Should Web Developers Pursue a Postgraduate Degree?

Typing on a keyboard in front of computer screen.

Many people argue that a Master’s degree in computers is either worthless or just a different method to get a Bachelors degree. Some web developers feel that as so many people have bachelors’ degrees they need to level up to a Master’s degree to stand out. Then there are others who believe that they will work and move along the paths of their careers by teaching themselves the skills necessary for success.

Surely, investing time and money into getting a postgraduate degree is a big decision. Aviva ran a survey on college students and found that 37% of those who went to university regret doing so given the amount of debt they now have. A total of 49% said they could have got to where they are in life without the benefit of a university degree.

Universities condemned this research and claimed that students are usually very satisfied with their degrees as they lead to polishing their resumes. The annual National Student Survey, covering responses from 312,000 final-year students, found an overall satisfaction rating of 86% this year, the same as last year. (Source: Guardian)

Computer education can be self-taught, considering the treasure of free courses online, but a postgraduate degree teaches developers a whole new? skill set. In light of the stats mentioned above, let’s shed some light on both sides of the debate.

Why should web developers go for a postgrad?

If you love web development and it keeps you up at night, you may feel the need to attend a school to polish your skills further. The good thing about today’s teaching programs is that they are designed to fulfil a person’s needs and don’t halt their professional life abruptly.

1. Foundation of theory and understanding

The most valuable thing to take away from a professional education is its theoretical aspect.. All the rigorous courses that teach you the basics of developing good websites and all the fundamentals, you just can’t match it with anything else. The faculty at universities are capable of dealing with new or mid-career professionals, and it is overall a healthy outcome when a person can open some new doors of learning and opportunity. All the databases, operating systems, algorithms and newest trends that you learn about in grade school, build a strong foundation on which you can build your career further. “If the foundational knowledge exists, the rest can be picked up on the job,” says John Peebles, CEO of Administrate.

2. Critical thinking

The curriculum at college helps students to think critically about various problems and their solutions. Developers who get a formal education have a better grasp of different computer languages and their implications in the market. A firm understanding of the computer also grooms a person’s mind to learn new tips and tricks about web development much faster.

3. Adaptability

Computer and web technologies are vast. One cannot ever say that they have discovered it all. Individuals who are well-versed in a broad set of skills are valuable to an employer and a company. In any case, the fundamentals of development stay the same, so the person is more versatile and can adapt quickly to any new requirement.

A formal education will helps individuals find different solutions when facing an issue. It allows them to know what actions to take because they went through the process of checks, balance, and were also tested on the same. Adaptable developers are an employer’s favorite too.

4. Working with others

Most of us think of developers as lonely souls who spend their days coding away. In grad school, one cannot isolate themselves like a freelancer. It is fundamental to work with a team in order toto succeed on projects. Nowadays, developers are working in offices on various posts and are also leading startups. Formal education instils a habit of teamwork that pays off in the professional world.

5. Effort and reward

A grad school degree on your resume means that you went through several years of hard work and effort to polish your skills in a formal institution. It shows the time and money you spent on trying to better improve your skills. This is priceless in any education. Developers with degrees had classmates, professors and assignments that they might not have liked, but persevered through it to reach their end goal. It shows dedication.

Then there are some habits that developers should develop to be able to work better with clients. They are easy to adapt in an organized learning process.

  • Communication
  • Love of learning
  • Patience
  • Perfectionism

We must be wary of assuming that a certain level of understanding of some concepts is obvious; it may well be to some people, but there should also be ways of introducing it to others, who do not see it as obvious, in a methodical way.” Says Central University of Technology, Vice-chancellor Professor Thandwa Mthembu. He believes that anything can be taught if it is balanced between your profession and education.

Why is a postgrad degree worthless for developers?

The other side of the argument is that a degree is ‘useless’ for developers. People argue that computer science is not like medical or political science. Web development is more of a lifestyle than a skill to be formally taught.

1. The reality of college life

College, especially grad school, is something that is generally and traditionally associated with honor and pride. Parents love to boast about it in family get-togethers and students love to be a part of the college clubs and sports teams and have parties in dorms. The dark side of all of this however, is when it comes to tuition fees. Developers argue that books, accommodation and tuition fee can exhaust the resources of an already struggling developer.

2. A post-graduate degree will not necessarily get you a job

A college is a great place to develop a foundation and establish a skill set, but professionals argue that it not related to the task at hand in today’s average office. The graduate degree holder will appear out of college but will have no clue about the trends and needs of a client. All of this insight can only begained from real world experiences and dealing with customers from all walks of life.

3. Employers do not usually look at degrees

Employers and recruiters do not care about grades because by the time you graduate the trends have dramatically changed. Traditional institutions take too long to teach, and by the end, the knowledge is outdated for a developer who needs to keep up with new trends every day.

4. Connections are not made at school

The kind of connections you will make when you are self-taught, and the active professional developer is hard to come by during grad school. And the reality is that while the clubs and sports teams are all excellent as a social experiences, industry connections do not just pop in. For those entering the profession, not only are they getting paid for a job, but are also meeting new people whom they can learn from. Check out this post on how to meet new people in the industry.

Web development is the IT thing today. Everybody wants a website, and many people want someone to make them a website. If you have studied programming in your Bachelors, friends and family must have already asked you to make a website for them. You might have done it with or without a degree too. It totally depends on your choices and your needs. The two sides of the debate are in front of you. It is now up to you to decide if you want to attend school or take the chance of learning yourself.



Alma Causey is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences and express herself through her blogs.

Find her on Twitter: @Almacausey