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Computer Science Master's, Thesis or Coursework Option?

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Hello everyone, I am at a bit of a crossroads right now and would like some thoughts on the matter.  My current goal is to work at one of my favorite AAA studios as a gameplay or graphics programmer, or head into research at the major graphics houses like Pixar or Nvidia.  I have the option of taking a coursework option Master's degree, but I am curious to know if writing a thesis at the cost of 4 Master's courses would be helpful towards my goals.  I anticipate much of my coursework, if not nearly all of it, to focus on graphics programming and theory.  I could certainly apply for a thesis option Master's program to begin at a later date, and my main concern is that not having that thesis experience could hinder me in the long run.

 

Of course, I am aggressively developing my own games and demos on the side.

Edited by pokedough

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Of all the prospective hires I've evaluated, it has never mattered what courses they've taken in school.  What has mattered is that they've graduated from a recognized institution.

 

It's true that if the title of their thesis is on their CV, it might influence me, but I've always found practical work more important than academic work.  I suggest the path you choose be more aligned with your personal preferences (eg.  if you're good at writing, a thesis, and if you prefer exams, courses) and not what you think will get you a job.  You will get a job, but you won't get a second chance at your degree.

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Of all the prospective hires I've evaluated, it has never mattered what courses they've taken in school.

 

QFE. Nobody looks at coursework when hiring, at least on this side of the pond. In general, we don't even really look at which university you graduated from.

 

The presence of a masters can be worth a salary bump when first hired, but it all evens out after a year or two in industry anyway. Bottom line, don't take a masters because it will help your job prospects. Take a masters because you enjoy academia.

 

 

BTW, that signature is ridiculously large, please cut it down a little (the general rule is that if the signature is larger than the post, it's too large).

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Wow, thanks for the swift responses everyone!  I suppose I need to clarify my situation a little.  I will actually require the Master's degree for U.S. work authorization purposes, and since obtaining the Master's is faster than obtaining a second bachelor's degree in CS, the journey is all but guaranteed.  I have already acquired much of the canonical CS education through intensive self-study, so I am well-practiced in courses like Algorithms and Operating Systems.  

 

I guess what I'm really trying to extrapolate is whether or not a thesis would help me, either in terms of opening up job opportunities or imbuing me with an invaluable experience.  I don't like the fear of missing out, and if it may be worth delaying matriculation into a program by a semester or two just to make sure that I can end up in a thesis program, then I will think about it.  My impression is that coursework programs are viewed less favorably than thesis ones, but I understand that the game industry is probably indifferent when it comes to paper qualifications.

 

I do enjoy reading papers on graphics algorithms, and books like the GPU Gems.  I think I would enjoy the experience of writing a thesis, but I would also enjoy extra courses in CS.  Of course, I greatly enjoy programming more than anything else and would rather do that than the aforementioned (but I would not be so disappointed if I were asked to do them!).  So from my vantage point, I'm just wondering which Master's program would help me more in terms of personal growth and of course, in terms of job opportunities.

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My impression is that coursework programs are viewed less favorably than thesis ones

Research is an essential skill in academia - writing (and better yet, defending!) a thesis may open doors in that field.

In the tech industry, there tends to be a pretty sharply-drawn divide between engineers and researchers, to the point that employers looking for researchers will generally hire them under either the "researcher" or "scientist" title (for example, a team next door to mine employed a number of people with the title, "Senior Research Scientist").

A thesis will likely neither hurt nor help you in applying for most engineering jobs, even outside of video games.

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