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Ask Slashdot: CS Degree While Working Full Time?

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the we're-working-in-shifts dept.

Education 433

An anonymous reader writes "First, some quick background: I am 26 years old and I have been working for a large software development company with more than 50,000 employees for about 5 years now. My actual title is Senior Software Engineer, and I am paid well considering I have no degrees and all of the programming languages I have learned (C, C++, C#, Java) are completely self taught. The only real reason I was able to get this job is because I spent a year or so in a support position and I was able to impress the R&D Lead Developer with a handful of my projects. My job is secure for the time being, but what really concerns me is the ability to find another job in the field without 95% of companies discarding me for lack of formal education. I started looking into local community colleges and universities, and much to my dismay, they offer neither nighttime or online courses for computer science. Quitting the job to pursue a degree is not an option, especially considering they will compensate me up to $10,000/yr for going back to school. Has anyone else been in a similar situation? Does anyone know of any accredited colleges and universities that offer a CS degree through online courses? Obviously excluding the scam 'colleges' such as Univ. of Phoenix and DeVry."

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UofA says no (4, Interesting)

rsilvergun (571051) | about 2 years ago | (#42419885)

and almost everyone I've ever talked to says unless you can already pass compilers in your sleep, you're not going to make it. Start with a years worth of Discrete Math texts and if you can follow that no problem you can make it through years 1 and 2. That said, you can get all the course work from MIT, learn it, and then go get the degree as a formality. It's still hard. There's a lot to do.

Re:UofA says no (4, Interesting)

LucidBeast (601749) | about 2 years ago | (#42420335)

I just coded the final lab for bunch of University of Arizona (or some college near by) just for kicks... Took me 12 hours and these dudes probably had more than four months to do it. If I can do that, there must be some value to my skill... I'm just a high school graduate... Couple of years of University of Helsinki CS (I think Torvalds was still there when I started), but lost interest when I realized I know how to do stuff.

I'd love some input to this, too (1)

emagery (914122) | about 2 years ago | (#42419895)

I never finished my degree as my original university seemed to delight in messing with my finances and withholding books; I also slipped into an IT/Software Dev career and am doing reasonably well, but also feel like the lack of an official degree (and some need for brushing up) is a bit threatening. I'd love to poke away slowly at a degree (I'm going to assume that, since what CS I do have is about 12 years old now, little of it will transfer into a new one.)

Strange that the company should comp for education (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | about 2 years ago | (#42419903)

What prevents him from simply getting a BSc and leaving for another company with more pay?

Also, it's somewhat strange that the company should make an investment in his level of education, and yet the return will go to him (I'm sure he would expect a higher salary).

Re:Strange that the company should comp for educat (5, Informative)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#42419921)

Why is it wierd? Any decent company will offer academic compensation and pays for training. Maybe you work at a company run by assholes?

Re:Strange that the company should comp for educat (5, Insightful)

sribe (304414) | about 2 years ago | (#42419923)

What prevents him from simply getting a BSc and leaving for another company with more pay?

Also, it's somewhat strange that the company should make an investment in his level of education, and yet the return will go to him (I'm sure he would expect a higher salary).

Lots of companies do this. You seem to completely ignore the possibility that the company could be interested in having its workers be more skilled, and willing to pay for higher skill levels.

Re:Strange that the company should comp for educat (1)

Shempster (2523982) | about 2 years ago | (#42419975)

The people that matter know him, obviously like him, are aware of his capabilities, and are willing to help finance his cs degree. They see a big future for him at THEIR company. If they thought he was a job-hopper, they'd kick him to the curb in a second.

Re:Strange that the company should comp for educat (2, Informative)

TheGavster (774657) | about 2 years ago | (#42420021)

Corporations aren't inherently evil ;) but from the practical side, usually the tuition payback is spread out over a few years, or is done like a signing bonus where you pay it back if you leave within a certain period of time.

but most college time tables don't work with full (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#42420037)

but most college time tables don't work with full time work. Some tech schools / community colleges do.

Re:Strange that the company should comp for educat (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420025)

I'm a network engineer. My company will pay for courses and testing to earn certs (CCNA, CCNP, etc.) but if you leave the company within one to three years (depending on the level of cert) you have to pay back a pro-rated portion of the money.

Re:Strange that the company should comp for educat (1)

bunbuntheminilop (935594) | about 2 years ago | (#42420043)

Generally, job security these days comes from having flexible enough experience and training to be able to find *another* job easily.

This means that if people want to study, then the company should be prepared to meet their employees halfway, or they will only seek to de-motivate the parts of their workforce that's are usually self-motivated.

So while assisting with training doesn't help with the bottom line directly, having a de-motivated workforce will ultimately do more damage to your business.

Re:Strange that the company should comp for educat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420051)

Well, as someone currently having their masters degree funded by my employer, I can say first they encourage and want people to further their skill set as long as it's in an area related to what we do and they hope they'll benefit for some time by my expanded skill set. Second, they require me to stay there for one year after accepting the final repayment, or else I have to pay the entire sum back.

Re:Strange that the company should comp for educat (1)

kenh (9056) | about 2 years ago | (#42420057)

Employee development is a stated goal of most major companies, I myself have a large oil company to thank for paying for the final year of my BA in Humanities as I worked as a mainframe operator in the late 1980's.

Well-run companies want current employees to grow into more senior positions (keeping their knowledge in-house), and offering to subsidise post-secondary education is a common way of doing it.

The typical requirements are that you need to be a full-time employee for the duration of the course, achieve a certain level of academic performance, and the annual benefit is capped at a certain dollar amount.

Re:Strange that the company should comp for educat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420109)

More then likely the company he works for has a stipulation where if he leaves within a year of getting the money for the education he has to pay all of it back. That is what I am doing currently and I have to stay on for atleast a year from when I get the last tuition reimbursement check. Educating the workforce is always good for a company. It can allow the employee to better understand some businesses processes and adds to their critical thining skills.

Re:Strange that the company should comp for educat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420155)

1) Tax breaks. The company gets a tax break for these types of expenses.

2) There is usually a clause in the agreement that the company gets to approve of the courses that you are taking. And that you have to stay with the company for 5 years after or pay the money back.

Re:Strange that the company should comp for educat (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420223)

Many, many large and mid-sized companies will pay for their employees' continuing education up to and including the master's degree level. Every company I've ever worked for has had such a policy.

What they will often do, however (and this is a perfectly reasonable thing, in my opinion) is have the employee sign a contract requiring X years further service once the degree program is complete, or the employee needs to reimburse some or all of the tuition. Usually the contracts are humane (e.g., if you're laid off, that doesn't count) and the programs are always at the discretion of management so it's unlikely you'd be in a situation where you got such a deal and really didn't trust your management (or vice versa.)

My advice to the O.P. is not to worry about accredited on-line courses, but to find a local accredited college that in some way caters to continuing education students-- evening courses, on-line options, something-- but still has a physical presence. I am *not* suggesting a two year community college, but a real, four-year accredited college that has programs for working students. They do exist.

Either that, or work out alternate work hours with your local management-- 50k+ employees is a pretty big company and they may already flex-time policies for any one of a number of reasons that could be adapted for you.

WGU (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42419909)

Western Governor's University is a fully online public college. I believe they offer computer science.

Evening classes too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42419915)

I recently finished an AS in Computer Science from a local community college here in Northern Virginia. (I'm working on continuing through a local 4 year college.) I don't know if you already have a 2 year degree but at least here, I was able to combine online classes, especially for subjects I didn't worry too much about actually learning, like history of art, with evening classes in programming (these were offered online too but I wanted to be in a real classroom setting for these).

I don't know about your home/family situation, but maybe you could find evening or weekend classes that work also?

Just my 2c....

College (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42419917)

Baker.edu

skip college (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42419925)

I am in your exact situation and i've gotten by fine at the age of 29. I'm on the top rung of salary for the type of development i do. The only issue is getting your foot in the door with head hunters and companies with the lack of "formal" education but i was able to fix that by getting several certifications in my field which have helped out immensely.

You'll just end up training your H1B replacement (-1, Troll)

walterbyrd (182728) | about 2 years ago | (#42419927)

Why bother?

Re:You'll just end up training your H1B replacemen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42419983)

Ha! That is so true. (sorry) LOL!

Re:You'll just end up training your H1B replacemen (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420067)

This line of thinking is a reason we have a shortage of IT professionals. The company I work for is desperate to hire both college graduates with near term 1-3 years up to 70-90k doing work that is not out of reach for the middle of even bottom of a graduating class. We also are hiring higher end for much higher wages. For the mid-west these are solid positions.

At the end if the day less people in IT means more $$ for me to command, but I hate seeing such a supply demand issue. We now pay 2-3 off shore to do the same work as one on shore: cost is the same and we would replace them in a second. Local universities say there are almost no graduates coming down the pipe that are not H1B.

I am by far not the best java resource and I am not management friendly and with 12 years in IT and a non-CS degree I am closer to 200k than 100k in a cheap city to live in.

Not intending to be mean; I am frustrated that the jobs are there and students are steered toward other degrees that are not any better. Oh. If you are female or a minority IT is even better.

Happy Holidays

CS Degree (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42419929)

Dont focus on just CS degree. Most companies only care if your degree "relates" to your job. There are lots of online and night "IT" Degrees so if I were you I would look into System Administration or Network Security degrees. These degrees still require programming classes so the skills you taught yourself wont be lost just expanded upon. Hope this helps some.

Re:CS Degree (1)

kenh (9056) | about 2 years ago | (#42420113)

He might do himself more good by studying business/management, he apparently has the chops/ability to handle technical issues, his progression for Sr. Software Engineer will very quickly morph into a management position I suspect, and having a class in compiler construction under his belt may be ov very little use going forward.

Take it one step at a time... (3, Informative)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 2 years ago | (#42419935)

If your job is reasonably secure, keep looking at community colleges. You should be able to find one with an online AS program for CS. Work your way through that first and by the time you finish that you should find that more options are available (more universities are starting online courses all the time) to finish a BS with.

You likely will find at some point you'll need to change your work hours - or save up a truckload of sick time - to take some day time courses but if you start with an AS you might be able to put that off for a while.

Math Degree (5, Interesting)

KalvinB (205500) | about 2 years ago | (#42419943)

You don't need a CS degree which is more likely to require lab/classroom time. I tried to the CS program and couldn't stand it. I finally ended up with a degree in Math and that's perfectly suitable for a career in programming. I was working full time and taking classes to finish that up. I imagine it's a lot easier to find on-line math classes.

Re:Math Degree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420007)

Also, math and CS degrees tend to have very close to the same requirements so if you get one it's pretty easy to get the other. I almost went for a math degree after I finished my CS because I only needed two classes but life got in the way. Although going the other way from math to CS might require more classes.

Re:Math Degree (2, Interesting)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#42420121)

Only in schools where CS is taught out of the math department.

Which are the middle ones. The good ones teach CS out of Engineering, the bad ones teach CS out of Business.

Re:Math Degree (1)

lbopm (2804687) | about 2 years ago | (#42420299)

That being said, all math degrees are not created equally and imply the same thing. There are schools you may have essentially an "applied" math bachelors and those sometimes will be close to a CS degree. In other schools, you may find yourself being overrun by requirements of "pure" math courses you are not prepared for as they have nothing to do with anything you've done so far.

Re:Math Degree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420049)

I would stay away from online courses. Buy yourself a real degree, prefably something other than CS. Later, or as needed you can pick up specialization certs.
Think about running the company one day, rather than programming. You are off to a good start. Run with it.

It's not a CS degree but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42419951)

Macon State College in Georgia has a fully online BS in Information Tech that has a 4 year cost of approx 18k.

http://www.maconstate.edu/academics/online.aspx

paid not payd (1)

StormyWeather (543593) | about 2 years ago | (#42419953)

I went to a local 2 year community college for two years then AIU for the last two. AIU I would probably classify as scummy, however the nearby 4 year university was going to force me to go there 3 years to finish up my degree. I had just finished an associates degree in two summers and two semesters, so I really didn't want to be forced to attend college for 3 full years just to make the school more money. I was working nights at the time, and it was killing my health. Back then the choices were pretty limited but today I think there are legitimate colleges you can attend fully online.

Try doing it a course or two at a time (4, Informative)

brunes69 (86786) | about 2 years ago | (#42419959)

While most universities will not allow you to enroll in a degree part time, they will have no problem with you doing one or two courses. See if your employer will allow you to take off the 1 hour / day 3 days/week to do a course... this would let you do 4-5 courses / year. Whenever you do find the time to do your degree, all these credit hours will be out of the way and it will save you a lot of time.

Re:Try doing it a course or two at a time (2)

unsanitary999 (2482414) | about 2 years ago | (#42420075)

That's what I do, except my university allows me to complete the program as long as I'm enrolled half-time (8 credits - so 2 courses). If your employer is willing to pay for your education, they're likely willing to let you step out of the office for a couple hours a day to go take CS classes. The biggest thing you'll have to pay attention to is making sure you do will in school if work starts to get super busy, as your work-life balance will suck during the semester.

Re:Try doing it a course or two at a time (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#42420237)

Then it will be 8-10 years to complete a bachelor's. Full-time students are full-time for a reason.

I work full time and am getting a CS degree (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42419963)

If your employer is willing to pay for a formal CS education, it's likely they'll be flexible with your work hours. Find a quality university near you, investigate their program and their requirements, and lay out a plan for your boss to look at. They'd probably let you leave a couple hours during the day as long as you came in early/left later to compensate for the hours you've missed. I'm 24 and have a full-time salary position and am getting a CS degree part-time, and only because my employer allows me to leave for a few hours during the day to go to classes.

It's convenient, as I go to a university in a large city, bus to campus when I have them, and bus back to work afterward. Usually I try to take night classes to avoid leaving during the day.

Warning: you will work extremely hard and you won't have much free time if the University you go to is any good.

Re:I work full time and am getting a CS degree (2)

putaro (235078) | about 2 years ago | (#42419987)

I worked full-time as a software engineer and went to school part-time for the last two years of my degree. It was tough, but I did finish out my degree and it's definitely a lot easier when you don't have to start your interviews with "Well, I don't have a degree but I have this experience..."

Check out degreeinfo.com/forum.php (2)

Tutter (1776674) | about 2 years ago | (#42419969)

Head over to degreeinfo.com/forum.php and read up there... plenty of excellent schools that offer regionally accredited degrees online - you study when you have time. Whether you go for CS or SE, it is out there. UoP / DeVry are not scam Universities, they're for profit.. but legit (not endorsing them, just correcting you)... I completed my entire undergrad online through Fort Hays State University (GO TIGERS!) and never set foot into the classroom and there are plenty of folks on the forum who have completed undergrad and graduate degrees online to advance their careers. I'm working on my Masters now, again, through online learning - it's all good if you do your research.

DeVry isn't a scam... (2, Informative)

SydShamino (547793) | about 2 years ago | (#42419977)

I know nothing about their four-year programs, but DeVry's two-year associate degree in electrical engineering technology yields quality, skilled engineering technicians. My company struggles to fill hardware tech roles (we had one open for six months this year), but many of those positions (including at least one that reported directly to me) were filled by recent DeVry graduates. (We're growing and need a hardware tech for every 2-3 hardware engineers, plus a software tech for every 4-5 software engineers.)

So yeah... maybe the four year degrees aren't as valuable, but it's not fair to call DeVry a "scam".

Re:DeVry isn't a scam... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420001)

I completely concur. I work across from DeVry and my company has hired people who went there. They are some of the sharpest developers I have known.

Re:DeVry isn't a scam... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420033)

Yeah, maybe I was a little bit biased when I wrote the post. I shouldn't have called it a scam, however my company doesn't recognize degrees from those two (among others, so I just used them as an example) due to how they work... so I probably should have been a bit more specific. My bad!

Re:DeVry isn't a scam... (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#42420157)

DeVry isn't a waste of time, if your ambition is to be a technician. It still isn't worth the money.

Been there, done that. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42419995)

I pursued an undergraduate degree in Computer Science and a graduate degree in Software Engineering, both part time. For the undergraduate degree I took two classes per semester (most semesters), and sometimes one class in the summer. It took 10 years to complete the undergraduate degree, but at the end I had 10 years of experience, a college degree, and no student loan debt. 5 years after that I had a graduate degree, 15 years of experience, and still no debt. If you stick with it, in my opinion, it's worth it!

DeVry is not a scam it's a TRADE / TECH School (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#42419997)

DeVry is not a scam it's a TRADE / TECH School but do to the old college system it's roped into the degree system.

some thoughts (5, Insightful)

buddyglass (925859) | about 2 years ago | (#42419999)

If all you want is the piece of paper and aren't interested in learning much from your non-major classes, here's what I'd do:

1. Limit yourself to semi-reputable four-year universities. You don't need a top-tier school but you also don't want a degree from somewhere with a reputation so poor it will be only marginally more valuable than a two-year degree from Phoenix.
2. Do your research and determine which school (or schools) require the fewest hours in residence in order to grant a degree. My alma mater requires 60 credit hours (i.e. about four semesters as a full-time student) in residence. It's likely that many universities require less.
3. Do your research and determine which schools will accept transfer credit (and count it toward a degree) from either: a) online universities like Phoenix, and/or b) a community college in your area.
4. Knock out as much transfer credit as you can from online universities and/or your local community college. You want enough so that you only need take the minimum number of hours "in residence" at the school you intend to get the degree from.
5. Transfer all your credits and start working toward completing the in residence requirement. If you're going to be working full time you probably won't want to take more than two classes at a time. Though, you can also do this during the summer, meaning you can complete about 18 credit hours per year. That means it will take you ~3 years to complete the in-residence hours plus however long it took you to amass the 60-70 hours of transfer credit.

If you're dead set on working full-time during the entire affair (and I can definitely see the appeal) it's hard to imagine your being able to complete a degree in fewer than six years from start to finish. And that's a stretch.

Re:some thoughts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420361)

Another option might be to skip the Bachelor's degree all together and go straight to a Master's, where part time options are more plentiful and the overall cost and duration are lower.

Not everybody can do that but, if you have sufficient experience that can be documented, there are decent schools that will accept you on the basis of that, absent a lower degree.

Learn Ruby (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420003)

I'd learn Ruby, forget college, that's what all the hip kids are doing.

Master's Degree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420011)

You might consider getting a master's degree, if you already have a BA/BS. Many programs will let you take a few courses not for credit to cover any prerequisite knowledge. You may also be able to skip some of them if you have relevant experience.

Do you work at Microsoft? (3, Insightful)

kenh (9056) | about 2 years ago | (#42420015)

Software development company with 50K employees?

If career advancement is truely a concern, by first suggestion would be to review job descriptions for higher positions in your projected career path - do the require college degrees? As I recall, MS (if that is where you work) had a couple of very senior executives without college degrees, they most likely included wiggle-room in their job descriptions to allow for alternative education paths.

Finally, you are already inside - typically the folks that care about technical issues like college degrees are in HR, and their main "contribution" is weeding out applicants - you've avoided that threat, and apparently the line managers appreciate your proven talents.

I would have a plan to complete a college degree, but only invoke it if you find that a degree is really *required* for advancement.

Re:Do you work at Microsoft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420117)

Take the ten grand and go meet a truckload of young, motivated (to party that is...) women. Especially if you have some amount of money saved up first, a college student with his own car and place of living is the top dog in his class. Use your work experience to identify the good students in your class, then recruit them to come work at your company after, earning you some decent referral money in the process. There`s more to school than just classes, yo.

Re:Do you work at Microsoft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420131)

I work for SAP, I was just leaving it out of the main post because I didn't want much focus to be brought on that. Unfortunately there really isn't much room for advancement in my current position, the only job above mine is the lead developer position... and the currently seated person is quite comfy there. The other people on our team are more senior than I am, so they are likely candidates for that position before me.

There is opportunity to move to other projects within SAP, however the office I work out of is mostly filled with lawyer and QA testing teams. We are the only development team there. If I wanted to apply for a different position it would involve moving to another state... which I would also like to avoid. :)

Thanks for the response!

Re:Do you work at Microsoft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420249)

Even Google, I believe, will accept 4 years of work experience in lieu of a degree.

Re:Do you work at Microsoft? (1)

rk (6314) | about 2 years ago | (#42420255)

This. Many (most?) positions out there list BS/MS or equivalent work experience. I work in a NASA-funded lab AT a university, so you'd think a degree would be a hard and fast requirement, but although all our software engineers are currently degreed, we have had engineers in the past who didn't have theirs.

There is to much put on to a degree and not real s (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#42420027)

There is to much put on to a degree and not real skills.

In general there are parts of the old college system that do not fit that well into the tech field

http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Everything-You-Thought-You-Knew-2084356.S.91877939?qid=c1e507ec-ae91-4d61-b8b6-27c805bf7664&trk=group_items_see_more-0-b-cmr [linkedin.com]

http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Badges-Earned-Online-Pose-Challenge-2084356.S.88300874?qid=c1e507ec-ae91-4d61-b8b6-27c805bf7664&trk=group_items_see_more-0-b-cmr [linkedin.com]

www.linkedin.com/groups/Can-Free-Online-Education-Land-2084356.S.95488623?qid=c1e507ec-ae91-4d61-b8b6-27c805bf7664&trk=group_items_see_more-0-b-cmr

In the Tech area Real work / apprenticeships should be Interleaving with learning / tech schools / ongoing education.

“If you study and then you wait, tests show that the longer you wait, the more you will have forgotten,”
That is what you get from setting for 2-4-6 years in a class room before getting out there and doing the real work also having to take lot's way off base classes does not help.

Also taking stuff in smaller blocks / more self-paced is the idea of the badge system

education yes but CS? maybe not (1)

zeldor (180716) | about 2 years ago | (#42420059)

so if you are planning to a) stay at this place long enough to get a degree, and b) stay longer at this place they will make you sign up for for them
to pay your education bills (which is a good thing) you can see right there you will be at this place/job for quite a while more.
So at that point will you be wanting to go into a computer science position or something different?
but honestly after 10 years of real education nobody cares so much about education unless you are going to teach or do research for the govt.
get an education but think carefully about in what area.

Re:education yes but CS? maybe not (2)

zeldor (180716) | about 2 years ago | (#42420093)

so if you are planning to a) stay at this place long enough to get a degree, and b) stay longer at this place they will make you sign up for for them
to pay your education bills (which is a good thing) you can see right there you will be at this place/job for quite a while more.
So at that point will you be wanting to go into a computer science position or something different?
but honestly after 10 years of real education nobody cares so much about education unless you are going to teach or do research for the govt.
get an education but think carefully about in what area.

sorry, meant 10 years of experience not education

Western Governors (1)

TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) | about 2 years ago | (#42420063)

They're fully accredited and make you actually study. wgu.edu

Coursera and Advice (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420071)

Ivy league is now all free, in your own time and 100% online now: https://www.coursera.org/ [coursera.org] To be honest whether or not you have a degree makes no difference by itself. What you know will shine through in any real technical interview. I've interviewed CS PhDs that couldn't code their way out of a paperbag - and on the other hand many of best programmers I know are no-degree "ferrels". Anders Hejlsberg to name one. You should concern yourself with learning. Read CS textbooks and do the exercises (knuth, ullman, cslr). Compete in programming competitions. Set yourself some ambitious project work like a compiler or an OS kernel. Write And Read lots of code written by lots of different people that does lots of different things. Programming is a craft

Professional Master's program sounds perfect... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420073)

If you can get over the degree pre-requirements some of them have, a professional master's degree in CS would be perfect for you. Look around in your area, chat with the admissions people, etc. to see if there's any flexibility. They're designed for working professionals and, while they'll cover some of the fundamentals, are much more suited to a working professional's lifestyle.

Suggest Night School (3, Interesting)

Benedick (737361) | about 2 years ago | (#42420087)

Listen well to the voice of experience. I went straight from high school to work as a programmer. Anyone who tells you that lack of a degree will not hold you back or will not get you a job - or that you wouldn't want those jobs anyway - has been fortunate or short-sighted. You need the degree for upward mobility and continued job security.

I worked full time while getting two associates, a bachelor's, and a master's (of sorts - long story). It's hard, even harder if you're married and have kids, but this is something you have to do for yourself and your family.

If you live in any sort of a big city, there's bound to be a college that offers night classes. That's the right way to do this. It won't be a diploma mill but the professors will care about you and will not be trying to wash you out or just see you as a paycheck. One side benefit is that you'll learn while going through the process. Maybe you know all there is about computers, but learning all the other courses you might think are BS, they'll help you think and speak and write.

DePaul University in Chicago loop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420089)

You didn't say where your current job is, but in Chicago DePaul university [depaul.edu] had a lot of CS classes that go 6pm to 9pm, and you get a real degree at the end.

It's complicated (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 2 years ago | (#42420099)

You seem to think that if the course was online things would be fine. However it is more complicated than that. Many universities have online classes you could follow (e.g. Stanford) but the dirty secret is a good student will be ahead of the material taught in classes anyway. This is done by reading the books *before* the teacher discusses the material. Then the classes are only used to hash out fine details you did not quite figure out. Teachers have after school schedules for taking questions so this does not even need to happen inside class. If you are in a CS course they will answer e-mails with questions as well. It is also a good idea to get someone else's notes from class and study those. Universities usually do not force you to attend classes. I skipped nearly all theoretical classes starting in my second year and only bothered attending labs and things like that then did the exams. I did this because it was really cumbersome for me to commute to college. Grades will suffer if you do this but it is possible to finish a degree like this. If you have the time and inclination to study by yourself. One good time estimate, in my experience, is take the time listed in the class schedule and double that.

It will be very difficult to find the time to study while you are working a full time job at the same time. The only people I know who managed to work and study at the same time had part-time jobs close to the university grounds and they lived nearby (their commutes took less than 30 minutes). If your company has 50k employees they probably have a lot of students in there and some working place close to university grounds. It may be possible also that they will allow you to take an extended leave of absence from work to study but I doubt it will be long enough to finish an undergraduate course.

If you really want an undergraduate degree just look for a college near work and stick to working part-time.

Check your local state university (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about 2 years ago | (#42420103)

More state universities are offering online courses. You can your classes online on your own time and get the same degree as the students that went to the classroom. The universities are accredited and you'll have a degree that will allow you seek post-graduate education if you are inclined.

The few classes that aren't offered online can be taken during night or weekend sessions (usually a couple of hours on Tue and Thur night).

I had the same situation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420107)

I have a BS in mechanical engineering. I was working at a large company with a small software team and had a secure job. I got an online Master's degree at UIUC and moved to a job in a company in Silicon Valley I'm sure you wish you worked for. To get into the Master's program, they "provisionally accepted" me meaning that if I had a good GPA after 3 classes they'd accept me. I took 1 class per semester, 3 times a year, so it took 3 years to finish.

An education wouldn't hurt (0)

El Royo (907295) | about 2 years ago | (#42420115)

If you do want advancement it might be a good idea to take some courses in English grammar. Since you're specifically talking about eligibility for hiring (and presumably advancement) then I feel justified pointing out your grammar could use some work. I don't know whether the 'editors' have even fixed up some of the more egregious problems in the post but your e-mails and resume convey a lot to people who read them. As someone who has hired programmers, I tend to get a negative impression of people who are sloppy with their writing.

Re:An education wouldn't hurt (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#42420275)

Learn from the above post. Never work for a grammarian. They are assholes.

Re:An education wouldn't hurt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420389)

OP here. When it comes to writing technical documentation, or anything formal for that matter, I do pay much more attention to using proper grammar. I did have the original post formatted into two paragraphs followed by a 3rd line for the actual questions, however that formatting was removed. I wrote this post in one quick pass and went back and added a few details after I was finished which is likely why some of the grammar might seem broken. When posting to internet forums I usually do not spend large amounts of time proof reading.

I appreciate the feedback, though.

RIT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420119)

I had the same issue and used RIT part-time for about 6 years to complete my degree.

http://online.rit.edu/

University of Illinois Springfield (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420129)

Hello,
I am in a very similar situation to yours. I am 28 years old, have 5 years of experience as a computer programmer, and do not hold a degree of any kind. I took a few evening classes at a local community college while working full time, but unfortunately they do not offer all the classes I need in the evening, so I would have to take some during the day to complete a degree there. They also only offer an associate's degree in computer science, so I would need to go to a larger university to get a bachelor's. After spending a lot of time searching for universities that offer online degrees in computer science I finally found the University Of Illinois' online Computer Science program. You will need to fulfill some prerequisites in order to be accepted into the program, but you can probably get those at a local community college like I did. I have so far completed one semester online at the University of Illinois online and it went pretty well. I had to spend a lot of time in the evening after work and on weekends doing homework and watching online lectures, but in the end I think it will be worth it. Also, the degree you get online from the University of Illinois is not any different than the one you would get if you took classes on campus. The degree does not indicate in any way that it was earned through online coursework. Here is are a couple of URLs where you can find more information about the University of Illinois online degree programs: http://www.uis.edu/online/ and http://www.online.uillinois.edu/

I have (as has my brother): DO IT... apk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420133)

Why? Well... it's GREAT to be an "auto-didact", 1st (as you have done) - why again??

Since it gives you foundations to build on (& hopefully NOT just in programming, but in the Operating System(s) + hardware you work on also).

E.G.-> That has saved MY tail, & projects that spanned into the many millions of dollar ranges with teams I've worked with professionally before that would've been dropped...

I saw things that "plain coders" could not, fixing them (& they had more education than I did, sporting Masters or B.S. CSC (when I only had AAS level going for me)).

Why do it? Well... I can tell you 1st hand: YOU WILL LEARN THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW BEFORE - I nearly GUARANTEE that much, & yes, they are truly helpful @ times!

I have said this before here many times: The BEST COURSE I FELT I EVER TOOK TO THIS VERY DAY? DataStructures & also SQL based coursework... the 1st is great for performance & efficiency tricks + the 2nd is VERY APPLICABLE IN THE REAL WORLD (where the greatest volume of jobs is & with many languages/tools/environments).

DataStructures can be implemented in many languages (I've taken it in JAVA but I have seen it done in C++ & Pascal also), & the most important thing to learn, IS NOT SYNTAX OF ANY PARTICULAR PROGRAMMING LANGUAGE, but rather instead, CONCEPTS!

* I have been SLOWLY doing the work for B.S. in CSC here as well, since I got used to working while doing the AAS part earlier & over time!

(LOL, but I do so, ONLY as time & money permit, since I am into other things now other than writing code for a living (must diversify is why))

"Chipping away @ the B.S. stone" here since 1994 (since I am long past the AAS part) but doing as YOU have - working while I do it... it's tough, & leaves little time for much else really (well, for those you love or things your own that are worth something, you have to MAKE THE TIME too, but there's only 24 hrs. in a day!)...

My brother (an officer & a gentlemen, a Major in the United States military + Bronze Star decorated hero too no less)?

He did the same for his MBA - same offer as you are getting pretty much!

(Which I helped him on a couple times & he was like "you STILL remember this stuff 20++ yrs. later?" & I was like "SURE, I paid for it, & if you didn't 'commit it'? You failed out... it got 'ground into me'")

He did the same to get his MBA, same deal as you are seeing - it's WORTH it!

(He had to offer 4 yrs. of service back to the company in return, & he was already 5++ yrs. into working with them as a shop floor foremen after his command experience with men in the military... now, for a HUGE Fortune 100 "military industrial complex" company? He's the plant manager...).

He had little time from all of it & I felt for him (been there, done that, is why & still am when time + money permit, albeit, out of my OWN pocket).

APK

P.S.=> It's also VERY WORTH IT TO YOU, for advancement purposes as well (but I will tell you that you learn FAR MORE ON THE JOB, than you do in academia, overall... that is for sure, ask ANY long time developer that. It is TRULY where "the rubber meets the road" & where you get your hands on PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS (for me it was in the business world, since I had my B.S. in Business Administration with MIS concentration also, it made sense, & hence why I noted SQL above - you know it "plugs into" most any langauge there is, & is WIDELY used for MIS type business applications worldwide, & no 2 companies' data is the EXACT same, so you have a great 'surface area' for job prospects too)...

... apk

The specific degree isn't important (1)

cinghiale (2269602) | about 2 years ago | (#42420137)

The specific degree isn't important if you are trying to get past the HR filter. University of Maryland (UMUC) http://www.umuc.edu/students/academics/ [umuc.edu] has online programs. A lot of US military personnel take courses without ever being on campus.

Aren't you lucky! (1)

mtrachtenberg (67780) | about 2 years ago | (#42420143)

"what really concerns me is the ability to find another job in the field without 95% of companies discarding me for lack of formal education"

You are 26 and working for a company with 50K employees, some of whom are both in high positions and enlightened enough to have recognized your intelligence without needing to see a "credential." Any company like that ought to have many subdivisions to choose from, so you have your own little constellation of possible new employers, all within this company.

And, should you really decide you want to look elsewhere, you have a zero-effort technique to screen out the 19 out of 20 companies that you say are not as enlightened as the one you already work for. Big win, because wouldn't you be miserable moving to one of the 19 out of 20 stupid ones?

No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420149)

Being a student is in itself a full time job. Therefore no.

University are not really setup for working pros (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#42420151)

University are not really setup for working pros the tech schools like DeVry due offer night classes. Univ. of Phoenix and others offer online.

But you have years of work skills in the field so that should count for something. Also lots of University force you to take filler and fluff classes. Some even force you to live on site at high costs.

At least at some tech schools you can test out of classes. But with 5+ years of in the field work is so far a head of what you can pick up at University and if you where to go they may even be teaching stuff that is out of date as well.

I (sorta) did it (1)

elesel (2804679) | about 2 years ago | (#42420153)

I went to a local community college for my first two years, and completed a CS associate's degree, then enrolled in UMUC and received a CIS bachelor's degree. The CS degree could probably be done entirely online as well. Not all courses were online--I took some night ones early on, and even some week-long full-time courses that I took personal leave to attend. I expect there are similar schools wherever you live. Disclaimer: The term "years" above is being used very loosely. It really took me about 10 years, because I took some time off in the middle and tried my best to juggle work, school, and family during all of those years.

Experience is what counts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420159)

As a manager who started as a programmer, I can say that I couldn't care less about what degree you have or don't have - the years of experience is what matters both in billing you out, and to getting the job done. So unless your company has a sweet deal - and some are out there - where they will pay you for getting the degree and let your study time count as work (that is mostly government positions), don't waste your time and effort.

Math degree with emphasis in CS Theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420163)

As previously mentioned, a math degree would require less laboratory classes and less projects. You could do the studying to learn u/g level mathematical concepts at your own time and you would mostly have to worry about homeworks, midterms and exams and not so much about big (team) projects.

Projects in CS curriculums are extremely time-consuming. And most importantly, after all these years of s/w engineering experience, you don't need them. You have already acquired most of or more than the skills that these classes are designed to teach.

On the other hand, what you most likely lack is formal CS theory training. Being able to grasp deep algorithmic and complexity concepts, discrete math, numerical analysis, linear algebra, data structures etc would undoubtedly help you become a better engineer.

So my suggestion is a Math degree with as many CS theory courses as possible. Keep in mind that some of them will have projects, e.g., numerical analysis or algorithms, but those projects will actually teach _you_ something and are usually not as time consuming as big S/W engineering design and analysis or compilers projects.

online cs degree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420165)

check out http://www.online.uillinois.edu/

Open University (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420169)

Have you checked the Open University? [http://www.open.ac.uk/] Not an US institution but could be what you are looking for.

Math degree with emphasis on CS theory (1)

slashdotmsiriv (922939) | about 2 years ago | (#42420181)

A math degree would require less laboratory classes and less projects. You could do the studying to learn u/g level mathematical concepts at your own time and you would mostly have to worry about homeworks, midterms and exams and not so much about big (team) projects.

Projects in CS curriculums are extremely time-consuming. And most importantly, after all these years of s/w engineering experience, you don't need them. You have already acquired most of or more than the skills that these classes are designed to teach.

On the other hand, what you most likely lack is formal CS theory training. Being able to grasp deep algorithmic and complexity concepts, discrete math, numerical analysis, linear algebra, data structures etc would undoubtedly help you become a better engineer.

So my suggestion is a Math degree with as many CS theory courses as possible. Keep in mind that some of them will have projects, e.g., numerical analysis or algorithms, but those projects will actually teach _you_ something and are usually not as time consuming as big S/W engineering design and analysis or compilers projects.

Re:Math degree with emphasis on CS theory (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#42420207)

Nether math nor CS courses will help you be a better engineer. They might make you a better programmer.

Study engineering to learn engineering. Don't wimp out in CS. Are you afraid of a little more math?

Just my experience of a similar position (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420209)

A few years ago I was in a fairly similar position to the one you now find yourself. I had a few years experience of successfully freelancing as a web developer for small/medium business building e-commerce/CMS sites but, despite what experience I thought I had, without a degree or formal education I couldn't really secure a job interview with any development companies.

I decided the best option (for me) was to return to full time education. I'm half way through the degree course just now so I can't say yet whether it was the right choice or not, but I think I'll be better off because of it. From a technical perspective I haven't really learnt anything new or been challenged a great deal (so far) but I've certainly benefited from other areas of the course: working in a team, project management, law and legal issues surrounding software development to name a few. I wonder if these are some of the things employers value from a formal education or why they won't consider you without one? Considering how quickly things can change, half of what you learned in university regarding software development/programming may be redundant a few years after graduating.

Here in the UK we have the Open University (http://www.open.ac.uk/) which accepts international students but I don't know how they work as I've never had any dealings with them. I know I've not been a lot of help, but maybe hearing how someone else in a similar situation went about things will help you decide what is best for you.

In any case, good luck! Hopefully you choose what is right for you and it works out!

Experience with Degree+working full time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420221)

I cannot speak to which degree, but here is what I can tell you from getting a degree while working full time.

TL/DR : I'd recommend a Major you love, a Minor for work, and a life of reading and studying to keep your skills sharp - but without a Bachelor's degree, your career will be an uphill battle.

IN DETAIL -

1. It sucks
2. Interviewers seem to be impressed if you can say "I worked while getting my degree"
3. Most jobs will pay for at least some of your classes
4. A degree is an unofficial requirement for advancement - you aren't going to go far without a degree in most companies. Furthermore, you are unlikely to get hired without a Bachelor's.

I was not taught much that was useful in day-to-day coding that couldn't be learned with focused study on pluralsight.com (I recommend: Algorithms and Data Structures; Design Patterns; HTTP Fundamentals; TCP/IP for developers; and every database resource you can get your hands on).

You don't need a CS degree for 90% of the programmer jobs out there. I am biased toward them (being a CS major myself) but any Science/Engineering degree is more than enough for consideration. Hell, one of my CS Professors had his Doctorate in Chemistry.

I'd say, find an area you LOVE for your bachelor's degree and then Minor in CS. If you REALLY want to focus, then by all means, major in CS. But regardless of which you choose, you are going to be riding the wave of reading/studying to keep your skills up.

same boat as you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420235)

I am in the same boat and work for a company with around 14,000 employees. I am a Senior Principle Software Engineer and make too much to take off work and finish up my degree.

I decided to drop out of college and go work at a startup that was bought out. After years of promotions and everyone assuming I had a degree this is where I am at. I feel stuck at my job and don't feel like I can go anywhere else and make what I do now without getting a degree.

I have looked into the online CS programs from OSU and Florida State. OSU requires you to have a degree already or you can double major, taking more time. If anyone knows how good Florida Sate is or if there are any other reputable universities that offer undergraduate CS programs, I would be very interested.

college (1)

heracross (2706015) | about 2 years ago | (#42420239)

I worked 40+ hours a week while getting my cs degree in college, starting at 18-22. I was able to just put most of the college into loans and my minimum wage job basically only paid for food,gas,books. At 26 if you can not get loans to cover it , it might be much harder. You can take part time classes and spread the cost over more than 4 years, but I would only go this route if its something you really want. At 26 most companies will only let you code for a short time after anyway as old developers are looked down upon. You might want this degree in something other than CS

you don't really need a CS degree (any degree OK) (1)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | about 2 years ago | (#42420241)

You don't really need a formal CS degree. Most companies don't seem to care WHAT subject is studied as long as you got a degree. Many of the most competent programmers I've met had no formal CS degree. They had other degrees and sometimes just took a couple of formal classes in programming or other CS-related subjects that interested them and sometimes not. A motivated person can easily learn what they need online these days if the goal is just to crank out code.

The fact that your current gig will pay for your education is good. Take advantage of that, even if the courses aren't directly applicable to your day to day job.

Best,

Do people recognize your company's name? (1)

ThatsLoseNotLoose (719462) | about 2 years ago | (#42420245)

You might not need a degree as much as you think. You say you work for a company of 50,000 employees, so it's probably a well-recognized name.

I'm a high-school dropout turned tech-support --> developer. For the first 6 years as a dev I couldn't get an interview to save my life. I chalked it up to lack of degree. But once I got a lucky break and got a defense contractor's name on my resume, my phone won't stop ringing.

If you really want the degree, my advice is to do it and don't wait. I still want a degree, but at this point in my career, it would be more of an indulgence than a necessity.

Whats wrong with 100 miles away? (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#42420247)

I started looking into local community colleges and universities, and much to my dismay, they offer neither nighttime or online courses for computer science.

Why does it have to be so nearby? My online CS degree was like 50 miles away. Made for a long drive at finals time for the proctored exams, but its only about 3 times per year. They had procedures if you're too far away, but visiting campus provided an interesting excuse to meet the profs etc. Most non-CS classes were written essay exams (no problemo, sit down and scribble for an hour), but most CS classes were large project (exhausting endless hours). Also if your local state U 2-year college doesn't offer 4th-year compilers class or whatever, that doesn't mean a local prof won't proctor your online state-U exam. I have even been "proctored" by a secretary/receptionist. Policies might have changed over the last decade or so, but this is all how it used to be.

Also most local community state-U might not offer 4th year systems analysis class, but they offer psychology of human relations or Calc I or WTF-101 and most major U are all hybrid anyway so as long as you can handle the upper level classes remote, you can take public speaking in person at the "2-year" community-U probably without even filling out transfer paperwork. Research this carefully, of course.

One HUGE flashing light warning from a guy who's survived it, is you'll see advertising copy about 10 different curricula offered, or sub-majors, or whatever, like IT/MIS and networking and web design and software engineering and embedded and classical CS, and a small local might even offer all of the required classes DURING THE DAY but at night they only offer, say, web design, or they only offer compilers at night one semester every 3 years. That was me in 2001, running like hell from a small in-person local to a "nearby" mostly online degree.

Why Bother? (1)

oilyfishhead (1618365) | about 2 years ago | (#42420263)

I'm 56. I've been in the computer business for 32 years. I have no college. I've worked for 3 companies, one very large and 2 very small. The small companies hired me for my skills which I developed at the large company. My current title is Field Applications Engineer. The 6 figure salary is not bad. YMMV.

courses not degrees (1)

eagl (86459) | about 2 years ago | (#42420269)

If you want to rise in your current company, you might consider finding out what skills you need to rise to the next level on the corporate ladder and then target those skills with individual courses. For example, my Mom was a "senior programming analyst" for about 20 years. She was told that she needed personnel and project management skills to rise to the next level of project or group leader. She decided she was having fun where she was, so her continuing education focused on a couple of courses that let her broaden her personal approach to her tasks. Her decision worked in the sense that since she was at the top of the pay scale for her job, she got the max annual bonus for many years in a row, and the company did not fire her through 3 complete corporate mergers. She did have a bachelors degree in math, but her focus was programming and the courses she took were programming courses.

UCSD has extension courses that may be available for open enrollment. That's where she went. She was a Berkeley alum but I'm not sure that was a pre-req for admission to the extension courses.

For you personally I suggest courses in software engineering, rather than "pure" computer science which will touch on a wide variety of topics that may not apply. Or pick/choose courses from the CS degree program at the university of your choice, on the theory that you can learn stuff that applies to you now and can later on be applied to a degree program. But if you're already a programmer, your next step up may be software engineering and project management.

Get some advice from people in the know (2)

NothingWasAvailable (2594547) | about 2 years ago | (#42420285)

A company with over 50,000 employees has probably had a few folks who've been in the position you are in. Start with your HR resources, and ask them if they can connect you with people who've done a degree part-time.

I did both an MS and a PhD part-time, paid for by my employer. Obviously, that's different. A part-time MS is a well-trodden path. A part-time PhD is not quite so well trodden, but it's been done. (Although my adviser told me flat out that nobody finishes ... if that was meant as a challenge, it worked).

I ended up taking an unpaid leave of absence, but as I said, a PhD is different, in that there's a bigger "crunch" at the end.

In the end, whether you do this or not, and whether you succeed or not is going to depend on three people (if your large company is like mine): You, Your Manager, and Your Manager's Manager. Your first two lines of management will have to fly cover for you, and deflect criticism from above and from below. You'll need to be in a position where the expectations on your work are a bit lower, in compensation for the degree work. You'll also need to realize that you won't get great ratings, and you will probably be passing up promotions and raises for the duration.

Whatever you do, don't do a degree and bolt for another job. If you do, you're just poisoning things for the next person. If you do the degree, stay for a while and show that the company gets something out of this, then the next person won't have as much of an uphill fight. (When I started, the program I wanted to use was discontinued because of folks who went to UCB or Stanford and then immediately left the company).

Bah. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420289)

I climbed up the same way you did - I'm 47 now, and I can tell you that once you've got 10 years of experience, no company (no company that you'd want to work at, anyway) will give a s*** about formal education. Companies care about the bottom line - what can you deliver, what have you delivered in the past, what sort of domain knowledge do you have, how fast can you learn. Heads down, focus on creating solutions, document every success you have, and make sure you have great relationships with the folks who hired you, and you'll have no problems at all.

Why don't you just lie and say you have a degree? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420291)

Believe me, no one checks up on this stuff. Say you got a 4 year degree from some small university that no one knows too well.

Re:Why don't you just lie and say you have a degre (2)

Lisias (447563) | about 2 years ago | (#42420373)

Believe me, no one checks up on this stuff. Say you got a 4 year degree from some small university that no one knows too well.

Because if you have the bad luck of hitting one bastard that actually does the check, you're screwed up for the rest of your life.

A ton of options (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420313)

BS in CS at OSU - http://ecampus.oregonstate.edu/online-degrees/undergraduate/computer-science/
BA in CS at TESC - http://www.tesc.edu/heavin/ba/Computer-Science.cfm
BS in CS at UIS - http://csc.uis.edu/
BS in CS or BS in Math and Computer Science at UIC - http://cs.illinois.edu/undergraduates/academics#ugrad

UMUC offers online classes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420319)

University of Maryland University College is an accredited correspondence college that the military uses. They have a degree in computer science http://www.umuc.edu/undergrad/ugprograms/cmsc.cfm

I don't have a degree (5, Informative)

Anml4ixoye (264762) | about 2 years ago | (#42420357)

I've been in the industry nearly 15 years now. I think not having a degree has only come up maybe one or two times. Sure didn't stop me from getting recruited by Microsoft.

What I would focus on is a couple of things:

  1. Expand your horizon - learn the basics (See Michael Feathers Self-Education and the Craftsman [vimeo.com] talk from SCNA 2009). Then learn things like Functional Programming, Dynamic Typing and other languages.
  2. Do other things - Make programming a hobby and a career. Start an open source project. Contribute to others. Scratch itches that bug you, but do them with software
  3. Play Both Ends - Learn back end development. Learn front end development (CSS/Javascript). Do some hardware development (SparkFun's Arduino kit is fun, as well as the Roomba robot kits).
  4. Read, Read, Read - Find books on software engineering. Reverse Engineering of Viruses. Design Patterns. Project Management. And go outside - books on Business topics are especially good, because you get to understand the tradeoff that often gets made.
  5. Practice, Practice, Practice - Do Katas. Create projects. Explore ideas. Do things like Ludum Dare [ludumdare.com] and hackathons. Build an iPhone app, then build an Android version.

I'm not trying to knock a college education - if you want it for the education. If you want it just for the advancement, the things above are going to have a much bigger impact on your career and your ability to find employment in many cases.

"Senior Software Engineer"? (1)

Lisias (447563) | about 2 years ago | (#42420363)

You got a "Senior Software Engineer" title at age of 26? O.o

Sorry, pal, but I think your company had spoiled you badly.

On the other hand, KUDOS for your approach to the problem (it is instinctive? How did you realize it?)

Formal education is a need (I know, I did'nt complete my own - besides having a excellent technical formation and experience : I'm entitled to get a PMP title if I apply for it), and you're 150% correct on concerning your future. Don't let the size of your company eludes you, it appears to be not on his best shape.

(off course this is a superficial analysis based on my own experience - as always, your mileage my vary)

Western Governor's University (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42420387)

After facing a similar issue myself, I settled on Western Governor's University. It's an IT degree, not CS, but it's online and self-paced which offers lots of flexibility. I entered WGU with quite a bit of time at other universities in various majors from engineering to liberal arts, and now only have a few hours left before I graduate and have been impressed with the overall quality of education. I would recommend their programs to anyone and would hire someone with a WGU degree without hesitation. I plan on enrolling in their Masters of Computer Security program after I complete my undergrad, too. Unless you're trying to get the status of an Ivy League education, I don't think what school you graduate from matters so much -- only that you graduate. Especially since so many in our industry are self-taught. After you get your undergrad completed, you may be able to find Masters programs in your area in CS or Software that fit your work schedule better if you really feel you need it or want it, too. DeVry, at least in our area, is a very good school as well. I have worked with several DeVry grads and they've been some of my most capable colleagues.

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