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For starters and for those who don't know, I graduated a little over 4 years ago with my B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. I was pretty burned out and I wanted nothing to do with graduate-level education at the time. A full ride was even offered to me when I entered the USAF but I felt that it wouldn't do any good since I didn't want any of it and I politely declined. I still feel that I made the right choice for the time.

Now, I'm feeling somewhat disappointed at where my career has headed. With my BS, it seems that my options are limited to government work if I want to continue imcreasing my salary potential. I could get back into technical work but I imagine that most places won't want to hire someone at my salary requirements and too much removed from the knowledge I gained in undergrad. I'm beginning to feel that an MS with my work experience could and should put me in the position I want to be; more technical.

I've been looking at programs at NCSU and it seems like a good school. I'm not sure of the tuition costs but I earn about $6-7K doing my reserve duty every year which is money I don't really depend on. I was planning on working toward a pilot license with this year's pay but going toward a higher education might be more promising. Also, the (thesis) program is 24 semester hours plus 6 semester hours of thesis research. There is also a non-thesis program that the school says can be done in 1 year. I'm skeptical of me being able to do that.

So anyway, has anyone else worked full time and gone back to get their master's? How long did it take? Anything that I should expect?

These are just thought right now and I would still need to take the GRE. I'm also looking for jobs in CO so I can't commit to anything just yet.

Thanks for reading and thanks in advance for any comments.
 

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I took the 1-year M. Eng. program at Cornell while working 20 hours per week. It wasnt horrible. BUT, there was one fellow in the program with me who carried the full course load and worked full time. He said it was lots of work, but not impossible by any means. He also had kids, which I don't recall you having.

Anyway, I recommend it if you plan to remain technical. If you want to move towards management, then i would advise taking mgmt training courses instead, and perhaps getting a PMP if that would be valued in your organization. I had a similar experience, working for a local municipality for one year after undergrad before realizing that a masters would be worth it. Good luck.
 

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Thanks WD, that's motivating. Being a Captain in the AF reserves I still have to take management courses every now and then. I've thought about an MBA but the less technical I get with my career, the more technical I want to be. Anyway, it's encouraging that the 1-yr can be done while working. My undergrad GPA isn't high enough for the NCSU 1-yr program but I'd want the do the thesis program. If I go 9 credit-hrs per semester I can get it done in 3 semesters plus one summer to finish the thesis. It looks like I can do it for around $8-10K total as well.

I guess I should start studying for the GREs at the very least.
 

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My ex wife is also getting a joint MBA/JD degree while working full time. I assume thats still going well. :) As long as your work is flexible enough to allow your class schedule, or you can take all night classes, you're good. 9 credit hours per semester should be pretty easy. My experience was 12 credits with 20-hours of work, and like i mentioned that other dude was 12 credits with 40-hours work.

I think an MBA for an engineering professional is pretty useless, unless you really plan to be running a business someday. I did the one year M. Eng cause i had no interest in research projects...the 1-year was basically more classes and a design project instead of fewer classes and a research project.
 

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I am kind of in the same boat, but not in the service. I have my BSME and been in industry for 10 years. I would like to go back to get my Masters, but want to keep it technical. The company I am now with (which has 5xxx people and 75% are Engineers) really pushes the MBA programs and most Engineers here go that route. It seems to work for most who then go on to managing projects. I am just hoping to stay more technial. I know it can be done part time and can take anywhere from 1-2 years depending on the program, but it also is quite spendy. Guess that's why I am holding off right now. I also like the idea of Law School and the whole Patent Lawyer route. Until I can decide, here I sit. - Skister
 

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I'm working on a second bachelors; it's just a long detour for my masters. The nice thing about the grad degree is not only do they treat you like an adult, they expect you to have an actual life and work to go to. It's completely possible and well worth it. I'm not willing to be stuck in the jobs my bachelors degree gives me access to for the rest of my life.

Go for it. Were you an officer in the USAF? Do you have any kind of GI bill benefits? Will your company pay for any of it?
 

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Go for it. Were you an officer in the USAF? Do you have any kind of GI bill benefits? Will your company pay for any of it?
Yes, I got out of active duty as a 1st Lt. I pinned on Capt. in December for the Reserves. Unfortunately I wasn't eligible for the GI Bill since the AF paid for my undergrad. The state of NC may pay for it but I have my doubts with all the budget cuts currently going on. I'm trying to get a job with Advanced Energy (not related to the one in CO) which is located on the NCSU campus. They have a tuition reimbursement program.

Either way, I am starting to lean toward going for it. Tomorrow I'll be getting some study materials for the GRE.
 

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I did my Masters immediately after my bachelors while working full time. For me it wasn't that difficult, but I was still in school mode, it was basically just a continuation of my bachelors, and I was still single. I also did a project instead of a thesis.

I did think about going back for a MBA a couple years ago but found out my wife was pregnant, and I needed to focus on other things. I have been throwing around the Idea of getting taking the CAPM test to show future employers that I have a good grasp on project management.

Like you I have been out of industry for a while, and want to get back to doing the technical parts of the job, but in order to get the pay that I want I need to move into management.
 

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I graduated with a BS in computer science and then went back to college about 8 years later for a MS in math (related to my work which was in cryptography, but I digress). I was thoroughly over college when I graduated with my BS but I loved the graduate work.

I took about two years to graduate with a MS, but I could have done it in one if I didn't keep working. I worked anywhere from full time (for the first year) to less than half time (the second year). It was challenging, and I was certainly time limited at various times, but largely it worked out well.

I have no idea how the college that you're looking at works, but some things that impacted me: I was expected to teach some classes (eventually, I took 2-3 classes and taught 2 classes). The teaching load was about 20-30 hours per week, I was in class 8-12 hours a week, and I had about 20-30 hours of homework a week, and then I had 10-30 hours at my job. So, I had quite a bit to do... :)

Someone prior noted that they assume that you have a life and other things to do. My experience was otherwise. The standard rule of thumb in my program was 3-5 hours of homework per unit of class, and they pretty much stuck to that. They didn't offer night classes, so you were there midday to attend class. There was no real choice with scheduling: you more-or-less had to take certain classes, and they ended up whenever they ended up. This on the top of teaching requirements, additional testing that I had to complete, all that jazz.

So, in my case, my employer was flexible and I didn't sleep much.

It may sound unpleasant, but it was wonderful! I loved it, so much so that I quit my job of 10 years and I'm now enrolled in a (full time) PhD program.

So, here's my suggestion: If you really enjoy learning about the material that you're going to be exposed to in class and you can swing the time, do it! In this instance, even if it doesn't lead you to fame and riches in your professional life, it will be worth the experience.

If you're only moderately interested in the material, and are doing this principally to advance your career then I can't provide competent input because I don't know how your industry looks upon a MS.

If the class work is going to be a chore, I'd suggest avoiding it.

In any case, good luck!
 

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Whatever you decide, good luck. I am only 1.5 years into a BS in engineering and can't imagine right now continuing on longer after I graduate, lol.
 

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Whatever you decide, good luck. I am only 1.5 years into a BS in engineering and can't imagine right now continuing on longer after I graduate, lol.
I'd reconsider. My grad school times were some of the best.
 

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I say go for it. Though, I suggest that you broaden your horizons by also selecting a few classes outside of mech eng just to see if you might want to pick something else up along with the masters' deg. Maybe something business/econ/money manage related. Something or things you can combine your engineering bkgrnd with easily.

This is coming from someone who has been schooled in the arts (graphics design and animation), automotive tech (I build engine, yo), and short stint in welding/metal fabrication. (I plan on getting deeper into this.)

Broaden the possibilities, yo! :thumbsup:
 

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Well, I just found out that tuition can be paid through my job with the state. I'm on my own for books and fees but I have not a single complaint. Also, my boss will let me get away with shorter days as long as I'm taking grad courses (I'm on salary).
 

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Sounds like there is no stopping you then, is there? ;)
 

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Rember to track your miles and book costs for deduction of non-reimbursed expenses on your taxes.
 

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I've never heard anyone say that getting more education is a bad idea. I wish you the best in whatever you decide. However-If you decide to go to NCSU, we will be Mortal enemys..As an ECU grad my blood runs purple. I'd rather be dead than red!
 

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Sounds like there is no stopping you then, is there? ;)
I guess not... as long as I get accepted.

Rember to track your miles and book costs for deduction of non-reimbursed expenses on your taxes.
Good point. Since the school is on my way to work and back, it's like I'll get to deduct my commute. ;D

I've never heard anyone say that getting more education is a bad idea. I wish you the best in whatever you decide. However-If you decide to go to NCSU, we will be Mortal enemys..As an ECU grad my blood runs purple. I'd rather be dead than red!
You North Carolinians and your silly college rivalries. ;)

My sister-in-law graduated from ECU too.
 

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Are you sure industry is where you want to work? I found out half way through my masters in BME at UMich that I hated the field, I had a great fulltime job but the work was miserable. Now doing soemthign else but I could be a year ahead in Pharmacy if I had gone there first.
 

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Are you sure industry is where you want to work? I found out half way through my masters in BME at UMich that I hated the field, I had a great fulltime job but the work was miserable. Now doing soemthign else but I could be a year ahead in Pharmacy if I had gone there first.
I'd much rather be flying A-10s for the USAF ;). Unfortunately that's almost beyond a shadow of a hope for me now.

Actually, I'd like to be in R&D. That's where I started when I graduated with my BS and and that's why I'd choose the thesis option for the MS. What I really want out of it though, is to have my work go toward improving and/or saving lives (I worked with force protection technologies with the USAF Research Lab). I don't have the stomach for medical junk. I love engineering and I have since I knew what it was so my next logical step is pretty clear to me.
 
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