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LucyQ

Master Degrees

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Hello all...

I have a BS in Business from Washington State and I'm thinking about masters degrees. It seems that MBA programs are geared towards people doing Finance or Consulting and a JD might teach me what I want to learn but it is too costly given that I have no intention of being an attorney.

 

My goals are to be a better Contracts professional and I believe business law, contracts, and legal research classes would do that. I've been looking into an MS in Legal Studies like the ones available at USC, Purdue, or Pepperdine. Of course, all law school graduates laugh at these degrees but in theory it seems that a Contracts professional might be able to make use of these classes. Does anyone have any experience with these and what value they can provide?

 

I don't want to take student loan debt for a degree that won't help me get anywhere. I am also worried that while the degree might give me useful information and make me a better professional the industry will laugh at this degree and will essentially add nothing other than personal enrichment. I can google for personal enrichment, no need to take on debt. I believe an MBA or a JD look good as I try to go forward in my career (level: Manager +) however it seems contracts is right in the middle of the of those two.  

...

Forgot to mention I have an Advanced Contract Management Certificate from San Diego State and a CFCM certification. 

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One of the advertisers here is the American Graduate University and they have specific Masters Degrees programs in contracting areas.  Here is their catalog

I would check with someone that recruits for a corporation that you are familiar with and ask them what value they place on MBAs and JDs.  

 

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59 minutes ago, LucyQ said:

I don't want to take student loan debt for a degree that won't help me get anywhere.

If you currently work for the Federal Government, there are some agencies that will pay for your education in exchange for a service agreement. Your best bet for this is probably DoD, since they have Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund (DAWDF) appropriations. DAWDF gives DoD agencies a lot of flexibility in terms of workforce incentives.

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3 minutes ago, FrankJon said:

If you currently work for the Federal Government, there are some agencies that will pay for your education in exchange for a service agreement. Your best bet for this is probably DoD, since they have Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund (DAWDF) appropriations. DAWDF gives DoD agencies a lot of flexibility in terms of workforce incentives.

No, I work for a contractor. The most they'd be willing to pay is 5k a year and that's with a promise to stay for 3 years but I know I'll be moving before then so my employer isn't an option.  I suppose another question would be what type of Master degrees do people have here? Did they find them useful in their career? and would they do it again for today's prices?

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45 minutes ago, bob7947 said:

One of the advertisers here is the American Graduate University and they have specific Masters Degrees programs in contracting areas.  Here is their catalog

I would check with someone that recruits for a corporation that you are familiar with and ask them what value they place on MBAs and JDs.  

 

Yeah, I'm asking around in many places but I always respect the people around here so I thought I'd ask here too. 

 

Also, American Graduate University isn't AACSB accredited. 

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2 hours ago, LucyQ said:

My goals are to be a better Contracts professional and I believe business law, contracts, and legal research classes would do that

You don't need another degree to be a better contracts professional. You need job specific knowledge and skills such as critical thinking, analytical reading, writing, and public speaking.

What kind of contracting do you do? Long-term complex services? IT? Major systems? Commercial items? What kind of contracting do you want to do?

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1 hour ago, Vern Edwards said:

You don't need another degree to be a better contracts professional. You need job specific knowledge and skills such as critical thinking, analytical reading, writing, and public speaking.

What kind of contracting do you do? Long-term complex services? IT? Major systems? Commercial items? What kind of contracting do you want to do?

I'm the only contracts person in my company. We do lots of SBIRS that lead to long engineering services contracts to implement the technology in other ways (How the company got started). We've ventured into repair and overhaul contracts (biggest one is 10 year IDIQ) and into supplying landing gear parts (hopefully another 10 year IDIQ). 

I want to be marketable when I leave this company, I've been here 11 years (started as an Accounting Clerk). I'm often complimented on all of those skills but you can't exactly put compliments on a resume. 

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LucyQ,

I have an MBA from the University of San Diego. Looking back, I think a JD or JD/MBA would have been a lot more valuable in my career. 

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A Master in Public Administration (MPA) or Master in Public Policy (MPP), maybe.  Some MPA programs have a lot of relevant content - some even have a Contracting/Acquisition focus. Around DC- Georgetown, American & UMD come to mind.  Don't know about southern CA though.  

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I don't think either degree is necessary to advance in contracting.  I completed my MBA because I had been focused on working in the private sector outside of Federal contracts between my current and former stints in Federal service.  I apply very little of what I learned in getting the MBA to my work today in contracting.  I also work with a couple people how have JDs.  While some of that course work likely taught them skills that help them in contracting, I'm confident most of it didn't make them more expert at Federal contracting.  I've known folks with advanced degrees that are not very good at contracting and others without any degree that are some of the best I've known.  What I think matters more is hands on experience, learning from others, courses in specific aspects of Federal contracts, relevant certifications, and reading the FAR and other literature on the subject.

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Some Anti-MBA literature here.

Quote

Entrepreneurs with MBAs or accelerator experience did not respond to this intervention, suggesting that formal training can limit the spread of peer advice.

Fair warning though: studies say half of all studies are bad studies.  

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On 7/6/2018 at 7:10 PM, LucyQ said:

I'm often complimented on all of those skills but you can't exactly put compliments on a resume. 

The return on investment of paying a "resume expert" who knows the government contracts industry is much higher than any degree. Paying $500 or $1000 to increase your lifetime earnings potential is a good idea. Consider paying someone to improve your resume and translate what you've done into something recruiters and hiring managers can digest. At a minimum, find job postings/descriptions and individual resumes that match who you want to be. Think three or four jobs ahead, i.e. "What will this next position add to my skill set? What are intermediate steps to get to my goal?"

Degrees, in general, aren't valuable because of what you allegedly learned. They're valuable as a signalling and sorting mechanism. Think about that. 

Some of those fake degrees you mentioned signal that the person is serious about government contracts, but isn't intelligent or connected enough to know better. Maybe they can get you into a mid-level contracts manager position, but not the more prestigious positions. The MBA and lawyer crowd will eat your lunch in that tier. 

On 7/6/2018 at 3:00 PM, LucyQ said:

the industry will laugh at this degree

Yes, at the higher levels, they will.

@LucyQ Contracts positions are all over the map as far as titles, pay, responsibilities, seniority. What is your desired salary range? Do you expect subordinate employees? What size company (revenue)? Those factors make a difference as to what your experience and credentials should be.

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