What would be better? Getting a Master's Degree from a CSU in 2018 or from a UC in 2019?

So I’m an incoming senior at a CSU. This coming year, I will be taking graduate courses. If I stay at this CSU school for Grad school, the graduate courses I took in undergrad will transfer over and I’ll get my Master’s Degree in the Spring of 2018. These graduate courses may also transfer to other CSU schools. However, if I go to a UC, none of my graduate courses will transfer over, and I’ll have to wait till the Spring of 2019 to get my Master’s Degree. I’m leaning more towards the second choice, because I feel like if employers see that your were ambitious enough to get a Master’s Degree, they’re not going to care where you went. Most people don’t even have Master’s Degrees, so they’ll probably be impressed no matter where it’s from. And a Master’s Degree from a mediocre state college is going to outshine a Bachelor’s Degree from an Ivy League any day.

Hello abbacddc. Welcome to the Straight Dope Message Board. I hope you enjoy your time here.

This thread will garner more opinions in out ‘In My Humble Opinion’ forum. I’ll move it there for you. Good luck with your decision!

What subject is your bachelor’s degree in? What subject would your master’s degree be in?

It helps if you provide some more detail especially on an international board like this. I assume you are asking whether it is better to get a quick Masters degree from a university in the California State University system or transfer to the (generally more prestigious) University of California system to get a possibly better regarded degree but will take more time.

There is no way to answer that without more specifics. What subject and specialty are you asking about and what do you want to do with it?

You statement above about Masters versus Bachelors degrees isn’t universally true BTW. It can be but it depends on the field and industry. For some fields and industries, a Masters may not add significant value and could force you into a job you may not want. Tech jobs for example, don’t tend to value higher degrees much at all except for things like middle management and research positions. Experience and talent is much more important for younger professionals in those types of jobs. OTOH, some jobs are the opposite so you will have to tell us which category you fall into.

Masters from a Cal State is not equal to a Bachelors from Stanford (not Ivy, but keeping it in CA).

  • There is a brand game with some employers (certain consulting firms don’t interview at anything below the top 20).
  • There is a degree game with other employers (Masters can give you an edge).

So - what are you studying, and what do you hope to do? Does the UC have a better list of employers showing up to the career center? Are you going to instead go directly to the employers?

Do you want a PhD someday?

Need a lot more information here.

Surely you’re not saying that a Bachelor’s from Stanford is better than a Masters from a Cal State. You have to know more to get a Masters Degree. It requires more years of study. That’s like saying that someone who scores “Advanced” on 2nd-grade state testing is smarter than someone who scores “Basic” on 10th-grade state testing. Certainly, a Bachelor’s degree from Stanford is better than a Bachelor’s Degree from a Cal State, but a Masters Degree requires more work and higher level of intellect than a Bachelor’s Degree regardless of where either of them are from.

You are not listening. People here want to help you but we can’t without more information.

  1. What Bachelors degree are you getting specifically and what Masters degree programs (again, what programs are you considering specifically and why?).

  2. More importantly, what do you want to do with it?

You are young and have not yet graduated from college so you won’t fully understand this yet but what Algher is saying is perfectly true for some companies. A Bachelors degree (with a good GPA) from a renowned school like Stanford can be considered higher than a Masters degree from a lower tiered school in certain industries but it isn’t universal.

For example, when I was 35 years old, I got a cold call telling me that they needed someone from a Top 50 school with above a 3.3 GPA to start in 4 days being hired on the spot if I wanted it. I took it and have been at the very prestigious company as a Senior Consultant for 7 years now but I have never had that happen before. That would not have happened if I went to a lower ranked school or made lesser grades even though it was far in the past.

If you aim to earn a Masters in Public Health, that is very different than a Masters in Information Technology, English or Journalism.

What is your situation young person? The first thing you need to learn is how to communicate effectively and we might as well start here.

I’m in STEM if that helps.

Why are you being so cagey? Do you think one of us is going to track you down? Saying you’re in STEM doesn’t really give enough information.

Alright, I’m in Pure Mathematics.

What do you want to do with a degree (or degrees) in pure mathematics? Do you want to be a college professor? Do you want to count cards in Las Vegas?

I agree with Dewey Finn. You need to give a lot more details. This is not a board run by the NSA. We have lots of highly respected professionals in almost any field imaginable but you have to be more specific if you want an answer. Otherwise people will give up and ignore you just like your eventual job recruiters will if you continue with the same types of evasive answers.

No degree will help you if you can’t even master simple communication.

We are here to help but we do not do mind reading. There are few jobs specifically in Pure Mathematics outside of academia or secondary school. On the other hand, it can be a valuable degree if you want to work in financial markets or as an analyst in many other industries but you will have to tell us want you wish to do.

BTW, I wasn’t trying to be rude in my post above. You don’t have to go into any Masters program right away. You could get a professional job as soon as you finish your bachelors degree, make some money and let the company pay for your additional education on the side. That is a completely viable alternative in some environments. I understand that you haven’t even graduated college yet and almost certainly have no idea what real jobs are out there. That is serious problem with college education today. Even the professors tend to be out of touch with what opportunities are available but they are there in thousands of different forms. You just have to find the one that pays the bills, gives you some experience and is a good fit for you.

Universities are often an incestuous environment that can’t see beyond its own walls. The unemployment rate is very low right now. There is no reason you have to stay in school and incur additional debt to find a job when decent paying jobs with your skills are waiting unfilled right now. I fell into that trap myself and it was one of the greatest regrets of my life.

However, you still have to learn to communicate and figure out what you want before you can do that.

I don’t know enough about your industry to make a recommendation.

But in most cases, getting a masters from the same university as your undergrad is at best a missed opportunity. Most people can get advanced degree from a school with a better reputation than their undergrad.

A hiring manager may raise an eyebrow at someone who didn’t do that, especially from a lower-tier school.

It’s a mid-tier.

This is getting to be hopeless. People will be glad to help you but they can’t with responses like this. I think you don’t need to go to graduate school at all until you have taken some Communications classes. You may be the biggest genius in the world when it comes to abstract math but no one will have a paying job for you if you don’t greatly improve your articulation and people skills.

We have a person on this board that has a PhD in math and no real job and may never get one. I am sure he will be more than happy to tell you what a mistake it all was because he had no real end goal and only did it because of his parents. Would that help clarify things for you?

You seem to be under the delusion that someone just has to follow a formula to get some unspecified job that you won’t reveal. It doesn’t work that way. This isn’t Japan. Some people from lower ranked schools go on to do great things while many people from top ranked schools fizzle out but none of that is predetermined.

Graduation is just the beginning and not the end of your career and it is mostly self-determined with an infinite number of paths. If you can’t give at least a vague idea of what that path looks like to you, then nobody else can help you.

Yeah, this.

At my CSU, there is a HUGE tendency that I’ve noticed for persons in my major (which, incidentally, is Communications, so non-STEM) to just stick around and get their MA from the same school. Not to disparage the graduate program here - because I very well might have considered it if I hadn’t gone here for undergrad - but I just don’t understand why so many of my fellow students are sticking around and not venturing elsewhere. Note that this tendency is also fairly common in the Political Science and Psychology departments as well, at least from what I’ve witnessed.

Unless you’ve gone to an Ivy for undergrad, I just find it hard to justify staying at the same school for any graduate work. Such decisions are generally frowned upon. Of course, many employers might not care at all, but diversity in your education is definitely a plus.

I’m in a similar situation as the OP in that I am also very near to finishing my undergrad work and am preparing to apply to grad programs. I am also at the point where many of the instructors in my department are actively trying to recruit me for the grad program here. To say that I would be reluctant to stick around at the MA level would be a huge understatement, for sure.

But I’m also much more eager to go to the PhD level, too, and CSU’s obviously don’t provide those aside from Ed.D’s.

It may be a mid-tier CSU, but in the world of “schools that have masters programs”, it is almost certainly lower tier. The exception would be if your school has a nationally known specialization in your specialization.

I generally advise people not to get a masters unless there is a specific job or well-defined career path that absolutely needs one, or they are preparing for a career change. In many fields a masters doesn’t give any advantage over two year of work experience, and if you do need one later, many employers offer tuition benefits.

And of course, your degree is just a small part of what will land your first job. Equally (or even more) important are the internships, part-time jobs and research that you are doing right now. A higher-tier school will usually offer better opportunities in this regard, but if you really hustle you can probably make these opportunities for yourself anywhere. But if you aren’t putting real thought and effort in to this, you’ll be at a huge disadvantage, because you are competing with people who are.

I’m open to doing anything that’s high-paying.

So are you this uncommunicative in one-on-one conversations? You must be great fun on dates.

But if you want to make money, forget about getting a master’s degree in mathematics (even pure mathematics). Instead, get an MBA (from a good school, not a state university) and get a job on Wall Street.