I would like to ask for maybe a bit of advice based on your experience (or just awareness) with reference to employment based on the reputation of your education. I know employers look more at work experience in the industry and less maybe on academic achievements. Of course both are important and have their place, but I am at a point where I need to make a decision towards the latter.

I am contemplating at applying for a Masters programme in Software Engineering (or Computer Science with strong SE emphasis) at a university in the UK. Due to my existing commitments, I am interested in an online degree. For example, I was looking at University of Liverpool MSc S.E. at a higher cost and 2.5 years part-time only available (ranking in university tables around 30th), vs University of Hertfordshire MSc Computer Science (S.E.) at almost half the price and 1.5 years full time or 2.5 part-time (ranking in university tables around 60th).

One is cheaper and maybe of lower reputation in rankings but good connections with businesses, the other higher cost (will need to dig in my own pocket as student loans not enough to cover costs) but bigger name and more reputable throughout. Modules covered kind of similar, not sure about quality and depth.

Again, I know work experience is primordial at job interviews but I would appreciate if answers/advice would be geared towards the academic side of things I am asking about. Very much appreciated your input.

*Edit: As noted in some of the comments received, I omitted to mention I the professional direction I intend following the Master. My Bachelors in CS related and worked as a developer on small projects for a couple of years following graduation. I intend to continue along this line but with a stronger academic CS/SE background. I am not discussing the value of a Masters vs just continuing without - I will still continue to work freelance and small contracts during the Masters but want to top up my education at the same time; that's why I am opting for the online option of study.



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    Related, possible duplicate: Is a low rank university on resume a deal breaker?
    – David K
    Nov 27, 2018 at 18:12
  • 3
    What sort of employment are you pursuing afterwards? Within academics?
    – dwizum
    Nov 27, 2018 at 18:13
  • Yeah, this one depends heavily on what sort of career you're looking to pursue afterwards. Some it matters a fair bit, some almost none at all. If you want an answer tuned towards your own needs rather than an "it depends", you'd be better off editing in some ore specifics.
    – Ben Barden
    Nov 27, 2018 at 18:19
  • this post is rather hard to read (wall of text). Would you mind editing it into a better shape?
    – gnat
    Nov 27, 2018 at 18:51
  • @gnat - Really sorry for the formatting, When I typed it in the text box I spaced it into paragraphs and was well readable. I'm not sure why the formatting was removed on 'submit'
    – Justs
    Nov 27, 2018 at 21:26

3 Answers 3


with reference to employment based on the reputation of your education

Where do you plan to go after getting your degree?

I would appreciate if answers/advice would be geared towards the academic side of things I am asking about

If you plan an academic/research career, perhaps you would get better advice on Academia.StackExchange.com.

In case you meant I should only consider the academic quality of the respective institutions - here's my somewhat longer but less concrete answer.

If you plan to work 'in business' then I don't know that it matters a whole lot which path you take
with the following exception:

I assume that the UK is like the US in that there are certain degree programs that are certified. The ACM does that here for computer science degrees. I have worked places that give a bonus to salary if you have an advanced degree - and to qualify for getting you the bonus, your degree (in the year you achieved it) has to have been certified by the right group (who the right group is may vary, but probably not much).

If both degrees are certified but by different entities, you may want to find a job listing that requires the degree you are considering, contact their human resources, and ask if a masters at [cheaper university] qualifies for that job's requirements.

  • All the UK ones will be certified and no UK Hr will admit to how they rank universities Nov 27, 2018 at 21:43
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    @Chris Thank you for the reply and advice. "Where do you plan to go after getting your degree?" See the 'Edit' in my post. The BCS accredits programs in the UK. The online one at Liverpool is acredited by BCS but the one at Hertfordshir is not yet. They are expecting that at the next BCS visit (the in-class programs at Hertf. are accredited though).
    – Justs
    Nov 27, 2018 at 21:49

Unless you are from some brand university like an Ivy or engineering school equivalent or a widely recognized diploma mill, what school you got your MSc doesn't matter. In fact having the MSc at all is advantage enough.


(Note: I work in EdTech and compare Computer Science programs for a living)

In software engineering, a Masters degree of Computer Science is generally unnecessary unless you are planning to go into a highly specialized area of computer science not normally covered in depth at the undergraduate level such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. Software engineering is very much a skills-based industry and the level of your degree is not necessarily indicative of your skills.

If you lack existing work experience in software engineering and don't have an undergraduate degree in Computer Science, you may find a Masters degree helpful in getting into the software industry. Given the generally not useful nature of the Masters degrees in Computer Science, employers usually use the acceptance rates of the program, prestige of the program and difficulty of the program as data points as part of their selection criteria.

If you are still interested in a degree, since you are looking at online, part-time, why limit yourself to the UK?

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