Considering Graduate School in 2024

Few existing topics on this that came up when searching and nothing recent (last 10 years), so I figured I’d make a new thread.

I have been working for a company as a Data Analyst going on 18 months, and where I work really encourages employees to consider some type of continued education, I did some research and they will pay a portion towards a graduate degree every semester, I think its like $5k. I was last in a college classroom 20 years ago.

I would say a good 60% of the people I am working with have MBAs or are going for an MBA. Is everyone smart? Maybe! But not everyone who has an MBA is good at their job. :P

I currently have a BS in Comp Sci (Info Systems), minors in Business and also Management of Info Technologies. I was a 3.0-3.2 GPA student back in the day. I gave maximum effort, I just wasn’t great when it came to test taking.

So anyway I am thinking about getting a MSBA. Which seems like the best choice, since I am not interested in leadership positions.

Article I found comparing the two types.

Anyone have a MSBA here on the forums? Or an MBA? Is the higher education worth the time and money it will cost? I still have another 20 working years in my future.

I recently signed up for a online information session at my Alma mater it will be held in early December. Just wanted to put my toe in the pool, and see what is actually involved. Does my previous GPA matter? Its one of my questions for the info session.

Thoughts, opinions, and suggestions welcome!

Ohhh, my wife is also considering getting her masters in education starting next year. Gonna watch this thread.

I am about to finish (hopefully, I’ve been slacking to finish it off, since I’ve gone through the interesting stuff already) an EMBA.

Middling school, mind you. Good ones were well above my price range and ambitions (over 40€ per program, some close to 80k€).

I did it since I landed in a managerial position due to life circumstances and wanted to understand the language of business. Just after I started I got involved in an acquisition process, and the size of the team under me grew considerably, so it’s been very useful.

However, I found the most technical aspects a bit dull, overly specific (accounting, once you go into details), or just not that developed/solid in their theory (marketing).

But surprisingly for me (kind of an introvert) HR and leadership where the two areas I found both more useful and that had more to reach me.

What I’m trying to say is that in your 40s you don’t know wheee your career will land you yet. You might not be interested in leadership positions, but might eventually land in one anyways, and there’s a lot of stuff that is good to know there (other than the obvious love your people and don’t be an asshole, which is just the first stepping stone).

Also, people not interested in leadership positions sometimes are the best at those (because people interested in them sometimes are so because of personality traits that make them unsuitable).

My two cents. Whatever you choose, I think furthering education is very useful mid career.

There seem to be two main reasons people go to grad school (other than the reason I did, which was “I have no clue what I want to do yet”): a desire to dive deeper into a subject, with perhaps an interest in going into research/academia; or a need for credentials to facilitate promotion or lateral job movement.

If either of these is accurate for you, the experience will probably be worth it. Mind you, although I work with and have worked with many folks with MBAs and related business degrees, my graduate degrees are all in the humanities (History, Foreign Affairs), and my teaching career has generally put me mostly in touch with folks in the humanities or the technical sciences like CS or various Engineering areas.

My personal experience outside of academia with folks with graduate business degrees has been too mixed to draw any firm conclusions, but in general most of the folks I’ve know viewed their degrees as part of their career path, not as intellectual adventures. YMMV.

I got a MBA in my late 20s as part of a career pivot (one of the reasons to go for a non-elite MBA; my school was quite good but the top 10-15 schools that you hear people talk about as if they represent all MBAs are an entirely different universe). Along those lines I think the most important thing is knowing what you’re getting into, and what you want to get out of it. Elite full-time national MBA vs. respected full-time regional MBA vs. part time MBA vs online MBA vs all of the more specific semi-related business degrees (like the MSBA you mention)… they’re all quite different and good for different things. At the same time, the number of different ways, with different levels of rigor, to get something that says “MBA” makes it difficult to assume it makes someone baseline qualified/competent in the way that e.g. a CPA does. And that’s before you get to the part where a meaningful chunk of people at even [especially] the best programs are there because of connections and financial resources, which does not disqualify them from also being smart but (again) makes it not always a guaranteed indicator.

The general recommendation for anything below the elite programs is to make sure someone else is paying for most/all of it, or that you have a defined benefit upon completion (i.e. by getting this degree you will get a promotion/raise/etc). You’ve got the money piece going for you, so as long as you can stay in/near the $5K, your downside is your own time and not loans and financial ruin.

I say all of these semi-negative things, but a MBA was a great choice for me. I was in a decent job that was a bit dead-end as a career, and business school was one way to turn pedigree and general experience into a bunch of high priority recruiting for management-track jobs, while also moving up to a bigger city and making a ton of connections that are still useful a decade-plus later. Also I brushed up on my accounting and corporate finance and public speaking and such while I was there.

My son has an education degree and through him I have a number of friends who are work in public schools (both teaching and in administration/leadership). From what I’ve seen, Masters of Education opens alot of doors. But as noted above, who is paying and does it fit your wife’s goals?

Oh yeah, we’re gonna pay for it ourselves, and her diatrict gives her a guaranteed pay bump once she has the degree.

I was in a somewhat similar position to you about 5 years ago when I went back to grad school. I was very much going for the credential (as TheWombat identified) – I had spent 23 years since college working in various positions, and now, when I look at jobs, a master’s degree is typically a requirement for anyone at my level.

I spent three years in my part-time program, including a year online (pandemic). The online year sucked. The two years in person were pretty great. It was jarring being around students who were mostly two decades younger than me, but they were generally cool with letting the old guy hang with them. It was astounding to me how much easier grad school was than college, but I think a big part of that was that I didn’t have the same expectations of myself (I didn’t care if I was at the top of my class, I just wanted to get through the program). I also ended up taking a fair number of courses that were just interesting – stuff like risk management, space technology, strategy, etc. – in addition to the core competencies. Taking interesting stuff definitely helped, for me, because while I was there for the credential it helped to be interested in at least some of what I was learning.

I was at a fairly elite program, but found that the instruction in technical areas – coding, etc. – left a lot to be desired, so if you’re going to learn specific skills, make sure the instructors can actually teach (my instructors in technical areas were often adjuncts with incredible expertise and poor communications skills). YMMV, of course.

I did my program part time while working full time, which was not ideal – raising kids, being a spouse, working full time, taking classes, and having homework is a lot to handle. In person classes were much better for me, even though they were much less convenient (I had a 30-45 minute commute, typically, and finding parking was always a pain). The social aspects of grad school were really, really good for me – sometimes it’s nice to hang around smart young people who haven’t had all the joie de vivre stomped out of them by a few decades of work experience. Plus, smart young people are often willing to vote for your csgo team… The downside of being surrounded by young people is that when the subject of the Challenger crash, 9/11, or the Columbia crash comes up, you realize that these are just historical events to these kids. They look at that stuff the same way I look at the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, and that makes you feel really, really old.

Post degree, I haven’t gotten a new job (although I did get several offers). I’ve mostly used the skills I learned to improve my existing job, and look at my work in a new way (which has been really good for me, and keeps me from getting too bored). I did not get financial support for my degree, so financially it’s unclear if I’ll ever make back what I spent on it, but it was well worth it for me in terms of my intellectual and skills growth, and making me appreciate my work again. I’m a much happier person today that I was six years ago, and I think grad school was a big part of that.

EDIT: I was torn between the degree I got and an MBA. After sitting in on a couple MBA classes, I decided I wanted something that was at least a little more interesting, and a little less nakedly about prioritizing money over other things.

I have a Masters in Chemistry which was useful in getting into my initial career path of clinical lab science. It got me in the door, but I’ve not really used much of anything from that degree in since before 2000 or so.

In my 40s I was also a bit stuck. I contemplated a MBA, but decided instead to lateral into a different job track within my company (moving from Customer/Field Service to Quality/Risk Management). This put me into a huge learning curve, and opened up further career opportunities over time. I was also putting in some long hours which would have been impossible as a MBA student.

Like others, my experience with MBAs is too much all over the map to draw any conclusions from. Some have gotten basically zero value. Others have used it to make significant improvements in their career. I’m only speaking of MBAs as i have no experience with MSBAs. However we do have some graduate degree (PhD mostly) Data Scientists who are very valuable.

Bottomline: if you are stuck, consider all options and don’t be afraid to try something new.

Getting a Masters in pretty much anything is a fairly easy thing to justify, as there are a myriad of reasons to get one and usually the time and money commitment isn’t too grinding.

Now, getting a Ph.D, that is not something I would recommend to, well, anyone, really, unless you are either independently wealthy, or a masochist, or preferably both.

You have to be very concrete about your career goals and what you think the degree will do for you. Are you hoping to pick up new skills? Are you expecting it to open career doors that are otherwise closed? Are you going to use it to transition to a new company/role?

I’m a product data scientist at a tech company you’ve heard of w/ five or so years of experience in the field (in a previous life I was an economics graduate student; way before that I was a software test engineer at Microsoft). My analytics career track had me starting as a data analyst. I offer that preamble so you can understand where I’m coming from.

From my POV: at this point in my career a graduate degree (MBA or otherwise) would be completely worthless. The tech industry is simply not one where a degree is likely to get you any kind of internal advancement; once you’re in the door the only thing that matters is the actual work you are doing. The only scenario where it might help you is in a job search, and even in that case it will only help insofar as it gets you past resume filters; once you’re talking to a real life human the degree matters not in the slightest.

I started a PhD…and found I am not a masochist.

Heh, I hear you.

While I don’t regret getting mine, as it ultimately (after a lot of detours) landed me the job I’ve had for the past quarter century, I can’t in good conscience recommend my students go that route these days.

This is what I am thinking, but wanted to hear others thoughts also. :)

I am still going to investigate the out of pocket cost, I mean if it ends up costing me $10K out of pocket after tuition reimbursement, it might be worth it. I am always welcome to learning new skills. And as was mentioned above the networking opportunities that would present themself.

I started MBA, early in my career, as soon as I realized that I didn’t want to code for the rest of my life . All three companies I worked for had tuition reimburse programs that I took advantage off, although I was working so hard at Visicorp as a SW engineer that I dropped my classes.

It helped me get my job. I wanted to transition from engineering to marketing and my hiring boss told me being enrolled in MBA class showed I was serious about moving into marketing. However, my EE CS degree and the fact that I could not only spell C but write code in it was far more important in hiring me.

Getting my MBA made me a better investor. I learned a lot about how to read a corporate financials, and the finance courses, help me understand futures, options, and even a bit about professional money management.

If I had switched companies I think it would have been helpful in getting a promotion. The #2 guy at Intel did congratulate me when I finished my MBA, but I don’t think it had any impact on promotions or raises for me.

Being a part-time night student was much different and hell of a lot less fun, then being a full-time undergrad. I made perhaps three friends, and attended two events on campus. Now if I was actively looking to join another company, the networking opportunities might have been more beneficial. But since some of the students are full-time and gone in two year and some take 4, 6 or 8 year, I didn’t get any sense of class unity.

At least 1/2 the courses were utterly useless. Take organizational behavior, the subject of how to structure an organization is moderately interesting intellectually. But what the schools were teaching was already out of date, especially in Silicon Valley. It is not important for companies under 100 employees, and really only useful for CEO of an organization of 1,000+ employees. Honestly nobody really cares what a middle manager thinks about should each business unit have it is own lawyers, who report the general manager or should all lawyer report to the corporate general counsel The information management course was so silly and obsolete (Mainframe computers in the late 1980s in the heart of Silicon Valley), that I basically boycotted it. .

I learned a way more about business from my co-workers, bosses, and simply mentors, and reading bio of business leaders than I did from the college professors.

I should also say that most of my co-workers got their MBAs, from Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, or an Ivy League. Both Harvard and Stanford programs seemed significantly more interesting, and obviously more prestigious, than Santa Clara University. I’d jump at chance to get an MBA at either school.

All told it took me 6 years taking 0-2 courses/semester to complete my degree with the various companies paying for virtually everything, it was worth the effort. I don’t think I would say the same thing if I had to pay more than 25% of the cost much less, quitting work for two years.

The MSBA sounds moderately interesting and seems like a good fit for you.

Oh? Still playing CS2? I’m always looking for friendly teammates, who are in short supply ever since the 1.6 era petered out.

Agreed on both counts, as long as it’s a cheaper master’s degree or someone else is paying. What I didn’t realize going into my math PhD is that by the 21st century it had become a bit like trying to make the NFL. I also didn’t understand than burnout is a physical condition for your brain, not the mere loss of motivation. I burnt out badly just a couple years in and was unable to do things I had already learned in previous years. Somewhere down the line I learned that both Michael Faraday and Bertrand Russell experienced career altering burnout, which was somewhat validating, even if I had already crashed and burned out of grad school that time.

When I eventually gave grad school another go, I had learned some lessons from my earlier failure. It should have a high likelihood of career payoff, not a slim chance. It had better be affordable, or at the very least the financial gain should outweigh the student loans. And don’t burn out! Pace yourself, even if that means it takes longer to get through the program.

Attended a very informative 30 minute webinar tonight, and I really liked the presentation they gave. So it looks like I would qualify for 25% tuition discount and $5k reimbursement per year, thanks to my employer and the university’s partnership.

So I am going to think about it over the next few days and make a decision this weekend ahead, if I apply it would be for the upcoming Spring 2024 semester.

The courses offered with the MSBA program will help me in my current role where I am working, in addition to making me more valuable skill-wise should I want to further advance my career in the future.

30 credits are required, and a student is given up to 7 years to complete as a part-time student. Most complete in 3 years.

Quick update, been a crazy 2 weeks of application prep, reference letters, resume updating, and writing a personal statement. Also Christmas and New Years in there somewhere. :)

Well I guess I know what I’ll be doing part time for the next few years…

January 5, 2024

Congratulations! I am very pleased to inform you of your acceptance to the Master of Science in Business Analytics program at DeSales University.

We look forward to welcoming you to the DeSales University community for the 2024 Spring term.

Gratz! Even part-time, there’s something exciting about starting a grad program for sure. And with your experience, you’ll be able to connect the class stuff to daily practice a lot easier than, say, when you were 18!

Grad school was a fine place to do summa dat fuckin’. It sucked for everything else except not having a job.