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Masters or Bachelors?

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I'm thinking about going into game programming. I've always been very interested in the concepts behind games (well only god games like the Sims & Simcity). I've just decided that the careers i've been thinking about going into for the last four years might not be right for me. I'd like to have a bachelors degree that would be flexible so I can still choose virtually any path for the graduate level and unfortunately the Bachelors in Software Engineering doesn't offer this flexibility. So i'm wondering if I should go into Software Engineering Bachelors or just wait until grad school to go into it then? I like to strive to be the best in my field which is why my indecision to pick a career is getting to me. I would rather have that experience now after my bachelors if it means making myself get a job faster and allowing me to become promoted at a younger age. So... should I go into SE at the BA level then maybe consider SE also in MA or maybe consider business school for MBA? Or... consider economics or something else for BA then go into SE at the MA level? I think BA in SE is relatively new and most SE only have a MA in SE rather than a BA and if that is true I think a SE in both BA & MA would be more competitive wouldn't it?

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If you haven't taken any college courses yet, I highly recommend taking general education courses, and learning basic programming concepts, then specific languages(programming) in your spare time.

At least that way, if you discover you don't want to pursue a Software Engineering Degree, you have some general education credits under your belt (which almost every degree program requires).

I know it helps tremendously to have work experience related to your degree, but that doesn't mean other jobs cannot prepare you. Certain skills are required by many employers: communication, maturity, trust-worthy, working well with a diverse group of people, ability to learn, and adapt to changes(to name a few).

Having a degree on your resume shows any potential employer that you are committed to completing something you started, irregardless of the degree.

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Thanks for your reply kmccusker,

Unfortunately, i've already completed my first two years of college... i'm actually just starting my junior year this fall which is the main problem, it is now time to buckle down on a specific degree (instead of gen eds) and I have nothing to concentrate on. That is good advice about the learning programming and had I not thought I was going to be a lawyer or psychologist for the last four years I would probably have studied C++ & Java, not to mention brush up on my math skills since now I have to take Calc III, Stats II & matrix/linear algebra :-(

I guess the real problem i'm having right now is trying to figure out:

If getting a software engineering degree in both MA & BA is worth anything or does a company (like EA for example) prefer someone with one degree in software engineering and another in something else (well rounded individual as academians are calling it now). Also, which is better (If I do get a software engineering degree in something): Software engineering in BA or MA?

The last question is most important to me, since I have to choose my BA now or settle with graduating much later than planned.

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I'm a bit unfamiliar with the degree structure in the States. Is your software engineering degree part of a Bachelor of Arts? I've got a Bachelor of Software Engineering degree myself, but that was part of an engineering degree (and led onto a masters degree and now a Ph.D. in my case).

By the way, having skills as a lawyer will be an asset to a software engineer. The requirements analysis phase and dealing with customers requires both the business attitude and technical skills; the best students when I was an undergrad. at doing this in my class were the ones with joint computer science/business degrees. There's a real need for people with those skills.

What kind of jobs are you wanting to aim for? What do you see yourself doing in a decade's time?

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Yeah I thought S.E was with the School of engineering?

If you want to get into game programming I would get a math degree. Then perhaps a masters in computer graphics.

I'm doing c.s bachelor degree (one more semester to go) but I wished I did math instead.

Or do mechanical engineering at the graduate level. You be supprised how much graphics stuff they do...

But please consult your nearest advisor.

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Thanks for your reply Trapper Zoid,

The Bachelors degree for Software Engineer is a Bachelor of Science degree... to be honest I don't know the difference between the Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees.

It is in the "Engineering and Computer Science Department" and the advisors and staff are all part of the Engineering section so I think it's an engineering degree.

Yeah I was thinking Business would be a good integration especially since I like to think of myself as an entreprenuer of sorts. A decade from now I am hoping to be leading a gaming company of my own, although like any business venture I need starting capital so I plan to first (for the first five years or so) gaining skills and raising money at a position that will include programming, hopefully one related to games. I'm strongly interested in RPG (Think Fable) and godgames (Think Sims) and am hoping to create games like that. Obviously one of my idols is Will Wright. I mostly like games where the player is allowed free range on his or her destiny, like the players ability to choose between good or evil on Fable, for example.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I just graduated this May with both a bachelor's and master's degree in Computer Science (my university didn't have 'software engineering,' but depending on the university, it can be the same thing).

When I started college, I wanted to get into game development as a career. But by the end of college, my decision had changed... By the time I was finishing college, game development really wasn't the same as what it was when I was starting college. But I digress! :)

What I wanted to mention was that some universities (like mine - WPI) offer a 5-year MS program. Basically, you complete the BS program and are able to 'double-count' some high-level classes. These double-counted classes also count toward your MS degree. So, because of this, you're able to get a BS if 4 years and an MS in one additional year. This is definitely something to consider!

As far as getting a just-out-of-college job, a MS degree is usually considered roughly equivalent to 2 years of work experience. And believe me, it's tough to find a good SE job (AKA "something you'll have some fun doing") that doesn't require work experience (or a MS). I just recently found a great job that I probably would not have gotten if I didn't spend the extra year getting the MS.

Good luck!
Mark

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Thanks for your reply Vern777,

I don't know if a math degree would be best for two reasons:

1) Eventhough math is definitely a great way to gain logic and analysis skills I don't feel comfortable with having a degree soley based on numbers with no room for computers. Although this would give me time to brush up on my programming skills on my freetime so I will consider this idea.

2) I would like a BA degree that will allow me to get a decent paying job once I am finished w/ the degree. I don't think people with only a BA in math get decent paying jobs right out of college. According to my engineering advisor a person with a software engineering BA degree will get 60k - 65k right out of college and he cited all current graduates from the school as an example. Although he might have been trying to sell the program, based on my research he appears correct. I want a good paying job because I am extremely low on money right now and i'd like it for help with paying back BA tuition and paying MA upfront.

MA in computer graphics is a great idea. Actually I might consider a BA in SE and a MA in a computer graphics/design program. Unfortunately, my current school doesn't have a MA in any computer program in anything other than software engineering, computer engineering or computer information systems (which may involve design).

I don't think i'll do a mechanical engineering degree because i'm not very "hands on" with mechanics. This is part of the reason I don't go into CE, in our college an electric engineering and computer engieering degrees only differ by three core courses. That alone tells me I wouldn't do good in CE either. I'm more of a software/programming person rather than hardware. Although electrical/A+ could be better for me... I honestly haven't taken any classes like that but since it is computer related I might do better than say something related to cars.

I've tried contacting our advisor for information on which degrees are best for that, but he didn't know. He suggested I ask a CIS advisor, eventhough it was out of his program. Unfortunately, he wasn't there that day and I might consider seeing the guy soon.

I'm rushing/multitasking, so if what I say doesn't make sense then please tell me to clarify. Thanks for the replies they are really helping... any suggestions help.

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Thanks for your reply Mark,

I didn't realize that information about the MA programs. Maybe I should check to see if my school offers that same option. I didn't realize getting a SE job right after a BA was difficult. I'm hoping it isn't as hard. Thanks for the information, especially the MA, I plan to check up on it.

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Wow, you sound very similar to me! I'm interested in becoming an indie game developer myself, although I don't have the business background (and the advantage of being a younger undergrad., of course). And I'm also interested in RPGs (and godgames) offering freedom to the player (that was at the core of my masters thesis). And Wil Wright is one of my design heroes too (the other being Shigeru Miyamoto).

Quote:
Original post by Blue084
The Bachelors degree for Software Engineer is a Bachelor of Science degree... to be honest I don't know the difference between the Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees.


At my uni. it would influence what subjects you had to do. While there were some overlap, and Arts and Science both offer great freedom in your choices, you had to do a certain number of arts or science subjects in order to qualify for the degree. Engineering was different, as its curriculum was fairly fixed.

Quote:

Yeah I was thinking Business would be a good integration especially since I like to think of myself as an entreprenuer of sorts. A decade from now I am hoping to be leading a gaming company of my own, although like any business venture I need starting capital so I plan to first (for the first five years or so) gaining skills and raising money at a position that will include programming, hopefully one related to games. I'm strongly interested in RPG (Think Fable) and godgames (Think Sims) and am hoping to create games like that. Obviously one of my idols is Will Wright. I mostly like games where the player is allowed free range on his or her destiny, like the players ability to choose between good or evil on Fable, for example.


Entrepreneur skills are very valuable (and what I lack at the moment, unfortunately), probably more important than technical skills if you want to be leading a business. If you are thinking of working in the game industry as a lowly peon for a while make sure you network with the industry; go to the local conferences and get to know people, and don't burn any bridges. That will be useful in the future.

I tried a career in the game industry myself, but I burnt out on the first project. I've spent a few years trying a few other career paths and gaining postgrad. experience, but I'm thinking of trying it as a lone game developer for the indie market. The problem with being an RPG/godgame fan (that's actually the design I'm working on now as a hobby) is I think they're require a lot of assets that I don't have at the moment. I'm starting to think I'll need to aim a bit simpler for business reasons. But I'm rambling on a bit too much about myself now [smile].

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