Mid Career Advice - Masters degree (MCIT)

Falsebreakout

New Member
Hi all,

I'm in my mid-thirties, married with kids and am contemplating whether to enrol in UPenn's Online Masters of Computer & IT (MCIT) on a part time basis while I continue to work. But I'm not sure if it's worth doing it. Hope to get some advice and perspectives from others here. I am based out of Singapore.

My background:
Work as a Dealer in an execution role for flow products such as equities, futures, options, FX etc, within Buy-side & bank treasury in the last 10 years.
I do not have experience "running risk' (managing a book).

First degree: Liberal arts with good honours (did a few modules on Statistics but no programming background nor Math at University level)
Completed CFA Charter program. Been taking online courses in Python since months ago.

My primary motivations are:

1. To upgrade and broaden my skill sets, gain more job security and options during times of technological change. Hope to open up doors to other opportunities such quant trading, quantitative execution (Worldquant, Citadel etc) or maybe a switch to data analyst/research roles within asset management or tech firms (Hence a CS major has options in this way)

2. MCIT is attractive to me as it's meant for students with no CS background. Most other MS Math or CS programs have pre-requisites for Math & programming which I do not fufill.

However, I'm not sure about the following:

1. What do employers think of UPenn's MCIT program? Will it have the same effect as a top 20 MBA in terms of career opportunities?

2. Are there other online, part-time Masters programs that I should consider?

3. An online degree program does not offer the kind of networking, internship or career fair opportunities available for on-campus students. Hence, the odds of gaining new employment upon completion of the program will likely be an uphill task?

4. Would MOOCs and online certificates from top schools be a viable alternative? I feel they are less structured and seem to be less recognised by employers (compared to a degree program) but will allow me to have more time for my family commitments.

Do you think it's worth it doing the MCIT degree?

Sorry for the lengthy post and thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts and experience!
 
Last edited:

Onegin

Active Member
C++ Student
Similar boat, though a bit older. Here's what I've come up with (at least in US):

1. What do employers think of UPenn's MCIT program? Will it have the same effect as a top 20 MBA in terms of career opportunities?
Similar to Berkeley / Northwestern online data science. . .not much. It's like a MOOC for people who have employer reimbursement. Georgia Tech online CompSci is fairly respected. Definitely nowhere near top 20 MBA, because some potion of that is network value. It's more difficult to create those relationships online. That said, more knowlede definitely won't hurt you.

2. Are there other online, part-time Masters programs that I should consider?
Depends on goals - not sure what's in Singapore. I had to start with a lot of math courses before a masters became worthwhile.

3. An online degree program does not offer the kind of networking, internship or career fair opportunities available for on-campus students. Hence, the odds of gaining new employment upon completion of the program will likely be an uphill task?
largely correct. The smartest guy I know finished a masters degree and then did almost 7 years of MOOCs. He didn't care about recognition or certification, he wanted the knowledge, obtained it, applied it, and is now pretty much retired. I think he's an outlier though - I couldn't manage to pull that off. . .

4. Would MOOCs and online certificates from top schools be a viable alternative? I feel they are less structured and seem to be less recognised by employers (compared to a degree program) but will allow me to have more time for my family commitments.
There's a level of admiration for anyone pursuing additional knowledge. That said, i don't think it's going to land you in the top tier. I'm also not sure if that's really important. I can say doing part time classes proved too much for me to do while working after we started our family. I decided to take time off work to go back to school.

I hope these are useful. For me, the cost of not going back to school was higher than the opportunity cost ogf taking a year out, even mid-career.

Do you think it's worth it doing the MCIT degree?
 

Derrick Mo

New Member
Hi all,

I'm in my mid-thirties, married with kids and am contemplating whether to enrol in UPenn's Online Masters of Computer & IT (MCIT) on a part time basis while I continue to work. But I'm not sure if it's worth doing it. Hope to get some advice and perspectives from others here. I am based out of Singapore.

My background:
Work as a Dealer in an execution role for flow products such as equities, futures, options, FX etc, within Buy-side & bank treasury in the last 10 years.
I do not have experience "running risk' (managing a book).

First degree: Liberal arts with good honours (did a few modules on Statistics but no programming background nor Math at University level)
Completed CFA Charter program. Been taking online courses in Python since months ago.

My primary motivations are:

1. To upgrade and broaden my skill sets, gain more job security and options during times of technological change. Hope to open up doors to other opportunities such quant trading, quantitative execution (Worldquant, Citadel etc) or maybe a switch to data analyst/research roles within asset management or tech firms (Hence a CS major has options in this way)

2. MCIT is attractive to me as it's meant for students with no CS background. Most other MS Math or CS programs have pre-requisites for Math & programming which I do not fufill.

However, I'm not sure about the following:

1. What do employers think of UPenn's MCIT program? Will it have the same effect as a top 20 MBA in terms of career opportunities?

2. Are there other online, part-time Masters programs that I should consider?

3. An online degree program does not offer the kind of networking, internship or career fair opportunities available for on-campus students. Hence, the odds of gaining new employment upon completion of the program will likely be an uphill task?

4. Would MOOCs and online certificates from top schools be a viable alternative? I feel they are less structured and seem to be less recognised by employers (compared to a degree program) but will allow me to have more time for my family commitments.

Do you think it's worth it doing the MCIT degree?

Sorry for the lengthy post and thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts and experience!
Hi,

Just noticed this thread and thanks for sharing and feedback. I guess we are almost on the same boat: I am in my early 30s, married with two kids, also a CFA charterholder and just started MCIT online this summer. (What a small world!)

My primary concerns are also on networking and recognition aspects but decided to do it anyway because a) the program has on-campus which has been running for 15+ years and designed for non-CS professionals, b) I always want to make transition to more quant-related areas so I just want to get started , c) the program is pretty affordable and costs only about 1/3 comparing to the on-campus version.

Be honestly, I still don't know how to leverage this degree and not sure whether it will help me to make transition to anything, not to mention the fact that I am not an US person and the program does not offer visa so getting help from career services is pretty much out of the door. I feel that it would require an on-campus program that provides meaningful internships if my goal is to get into quant finance.

For doing that, my primary doubt is my age because I will be in my mid 30s even if everything works out as planned. I read a post on Quantnet about this issue and the response was that 30-40 is considered old but not too late so I think it is probably worth to give it a shot. Still need to think it through and just some thoughts. Am also wondering if anyone here is contemplating the same thing? Interested in quant finance and like to test the water with some online programs or wish to make transition to quant after 30?

Best,
 
Schools give knowledge, not jobs. If you applied for the quant job you wanted right now, what would you be missing? What of those missing things does the MCIT fill-in? Write that down and keep it somewhere. Your real focus is filling in the gap you currently perceive. If your studying to get a job, you need to know why the studies will get you that job, Thus, you'd better be looking at the roles themselves, as opposed to hoping for good things from a school name. As you progress through the MCIT, try applying to a few places. Any looks you get, will guide you more and more as to what you should be focusing on in the studies. Good luck, and don't worry about age too much. It will slow you down.
 

longgamma

Member
C++ Student
Hi all,

I'm in my mid-thirties, married with kids and am contemplating whether to enrol in UPenn's Online Masters of Computer & IT (MCIT) on a part time basis while I continue to work. But I'm not sure if it's worth doing it. Hope to get some advice and perspectives from others here. I am based out of Singapore.

My background:
Work as a Dealer in an execution role for flow products such as equities, futures, options, FX etc, within Buy-side & bank treasury in the last 10 years.
I do not have experience "running risk' (managing a book).

First degree: Liberal arts with good honours (did a few modules on Statistics but no programming background nor Math at University level)
Completed CFA Charter program. Been taking online courses in Python since months ago.

My primary motivations are:

1. To upgrade and broaden my skill sets, gain more job security and options during times of technological change. Hope to open up doors to other opportunities such quant trading, quantitative execution (Worldquant, Citadel etc) or maybe a switch to data analyst/research roles within asset management or tech firms (Hence a CS major has options in this way)

2. MCIT is attractive to me as it's meant for students with no CS background. Most other MS Math or CS programs have pre-requisites for Math & programming which I do not fufill.

However, I'm not sure about the following:

1. What do employers think of UPenn's MCIT program? Will it have the same effect as a top 20 MBA in terms of career opportunities?

2. Are there other online, part-time Masters programs that I should consider?

3. An online degree program does not offer the kind of networking, internship or career fair opportunities available for on-campus students. Hence, the odds of gaining new employment upon completion of the program will likely be an uphill task?

4. Would MOOCs and online certificates from top schools be a viable alternative? I feel they are less structured and seem to be less recognised by employers (compared to a degree program) but will allow me to have more time for my family commitments.

Do you think it's worth it doing the MCIT degree?

Sorry for the lengthy post and thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts and experience!
Would the online course offer any chance to visit the main campus for any period of time? Some of the profs in UPenn have done great work in quant finance. Eg:

 

Derrick Mo

New Member
Schools give knowledge, not jobs. If you applied for the quant job you wanted right now, what would you be missing? What of those missing things does the MCIT fill-in? Write that down and keep it somewhere. Your real focus is filling in the gap you currently perceive. If your studying to get a job, you need to know why the studies will get you that job, Thus, you'd better be looking at the roles themselves, as opposed to hoping for good things from a school name. As you progress through the MCIT, try applying to a few places. Any looks you get, will guide you more and more as to what you should be focusing on in the studies. Good luck, and don't worry about age too much. It will slow you down.
I completely agree with your assessment and thanks for the tips.
Btw, I have an MBA with concentration in Financial Engineering; however, they don't seem to help to land any quant-related jobs.
My current plan is to finish the program in 2021/2022 and take C++ courses here at Quantnet and reassess where I stand.
If my career switch attempt is still no avail, I may try an on-campus program then. Anyway, it will be quite a journey ahead.
 

Derrick Mo

New Member
Would the online course offer any chance to visit the main campus for any period of time? Some of the profs in UPenn have done great work in quant finance. Eg:

I could be wrong and it might be changing in the future. On-campus and online programs are completely separated and you are not allowed to participate on-campus class even if you happened to live in/near Philly, therefore, I would assume that we are not eligible for cross-department opportunities. I believe we have a few students who were enrolled in on-campus program but switched to online program because online program students are paying less than half of tuition for the same degree. First two electives (IoT and AI) will be launched starting Spring 2020 and they said they plan to launch 2 new electives for next few semesters until they reached a rich selection of courses. Pipeline courses include machine learning, math for machine learning, blockchain, etc. While it's still not confirmed, a classmate told me the admission rate for online program is also about 10% which she learned from one of the info sessions. I don't know whether it's true or not but in case if you are interested. What I can tell you is that the LinkedIn group recently just passed 500 members mark so the program is growing fast (which is concerning in my view). Hope this is helpful.
 

Derrick Mo

New Member
Penn online programs reads like undergrad cs classes
Yes, it is. I view it as an accelerated CS degree program.
1st core: Java. Assignments including programming a game (black-jack solitaire), a spell-checker, a data science project on airline delays, and a final project.
2nd core: Discrete math. A great deal of proofs and probabilities,
3rd core: Hardware and C. Learn from drawing transistors to decode ISAs to eventually program in C.
4th core: Advanced Java. I am not there yet so cannot comment on anything below.
5th core: C-programming.
6th core: Put everything together.
 
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