Higher Education, Again
Career Change Chronicles
4 min read
In this article, I talk about my choice to go back to school and about the programs I chose.
Quick googling showed me there are many avenues to get into the software development industry, some more effective than others depending on the economic climate. Some of these are self-taught, boot camp, a BS in Computer Science or an adjacent major, or some kind of post-baccalaureate program.
My requirements for a program restricted my options considerably.
I wanted to continue working full-time.
I wanted a recognized credential (certificate, degree) out of it.
Because of the requirement to continue working full-time, I couldn't do another undergraduate degree because those classes occur all day. Because of wanting a recognized credential at the end of the program, I eliminated coding boot camps. I realized that at this point, whatever choice I made was going to cost me some major dollars.
I started with Seattle University's Certificate in Computer Science Fundamentals to gain admission into the Master of Computer Science. The MS program satisfied both requirements.
Table of Contents
Certificate in Computer Science Fundamentals
From the program's website:
The Certificate in Computer Science Fundamentals helps motivated professionals start a new career in the region's tech industry. There is no programming experience required - applicants from all undergraduate backgrounds are encouraged to apply.
You have to have an undergraduate degree already to be eligible.
GRE and prerequisites in math may be required, so if you are avoiding math entirely, keep that in mind.
4 quarters = 12 months to complete, 15 including summer break.
Accelerated pace. An undergraduate may take only one Computer Science course per quarter, but a certificate student will take 2.
Exceptional performance in the certificate program boosts your application for the MS program.
Cost = $18,000 (as of 2023).
This program was extremely difficult during Programming Bootcamp I and II while working full-time. The teaching was amazing, there were teaching assistants and tutoring over Zoom almost every weekday, but working a 40+ hour a week job was more brutal than I could have ever expected.
It's akin to trying to learn French intensively into the wee hours of the morning and then getting up and going to your day job where you only speak English. My brain desperately wanted to stay in French mode but life demands otherwise! It was tough.
The demands of this certificate were well worth it. I have a strong handle on data structures and algorithms, databases, and object-oriented programming - all common requirements on SWE internship applications.
Master of Computer Science
From the program's website:
The Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS) program offers a curriculum based on theoretical foundations and practical applications. The curriculum includes advanced courses in core areas of computer science and flexible electives to meet your professional goals. Students can customize their curriculum with the General Option, or choose one of the pre-built specializations.
You need a BS in Computer Science or need to apply from the Certificate program to get be eligible.
There are multiple tracks, General, Software Engineering, and Data Science. I'm doing General.
5 - 7 quarters, 3 months per quarter. My program is taking 7 quarters, not including summers.
Cost = $45,000 (as of 2023).
I will graduate from this program in June 2024. I've loved it. The professors are a mix of industry professionals, instructors, and of course PhDs. Just like most Computer Science programs, it teaches theory and critical thinking. It doesn't teach web development unless you take the Software Engineering track.
I returned to my alma mater, Seattle University, to pursue a Masters degree in Computer Science to help me in the job search for a software development role. The cost was significant. Financially, mentally, and emotionally. This route is probably not for everyone, but it works for me so far.
I am not sponsored or endorsed by any of these programs. These are my true opinions on the programs and how they fit my needs. Please reference the program websites for detailed information.