How valuable is an advanced degree?

Mari Cheves <>
30 Jul 1999 22:43:50 -0400

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How valuable is an advanced degree? (Mari Cheves) (1999-07-30)
Re: How valuable is an advanced degree? (Taylor Hutt) (1999-08-01)
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From: Mari Cheves <>
Newsgroups: comp.compilers
Date: 30 Jul 1999 22:43:50 -0400
Organization: TUNL - Duke University
Keywords: courses

Please forgive me if this post is off-topic -- I'm hoping that this
group is primarily read by experienced compiler developers who won't
mind sharing a little advice with a somewhat naive newcomer. I
searched the newsgroup's archive, but have been unable to find any
previous posts which address my current dilemma.

My eventual goal is to work in commercial compiler development, and I
am trying to decide on the best path to lead me there. In the next
few weeks, I must figure out which of the following options for how to
spend the next year would be more beneficial for my career, both
short-term (as I am having trouble finding a job working on compilers
at my current level of education/experience) and long-term: a)
completing the MSCS with a compiler-related thesis (hoping to get a
compiler job immediately after graduation), or b) finding any
programming job (hoping to get some industry experience and then after
a couple of years move into compilers).

A little background: I have a BS in physics and a full-time job in a
nuclear physics lab in which I spend about 10% of my time programming.
Last year I began working on the master's degree part-time in addition
to my job before deciding that there wasn't enough time in the day to
do both.

I have looked at many advertisements for compiler engineers, and they
seem to be split about 2:1 in favor of not requiring an advanced
degree. What I'm hoping for now is that some of you with real-world
experience can provide some insight into just how valuable an advanced
degree is in this field.

Thank you!
[Well, I have a PhD and it made no difference at all in the stuff I
want to do, although I already had a CS undergrad degree. There's all
sorts of compiler jobs, and I expect that an MS would help you get
some of the more interesting ones. -John]

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