College, MIT

Should you get a Masters in Computer Science at MIT? (26 of 30)

To MEng or not to MEng? (MEng is short for Masters in Engineering)

It is much easier to MEng at MIT in computer science than in other colleges. Essentially, only a GPA requirement and a minimum grade limit separate students from being accepted into the program. There’s no need to take the GRE or write an application, although if you don’t meet the GPA requirement, you do have to do a little more work.

Why should you MEng?

I have always wondered why people chose MEng – especially for a 5th year.

  • Was it because they didn’t want to go into the workforce? 
  • Was it because they weren’t satisfied with their full-time options?
  • Was it because they didn’t like their original major (and switched to computer science later)?
  • Was it because they liked the campus vibe and weren’t willing to give it up just yet?
  • Was it because they wanted to research? — but weren’t sure they could commit to a Ph.D. right out of college?

Every person is different, but these are the primary considerations that I’ve seen people place on weighing an extra year of school (including myself). Sometimes I feel like people don’t think enough about the decision they make. Here are some that I feel aren’t a reasonable justification for doing an MEng.

  • Are you only considering it because your friends are doing it?
  • Are you doing it because you’re like, why not? 
  • Are you doing it because you want a higher salary?

Do you actually get something out of an MEng?

Hopefully, it is not surprising that you will get out what you put into an MEng. Of course, you’ll get an excellent diploma and hopefully an exciting thesis out of it. You’ll get to spend another year on campus and use that extra time to develop yourself as a person!

However, I feel like not everyone comes out net positive with an MEng. Some of my friends are frustrated by the research they are doing. Some of my friends have to take extra classes even though they are swamped with research. They’ll be fewer people around who will all live farther apart, so you have to put more effort into organizing plans.

Finally, masters in computer science generally do not get higher salaries than just a bachelor’s, nor does it open more doors. In research, a Ph.D. is a must if you want to go along the tenure track, so a masters doesn’t mean much as well.


The hardest thing that I considered when looking at an MEng was the funding. A graduate student pays just as much as an undergrad to attend, making the cost of an extra year of school doesn’t make that much sense if you have to pay 100% of it. However, you can get funded either through a TAship (teaching a class) or RAship (where you get paid to research). 

RAships are hard to come by and are usually given by your lab. It depends on their funding and also the number of current students already in their labs. TAships are obtained through an application process. While this can be fairer, it’s stressful as the application process happens pretty close to the semester’s start.

In my opinion, if you don’t want to teach or spend 40 hours a week doing research, don’t get an MEng because it will only frustrate you. You can’t get funding overnight, but instead, slowly build up the experience so that you’d have funding when you start a master’s.

The research itself

After talking to many people who have completed their masters, their thesis didn’t seem that exciting nor novel either, which made me less interested in doing mine. It’s hard to write a paper in just one year, especially if you go down the wrong direction and have results that don’t prove any new revelation.

The research itself can be challenging for people as well. There aren’t strict deadlines nor concrete directions. There are few landmarks on the journey toward a paper. It’s an aimless path that goes forward and then goes back. There’s no roadmap. Many people can’t work in that environment.

For myself

I’ve always been dead set on graduating and immediately finding a job. However, due to CoVID, I started reconsidering my career path and wondered why not get a master’s? More on that in another blog post!

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