As a software engineer, how important is it to have a degree?

darbyo profile image Rob Darby ・1 min read

I am currently studying Computer Science at university part time, whilst working full time as a Scala developer. Having been a Software Engineer for over 5 years, I feel that the academic world is providing only a fraction of the knowledge compared to on-the-job experiences.

Would be interesting to hear from people who do/don't have a degree, and if this has helped/hindered them at all...


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zhu48 profile image
Zuodian Hu

With software engineering being such an enormously diverse field nowadays, this is a really complicated question. As a recent graduate in his first job, I have to say, having a degree helps a lot if you want to get into the corporate world. I'm talking Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Uber, Tesla, basically all the companies you hear about in the news a lot, they all have so many applicants that a degree is almost required.

As for a Computer Science degree specifically:

  • It's even better to have a minor or a second major. When you say "I have a computer science degree", a potential employer has no idea if you're into data science, databases, user interface, operating systems, embedded systems, or any number of other things that require different skills and knowledge. Your minor or second major helps clarify where you are in the computer science ocean.
  • Have projects you can show off or talk about. Fresh graduates will all have a degree or two, but many people who have a degree have never done a practical project with software. If you have project experience already, you stand out that much more from the crowd.

That said, you seem to fall solidly into the second bullet point, having been in industry for 5 years already.

There are also those companies that don't care so much. I had a startup tell me to go take a coding challenge. I also did independent contracts with some buddies who already knew what I could do and how well. In these cases, they're always going to try to get a feel for what you can do in a different way. Your industry experience certainly helps in this regard.

That's my two cents.

darbyo profile image
Rob Darby Author

Thanks for the response, I definitely agree with all of your points. Its always good to specialise, whilst still having broad knowledge (T shaped devs :) )

From what I see, its is not an absolute must to have a degree. However there are some doors that just wont open, unless you do have one.