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A way to get MS Computer Science for FREE

For those who already have undergraduate research experience in CS, you could easily apply for MS/PhD programs fully funded. After a year of fulfilling course requirements, you simply drop out with an MS degree. Here's the beauty of this plan:

1. $30,000 in savings. Instead of paying for a MS degree, you get it for free. I need a masters anyway, since HR screenings usually kick a lot of candidates out without even considering the candidate's skillset.

2. $20,000 + in stipends.

3. $20,000 or so in part-time software development job.

That's a whopping $70K of value!

Has anyone considered doing this? What are some potential risks that I may encounter in pursuing this plan?
 
For those who already have undergraduate research experience in CS, you could easily apply for MS/PhD programs fully funded. After a year of fulfilling course requirements, you simply drop out with an MS degree. Here's the beauty of this plan:

1. $30,000 in savings. Instead of paying for a MS degree, you get it for free. I need a masters anyway, since HR screenings usually kick a lot of candidates out without even considering the candidate's skillset.

2. $20,000 + in stipends.

3. $20,000 or so in part-time software development job.

That's a whopping $70K of value!

Has anyone considered doing this? What are some potential risks that I may encounter in pursuing this plan?

I can think of some problems.

1.You might not be able to register to the same courses the MFE program offer unless you'll be joining a MFE Ph.D program.

2.I'm not sure that technically the university will allow you to drop out with the MFE degree, you might have the same assortment of courses but they won't be recognized officially as MFE graduate.

3.You will not have good recommendations from your Ph.D adviser , probably the opposite.
 
I can think of some problems.

1.You might not be able to register to the same courses the MFE program offer unless you'll be joining a MFE Ph.D program.

2.I'm not sure that technically the university will allow you to drop out with the MFE degree, you might have the same assortment of courses but they won't be recognized officially as MFE graduate.

Where does he say MFE in the original post? Isn't it MS Computer Science that he is referring to?
 
Where does he say MFE in the original post? Isn't it MS Computer Science that he is referring to?

You are correct, I was thinking MFE.

If he's talking about CS than this post is irrelevant, there are funded and non-funded programs, what's new about that?

I was thinking that he wanted to bypass the route to MFE.
 
The problems I see are
1. Its not ethical.
2. Like Ohad said you will not get good recommendation from your advisor.
3. You may have to explain why you started a PhD program and dropped out. Meaning, Do you give up on other things mid way also?
 
The problems I see are
1. Its not ethical.
2. Like Ohad said you will not get good recommendation from your advisor.
3. You may have to explain why you started a PhD program and dropped out. Meaning, Do you give up on other things mid way also?

1. Almost as unethical as programs like UIUC and SIT exploiting students willing to pay 40K for a piece of crap program.
2. Why would I need recommendation letters from an academic, if I'm only interested in continuing a software development career?
3. "I realized that a research career really wasn't for me" - that's it.
++ I could always make it seem like I legitimately pursued a PhD, but realized that it wasn't for me, so no bridges destroyed.

I'm interested in addressing more realistic concerns:
For instance: How likely is it that the department, if they find out that I develop software part-time, actually summon the courage to withdraw all of my funding?
 
For those who already have undergraduate research experience in CS, you could easily apply for MS/PhD programs fully funded. After a year of fulfilling course requirements, you simply drop out with an MS degree. Here's the beauty of this plan:

1. $30,000 in savings. Instead of paying for a MS degree, you get it for free. I need a masters anyway, since HR screenings usually kick a lot of candidates out without even considering the candidate's skillset.

2. $20,000 + in stipends.

3. $20,000 or so in part-time software development job.

That's a whopping $70K of value!

Has anyone considered doing this? What are some potential risks that I may encounter in pursuing this plan?

1. It's not the "right" thing to do.

2. A fully funded PhD program is MUCH more difficult to get in than a Master program (the number of openings in a fully-funded PhD program is just too limited). As a result, you might be able to get in a top 5 master program, but only a top 50 PhD program. Just to save some money, the quality of your "label" drops a lot.

3. Not every fully-funded PhD program will give you a master degree when you choose to leave early.
 
1. Almost as unethical as programs like UIUC and SIT exploiting students willing to pay 40K for a piece of crap program.
2. Why would I need recommendation letters from an academic, if I'm only interested in continuing a software development career?
3. "I realized that a research career really wasn't for me" - that's it.
++ I could always make it seem like I legitimately pursued a PhD, but realized that it wasn't for me, so no bridges destroyed.

I'm interested in addressing more realistic concerns:
For instance: How likely is it that the department, if they find out that I develop software part-time, actually summon the courage to withdraw all of my funding?

In a fully-funded CS program, you pretty much is financially supported by your advisor. If your advisor is not happy with your performance and/or you doing part-time job, he can stop your funding anytime he wants.
 
Would this work? I think so. Is it unethical? I think so. Are you a sociopath? I think so.

If your argument is that a university that doesn't properly prepare its students is exploiting those students, then welcome to the American education system.

I don't see why the department would care if you developed software on the side. The first few years you will focusing on coursework and starting to look for thesis topics, so as long as you did well in your courses and made the motions of preparing to move into research you should be fine.
 
Thanks echostate. You're right, I'll be sacrificing pedigree for $70K. As for now, I simply want M.S. on my resume so that I can penetrate HR screenings in the future. It doesn't matter too much in my opinion to have a Columbia MS unless I'm gunning for Wall Street.

And the thought of losing funding from advisor is kind of scary. So What I'm sort of getting is that this is very difficult to pull off, although possible. And I guess my best bet is to have a research project in mind before even getting into the master's program, make it seem like I just started to work on it after enrolling, and show bits and pieces of it throughout the semester for a year. All that acting should then culminate into an LPU paper to be presented at a conference.

Rightness should never be a concern if you can actually pull it off without any real negative consequences.

More comments are welcome, guys. I'll write a theoretical piece in the end on how to pull this off so that other quantnet members can look into it. Thanks.

EDIT: Additional comment/reply.


I don't see why the department would care if you developed software on the side. The first few years you will focusing on coursework and starting to look for thesis topics, so as long as you did well in your courses and made the motions of preparing to move into research you should be fine.
+1. What makes me a sociopath if I'm simply attempting to exploit a system for $70,000?? That's a lot of money...
But what I wanted to say is thank you for pointing that out for other people. First year or so is just about coursework anyway.
 
I'm not sure what kind of fully-funded programs you can get in. I will be more worried about getting in such a program before I start thinking about how to get off ...

Also, not sure what a master degree from a third-tier CS program can give you (if you already have a reasonably decent undergraduate degree).

BTW, a fully-funded program requires you to work every week, either as a research assistant or teaching assistant. So it's not really "free". Also, given the class load and research/teaching assistant assignment, I don't think you have time for a part-time job.
 
You could apply to a bunch of schools and take the lower ranked school that gives you a scholarship. They give stipends for MSF programs, I would imagine they do it for comp sci also. No need to go through the hassle of a PhD admission if all you want is a free degree.
 
Rightness should never be a concern if you can actually pull it off without any real negative consequences.

1. What makes me a sociopath if I'm simply attempting to exploit a system for $70,000?? That's a lot of money..

R u serious! Why even bother with MS or PhD. U should just get into politics. Your parents must be so proud.
 
You could apply to a bunch of schools and take the lower ranked school that gives you a scholarship. They give stipends for MSF programs, I would imagine they do it for comp sci also. No need to go through the hassle of a PhD admission if all you want is a free degree.

Exactly, from what I noticed you can get full scholarship + stipend at top tier schools too.
What seems to be in common for all paid degrees is their fields, mostly "non money hungry" degrees which rules out MBA and to some degree MFE.
Other than that, I saw fully paid M.Sc/Ph.D programs for many Engineering/Physics/Math programs.

So I really think that it's unnecessary unless the OP can't get into one of these.
 

atreides

Graduate Student
The cost of an education is one thing that has kept going up year after year after year even though technology exists to help reduce costs and make education cheaper. Maybe that's the real culprit here. The OP is probably going to extremes to get that free MS

1. Almost as unethical as programs like UIUC and SIT exploiting students willing to pay 40K for a piece of crap program.

If someone somewhere is willing to shell out $40k, then the program is still in business. If the programs listed above had < 10 applicants, the administrators will quickly realize they need to slash the sticker prize to be more in line with what the market is willing to pay. Obviously, this is not the case.
 
So here are two ideas that hold merit:

1. Get admitted to a school that offers me masters program fully funded.
2. Or, get funded through my employer to get a masters part-time.
---

There really is no need to go through all this shannanigans if I get admitted to a master's program with scholly. So we freebie seekers should keep this in mind, always. But for those who REALLY wanna go all out and save money, I'm just trying to make a point that this would really work. $70K.

The cost of an education is one thing that has kept going up year after year after year even though technology exists to help reduce costs and make education cheaper. Maybe that's the real culprit here. The OP is probably going to extremes to get that free MS

If someone somewhere is willing to shell out $40k, then the program is still in business. If the programs listed above had < 10 applicants, the administrators will quickly realize they need to slash the sticker prize to be more in line with what the market is willing to pay. Obviously, this is not the case.

It's only a matter of time they'll slash the sticker price. The market for MFE programs will undergo some corrections within the next decade.

R u serious! Why even bother with MS or PhD. U should just get into politics. Your parents must be so proud.

I'd lke to say that you're being quite presumptuous in saying that. But my Asian parents would indeed be proud at the $70K that I'd be saving by keeping a poker face for a year.
 
It's only a matter of time they'll slash the sticker price. The market for MFE programs will undergo some corrections within the next decade.
Does it ever happen with college tuition? Anywhere?
This is not a consumer market where competition drives cost down so I don't think it will ever happen. As long as there are enough people who willing to pay full price (suckers, in the financial jargon), there is no reason to cut price.
 
That's kind of what I'm predicting... lol. Soon, MFE programs will end up just like law schools. Once people realize that the ROI is very poor, these programs will either close down or slash prices as a result of low enrollment.
 
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