This question is unlike anything we've seen before:

Difference between a Bachelor's degree and a Master's degree in CS

Is it topical?

Traditionally, we've focused on HOW to teach, with occasional questions about HOW to learn, or questions about metadata in the field itself (such as the hot questions Why did the percentage of CS bachelor's degrees going to women peak in 1984?, Is there some meaningful percentage of students who can't learn to program?, or the very recent Why is computer science hard?.)

So, is this an acceptable question?

  • $\begingroup$ Side note: The reference Q is a second version of an earlier question with several well received answers. $\endgroup$ – Gypsy Spellweaver Nov 23 '20 at 17:00
  • $\begingroup$ Reading, and ruminating, the two questions, I'm not sure if they can be considered "duplicate" or not. The OP is the same, and the aim "seems" to be the same, yet the wording is quite diverse. I'd like to have them as duplicates, just not sure it's a supportable decision. Flagged and we'll let it ride. $\endgroup$ – Gypsy Spellweaver Nov 23 '20 at 17:24
  • $\begingroup$ @GypsySpellweaver One question is CS vs SE, and one is BA vs MSc -- I'm not sure I see how the could be duplicate. $\endgroup$ – Ben I. Mod Nov 23 '20 at 19:48
  • $\begingroup$ Both are an X-Y problem. Asking about degrees, subjects and levels, when the real question is "what should I take to have the best chance for a good job?" The CS vs SE and the Bach. vs. Masters, or whatever pairing is developed in the next round, are window dressing. Though, as stated, not sure they can be connected as dupes based on their face. $\endgroup$ – Gypsy Spellweaver Nov 24 '20 at 1:06
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ LOL Four answers so far, and not a single vote of agreement for any of them. This is fantastic! $\endgroup$ – Ben I. Mod Nov 24 '20 at 2:07
  • $\begingroup$ And you were thinking to pass off the decision to us mere mortal users? Looking like there's going to have to be an executive decision after all. :D $\endgroup$ – Gypsy Spellweaver Nov 24 '20 at 6:56

Without a change to the Help Center text it's off topic. The Help Center does emphasize the teaching aspect, even going so far as to minimize the need to be a classroom environment. It is also probably more topical on the Academia site, though others might have a better view on that.

Though it's probably a question many instructors might be asked, the answer is probably better deferred to other professionals, often called "Guidance Counselors".

The "difference" between degrees is both technical and situational. Which of the technical differences matters to the curious person depends on what they want to "do" with the degree. As wallpaper the color matters more than the words. If someone wants to get a job, soon, a shorter time getting the paper is better. Etc.

I'm not concerned with the OP's status as student, potential student, or instructor. I'm more concerned with the site value of the question, and the probable "value" to both the OP and later visitors.

To be of use to someone asking the question there would be lots of details provided in the question. The final answer would be sufficiently "personal" as to be mostly useless for others latter.


I believe that this question is topical because it is:

  1. About CS education, broadly speaking, and
  2. Within the bounds of metadata about the field.

I don't see it as outside the bounds of the site, even though it is clearly not about how to teach per se. To me, that makes it an edge case, but one that I believe is made acceptable by the metadata-type questions we've had in the past.


Given that the bounds are (correctly IMO) a bit fuzzy, I don't have an issue with it. We've had lots of questions from students, not just instructors.

It is also sort of on the fringe of Academia, though the focus there is more on graduate education (which this question touches).


I felt on first reading of the question that it needed further clarification, otherwise many different teachers from different educational systems will give conflicting answers.

For example, in the UK, we have the concept of a "Conversion Masters" that delivers a three year undergraduate programme in three intensive trimesters in a calendar year. It is designed for high performing graduate who desire a career change, just as the questioner indicates. In the past the Government has favoured and funded these programs to address perceived national skill shortages.

In other educational systems academics might disagree and it becomes a discussion and a debate and not a Q&A type of posting.

If there had not been a meta, I might have voted to close.

  • $\begingroup$ The question still has quite a bit of room for improvement, no doubt. But the meta is because I couldn't decide for sure if it was even topical in the first place, independent of question quality. $\endgroup$ – Ben I. Mod Nov 23 '20 at 23:38

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