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CS Master's Degrees - US vs. EU Programs?

Cliff posted more than 11 years ago | from the are-things-really-that-different-across-the-pond dept.

Education 124

Monty asks: "I'm currently exploring my options and I've been wondering, is it worthwhile to seek education overseas--specifically the EU? Edsgar Dijkstra was of the opinion, though controversial, that American and European CS programs were fundamentally different (see his later writings in the E.W. Dijkstra Archives). What makes the EU interesting, in that light, is that it seems to have more openly embraced things like functional programming. So, if I want to focus my study on something of a more functional nature, are schools in the EU a better choice? What are the implications of returning to North America for employment with a foreign degree? Do they have to be accredited as proof of validity or are they usually recognized by themselves here in the US?"

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It is all name recognition after all (4, Interesting)

MerlynEmrys67 (583469) | more than 11 years ago | (#6916186)

US/EU/India/AU... all of these degrees come down to, what is my impression of their program. If I had to choose someone from MIT/Stanford/UCB vs. someone from noname tech.germany of course I'd pick someone from MIT, however if the choice was from a top graduate program in Finland vs. someone from a no name school in Iowa... Well Finland wins that one.

Of course it never comes down to someone from one school, vs someone from another, there is history, communications ability, interviewing skills etc.

so in that sense it doesn't matter where you get your degree, it is what you learn, and what you can show to an interviewer

Re:It is all name recognition after all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6916257)

a worthy first post. :)
so.. i assume we can go skating in hell and sco will open source all of unix...

Re:It is all name recognition after all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6916495)

Wow, I hope I never am interviewed by you. Some dipshit who judges people by the prestige of the school they went to isn't worth working for, in my book.

Re:It is all name recognition after all (2, Insightful)

MerlynEmrys67 (583469) | more than 11 years ago | (#6916522)

Spoken like someone who went to a comunity college.

If you think all university experiences are the same you are crazy. Also I said given that EVERYTHING else was the same - which it never is.

Yes, I am much more impressed with somebody fresh out of college who has a degree from Stanford, or UIUC than someone who has a BSCS from Arkansas st... That said, if the person from Arkansas St has something that makes them stand out (significant project experience, etc.) sure they get hired...

Re:It is all name recognition after all (1)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 11 years ago | (#6917390)

Unless of course you attended Arkansas State.

All things considered I agree with your post, with the following tweak : the college you attended influences the first real job you ever get, after that the last job you had has quite a bit more bearing on your next job than where you went to college. Just as your high school experience is instrumental in getting you into college, after which it is (for all intents and purposes) useless and better left unmentioned.

Given the opportunity to study overseas I would say go for it, assuming it was a school of at least some reputation. The North African equiv of Arkansas St (to agree with your example) might not be something I would recommend, but if the university has a decent reputation I would say go for it. Everybody says they want experience : living in a foreign country is quite an experience (I spent a couple of months overseas many years ago.) Plus, foreign women fall all over themselves fighting to be with you ...

Re:It is all name recognition after all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6918191)

the college you attended influences the first real job you ever get, after that the last job you had has quite a bit more bearing on your next job than where you went to college. Just as your high school experience is instrumental in getting you into college,

Um ... pardon me if I'm wrong, but as a high school student, high school *is* my full-time job, and college *will* be my full-time job. I get benefits (insurance when on site), pay (well, OK, more like an internship that way), student prices, etc. and I have colleagues and bosses.

after which it is (for all intents and purposes) useless and better left unmentioned.

Sounds like someone didn't enjoy high school. I disagree. I'm taking several college-level courses - even some of my pre-AP/non-AP courses are college level - computer science, microbio/genetics (college freshman level), and the web design i'm learning in computer club are all early college-level.

Re:It is all name recognition after all (1)

toast0 (63707) | more than 11 years ago | (#6918416)

I'm taking several college-level courses - even some of my pre-AP/non-AP courses are college level - computer science, microbio/genetics (college freshman level), and the web design i'm learning in computer club are all early college-level.

If they're not AP, you're not going to get college credit for them (unless they're administered through a local college). My definition of a college level course is: A course which counts towards the requisite courses for a college degree. I don't think your 'college level' courses qualify; your school is just trying to BS you.

Re:It is all name recognition after all (1)

CoffeeCrusader (660043) | more than 11 years ago | (#6924231)

well now, there ain't that much about your high school. There is still a difference between different high schools. But moreover, you can expect the college level in Europe to be at the beginning a bit higher than in America. I know a whole lot of guys who (easily) passed their high school diplomas in the US and afterwards struggled through the European high school diplomas.

Re:It is all name recognition after all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6918723)

Keep this in mind:

Stanford lets you drop classes up to the day before the final, provides numerous opportunities for "make up", and for the most part gives 90% of their students a B or above.

AK State likely does none of those things.

Not to diss on the fine education offered by Stanford, but to say a "degree from Stanford" is practically synonymous with "admitted to Stanford", so keep in mind that you are judging people on the work they did in High School.

Grade Inflations (1)

CHaN_316 (696929) | more than 11 years ago | (#6919052)

One has to also take into account that prestigious universities will sometimes inflate student grades just to make themselves look good. *COUGH* Harvard *COUGH*. This article speaks for itself here [newsmax.com] .

Re:It is all name recognition after all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6919497)

>AK State likely does none of those things.

Are we talking about *Alaska* State University now? (Arkansas is AR...)

Re:It is all name recognition after all (2, Informative)

CurMo (172974) | more than 11 years ago | (#6923930)

I agree that Iowa may not be the most glamorous state, but you have to give our Universities a little credit. Iowa State University is a leading school for engineering and sciences. Iowa State is the birthplace of Computer Science, not some "no name school in Iowa". The first digital computer, the ABC or Atanasoff Berry Computer [iastate.edu] , was invented there after all, and its design concepts were used in the first programmable computer, the Eniac (not invented there).

Iowa State is also leading the way with VR technologies such as the Cave (or C6) technologies the Army and many other universities have today. It is a current ISU professor that invented the techology, not while she was at Iowa State, but she is a professor there in charge of the technology now.

And to give another of Iowa's universities some credit, the University of Iowa is one of the top medical schools in the states. However, I don't know as much about that school since I am a tech person, not a med person.

Yes, as a CS graduate of ISU I may be a little biased, but I get sick of everyone stereotyping Iowa's universities because they weren't worldy enough to ever travel to Iowa and visit any of its several universities (ISU, UofI, UNI, Drake, ...) to straighten out the stereotypes they have of the state from what they saw in The Bridges of Madison County.

Re:It is all name recognition after all (1)

CoffeeCrusader (660043) | more than 11 years ago | (#6924283)

yeah sure the computer was invented in iowa. are you aware of the fact, that in 1936 Konrad Zuse proposed the idea of a programmable digital computing machine? it was built by 1939, btw

Re:It is all name recognition after all (1)

codeguy007 (179016) | more than 11 years ago | (#6936822)



How about the machine built for the 1890 Us Census by a company later to be named as International Business Machines? You know IBM.

if you are american go live in europe for a bit (2, Insightful)

xutopia (469129) | more than 11 years ago | (#6916289)

and if you live in europe go to america for a bit.

If not for the degree at least to be more open to the world.

Re:if you are american go live in europe for a bit (1)

pong (18266) | more than 11 years ago | (#6916731)

This is actually an important point. Not only is it going to be an experience for a life time, but it looks good on your CV. Going across the globe to live in a foreign country shows courage and initiative. Important qualities that are highly rated especially in the software industry, where we have more than our share of introvert nerds.

Re:if you are american go live in europe for a bit (1)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 11 years ago | (#6917441)

Additionally you learn to appreciate all the things we take for granted. There hasn't been a single day in the past decade that I wasn't absolutely thankful that hot water (and plenty of it) came out of the shower head when I crank the knob.

Fresh vegetables and fruits, fresh cuts of meat, blueberries, watermellon, refills for your Cross pen, batteries for your calculator, a strapless bra that is your size ... these are all things we take for granted here in the US but are often difficult to get abroad. I will never pass up the chance to consume my fill of fresh milk, pop tarts, oreo cookies, or champagne when available - I have learned that just because I take them for granted doesn't guarantee they are always going to be there.

The life lessons you learn overseas will last you a lifetime. I highly recommend them.

Re:if you are american go live in europe for a bit (1)

velo_mike (666386) | more than 11 years ago | (#6919007)

Excellent point to which I have to add: Stores that are open after 7pm, or on sundays. Air conditioning (especially this year). Fresh fruits available year round - regardless of season. And my personal favorite, foods from a multitude of cultures, not just the homogenous "native cuisine".

Re:if you are american go live in europe for a bit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6919513)

On the other side, I'm sure that when I move back to the States (from the UK), I'm going to miss having bacon on *everything*. :)

Re:if you are american go live in europe for a bit (1)

CoffeeCrusader (660043) | more than 11 years ago | (#6924317)

generally, in europe you can get any country's native cousine if you want to. but, of course you can't get it everywhere. And there are quite a few things you like to leave behind when you go back home. as well as there are things that you're not looking forward to when you're going home

Re:if you are american go live in europe for a bit (1)

StressedEd (308123) | more than 11 years ago | (#6919547)

....granted here in the US but are often difficult to get abroad.

when you say abroad what do you mean? I've never had any problems with anything you list. It implies that *only* the US has running hot water.

Re:if you are american go live in europe for a bit (1)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 11 years ago | (#6920367)

In Soviet Russia, for example, all hot water is boiled downtown in big Three Mile Island looking heat exchangers. They shut those down for between a week and a month (generally July / August time frame) for repairs - homes don't generally have hot water heaters so when they turn it off downtown ... you are pretty much correct.

When it works (which is most of the time) you get unlimited hot water for long showers. When there is down time (occasionally because a hot water main leaks and needs to be repaired, or during the scheduled down time) you need to get creative.

Re:if you are american go live in europe for a bit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6928428)

Shower curtains.

Seriously.

Beware! (2, Informative)

Urgoll (364) | more than 11 years ago | (#6916319)

I have no opinion on EU computer science programs, however I know for a fact that many EU countries don't have the equivalent of the US Master's degree. For example, the French 'license' is often thought of as being the equivalent, but most US universities will not recognize it if you apply for a PhD.

As far as I know, most EU PhD are recognized in the US.

My 0.02$

Re:Beware! (2, Informative)

AdamInParadise (257888) | more than 11 years ago | (#6918645)

I agree that there is no direct mapping between US and EU diplomas. Heck, there is no harmonization between EU countries (but they are working on it).

However, for France, the equivalent to a Master's degree is a Maitrise+(DEA or DESS).

Re:Beware! (1)

DrEasy (559739) | more than 11 years ago | (#6928028)

I believe there is an ongoing effort to harmonize EU diplomas. For example I heard that France will now start to offer 2 year masters degrees instead of the 1-year DEA. It will also include a full-blown thesis instead of the small 4 month "stage".

Depends on School/Project (2, Interesting)

D.A. Zollinger (549301) | more than 11 years ago | (#6916345)

I think a major portion of your concern is the ability to get a job in a different market after graduation. While I do not know about the advantages of the programs offered overseas, I do know of two things that will capture a potential employer's interest. A well known school (even if it isn't known for their CS degree), and what extra curricular projects you have been involved with.

For example, if you come back to the States with a Doctorate in Computer Science from Oxford University, and contributed heavily to the SATA, USB2, and Firewire code in the Linux Kernel, your interviewer will drool at the opportunity to have you working for them. On the other hand, if you come back with a Doctorate in Computer Science from St. Etienne Community College, and contributed heavily to gwine [tuxfamily.org] (with no disrespect to Sylvain Daubert or his work), your potential employer might be asking you where St. Etienne is, and what gwine is ("is that related to the Wine is not an emulator project?").

A few points (3, Informative)

timur (2029) | more than 11 years ago | (#6916379)

One thing to keep in mind is that European universities consider their 4-year degree to be equivalent to a Bachelor's AND a Master's from our Universities.

I was a student at a German university for a semester. I had received a BS from an American university and wanted to continue my education in Germany. Four universities accepted me (that was the easy part). However, three of them would only give me 2 year's credit for my 4-year degree, making me a Junior in college. The 4th university would only give me 3 semesters' credit, making me a Sophomore!

But that was the least of my problems. Once I got there, I was like a fish out of water. I thought my German was good, but it wasn't anywhere near good enough. I had an impossible time following the classes. Combined with a bunch of other personal problems (e.g. my landlady was a bitch!), I dropped out after a couple months.

One of the reasons why I got into all those universities so easily was because the idea of an American coming to Germany to study Comp Sci was unheard of, so of course they had to let me try.

Frankly, I don't think European universities are better than American universities for any of the computer fields. Sure, there are American universities that are worse than the average German university, but so what?

If you're going to study in Europe, don't do it because you think the schools are better, but that's just stupid. Do it because you want to study in Europe.

That's because it *is* equivalent! (1)

kupci (642531) | more than 11 years ago | (#6918053)

... they don't spend any time teaching you basic stuff you should've learned in High School (Calc, Physics, Biology), so their first year is like your junior year. According to some studies published in Time (and other magazines) as far as Math and Science, foreign h.s. students (England, Hungary, Japan, Hong Kong) leave American h.s. students in the dust, so we have a little catching up to do.

Good idea anyway - really, it can't be harder than a Chinese student following English, spoken in a Texas accent, right?

Re:That's because it *is* equivalent! (1)

znaps (470170) | more than 11 years ago | (#6919037)

Not just England, the whole of the United Kingdom. I know that Northern Ireland for instance has a higher standard of h.s education than England.

Re:A few points (2, Informative)

neglige (641101) | more than 11 years ago | (#6919523)

European universities consider their 4-year degree to be equivalent to a Bachelor's AND a Master's from our Universities

No, I guess we think it's actually better ;) (SCNR, please not the smiley!)

I'll drop in some info about german universities, because some aspects seem to be overlooked in the discussion. Please note that the following is NOT about which universities in which country are BETTER. It's just some background information that may help. Furthermore, it's not really a reply to the parent, but the parent mentioned several interesting and true issues that I'd like to elaborate.

After school in Germany, you basically have two choices for your study. The universities focus on research, although that focus has shifted over the last few years. The "Fachhochschulen" have a more practical approach. So if you are planning on a career in research or higher management, universities are probably the way to go. If you are looking for a "normal" job, the FHs will give you the skills and practical experiences you need.

Importing credits from foreign universities is tricky. The rules can be very strict. A major problem is that you probably had several courses on one topic (giving you very detailed, in-depth knowledge), whereas at the german university only one course was required (among several other courses covering completely differrent topics, giving you a broader perspective). So you only get credit for that one course... YMMV, of course.

I was like a fish out of water

I'm really sorry to hear that :( Some universities offer exchange programs with partner universities in other countries. Students participating in these exchange programs are usually looked after, and have a chance to meet every now and then (whether this is good or bad is another point).

Do it because you want to study in Europe

Excellent point. Broaden your vision. Show your employer that you are flexible, willing to visit other countries, eager to seek a challenge. That should be the focus. Don't expect that e.g. JAVA is taught better here than in the US. For factual knowledge, you can grab a book and teach yourself. Changing (or demonstrating) your values and experiences is not possible with a book.

EU Programs in English (1)

DHam (138606) | more than 11 years ago | (#6928931)

Some of the smaller European countries have a lot more programs in English that do big countries like Germany. For example, here at TUDelft all of our MSc. programs are now taught in English instead of Dutch specifically so that foreign students can follow them.

Note that many of Europe's most prestigious universities are in small countries (think Uppsala, Leiden, some of the Irish ones, Helsinki, even (dare I say it) TU Delft).

Universities in Canada? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6916466)

They may not have the glamour of going to Europe, but the University of Waterloo and the University of Toronto (in Canada) are becoming well known for their CS and electrical/computer engineering programs.

c.f. http://www.uwaterloo.ca and http://www.utoronto.ca

Re:Universities in Canada? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6918827)

How well do they fare wrt functional programming though? It's a general statement, but nevertheless quite true that functional programming isn't even a blip on the radar in most Canadian institutions. The closest I've seen is Scheme being taught in the introductory CS course, like it is at UBC [www.ubc.ca] . But even UBC, in recent times, has been rumoured to be discussing moving to teaching Java as first language (some even say they only really taught Scheme to emulate MIT, though that's probably unfair to say). Other universities teach fp mainly through courses in programming languages, but these end up being survey courses that often degrade into shallow syntax comparisons.

Re:Universities in Canada? (1)

period3 (94751) | more than 11 years ago | (#6922722)

The University of Toronto also teaches Scheme to third year computer engineers, as part of a programming languages course. (It's basically a survey of several languages)

Beyond that, I don't think Scheme is used much at U of T.

if you have a choice (3, Interesting)

Ender Ryan (79406) | more than 11 years ago | (#6916534)

If you have the option, study overseas, then work overseas. Just take a look at the industry in the States, we're fucked. The U.S. is going to potentially fuck open source, and on the other end of the spectrum Microsoft and other proprietary vendors are moving all their development overseas, to India, etc. That's what business is about in America these days, fucking ourselves...

If I didn't already have family, friends, and own a house here, I'd look into leaving. It just seems to me that the U.S. is on a slippery slope downhill. I think whatever your political viewpoint is, it's all downhill...

But that's just my opinion, and I could be wrong.

Re:if you have a choice (1)

RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) | more than 11 years ago | (#6918673)

"It just seems to me that the U.S. is on a slippery slope downhill. I think whatever your political viewpoint is, it's all downhill..."

I think that the US will survive this current slump. Ashcroft and Bush have certainly detracted strongly from the freedoms of the US, as has the DMCA and PATRIOT act. But we saw the same thing happen during the "Red Scare". Eventually, people will wise up and the country will pull through. Are we going downhill? Definately. But we are still far better off than we were in the 70s. Now, that doesn't mean that we should be complacent, but we still enjoy more freedoms than much of the world.

Everyone likes to dump on the big guy. Microsoft, Intel, the US Government. But, frankly, life isn't so bad here. US corporations cannot kill open source.

Outsourcing is a normal part of the economy. Labor moves to where it is the cheapest. But this is not unique to the US. It is happening in every developed country. Even Mexico now faces problems as factories move to China, where they enjoy even cheaper labor.

Where will we be in 20 years? I don't know. But it's likely that the rest of the world will be in the same position. The EU has problems with lobbying and special interest groups. They already have created a DMCA-equivelent law, and they will likely allow software patents.

I only hope that the US government is not the same in 2005. Thankfully, our political system allows this. Remember, the best way to avoid a bleak future is not to move - it is to change the government. Just remember, vote for anyone but Bush.

Re:if you have a choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6921486)

You mean vote for Bush...

Re:if you have a choice (1)

RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) | more than 11 years ago | (#6922591)

Only if you want to support Bush's policy of trashing the US economy through wild defense spending and tax cuts for the rich. Oh, and his policy of invading countries without international support is nice too. His energy policy is also awful (removing environmental restrictions, etc).

It's not my fault that the US invaded Iraq or has the DMCA and the PATRIOT act. I voted for the other guy.

Re:if you have a choice (1)

CoffeeCrusader (660043) | more than 11 years ago | (#6924372)

hey, remember: the majority voted for the other guy, but that weird election system of yours made bush win....

Re:if you have a choice (1)

RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) | more than 11 years ago | (#6926739)

The election system we have is supposed to allow representation of the states. Otherwise, states like Wyoming would never get any meirt paid to their needs.

We are a union of states, remember.

Re:if you have a choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6937047)

At the risk of going of topic, when was the last time Wyoming's needs effected national policy? They haven't. Because nobody cares about Wyoming except the people in Wyoming, which means that their needs should be met by the state legislature.

Re:if you have a choice (1)

etcshadow (579275) | more than 11 years ago | (#6933434)

It's not my fault that the US invaded Iraq or has the DMCA and the PATRIOT act. I voted for the other guy.

Don't blame me: I voted for Kodos.

I mean, come on: you saw who the other guy was, didn't you? The sad thing was that because of both of our fscked up major parties, the only real choices both sucked ass. I mean, sure, we can look at how badly Bush has fucked things up, but that doesn't mean Gore wouldn't have fucked things up, too. He just would have done it in his own, different, fucked up idiom. I'm stealing a line here from some comedian (can't remember who) in regard to the 88' Democratic primary: "Being asked who would make a better president between these guys is like being asked 'Who would make a better cat? Lassy or Rin-Tin-Tin?'"

The real problem is that both major political parties are being run by the fucked up idiots in them... or at least being swayed too much by them. Sometimes I think I'd realy like to see a viable third party, something along the lines of the Bull Moose: socialy progressive, economicaly moderate-conservative, and foreign-policy-wise conservative (but without its head completely up its ass).

Re:if you have a choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6927032)

I know that nobody will probably read this.
The 'Red Scare' attitude that you write about is nothing to minimize which is what I think are a lot of people are doing when comparing the war on 'terrorism' to communism.

Remember, we still had governemnt tell us every day that it could be our last up until the late eighties. More than 30 years of fear mongering from both sides kept us under control. Granted, the control began to slip in the late 60's, but it still took another 20 years to get to where we knew that the Soviets were just as scared of us as we were of them.

It took a long time to realize that the posturizing on both sides was not to promote their ideals, but to control as much of their popluations as possible. Seriously, we told lies about the Soviets, and the Soviet population were told lies about us.

Now we have the Taliban to keep us in line.

A couple arguments (2, Interesting)

blate (532322) | more than 11 years ago | (#6916791)

1. As a hiring manager, unless you go to a school I've heard of, in an English-speaking country, I'm probably not going to think very highly of your degree. Honsetly, for most geek jobs, the cultural diversity factor you'll gain is rather irrelavent. If you end up doing some important work or publishing in major journals, then you might be OK.

2. From a pragmatic perspective, you're going to end up spending more money (tuition, exchange rates, visas, long distance, airfare) and at best get the same education you'd get here.

3. You need to consider what you're going to do with the degree. If you're shooting for a terminal MS (i.e., not going on to a PhD), then what you're basically doing is getting advanced job skills training -- IMHO, it's best to get that in the US so that you're on the same page as the rest of us.

If you're going to do a PhD, either in Europe or back here, then the argument is different... If you work with a prestegious research group or professor in Europe, and produce some results, then you may be more attractive to Doctoral programs in the US. Then again, unless you're shooting for a career in academe, you'll most likely get out faster if you do your MS and PhD at the same university in the US (where language and cultural bullshit won't be an issue).

Personally, I thank my lucky stars that I stuck it out and got an MS... I'm a much better engineer for the experience and it's gotten me more than one job. I tailored my graduate program in such a way that if I decided to continue on in a PhD program I'd be in good shape, but also such that if I bailed with an MS I'd still have a lot of useful content under my belt. I suggest that you do the same.

4. Another person suggested moving to Europe for good, given the job market here. That's not the choice I'd make, but it's a resaonable suggestion. If you think that you'll want to work in Europe or work at an international company doing business in Europe, then doing some graduate work over there, even if it's only for a semester or two, sounds like a great idea.

5. One last thing to consider is that two jobs after graduation, the school you went to, and even the type of degree you have (MSCSE, MSCS, MSCSEE, etc) doesn't really matter. The fact that you have an MS combined with your work experience will be what gets you the interview. If the MS is from a big-name CS department, that can't hurt either, but it won't be a deciding factor.

Re:A couple arguments (5, Insightful)

sasami (158671) | more than 11 years ago | (#6918727)

As a hiring manager, unless you go to a school I've heard of, in an English-speaking country, I'm probably not going to think very highly of your degree.

You may have lost countless excellent graduates as a result of that mentality. I once heard a hiring manager insist in the strongest possible terms, over countless objections, that they had never heard of Carnegie-Mellon and therefore the CS program couldn't possibly be any good. I would never accuse you of being that ignorant. But it is still fair to ask: how many schools have you heard of, and how familiar are you with their programs?

Ask anyone on the street to list every college they've ever "heard of" and you'll rarely find anyone who can name a couple of dozen (not counting "University of [STATE]"). With 3400 colleges in this country, a couple of dozen is less than 1%. I usually follow up by showing them a list of the top 10% of US colleges -- 340 schools, mind you -- and watch as they realize how little they really know. And why should they? Who besides college counselors can recognize 340 schools?

It might be interesting to go through your own company's roster and see where people went as an undergraduate. You may well find the prestige schools are quite underrepresented, and rightly so: as with many things, college reputations are pure popularity contests and have relatively little to do with merit.

--
Dum de dum.

Re:A couple arguments (1)

happyDave (155169) | more than 11 years ago | (#6918796)

I'm so sorry I just wasted all my mod points. Good post

Re:A couple arguments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6927492)

Carnegie Melon--the school with the really good theater program, right? Do they have an engineering school as well?

Re:A couple arguments (1)

znaps (470170) | more than 11 years ago | (#6919060)

1. As a hiring manager, unless you go to a school I've heard of, in an English-speaking country, I'm probably not going to think very highly of your degree.

That actually makes sense if that's all the thought that you put into it, but I would like to think that you wouldn't let the fact that you hadn't heard of the school cast a negative mark over an interviewee. I mean, how many schools have you heard of??

Re:A couple arguments (1)

chaoaretasty (701798) | more than 11 years ago | (#6919212)

1. As a hiring manager, unless you go to a school I've heard of, in an English-speaking country, I'm probably not going to think very highly of your degree. Honsetly, for most geek jobs, the cultural diversity factor you'll gain is rather irrelavent. If you end up doing some important work or publishing in major journals, then you might be OK When thinking of the name of a university there are two types of employer to consider. Those that accept the name to mean a quality education and good standards and those that feel the top unis are too elitist. There is starting to be a slight backlash in some areas. Some engineering comapnies in the UK now don't headhunt pupils from Oxford or Cambridge (the Harvard and Yale of the UK) because of this. Many of the top 20 will all offer just as good an education without the ego that can come from going to oxford or cambridge. Sometimes of course the other unis will also do better, hype isn't all it's cracked up to be. 2. From a pragmatic perspective, you're going to end up spending more money (tuition, exchange rates, visas, long distance, airfare) and at best get the same education you'd get here. Actually Ivy League universities cost 2-3 times as much as UK universities, so even factoring exchange rates, visas, airfare etc it works out considerably cheaper.

Re:A couple arguments (1)

Koos Baster (625091) | more than 11 years ago | (#6919321)

> 1. As a hiring manager, unless you go to a school I've heard of, in an English-speaking country, I'm probably not going to think very highly of your degree.

Your loss, but no offence. How many schools have you heard of?
A major difference between universities in the US and in some European coutries, is that European universities have to meet some standards to call themselves "University". The US has the best universities in the world as well as the worst. Countries like Germany, France, the Netherlands and Belgium try hard to prevent self-proclaimed so-called universities from giving the official -- usually state sponsored -- universities a bad name. This knowledge may help unexperienced hiring managers to judge foreign degrees.

Of course, what ultimately matters is a person's skills - which are only indirectly related to the person's school. IMHO it's not too hard to get a degree on a "good" university with average skills while I've met several excellent techies with an MA degree from a "dubious" university.

If you're a techie already, go to a place where they don't teach "just" software engineering or computer science. Learn to do something useful with it. I'd go to one [ed.ac.uk] of [ed.ac.uk] the [ed.ac.uk] Edniburgh [ed.ac.uk] departments if I had a chance (sniff). Tubingen [uni-tuebingen.de] has a briliant group cognitive science / language. Amsterdam [illc.uva.nl] has rising star Johan van Benthem [science.uva.nl] .

Re: MS* ? (1)

kevin_conaway (585204) | more than 11 years ago | (#6920534)

Since when do non community colleges and universities offer degrees in microsoft programs?

Functional Programming?? *hisss* (0, Flamebait)

n1ywb (555767) | more than 11 years ago | (#6916865)

Alright, procedural programming is obviously here to stay. There's a reason the Linux kernel is written in C. There are a lot of very nice things about OOP. The Java API is really is a good example of what wondeful things a well thought out class library can do for a language. But FUNCTIONAL programming, *homer shudder*. I've programmed in a couple of dozen languages, ranging from assembly, C and it's other procedural relatives, FORTH (which is pleasently unlike any other language), and I'm sorry to say, ML. ML is a highly functional language, and IMO THE most useless language ever. The only other language that even comes close is TCL. ML breaks every convention in ways that aren't even logical. ~ is the unary negation operator, for example, although I dunno of you can even really call it an operator in ML. It's not that it was particularly hard to learn, it's just that it sucked. The creators tout it as less error prone, more efficient, etc. Yeah everybody says that about their language. Trying to write simple programs in ML was like pulling teath. Give me FORTH any day over that crap heap. FORTH rules. Moore 4eva.

Re:Functional Programming?? *hisss* (1)

sasami (158671) | more than 11 years ago | (#6918851)

Hm. Getting offtopic here, but I rather dislike it when people blame the tool they can't use.

Here's what Paul Graham (yes, of Bayesian filtering fame) has to say about functional programming [paulgraham.com] . There is an amusingly appropriate quote: In business, there is nothing more valuable than a technical advantage your competitors don't understand.

Alright, stretching to get back on topic, I'll assert this: To a programmer, knowing functional programming is about as useful as reading literature, analyzing politics, studying science, or traveling abroad.

Take that as you will.

--
Dum de dum.

Re:Functional Programming?? *hisss* (0, Flamebait)

n1ywb (555767) | more than 11 years ago | (#6921132)

I rather dislike it when people blame the tool they can't use


Okay, try this: go to the dollar store, buy a cheap Chinese toolset, then try to rebuild your engine with it and see how far you get. Good fucking luck. Having the right and proper tools is critical to getting the job done correctly and efficiently. Nobody uses functional programming, and there are reasons why, face the facts.

Re:Functional Programming?? *hisss* (1)

tigersha (151319) | more than 11 years ago | (#6933753)

Well, that depends on what you define as "functional programming". Programming languages, like political parties, have extremist sides. In politics it is usually the ultra left who are totally socialist and the ultra right who is totally individualist (although the Nazis and Sascists were pretty damn socialist too, with all the "All for one Nation" thing, but I digress).

Like politics, studying the extremes in programming languages makes you understand the center so much better. In programming languages the spectrum is defined by the amount of state that a language has. In assembly languages you have to manipulate every bit of state, in a functional language, there is none. They represent the two extremes here.

In procedural languages the end result is constructed by progressively making small changes to a state. In C the tate is basically an big array of words which closely mirror the computer's real model. In Java and other OO languages the state is more like a graph of more abstract objects.

In a pure functional language the end state is mostly constructed by simply specifiyng the state (recursively or non-recursively) in terms of simple compoenents and no commands to change it are allowed.

No real language (except to pure machine code on the one hand and theortical academic mini languages on the other hand) are totally purely stateful or stateless. Haskell and SML must make provision for things which are inheritely statful such as changing the underlying filesystem. LISP is a strange amalgam of the two ways of thinking.

ALL procedural languages have an expression based sublanguage where you state things ina stateless way. Let me illustrate using good old C:

x =(y+5)-7;

And in Python:

x = left( [1,2,3,4], 2 )

Those things after the x= part are FUNCTIONAL PROGRAMS. This is inheritely less efficient than buggering around with the registers yourself but geuss what? It does not matter. computers follow a 95/5 rule where the machine spends 95% of its time in 5% of the code (probably worse). Also, modern machines are spending 99% of their time waiting your you to move the mouse of for a network packet so the efficiency does not really matter.

Also, curiously, Python and Ruby and Perl are generally considered to be more expressive than C and its ilk. Why? Because the expression part of the language allows you to directly manipulate multi-valued things such as lists which C (and Java) patently does not. To put it differently, they are more functional than C.

Many ideas that are now slowly getting mainstreamish in procedural languages, such a generics in Java, Templates in C, higher-order functions in Python and inner classes in Jave came out of the functional programming language research community. So maybe they don't exactly produce what you would call usable tools but they have been in the past and will be in the future an extremely rich source of ideas and inspiration for all the nuts and bolts tools out there in the field.

Not only are functional languages used in a small or large way inside all the procedural languages you love, they are by far the most used programming languages in the world. Why? Because Excel is a functional language. So is the SQL query language to a large extent. You simply state the relations of the things what you want and you get it.

What people want from their tools is simple.
They want to have a list of numbers or a table of names and add and sort and look at them WITHOUT specifying all the little intermediate steps to get the results. That is the computers problem.

And that is how it should be.

Re:Functional Programming?? *hisss* (1)

domninus.DDR (582538) | more than 11 years ago | (#6937347)

~ is the unary negation operator, for example, although I dunno of you can even really call it an operator in ML. Wait a minute. Isn't the unary negation operator in c ~ also? I don't understand your point.

Don't choose based on continent! (3, Interesting)

Tom7 (102298) | more than 11 years ago | (#6916901)

It's true that there is a lot more functional programming going on in Europe. But there is also plenty in the US. If you have an interest in a particular subject, find faculty who have published good, readable papers in the area, and then apply to the schools where those faculty work. I can tell you that CMU and Cornell have great typed functional programming groups (very European style, in fact), although CMU at least does not have a general CS masters program; you'd have to do a PhD. Several other schools like UPenn, Berkeley, and Harvey-Mudd are building strong programs in the same vein as well.

A few things to consider (2, Interesting)

Zachary Kessin (1372) | more than 11 years ago | (#6918630)

First of all you can't compair "US Programs" vs "Non-US Programs" in a general way. you have to look at specific departments at specific schools. If University X has a good program in what you are interested in start thinking about it.

But before you go remember these things, unless you go to an english speaking area most programs are in the local language. How well do you speek it? To take a masters level class in Computer Science you will need to speek it quite well.

Costs, not just tuition, but also things like airfare back to the USA to visit people and so on.

Quility of Life, I have lived in the USA, England and now Israel, life is different, in some ways better in some ways worse but different, think about how it will affect your lifestyle.

Now if you decide that going outside the USA is for you, go for it, there are some very good universities in many places around the world (and some very bad ones)

Re:A few things to consider (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6918790)

In defense of the original poster, click the Dijkstra Archives link and take a look at what Dijkstra had to say. So far, I've found this one, Computer Science: Achievements and Challenges [utexas.edu] (beware, PDF).

The major differences between European and American CS are that American CS is more machine-oriented, less mathematical, more closely linked to application areas, more quantitative and more willing to absorb products in its curriculum.

No, the two programs can't be compared in a general sense of which one is better or whatnot, but general tendencies in academia can, and sometimes do follow certain trends defined by geographic area. It only makes sense because physically close institutions are more readily accessible to one another and therefore influence each other more than say, two institutions divided by an entire ocean.

In the case of CS, it's almost exactly as Dijkstra puts it and as the original story implies--that there's more going on in mathematical and functional circles on the European side of things. Imo, it's not for no reason that ocaml arose out of France; there's simply more research groups over there doing this kind of stuff.

North American Degree != Foreign Degree (2, Insightful)

CHaN_316 (696929) | more than 11 years ago | (#6918820)

Using a foreign degree in North America could be a risky thing. I will derive anecdotal evidence from 'The National [www.cbc.ca] ' which is a show aired by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation [www.cbc.ca] . The article can be found here [tv.cbc.ca] , and you'll have to find the phrase, "Designer Immigrants" within the article.

The evidence does not completely fit with your question, but it is definitely an eye opener.

The article talks about a man coming from England who has a degree from Middlesex University. In addition, this man has five accounting certificates. In short, he has a recognized skill. He speaks English and has a brother in Canada. So, he decided to move to Edmonton in search of a better life.

Upon arriving, he sends off 3,000 resumes for entry level accounting positions. Four years later, not a single job offer for a permanent position. Why? Because his foreign degree and skills were not recognized.

A direct quote from the article, "Doctors, engineers and other people are facing the same problem. So, I mean, what's the point of increasing the point level and either of them have to have a PhD. What do they want PhD to come here and clean the toilet or deliver the pizza or run the mini-cab or something like that?"

Another quote that's interesting, "One study of skilled immigrant incomes shows that a foreign education is valued at only half of what a Canadian education nets on the job market. Foreign work experience is valued by Canadian employers at approximately zero....My analysis has shown that it is getting more severe over time. That immigrant skills are being discounted today more heavily than they were in the past."

This doesn't completely answer your question as the evidence presented deals with immigrants. Nevertheless, it does show that foreign degrees are not viewed equally and are deeply discounted by employers in North America.

Re:North American Degree != Foreign Degree (1)

Monty (7467) | more than 11 years ago | (#6918945)

The question is, is this more to do with the field than the fact that they received their degrees overseas? Engineering, medecine, accounting and other business areas strike me as fields where there'd definitely be some difficulty in finding jobs outside of the degree-issuing country because each has very strict rules in practice that differ from one country to the next. Thus, immigrants might come in to the country as valid skilled workers, but realistically can't get equivalent jobs to what they could get in their home countries because they weren't taught up to the standard required in the new country.

Now, unless something like swebok [swebok.org] gets its way, there isn't as much of a standard practice in CS and thus foreign degrees shouldn't, in theory, be shunned... I think?

As for foreign experience being of no value to employers, I'm really not sure what to say. Maybe it's politically incorrect to say so, but it's possible this is more of a factor in new immigrants rather than expats, because immigrants really have nothing to account towards being able to fit in with the local culture. Someone who expatriates themselves for education or work might not be seen in that same light. At the same time, I have a hard time believing the original quote--would you turn someone down if they worked at Ericsson or Nokia?

Re:North American Degree != Foreign Degree (1)

K. (10774) | more than 11 years ago | (#6919617)

Canadian employers have taken to looking for what they call "canadian experience", in order to weed out recent immigrants from applicants. It's really a disguised form of xenophobia, and it's worrying the hell out of me, as I'm planning to move to Canada for a few years in the near future, and don't even have a degree in my current field.

Re:North American Degree != Foreign Degree (1)

Monty (7467) | more than 11 years ago | (#6921589)

I have a hard time believing this given that I've lived here all my life. In the three major cities, the immigrant population is so overwhelmingly large, that in many places, it outnumbers Canadian-born people (just take a look at Richmond, BC if you don't believe me). I really don't think employers look at foreigners with distaste out of xenophobia. Instead, it's more of a question of how well you fit in. It comes down to the age-old question of how good your communication abilities are and how well you work with the people around you....

For ages, Canadian immigration had next to zero requirements on the ability to speak either official language. And I think employers are rightfully cautious about hiring immigrants because they don't want someone who's going to stick out like a sore thumb in the workplace.

That said, if you can prove your communication abilities, and by the sounds of it, you're an English-speaker, then you've got a leg up on the majority of immigrants who arrive here.

At the same time, if you're looking for CS work, then be careful, because the Canadian computer industry has never really had an explosion Sillicon-valley style. It's strengths lie behind small startups trying to innovate their way into being successful, minus a few big-name companies like Bombardier, Corel (whether you like them or not), or ATI. Think ACD systems [acdsystems.com] of ACDsee fame, or QNX [qnx.com] , though that one's grown a lot over the years....

Re:North American Degree != Foreign Degree (1)

K. (10774) | more than 11 years ago | (#6932448)

Bearing in mind the points system they now have (at least for the visa I'm eligible for), I'd be surprised if there were any new immigrants without a good command of English or French and at least a bachelors.

I've seen this (1)

nuggz (69912) | more than 11 years ago | (#6935260)

I am Canadian, born, educated and working.
I was in engineering co-op at UW, worked with many foreign trained people.
I am now working on international development teams.

My view. (yes I know I can't spell)
Different focus in different countries. Thinking and approach is VERY different in some.
There are some very excellent foreigners. There are some terrible foreigners.
Typically I'd guess that the abilities are about the same, compared to some I think Canadian trained is a bit higher on theory, others a bit more on practicality.

You have to allow for adjustment time to North American standards, we're just different here.

misinformation and doubt (3, Informative)

den_erpel (140080) | more than 11 years ago | (#6918880)

I've seen a lot of comments which are mainly outdated and ill informed.

First off, indeed, some European countries did not have a Anglo-Saxon Ms/Bs system in the past. I believe some countries adherred to a more German system, where you had the 'candidatures' (after 2 years) and the 'licenses' (after 2 or 3 years; 2 for 'normal' studies, e.g. history, archeology, ... and 3 for engineering and some medicin studies). The candidatures are not really accepted as a final degree, but a way to the licenses (hardly anybody stopped studying after a candidature). These are the broad lines.

One of the formost problems with this was the diversity of the degrees. You typically had 'universities' and 'high schools (=/= american high-schools). For some long term degrees (4/5 years) the degree of a high-school did not get accepted abroad (including some engineering degrees), while the university degrees were universally (pun) accepted.

Then there were the differences between countries... Over the last decade, countries started to simplify and reform their studies. If I remember correctly, Sweden had at some point over 100 different engineering degrees.

More recently (and which has been the cause for quite some protest), all the EU countries signed an agreement to take up the Master/Bachelor system (Bologna Accords). As far as I know, this system is currently being introduced (if you start now, you should be in this system) and is retro-active (if you graduated in the old system, you can call yourself Master).

Of course, there are still discussions going on (and I basically lost the thread by now) between lobbying groups (which are sometimes powerful and recruite off campus) that e.g. think that an engineer of a university should be an MSc while one from a high-school should be a 'simple' Master (and so on and so forth). [some weven wanted to have high-schools only deliver bachelor degrees while leaving masters to the universities]. I will not go into the ramafications of these discussions, it's enough to say that if some ppl had their way, it would be more chaos again.

I just hope the politicians get their act together and for once, take some rational decisions, once and for all making the higher education homogeneous. After all, if there would be an objective difference between degree X from school A and degree Y from university B, I assume recuiters would take up on this (as they already do now for some degrees that are offered on both universities and high-schools).

But in the discussion about degrees, all rationality seems to be gone out the window at some times... Some people seem to like protecting the education and degree with all kinds of laws, thus decoupling 'capabilities' from 'person' but linking 'capabilities' with 'degree/institution'.

As for your question, if you come to the EU for studies, pick a university with a good reputation. You can hardly miss. Another note that I want to add (from my limited experience with US degrees) is that the EU educations (also depending from institution to institution) put more weight on theory (mathematics).

Re:misinformation and doubt (1)

innerlimit (593217) | more than 11 years ago | (#6918925)

I can see how bologna will make comparison easier between member states' degrees. But in the end, graduating from Vigo, Sate College in Spain with a master's will not weigh heavier than a german bachelor... that's just the way people think.

bologna is bad mmmkay

Dumbing down degrees (2, Insightful)

SgtChaireBourne (457691) | more than 11 years ago | (#6920189)

More recently (and which has been the cause for quite some protest), all the EU countries signed an agreement to take up the Master/Bachelor system (Bologna Accords). As far as I know, this system is currently being introduced...
Yes, but the result of the <language="en-au">Bologna</language> accord is that a Bachelors is 3 years, a Masters is an additional 2 years, and a PhD is an additional 3 years. The Bachelors and PhD seem way to short. For the PhD, three years is to short to both teaching and research, especially if some preparation for the research is needed. For the bachelors degree, 1 year of choosing a major leave nly 2 to focus. Most humanities majors I knew from U.S. universities took 4-5 years, though could have focused and gotten through in 4. Nearly all engineering and comp sci needed 4.5 to 5 years.

Thus a U.S. associates degree looks to me like the equivalent of a European bachelors degree, a Europen masters degree becomes the equivalent of the U.S. bachelors degree, and the European PhD like a U.S. PhD candidate. Three years is also too short to have a year abroad as a junior and then integrate these experiences in your senior year.

On the flip side, I haven't heard that it's necessary to teach basic algebra or spelling / grammar to college freshmen and sophmores in Europe like is often the case in the U.S.

Ok. Grousing aside, I highly recommend studying overseas as an undergraduate. If you're in U.S. goto Europe. If you're in Europe, goto Australia / New Zealand. As a graduate, choose the best program / advisor.

Re:Dumbing down degrees (2, Informative)

lylum (659581) | more than 11 years ago | (#6920493)

>On the flip side, I haven't heard that it's necessary to teach basic algebra or spelling / grammar to college freshmen and sophmores in Europe like is often the case in the U.S.

That's exactly it. If only the brightest 20% get a high school diploma, then that should say quite a bit about its value. Generally, in Europe you are required to fulfill all the broad education requirements in high school... whereas in the US it is put off to college. I would say for this reason it makes sense that the bachelor's degree in Europe is only 3 years long, exactly this year is spent with general education in US universities.

Besides, in the US students typically leave high school with 18 while in Europe it usually is 19. Most European high school programs are 13 instead of 12 years long.

Re:Dumbing down degrees (1)

chl (247840) | more than 11 years ago | (#6924511)

Thus a U.S. associates degree looks to me like the equivalent of a European bachelors degree, a Europen masters degree becomes the equivalent of the U.S. bachelors degree, and the European PhD like a U.S. PhD candidate.

No. A five year programme in e.g. Germany is five years of full time study devoted to a single subject. After five years of physics, including writing a one-year thesis, I am at least worth a US physics master.

chl

Re:Dumbing down degrees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6928292)

I totally agree. I've got a licenciate degree in CS from a european univerity but I'm working in the bay area. I can compare. I'm interviewing people from american universities all the time and none of the universities seem to produce better people than the european ones. I remember a couple of pure idiots with master degrees from stanford.
The european 4 years degree fully matches the american 6 years bachelors + masters. No doubt about it. The INS was easy to convince of the equivalency once they asked for a full list of course material.
The difference is really made in grade 1-12. The americans seem to lose about 2 years in the process because they go slower maybe because- my guess - their emphasis on sports in grade 1-12.
It's a well known phenomenon that american hs students that move to europe have a lot of catching up to do.

Re:Dumbing down degrees (1)

doktor-hladnjak (650513) | more than 11 years ago | (#6938076)

The difference is really made in grade 1-12. The americans seem to lose about 2 years in the process because they go slower maybe because- my guess - their emphasis on sports in grade 1-12.

The main difference that I've seen between the US (where I went to high school and did my Bachelor's) secondary education system and that of Germany (where I'm in an MS program now, but I hear it's the same in many other countries) is that in the US there is only one level of high school graduation as opposed to the three in Germany. There's a lot of political/economic pressure for everybody to get a high school diploma in the US, because without one, your job opportunities are extremely limited. This has sorta led to a dumbing down of what a high school diploma actually means.

However, even though everybody ends up with the same piece of paper in the end, most schools have different tracks (whether they admit it or not) for students. When I was in high school, the option I had was to take a bunch of AP classes and exams, which I did. I think that students who did this are much closer to the level achieved with the German Arbitur (and the equivalents in other countries), although very few students as a fraction of the population get to this level.

Since I left (I finished in 97), my high school has started an Internation Baccalaureate (sp?) program, which apparently is internationally recognized as of this Arbitur level. Although I don't have any experience with the program, to me it seems like a good thing that it's becoming more popular in more schools. I think Americans in general not for having seperate schools at different levels (anti-elitism and all that), but the current diploma has become so meaningless without knowing what courses you actually took, that it seems necessary in today's educational world.

Re:Dumbing down degrees (1)

SgtChaireBourne (457691) | more than 11 years ago | (#6928448)

No. A five year programme in e.g. Germany is five years of full time study devoted to a single subject. After five years of physics, including writing a one-year thesis, I am at least worth a US physics master.
Will it stay this way, or will Germany be "harmonized" to conform to the Bologna agreement?

Re:Dumbing down degrees (1)

DHam (138606) | more than 11 years ago | (#6928881)

I can't speak for Germany but here at TUDelft the BaMa system as is is known introduces minimal changes in the curriculum. The difference is that at the end of 3 years we hand the students a BSc. and it's a bit easier than it was for people who did the first 3 years somewhere else to join at 4th year. The TU is still working through the subtleties of BaMa e.g. if you have a BSc. in mechanical engineering or physics, should you be allowed to switch to civil engineering for the last two years? (I think the answer in that particular case was yes but it might restrict your master specialisation within civil engineering).

Re:Dumbing down degrees (1)

chl (247840) | more than 11 years ago | (#6931997)

Will it stay this way, or will Germany be "harmonized" to conform to the Bologna agreement?

All the physics departments fight to keep up the level of their degrees, i.e. they want to keep the current curriculum with minimal changes to acommodate the bachelor after three years. Currently, if you leave after three years, you have nothing, so they basically add an extra bachelor examination (for the quitters who do not want a "real" degree).

The old Diplom degree that you got after five years would then also be the Masters degree.

The politicians see every year in school as "wasted time" and want to water down the requirements for every degree.

chl

Qualifications Assessor POV (5, Interesting)

sbszine (633428) | more than 11 years ago | (#6919188)

I assess international qualifications for an Australian university, and we consider US qualifications to be about a year behind Aussie and western European quals (UK etc). The US education system is about on par with Hungary and Pakistan in the view of our assessors, but we consider UK and many Indian quals to be on par with our own.

The main factor in deciding the quality of a particular country's qualifications is not the curriculum, facilities, or anything along those lines. It's the quality of the students, determined mostly by whether students gain their place at university through academic merit, or by buying a place. In the US you mostly buy a place, so consequently the value of degrees from the US suffers.

I would advise anyone trying to choose between the US and Europe for a degree of any kind to go to an English university. They don't hand out testamurs from Oxford to any sub-literate with a fat wallet.

Re:Qualifications Assessor POV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6919215)

Quick question: how are Canadian universities seen? Canadian education system is sometimes similar but, at the same time, remarkably different from the American counterpart....

Canadian Quals (4, Interesting)

sbszine (633428) | more than 11 years ago | (#6919262)

Quick question: how are Canadian universities seen? Canadian education system is sometimes similar but, at the same time, remarkably different from the American counterpart...

[Gets big 'C' book from shelf...]

Canada is seen as high quality, on par with UK / Australia, and ahead of the US by a year or so. The high school diplomas / matriculation certificates are highly regarded also. Further, the French and English institutions are considered on par with each other. Canada would be a good choice for postgraduate study.

Re:Qualifications Assessor POV (1)

Steve Cox (207680) | more than 11 years ago | (#6919265)

> They don't hand out testamurs from Oxford to any sub-literate with a fat wallet.

However Oxford is (or was) unique in the UK for one thing - If you did the hard work of obtaining a BA degree at Oxford, then held down a job and stayed out of debt for a year - your degree would instantly be upgraded to an MA!!!!!

I am not aware of any other UK university that does this. Bugger really. I had to work hard for my masters degrees.

When I was apply for degree courses 9 years ago, I did notice that Oxford only gave out arts degrees (BAs and MAs), even for engineering (normally BEng/MEng) and science courses (normally BSc/MSc).

Steve.

Re:Qualifications Assessor POV (1)

gowen (141411) | more than 11 years ago | (#6919746)

"If you did the hard work of obtaining a BA degree at Oxford, then held down a job and stayed out of debt for a year - your degree would instantly be upgraded to an MA"
Well, yes and no. They're not quite the criteria, but the idea is right. But you're obliged to refer to it as BA (Oxon), and those paranthesis give the game away. No reasonably competent employer is going to be fooled (especially when the studying period fails to appear elsewhere on your CV).

Oh, and Cambridge do it too (MA Cantab).

G Owen (MA Oxon)

Re:Qualifications Assessor POV (1)

Steve Cox (207680) | more than 11 years ago | (#6920041)

I am wondering what the purspose of this practice is for - is it simply to show that the holder of the title is not a recent graduate?

I have a similar 'false' Masters in the form of an undergraduate Masters in Engineering. I did the 3 year Bachelors + the 1 year of the Masters in one go and ended up with a single MEng as a first degree - the give away is the fact that the MEng is an hounours degree which most(?) Masters are not.

Steve [Msc, MEng(Hons)]

Re:Qualifications Assessor POV (1)

gowen (141411) | more than 11 years ago | (#6929010)

I am wondering what the purspose of this practice is for - is it simply to show that the holder of the title is not a recent graduate?
Tradition, in the Oxbridge case. Real reasons lost in the midst of time, now it gets done because thats how its always been done.

Re:Qualifications Assessor POV (1)

neil_rickards (563887) | more than 11 years ago | (#6920340)

Cambridge does it as well.

You see, the idea was you get taught the theory at University and become a bachelor. However you haven't mastered your art until you have some experience to back it up (and anyone that has ventured outside academia knows how much they still had to learn!). In fact, as Oxbridge invented the concept, it's really the other universities that are trying to grab an extra buck by teaching the masters.

Oh and the Arts thing is something to do with any subject, taught to a high enough level, becomes an art form. All very pretentious. Taught masters courses at Cambridge still get a MEng or MSc to distinguish from the automatic version MA(Oxon/Cantab).

Re:Qualifications Assessor POV (1)

neil_rickards (563887) | more than 11 years ago | (#6920227)

They don't study CS at Oxford at all (their closest course is part of the maths dept.) For computer science it's Cambridge you want.

Part of the reason for this extra depth has to be the extent to which UK students specialize. By A-Level (age 16) I was down to my favourite 3 subjects, by second year (age 19) I had only a "major" and that was slightly specialized by the end of University. Supposedly, in the England, we were a year ahead of Scotland/Europe by the start of University and some 2 years ahead by the end. This extra depth comes at the expense of bredth of education.

I seriously considered doing a PhD at MIT but was put off by the 5 year course of which you're apparently treated like an undergraduate for the first 2 - compared to a 3 year course here.

It should be noted our A-Levels are now broader and, presumably, less deep - it remains to be seen what effect this has.

Interestingly Japan has a two track system - the cheap (free?) state Universities have strict entry requirements, the expensive private Universities are ... typically less discerning.

Re:Qualifications Assessor POV (1)

davechen (247143) | more than 11 years ago | (#6923382)

I seriously considered doing a PhD at MIT but was put off by the 5 year course of which you're apparently treated like an undergraduate for the first 2 - compared to a 3 year course here.
I heard similar complaints from Europeans who came to the US to get PhDs. But I think from the American standpoint, if you get a doctorate in computer science (or whatever field) you should have some background in all the major areas of CS. If you just do research in some specialty (for me it was graphics), you would have missed taking classes in compilers, operating systems, architecture, etc.

Maybe in Europe they assume you've had that exposure in getting a masters degree. In America many programs don't require a CS masters to go for the PhD, so they have these course requirements. That's a big reason it's pretty rare to get a PhD in 3 years. My guess is the average is more like 6 years.

Re:Qualifications Assessor POV (1)

Boj (313432) | more than 11 years ago | (#6922226)

Much debate occurs in the UK as to whether the way our A-level exam system (the exam grades that matter when applying to Universities) is set up ensures that standard remain consistent. Knowing the qualifications assessor in our UK computer science department, they repeat this concern. They also know the games that must be played to ensure that applicants using the UCAS system (the service that handles UK University admissions) choose this University first. ie University's in the UK ask for high A-Level entry requirements so that when applied for in the UCAS system, they're not put down as a 2nd choice.

The assessor here also backs up your assessment of American qualifications (entry requirements here are higher than Stanford and MIT). Oddly rather than championing the French exam system (as often occurs in the UK) they believe countries such as Algeria (iirc) have the best systems. In those countries, students are told how well they did in relation to the rest of the applicants who took that exam. If you're top of the country, then our assessor will have no problem entering you into the department. Much less messy than point systems, grade letters, and interviews.

I've also heard that exam systems back up a countries idea of themselves in the world. More insecure countries like to have thoroughly rigorous exam systems, secure countries like to think theirs is best.

To answer the original question, if I were judging the quality of a course or institute to attend, I'd base my assessment on the staff and research that goes on. If you think that research is cool then you should have no problems with the course - it'll be taught by the same people.

Boj

Re:Qualifications Assessor POV (1)

b2b4u (531124) | more than 11 years ago | (#6922596)

The Quality of the students is definitely dependent on the curriculum, atleast that is how most of the top schools in US would evaluate the credentials for the Master's program. Switching tracks, I have had first hand experience with Australian Masters degrees which in terms of curriculum are behind the US. In most cases an Indian Bachelor of Engineering degree is almost a bachelors and 1/2 of US master's degrees combined. There are several universities in Australia too where one can get in by buying a place, and except a few (Univ of Melbourne, Monash, UTS Sydney, ANU) most universities have mediocre ratings. I am not convinced by your statement In the US you mostly buy a place Agreed you can pay yourself through an expensive school, but getting in is pretty tough especially to the top rated schools and in terms of standards the US Masters degree is definitely onpar or if not higher than most Australian and European degrees and definitely they are uptodate with the prevaling market trends and technologies....

Re:Qualifications Assessor POV (1)

sandbenders (301132) | more than 11 years ago | (#6932855)

I guess I'm going to have to step in on this 'buy a place' comment. I'll try not to flame, but I'm pretty angry. In this country, the vast majority of candidates for a given university are admitted based on SAT/ACT standardised tests, secondary schol transcripts, essays, and for better/smaller schools, interviews. I would argue that this is a merit based system. I worked hard for a place at a top 10 school, and my family had neither influence nor money to help me- just encouragement. I paid for it alone, through grants and loans. I think the 'buying a place' thing is a lie perpetuated by people who didn't get into a decent school because they didn't bother to do their homework in 11th grade. I did my homework, I worked hard, and I got in on my own.

There is a small weight given to people with family connections, or George Bush Jr. would be working the fry machine at McDonalds. But after five years in college at a top 10 American school, I never met a person that was a 'legacy' student. I would say these people probably represent less than 5% of admitted students.

As for relative value to schools in other places, I am not qualified to assess that, but I will tell you that name recognition is everything here, to a point. It will get your foot in the door, but it's up to you after that. The name of my school got me great interviews- IBM, Microsoft, Accenture, EDS. But my interviewing skills got me the job. How do I know? Because those places, as well as the place I worked, interviewed hundreds of people. They only hired a few.

Re:Qualifications Assessor POV (1)

sbszine (633428) | more than 11 years ago | (#6938146)

I guess I'm going to have to step in on this 'buy a place' comment. I'll try not to flame, but I'm pretty angry. In this country, the vast majority of candidates for a given university are admitted based on SAT/ACT standardised tests, secondary schol transcripts, essays, and for better/smaller schools, interviews. I would argue that this is a merit based system.

Yes and no. I am not trying to flame US students. Plenty of excellent folks have come out of the US system, including a huge number of great engineers, physicists, and computer science people. I am just saying that the system that led to the coinage of the term 'college fund' neccessarily excludes a number of poor but academically brilliant students in favour of a number of slightly less brilliant students with money. It sounds like your uni was one of the better ones, but the fee-hungry ones are bringing down the tone for the whole country.

The upshot of this is parents of kids who took US high school getting very upset at me when I tell them our university has harsher academic entrance requirements for undergraduate nursing than Harvard has for medicine. (I don't set the policy, BTW). The fees are relatively small, maybe three or four grand in Australian playmoney, payable in installments via the tax system when (if!) the graduate gets a job earning $25k or better.

Funny... (1)

willis (84779) | more than 11 years ago | (#6937808)

I don't work in any recruiting function, but I am an American that's worked in London for the last few years.... and from what I've seen, English tech graduates are pretty good, but very, very specialized. Folks from, say, Imperial, or UCL (University College of London) are good programmers, but the three-year degree system keeps people from being well-rounded... (even three years in maths from Oxford doesn't imply much significant post-A-level education in anything but maths...) From what I've seen, the 4-5 year American system provides more well-rounded people (who might not be as good at programming, but are probably more than 'sub-literate'). I've had one UK tech grad ask me who confukius was (confucious) -- I think you'd get a bit more understanding from a US grad. (I'm only talking about people from high standard universities from both sides of the pond -- the place I work doesn't have too much else).

why should a MIT guy be so clever? (2, Interesting)

BigBadDude (683684) | more than 11 years ago | (#6919573)

having worked with some guys from Stanford, MIT and CMU, I can tell you people that many MIT graduates are dumb as hell (no flame), but will get a job anyway just because they are MIT graduates. How did they made it, I dont know. But your discussion about MIT being better than Univ-of-EU-Whatever is just plain stupid.

What have MIT done in the past 10 years in the field of, say, AI?? Functinal Languages [which I happen to hate]?

Why should someone from no-name-german-univ be worse than a guy that paid $xxxk just for a name?

my final question: are everyone with a XXX degree from high profile YYY university smart?

Re:why should a MIT guy be so clever? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6921402)

Um, I'm not sure what you mean, because I think the original story implies EU has the US beat over some of the more theoretical aspects of CS, and not the other way around, but ok... The real question doesn't seem to be about reputation of the school and how much social status it'll earn, rather, he's asking about the type of education that he'll get.

Yes, the majority of people seem to hate functional programming, but if it's this guy's interest, then he has every right to pursue it. And quite frankly, it really is something more emphasized in parts of the EU than the US. I have heard of many Europeans who have had educations based on ML-variants and Haskell....

This wouldn't really matter as much if he was asking about undergraduate schools, but when it comes to graduate schools, it really does matter what's being researched in a particular place, because that's where he's going to be spending all his research time and also where he's going to draw his research advisor from.

Degree not as important as coursework/experience. (1)

bildstorm (129924) | more than 11 years ago | (#6920027)

Granted I'm a bit different when it comes to interview people and making recommendations for hiring precisely because I don't have a degree. However, that being the case, when it comes to going over their credentials, there are a few things I look for.

First off, I look at what they did. Did they write a thesis? If so, what did they write about? Did they intern anywhere? What kind of projects did they work on? If I'm looking to have a Linux cluster put in, all the people who interned and highlight non-Linux, non-enterprise apps will be tossed.

Next part I look at is what is the breadth of their education. Most of the time we need people who can where multiple hats. Nice that you have a M.Sc. in CompSci, but you didn't minor in anything and you have no hobbies. Buh-bye.

Lastly I start to look over and see where they went to school. I look for schools known for their field of expertise. I'll prefer students who studied in a metropolitan area over a rural area primarily because of the levels of social interaction and exposure to new idea. I'll look at students from top-tier schools in the UK, metropolitan schools in the US, and Finnish universities. If my top candidates aren't any of those, I'll start seeing how long it takes me to find their school online. The one's that I can't easily find get tossed, and I read about the programs.

It may be arbitrary, but I have never found a programmer who can't be replaced, never found a tech we couldn't get rid of, and I need flexible people to change with my company, not those bound to either rote methods or sitting solely in front of a machine 16+ hours/day.

Real World Advice (1)

JavaLord (680960) | more than 11 years ago | (#6924590)

I had a chance to speak to our head of HR at a company I previously worked at (in the US) that hired a lot of people overseas. Our company helped drug companies go through clinical trials in the US and sometimes overseas. I asked him about degrees from europe and he said they usually step them down compared to US degrees. So basically 4 years of college in Europe there was equal to 2 years in the US. I don't know if he was doing it out of ignorance or if it is standard practice so take it for what it's worth...

Sweden (1)

Monty (7467) | more than 11 years ago | (#6928091)

Does anyone have any information about Sweden? Chalmers [chalmers.se] comes to mind as being somewhat famous in the area....

Re:Sweden (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6933443)

Yeah, Chalmers is heavily into functional programming, specifically using Haskell [haskell.org]

Most of the other unis tend to focus on algorithms and numerical analysis, notably The Royal Institute of Technology [www.kth.se] and Uppsala University [www.uu.se] . In general all the unis are more into computer engineering type research rather than comp sci.

There is no "EU" Degree Standard... (2, Interesting)

Cwaig (152883) | more than 11 years ago | (#6929533)

Even in the UK, it varies widely...
But no "high school" awards degree's of any type in the UK - only universities do that.

Most universities subscribe to the 3years==Batchelor's degree (BSc / BEng)
+1year == Masters

Some also do 4 year masters in engineering subjects (where you don't get a BEng, you go straight to the MEng after 4 years).

The top UK universities (eg. Cambridge) use a totally different system altogether...

An American in a British University! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6934059)

I am an American and I went to undergrad in
England and got an honors Bs.C. in CompSci
from a top university. Then I got my Master's
from another top school in the US and now I am
working on my Ph.D. England was good for
undergrad because of: cheap beer, no gen-ed requirements, and a 3 year program. But that
being said I think the eduction I got had "holes"
in it. I mean I never had a formal algorithms
and complexity class! Can you believe it! So
my Master's in America defintely caught me up, and
the rigorous qualifying exam helped.

I think the US is better for graduate level work because of excellent funding and the potential for collaboration in multiple disciplines. The drawback is that the PhD can take longer than the standard 3 years in England. But I think 3 years is too short for everyone except the wunderkind
of scientist.

Then again you will never have such a wonderful opportunity to visit another country and live a
different life as is to be a student in Europe.

Everyone should at least study abroad for at least 6 months in their life!

Why CS (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 11 years ago | (#6934368)

You should focus on HL2 instead.
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