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MSc Advice

MSc Advice

MSc Advice

(OP)
Hi All,

I work as a stress engineer in the aerospace industry (junior experience level), and I am looking at undertaking an MSc degree this year (in the UK).

I have a couple of options that I am really struggling to decide between, and I wonder if you would be able to offer some advice?

Option 1
- Average reputation university (Brunel)
- Not accredited (however, it is a new course so may be in the process of gaining accreditation).
- Highly relevant course
- Specifically related to lightweight structures, all modules relate to stress, materials, fatigue, FEA, etc.
- Offered a full scholarship by the university

Option 2
- Prestigious university (Cranfield)
- Accredited by IMechE
- Partially relevant course
- General mechanical engineering course, some modules on structures but also some on design, project management, fluids etc.
- Likely can be funded by my company, however not confirmed yet and would have to jump through some hoops (stay for X years after completion)

Is it worth the downsides to go to the more prestigious university in your opinion? Or should I go for the course that is more relevant and has the scholarship provided?

In terms of future plans I'm not set on the aerospace industry but I'm confident that I want to stay within the structural analysis domain rather than transferring over to design, aerodynamics, manufacturing etc.

Many thanks,

allabright

RE: MSc Advice

I don't know what the accreditation means or how it can benefit you in the future. But here in the US a non-accredited degree is totally useless for licensing. It may also be a problem advancing to higher level school. It may also matter for applying for new jobs. You don't know yet what the future holds. But the future will be better with an accredited degree.

They MAY get accreditation in the future, but they MAY not. And future accreditation may not apply to your program.

Reputation is subjective, but lack of accreditation may explain why option 1 is lower ranked. Doesn't mean you learn less, but for the same effort you may get a useless degree.

Here in the US there are the degree mills that hand out Bachelor degrees to anyone with a pulse and eligibility for student loans. People spend a lot of money (and little studying) to get the degree. Just to learn later it is for literally a piece of paper. On the upside, they learn at least that.

So check your local situation. I hope the UK is a bit better with those "University of Phoenix online" programs. Not being accredited is a big red flag. You should inquire about their progress in accrediting. Since they seem to offer to sponsor you, I doubt they are scammers. But you should know for sure what type of paper you get in the end and what it is worth.

RE: MSc Advice

(OP)
Thanks for the reply EnergyProfessional.

Accreditation in the UK means that the degree can be used to prove that you have the theoretical knowledge required to attain CEng, which I believe is the UK equivalent of PE in the US.

You can prove this in other ways, and use an unaccredited degree to make up part of this proof. This isn't a degree mill, but accreditation would be nice to have as it would likely mean being able to achieve CEng sooner.

CEng is not really necessary within aerospace, but it is a personal goal for me.

RE: MSc Advice

You never know what the future holds and I definitely would prefer more options being able to obtain that license. Even if you industry doesn't require a license (yet), a future recruiter looking through 2 resumes may pick the one with the license.

Those other ways to get the license may not be available in the future. License rules tend to get more strict. And the workaround often is really hard.
I myself have a PE license, but my degree is from another country. So it obviously wasn't accredited. Let me tell you, passing the two 8-hour tests was the easy part..... I actually later got a Masters degree from a US school that also has an accredited BS program. But graduate degrees never are accredited (even if they are higher).

You can be a D-student in an accredited pogram in noname-school in Kentucky and that will be worth more than having an A-level PhD from École Polytechnique in France. The licensing staff person will only look for that one check-box. They would refuse Albert Einstein if he doesn't have that one document.

RE: MSc Advice

Never never NEVER bank on "gonna be" accreditation.

RE: MSc Advice

(OP)
I agree, but all of the other courses offered by the university are accredited, and this particular course only started in 2021.

You need at least one cohort to go through the program before you can be accredited, otherwise there is no way to evaluate the course fully.

RE: MSc Advice

Quote:

But here in the US a non-accredited degree is totally useless for licensing. It may also be a problem advancing to higher level school. It may also matter for applying for new jobs.

Incorrect. The OP is discussing a MS, not a BS. ABET only accredits one degree for a given discipline per institution stateside and its at the discretion of the school, which typically chooses to have their BS program accredited as that is the degree employers and therefore students care about. Most engineering MS's and PhDs stateside aren't accredited nor would most care if they were. In HR speak, a bachelor's is typically the "qualifying" degree bc folks earning an advanced degree in engineering without an engineering bachelor's are pretty rare.

JMO but I'd heavily weight cost over quality in education today, so would likely pick whichever school was cheaper unless the OP can point to particular coursework that they know will be valuable. If one school can add to your useful skillset with coursework using a new analysis tool then great, but I don't place much value on the usual variety of theoretical coursework.

RE: MSc Advice

I'm going to provide an alternate perspective. What I learned in grad school is significantly more valuable to me than the piece of paper I got at the end. I personally would go with the college that best fit my interests. Option 2 sounds like a much more general curriculum, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. But it's not what I would expect from a master's degree. And it sounds like it also doesn't match your interests or future plans as well as option 1.

Option 1 wouldn't preclude you from getting your CEng. So you need to just think about the trade-off in how long it would take you to obtain it with each option. (I'm assuming it's important to you or your career.)

I don't know how important university prestige is in the UK. But in the US it becomes less important the more experience you have. Right out of college it can help out a lot. But you already have some work experience. So you won't have to worry as much about that initial difficulty in showing that you're a capable engineer. However, prestigious universities also typically provide good education, so in some ways it's a safer bet. You should try to do some research to find out more about each university program to see if they're a good fit for you. Is it possible to visit each one and arrange to talk to some of the staff?

RE: MSc Advice

When I went to Cambridge, the #1,2,or 3 university for engineering globally, the IMechE wouldn't give the degree accreditation. This has made zero difference to the prospects of me getting a PhD, or my career, so far as I can tell. In order to convert it I was supposed to do some external exam (hosted, conveniently enough by the Institute).

So, I'd write to the IMechE and find out what is the likely course of action if it is not accredited. Brunel does not have a bad rep by the way.

Cheers

Greg Locock


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RE: MSc Advice

In the US, in aerospace, no one cares about the licensing nonsense.

If option 1 means you are going to school full time, then you are giving up income.
If option 2 means company pays but you go part time while continuing to work, then you don’t give up income. But your life situation must allow for school on top of work.
Then it depends on where these uni’s are located and whether you need to move/commute.
Do either program require a research thesis, or just courses? If you have no intention of getting a PhD then skip the thesis. If you want to get a PhD then you must do a master’s thesis, and should pick school carefully vis future ability to get into a PhD program.

Ask your current management which degree they might favor if they were hiring today. Some companies will only hire from certain uni’s.

RE: MSc Advice

I need to backtrack a bit after reading and learning. So accreditation isn't nearly as important for MSc. I get it.

I'll stand by one bit: don't count on accreditation that isn't already there. If you need it, go to where it already is in place.

RE: MSc Advice

(OP)

Quote (swimfar)

You should try to do some research to find out more about each university program to see if they're a good fit for you. Is it possible to visit each one and arrange to talk to some of the staff?

I've done quite a bit of research on the program and it seems that the head lecturer formerly lectured at the other uni I'm looking at, for basically the same course. My impression is that he left the university and then started up the same course elsewhere. I'm therefore confident that the lecturing would be at least as good. I think visits would be challenging as I only have a couple of weeks to decide whether to accept the scholarship and I doubt I'd be able to do it by then.

Quote (GregLocock)

So, I'd write to the IMechE and find out what is the likely course of action if it is not accredited. Brunel does not have a bad rep by the way.

Thanks for the suggestion, I did this today and it doesn't sound like it will be too difficult to prove I have the theoretical knowledge required for Chartership. I'd be looking at going for it in around 5 years so I imagine my work experience by then will cover a lot, along with any training courses I may do through work. My undergrad is accredited so I'm most of the way there already.

Quote (SWComposites)

In the US, in aerospace, no one cares about the licensing nonsense.

If option 1 means you are going to school full time, then you are giving up income.
If option 2 means company pays but you go part time while continuing to work, then you don’t give up income. But your life situation must allow for school on top of work.
Then it depends on where these uni’s are located and whether you need to move/commute.
Do either program require a research thesis, or just courses? If you have no intention of getting a PhD then skip the thesis. If you want to get a PhD then you must do a master’s thesis, and should pick school carefully vis future ability to get into a PhD program.

Ask your current management which degree they might favor if they were hiring today. Some companies will only hire from certain uni’s.

Both programs are fairly similar - they include 8 taught modules, a group design project, and an individual project/thesis which - for me - will be something relating to structural analysis and highly relevant to my day-job. For both options, I will be continuing to work full-time in my current role alongside my MSc, so that's not really a factor in my decision. I'm not sure about the PhD for the moment - in the UK an EngD is also an option which allows you to get a doctorate-level qualification but more based around applied industrial R&D rather than academic research, so that could be an option later on.

I would ask my management but I'm worried that if they hear that I have a full scholarship they would be unwilling to front the cash for the other option.

RE: MSc Advice

Quote (Greg)

if your undergraduate degree was accredited then frankly your masters is icing on the cake

Two notes of caution here: These days, the Masters might very well be the first degree somebody obtains - and a recent (anytime in the last 10-15 years) Batchelor's degree is rarely sufficient to meet the educational requirements for CEng.

A.

RE: MSc Advice

@allabright, if you live in the UK i guess that you know that Cranfield is a bit "out in the country"?

--- Best regards, Morten Andersen

RE: MSc Advice

Quote (EnergyProfessional)

I don't know what the accreditation means or how it can benefit you in the future. But here in the US a non-accredited degree is totally useless for licensing. It may also be a problem advancing to higher level school. It may also matter for applying for new jobs. You don't know yet what the future holds. But the future will be better with an accredited degree.

They MAY get accreditation in the future, but they MAY not. And future accreditation may not apply to your program.

Reputation is subjective, but lack of accreditation may explain why option 1 is lower ranked. Doesn't mean you learn less, but for the same effort you may get a useless degree.

Here in the US there are the degree mills that hand out Bachelor degrees to anyone with a pulse and eligibility for student loans. People spend a lot of money (and little studying) to get the degree. Just to learn later it is for literally a piece of paper. On the upside, they learn at least that.
Also as a master, I want to give you advice that will apply to your academic texts. Please never neglect the quality of your texts and always check them for plagiarism. On the site https://fixgerald.com/ I found a year ago online plagiarism checker which helps me a lot to make my academic texts always better.
So check your local situation. I hope the UK is a bit better with those "University of Phoenix online" programs. Not being accredited is a big red flag. You should inquire about their progress in accrediting. Since they seem to offer to sponsor you, I doubt they are scammers. But you should know for sure what type of paper you get in the end and what it is worth.
it became clearer to me now. thank you!

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