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Graduate school for a CIS major

Graduate school for a CIS major

Graduate school for a CIS major

(OP)
I've been thinking alot about going back to school and getting my Masters... trouble is, I don't know what area to study.

I've been doing Network/System administration for twelve years now. I have a BS degree in C.I.S. with a emphasis on Application Development (I took the network route as I found it more rewarding than programming, although the background helps with scripting, etc).

As I thought about where I would like to end up, I lean more towards CTO or a VP of Network position.

So, I was thinking one of the following;

*Masters of Business Administration
*Computer Information Systems MBA

Would one be more beneficial than the other?

Thoughts/Opinions?
 

Mark C.
 

RE: Graduate school for a CIS major

I'll start by saying this is a YMMV adventure, especially given the place(s) you are working and the general value that an advanced degree might have in such a down/dour economy as the one we are in.

Besides that, I'll give you the advice that I was given when I was dabbling in the question.  Keep in mind, the most a degree like this will earn you is a little more respect.  That respect might open some doors, it might not.  The MBA is the more generalist degree and will give you more respect and understanding when it comes to the co-workers you would have should you get into a resources/management stage of things, who would have accounting, marketing, management, and so on kind of backgrounds.  The CIS is the more specific degree and therefore will have an effect of somewhat limiting your respect at that level.

That said, the MBA will likely be more worth your time.

It is not possible for anyone to acknowledge truth when their salary depends on them not doing it.

RE: Graduate school for a CIS major

To play devil's advocate, I have often times heard the MBA referred to as "pretty wallpaper."  Before making this sort of decision you should also research what enrollment AND job placement statistics are saying about recent graduates with an MBA.  One concern that I have is that the down-turn and unemployment rates may have been driving a lot of people to get that particular piece of paper and if this is the case then you might be joining the "me too" ranks, which doesn't sound like what you want.

Your description also sounds like you have been working in a technical role for a long time and envisioned yourself going to a managerial role.  This can be a tough sell and a challenge, especially if you try to stay within the company.  The skill sets required for these positions is quite different.

 

RE: Graduate school for a CIS major

If you work for a larger company, an MBA of any type will be helpful.  The trick in transitioning to management is that the skillset is significantly different than that of the technologist.  You have to be more concerned with people, business processes, finances, etc.  While I'm one of those people who traditionally looked at MBA's with a bit of scorn, I do see the value in them.  They can demonstrate some knowledge and proficiency with something other than technology.

However, the MBA is to business what the MCSE was to network administration.  Unless you earn it from a reputable university and back it with some experience then it may end up as little more than "pretty wallpaper."  That being said, it would be a good start for moving into a management position and getting that experience.

I would probably opt for the more general MBA.  The IT-related MBA will be more limiting, and especially in larger companies they are looking for a range of experience in candidates moving to senior management.  For example, you may have been a manager or director in the IT space, but you might need some experience managing on the finance, project management, or line of business side of things before someone is willing to make you a VP.

________________________________________
CompTIA A+, Network+, Server+, Security+
MCTS:Windows 7
MCSE:Security 2003
MCITP:Server Administrator
MCITP:Enterprise Administrator
MCITP:Virtualization Administrator 2008 R2
Certified Quest vWorkspace Administrator

RE: Graduate school for a CIS major

(OP)
Thanks, you all gave me some confirmation about the validity of an MBA... Just being wallpaper, etc.

Looks like I need to give this a little more thought.

Mark C.
 

RE: Graduate school for a CIS major

I would hope that an MBA of any type would be more valuable than an MCSE. That certification definitely was just "pretty wallpaper."

And for some, the MBA could suddenly make you "overqualified." I know a guy who (last time I checked) was out of work for several years. He had an MBA from Wharton. He said that he was more likely to get interviews when he aimed too high than when he went for the jobs that he thought he was qualified for.

RE: Graduate school for a CIS major

Another path to consider  - if you're in a large IT organization, and don't mind a bit of risk, consider taking a broader IT role in a smaller organization. Whether to get the MBA before or after you make the leap is your call, but becoming the top-dog IT person in a smaller organization might give you the experience to let you move into an upper tier IT role in a bigger organization.
Do realize that as you broaden your responsibilities, you also increase the variety of things that can cause you stress !

Fred Wagner

  

RE: Graduate school for a CIS major

Quote:

I would hope that an MBA of any type would be more valuable than an MCSE. That certification definitely was just "pretty wallpaper."

Go back and re-read what I said.  I didn't say that the MBA was the same as the MCSE.  I said that it was to business what the MCSE was to network administration.  We're talking about a credential in two completely different knowledge domains but that many companies view as a requirement to move into that part of their profession.  You can get an MBA or MCSE from just about anywhere, there a good places to learn from and also some really really shady places that are little better than certification mills.  Both the MBA and MCSE are often times looked at by outsiders as some sort of "proof of fitness" or "seal of approval", but really they are just another tool to differentiate candidates.  Finally, there has been a bit of an over-reliance on MBAs, at least in American business.  A lot of that has contributed to the current business environment.

________________________________________
CompTIA A+, Network+, Server+, Security+
MCTS:Windows 7
MCSE:Security 2003
MCITP:Server Administrator
MCITP:Enterprise Administrator
MCITP:Virtualization Administrator 2008 R2
Certified Quest vWorkspace Administrator

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