Paying for a Master’s in Computer Science
A master’s degree in computer science can be key to using your skills to capacity and earning the kind of salary a master’s degree can command. But the cost of a master’s in computer science can seem daunting.
Maybe you are still wrapping up your undergraduate degree. Maybe you are building your career, but also building a family and paying off student loans. And maybe that big software or systems engineering salary still looms out there in the distance.
There are resources for graduate students in computer science. What’s available for you will depend in part on your current circumstances.
Employer Sponsored Tuition Assistance
If you are currently working in the industry, your employer can be a resource. If you are in the market for a position, you may consider whether tuition assistance is included in the benefits package. Giants like Apple and Google are very generous with funding their employees’ higher education. Other companies that are reported to offer tuition assistance include Deloitte, Lockheed Martin, McAfee, and Raytheon.
Your chances of getting your master’s financed by an employer are higher in some locales than others. (You may do well if you are in a big tech market like Seattle.)
An assistantship is another option for making ends meet. These are offered directly by the university. Funds are tied to teaching classes or performing other work for the department. (These are not intended for master’s students who have a career outside academia.)
As a graduate student, you have fewer options from the government. However, you may take out an unsubsidized loan if you are at least half time. It's not as good as having a scholarship -- you do have to pay the money back – but it’s a way of making tuition payments without taking on new obligations. The eligibility requirements are easy to meet.
Scholarships Based on Work Commitment
In some cases, a future employer may commit to your graduate education – if you can contribute to an area of critical need. Sandia National Laboratories offers master’s fellowships to outstanding BS graduates who are looking to join their team.
Graduate Scholarships for Underrepresented Graduate Students
You don’t necessarily have to be working for Google to have Google finance your computer science master’s. You do have to be outstanding – and a member of an underrepresented group. Google offers a number of scholarships for both undergraduate and graduate students (http://www.google.com/intl/en/jobs/students/proscho/scholarships/uscanada). Among them are the Google Lime Scholarship for Students with Disabilities (a competition open to students with both visible and invisible forms of disability), the Google Hispanic Scholarship Fund, and the Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship (for women). There are more!
The GEM Consortium is dedicated to helping female and minority graduate students in science and engineering disciplines: at the PhD level as well as the master’s. In addition to money for school, you will have the opportunity to intern in the summer. The program is rigorous and competitive, but you can turn in your application as a student – or while out there in the world of work.
While a majority of Microsoft scholarships are at the undergraduate level, outstanding female grad students are also given support. If you have what is takes to compete for a Microsoft Graduate Women’s Scholarship, you’ll need your university to nominate you during your first year as a graduate student.
Scholarships Offered by Professional Organizations and Honor Societies
The Association for Computer Machinery and Upsilon Pi Epsilon jointly sponsor scholarships for graduate and undergraduate students. These are reserved for students who are members of the chapter. They go to students with good grades, positive recommendations, and department-related activity.
Scholarships Not Directly Tied to Computer Science
You may be eligible to apply for prestigious graduate scholarships based on demographics. You can apply for the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, for example, if you are a first generation immigrant, or a second generation immigrant with two parents who became naturalized citizens.
If you are a stellar student, you may find more fellowship opportunities at the PhD level. Some computer science students go straight from the BS to the PhD.