE. We didn’t think it was worth it to quit work for school back in the days when we could have lived on rice and beans in our parents’ garages, and by the time he decided he needed to get his degree to go any further in his field, I was three months pregnant. He had to support a non-working wife and (eventually) two children while going to school and still find time to be an active husband and father. He did a wonderful job and I’m very proud of him, but he’s had his degree for two years now and I think he’s still catching up on his sleep.

Good luck!

Omniscient, the survey I filled out mentioned eCommerce and IT. Sorry I didn’t bubble in those selections although I’m sure there are plenty of respondents who did. I think that most graduate programs will let you include a couple of undergrad classes as well. So, do you want to be roomies? Maybe Mullinator would rent his basement out to us.

I’m also pondering ways to ease the financial and mental burdens if I do choose to participate full-time, such as investing in a mutual fund. (I should talk to a financial planner. I hate trying to figure this stuff out on my own.) It’s never to early to start thinking about this.

I’ve also taken a few graduate courses at ASU which I may be able to transfer. This wouldn’t be a factor in my decision to participate, though. Although, for reasons I don’t want to mention just yet, I may have an issue here.

Omni and IL, thanks for your feedback!

Stretching a dollar and finacial planning are not my strong suits, unfortunately, so I can’t give much advice on how to do it. I got a feeling that in a few years I might be looking into a Masters program of some such if for no other reason than to be in college again. But I don’t think I’d be doing myself much good taking courses on 6 months work experience. And I still have hopes of a degree from Stanford too.

Strainger, mutual funds are long-term type of investment so I’d steer clear from them for this type of stuff unless you’re planning on saving for 10 years and then going. The fees and commission you pay will take a while to offset with your gains. Unless you’re thinking no-load…can’t help you there. I worked at AG Edwards for 2 years (and still have my IRA there - great folks) and we didn’t do no-loads. A good 12 month or 24 month CD would work but you usually need a fixed amount to invest (typically starting at $1,000 or more).

Anyway, go for it! I’d go full time to just get it over with. If the program isn’t going to be set up for the next two years, this would be what I’d do:

  1. Look at your debt load (don’t include your house, since you’d probably be renting that out to cover the mortgage anyway). When will your vehicle be paid off? Any credit card debt? I would focus heavily on paying off outstanding installment debt as much as you can within the next two years.
  2. How much do you or would you figure the cost of the school itself to cost? (don’t figure in room and board - tuition only). Divide it by 24 and try to put that much each month (if possible) in a bank account.
  3. Talk to your company - will they offer tuition reimbursement even on a leave of absence?
  4. Would they allow you to work on an “hourly” basis in a telecommuting type of way? This would save you from having to end up being McDonald’s Employee of the Month (although I’m sure you’d look good in the uniform :wink: )
  5. Send flowers to Mullinator’s wife (does he have one?) and big bones to Daisy - hopefully one of them would have pity on you and allow you share the space.

Pretty exciting possibility! Where is Georgia Tech located?

Thanks for the advice, BunnyGirl. As you may have noticed, I’m very unknowledgeable in the ways of financial planning – I much prefer Comedy Central over CNBC (snore) – so I’m going to set up a meeting with a financial advisor. I’ll have my truck paid off next year. I have some furniture that I bought with “no interest for 1 year” that will be paid off soon as well (before the 1 year term is up). I could pay it off now, but I figure I’d make comfortable payments and keep the rest of the money in the CU for the time being to earn interest. I pay my credit card bill in full every month since I only use it for convenience. So after next year, it will only be mortgage and pool (2nd mortgage).

Oh, and I found out yesterday that the company I worked for before coming here is being purchased for $20/share. I had bought some stock for $8/share under the ESPP while I was there. I only participated in it for 6 months and only contributed 2%, but it will still be a decent payoff.

I’ve been talking about this with a friend as well. He took a LOA to get his Masters and knows someone else who has left the company to pursue his Masters full time. He’s been extremely helpful and supportive. I’ve come up with some radical ideas since my OP, one of which is to go to school full time (OK, so that idea isn’t very radical, some my other ones are). I’m going to do some work and planning to do over the next two years until the program is instituted. Even if I don’t go through with it, e.g. I see what the program has to offer and think it sucks, all the work and planning will be very helpful to me in the long run.

By the way, BunnyGirl, Georgia Tech is located in Mid-Town Atlanta, where paranoia isn’t just a good idea, it’s a necessity.

All right, if I do this, I’ll be about 32 when I start and about 33 or 34 when I finish, if I go full time. Someone assure me that I’m not going to be “too old for this.”

Sorry I’m getting long-winded here, but if I can keep your attention through this without putting y’all to sleep, then I may as well go for it. Here’s an exerpt from an email I sent to my friend regarding this matter. If I can get feedback here as well, I’d greatly appreciate it.