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Q: Value of Graduate Certificate vs. Master's Degree ( No Answer,   3 Comments )
Subject: Value of Graduate Certificate vs. Master's Degree
Category: Reference, Education and News > Education
Asked by: apriorimalaprop-ga
List Price: $3.00
Posted: 12 Oct 2005 14:50 PDT
Expires: 11 Nov 2005 13:50 PST
Question ID: 579504
I understand that a "graduate certificate" is not as rigorous or
prestigous as a Master's  degree, so my question is HOW HIGHLY is it
regarded relative to the Master's degree by employers? Is it
considered something anyone can get OR cademic specialization finer in
granularity and shorter in duration than a Master's degree but just as
challenging? Does an employer take notice of a graduate
certificate or should a student not have expectations of its impact
beyond picking up additional knowledge in the classroom?

This will help me assess its relative value, e.g. dollar for dollar
the graduate certificate could be a better educational purchase if the
Master's degree is roughly twice the perceived value but four times
the cost, in which case the Master's degree would be half the value.

More specifically, I am inquiring about graduate certificates in
Computer Science at leading accredited universities in major cities in
the northeast, such as Boston University or Northeastern University,
and their perceived worth by major employers in the IT sector.

Clarification of Question by apriorimalaprop-ga on 12 Oct 2005 14:53 PDT
By "employers" I am referring to prospective employers in IT and their
consideration of the graduate certificate in their screening and
hiring process.
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Value of Graduate Certificate vs. Master's Degree
From: philnj-ga on 14 Oct 2005 10:25 PDT
In my opinion, you either have a Master's or you do not.  I think the
problem with a certificate is that it is not well defined.  When I see
a resume that lists a Masters degree from School X, I know what that
means.  When I see a Certificate from School Y, I don't know what that

Maybe someone with more HR experience can help, but I unless I am
familiar with a particular Certificate program, I heavily discount it
and just rely on the Undergrad degree (BS or BA).

I recommend enrolling in a Master's program and work on it at a pace
that you can handle and afford.  THEN find a company that will help
pay for it.  I got advice that was very good:  It is better to say in
an interview "I am currently enrolled in a Master's program at X" than
to say, "I plan on enrolling in a Master's program at X"  Promises are
Subject: Re: Value of Graduate Certificate vs. Master's Degree
From: apriorimalaprop-ga on 14 Oct 2005 11:21 PDT
I appreciate your response, but I hope you won't mind me challenging
you a little on what you wrote...

If a reputable college or university offers a certificate program and
the potential employer does not know what that means, then shouldn't
they find out? They can ask the interviewee or the institution for
details. Perhaps you are saying that employers can't be bothered in
taking this extra step. Are you?

Fortunately I have an employer who will pay for classes, so the
calculation I am trying to make is the time investment and relative
worth of each. Unless everyone agrees that a certificate is worthless,
it is possible to determine if the time and cost are a better or
lesser value than a Master's degree. If the latter is true, then it
means the whole certificate program is a sham.  I don't find that
credible which is why I'm still wrestling with the relative worth.
Subject: Re: Value of Graduate Certificate vs. Master's Degree
From: apriorimalaprop-ga on 14 Oct 2005 11:39 PDT
Perhaps more details are in order: I am one class away from a graduate
certificate in Network Security but I could also apply to the Master's
degree program in Computer Science with an Information Security
concentration. My employer doesn't require a Master's degree or even
provide incentives for getting one in the IT track, so I am looking to
the future and other careers at other employres.

In my experience, software engineering and related IT positions
(security administrators, system and network engineers, etc.) rarely
state a requirement for a Master's degree.  Therefore, is it worth the
time and effort to spend another two or three years in graduate
classes for a degree that the Information Technology sector does not
seem to place a high value on? Practical experience and vendor
certifications seemed to be more relevant and desired by IT employers,
but that's just my sense of things.  SO -- in this particular context
the certificate could be about as useful as the Master's degree, hence
my dilemma in how to most effectively widen my computer security and
software engineering career options and be more attractive to
potential employers.

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