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My background: I'm currently 1 year out of my undergrad in psychology and I currently have a job working on a educational grant project at a university. I've lost some interest in the field of psychology as a whole and I'm considering going back to school for computer science. When I expressed this interest to an adviser at my old school she mentioned that I might be interested in a post bachelor comp sci certificate. The certificate is 30 credits and can probably be done in about half the time that another bachelors could be completed in. I asked her if any of the graduates of the certificate program had had any trouble getting into graduate school with said degree and she said no. However, I believe there is probably more to this than she let on considering that it is her job to promote this program.

Question: I'm wondering if anyone has any experience with these type of certificates? I know that I will have a more complete computer science education with an undergrad but I'm wondering if it is completely necessary. All said and done I would like to get a masters in computer science because it seems like the smart career move. Will I be limiting my job potential by only having a certificate and a bachelors in an unrelated field? Is graduate school really possible with just a certificate? My dream job would be working for a company in research and development for human to computer interfaces. I also have a fleeting passion for gaming and music production, but I consider these to be more hobbies than serious career interests.

1 Answer 1

It depends largely on how "strict" the employer in question is regarding qualifications. Some companies—particularly larger corporations—don't have the ability to recognize that the certificate might be equivalent to a bachelor's degree. Then, you really need to be able to demonstrate that you have the requisite credentials, and it's hard to "mix and match."

However, smaller employers are generally able to make those distinctions. However, the issue with these faster-paced programs is that you might not have the same breadth of experience as someone who has the bachelor's degree; the four-year degree holder may have internships and other work experience that will make them a more suitable candidate.

In general, though, you are right to be skeptical of what sounds like a "sales pitch," and do your own homework to make sure that it's recognized. One way to do this would be to contact some companies in the area and see if they've had any experience hiring graduates of this program. (You could also ask the sponsor of this program to identify some contacts for you—with the obvious caveat that you'll be getting the "success stories.")