Multiple Degrees, Same School: Bad?

by Judge Josh on December 7, 2010

Jennifer’s heard the chatter about getting your degrees from different schools, if you’re getting more than one. Is it worth listening to?

I usually have a lot of input, but figured I would poll the troops.

I am finally graduating with my Associates in Business from American Military University with honors – WOOHOO. It looks like I will have a 3.8 graduating GPA providing the last two classes go as well as all the others.

multiple-degrees-same-school

I couldn't find an appropriate image for today's post, so please enjoy this photo of Kevin Federline representing the west side of...something.

Woohoo indeed! You get the double 1980s heavy-metal horns, which is the highest honor you can receive around here. \m/ \m/

With my hectic work related travel schedule and being the 40 something returning student,

Pshaw…there’s no way you’re over 39. NO WAY. :)

On-Line is the only way to go for me. 75% of my degree has been earned in various hotel rooms around the globe while juggling constant jet lag.

That’s pretty impressive. The only thing I ever accomplish in various hotel rooms around the globe is insomnia from watching “American Greed” on CNBC and weird European music videos on MTV Deutschland.

At the end of my education, I am looking to entrench myself in supply chain logistics/operations management.

I’m quite certain that’s a super-heavy growth field, so it sounds like you’re on a smart track. Can you promise me you’ll never sing that awful UPS “That’s Logistics!” song to the tune of “That’s Amore!” I thank you in advance. :)

Here’s the question…. Should I continue with the same school for my Bachelor’s or attend another school. Which will look best on a resume?

There is absolutely no big deal whatsoever about getting a bachelor’s from the same school you got an associate’s degree from. None. I mean, unless it’s some diploma meal, non-legit school to begin with.


You’re probably thinking of the argument that many people make which states you shouldn’t get your graduate degree from the same school you get your undergrad degree from. More on that in sec.

My current school offers a solid program in Transportation/Logistics and will accept some of my military acheivements, courses, and recognitions for college credit. This shortens the length of the continuing program as well as cost.

I like the sound of that.

Not all schools recognize military courses. Cost is very low at $250 per credit and all books are included. Another plus is that I can utilize Elective Credits to earn Certification for Homeland Security.

I see this added certification as a plus for any major Logistics Firm, shipping/receiving docks, airport terminals, etc. It would just fill out the resume along with my prior experience.

Yeah, I’m with you there.

Other schools have similar degrees in Operations Management that covers essentially the same core courses. I can easily choose similar electives, but they do not seem to offer this type of certification unless you take the certification program for a separate fee. Other schools have quoted from $400 – $580 a credit, books not included.

My first inclination is to stay with the school I received my associates because it makes financial sense. The school bent over backwards getting my a syllabus/materials in advance when I knew I would get slammed on the job so I could get a jump on the reading assignments.

Yeah, again — no worries whatsoever on doing the same school for an associate’s and a bachelor’s. None.

My only hesitation is how having two degrees from the same institution will look from the employers perspective. If I was looking at a resume, I would be scratching my head.

Eh, I disagree. Employers see a lot of strange stuff, and believe me, two degrees from the same institution doesn’t even crack the top 100.

But even that makes it seem like it’s a little strange, when really it’s not. Completely natural to follow up an associate’s with a bachelor’s from the same place.

Now let’s confuse this a little more … Between finishing up the Associates and starting the Bachelors I am knocking off my Six Sigma Green in a crash course 8 week program.

I have no idea what that is, but it sounds involved. (See, people, I could’ve just Googled it and bullshitted everyone and said, “oh yeah, excellent choice, Six Sigma Green, I personally endorse that,” yada yada. No college-advice columnist even comes close in admitting their shortcomings than yours truly!)

I can easily do this in the spring when I will not be traveling for work. I looked at Villanova’s program, but have heard really bad things about the company that administers the on-line training. Drexel actually dropped the company for tarnishing their reputation by not enrolling students in classes. So now I have concern with Villanova’s program because of the affiliation with this third party vendor.

OK — now I Googled it, and realize you’re talking about getting your Green Belt certification in Six Sigma. I’m not sure where you’re actually doing the 8-week program, but I’m guessing it’s Villanova, then?

Either way — I don’t know, I’m a risk taker, and I tend to think that when a company gets a public flogging and then lives through it, then you’re probably gonna be fine in the immediate aftermath of that flogging, since they’re probably minding their P’s and Q’s more carefully than ever before.

Now, this isn’t always sound logic — wouldn’t have helped you with Enron or WorldCom, for instance — but it works for me, usually, and I stick with it. So if it were me, I’d probably assume that the testing company is walking the line after getting dropped by Drexel and, I assume, losing a pretty big contract.

Would the Villanova name have more of an impact than say Apex Business School?

I’m not familiar with the Apex Business School. That doesn’t mean it’s no good, of course — it just means that I am familiar with a couple thousand schools at least, and this is not one of them.

Villanova is definitely one I’m familiar with, so yes, it may have a greater impact. However, you have to ask yourself whether the increased cost of a private school’s education is commensurate with that increased impact.

I can’t take the program through an institution where you need to present a “real project”. My employer is supportive of the education but will not assign the required project because of the classified nature of work I do. Talk about a catch-22. My only alternative is to take the certification that does not require the formal project, or allows a “dummy project” to be used.

Well, that’s a Catch-22 all right. Will either school let you use a dummy project? Obviously this will be a determining factor in which program you choose. Of course, it doesn’t sound like it’s required that you get the green belt certification now (or at all, although of course I see the employability appeal of it).

Back to the subject at hand, though — no, don’t worry at all about getting those two degrees from the same place. There’s a school of thought, as I mentioned earlier, that says you should go someplace different for your grad degree, so that you can grow intellectually by being exposed to a different set of people, ideas, communities, etc.

I’m not much on that theory, really. I understand its appeal, but its appeal exists in a vaccum. If you have unlimited time and money and no family responsibilities, then sure, knock yourself out. Trot the globe for your master’s, and then go to a third school for your doctorate.

It’s more for academic types than for people who want a job in the private sector. Private-sector employers care much more about your ability to do the job than how many differing environments you were exposed to while acquiring that ability.

And as I alluded to before, it’s not realistic or cost-effective for a lot of people to just pack up and move to a completely different place for a master’s degree — especially when a perfectly solid solution exists at their current school.

If you stay in the same place for a bachelor’s and a master’s, will it keep you from getting a job? In the private sector — not a chance. In academia — no, no chance there, either. You may get passed over some places, sure — those that really insist on the separate schools thing — but not everywhere.

Like everything else, you just have to weight it against your current circumstances and resources. But no, having multiple degrees from the same institution is absolutely NOT going to kill your chances of getting a job.

— Readers…any thoughts? Is it poison to get your grad and undergrad degrees from the same place? Is it an overrated issue? Let us know in the comments below.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous December 7, 2010 at 6:08 pm

Coming from someone who is interested in an academic/research career: I earned my Bachelor’s at a different uni than I am currently attending for a clinical doctorate. Once complete, I am staying at this same uni for a PhD. My decision was based on the adviser and the opportunities available in his lab more-so than anything.

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pam g December 7, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Associate Degrees are just the first two years of a Bachelor’s Degree….the only difference is that you get a piece of paper saying you went to the first two years of college, while people getting their bachelor’s don’t get that. I’ve never understood the “associate’s degree”, really. Unless it’s for a trade…..like nursing. I have both an associate degree (in nursing), and two bachelor degrees.

I don’t anyone cares much about where the degrees came from…just that you got them. (not including the “diploma meal, non-legit school” that Josh mentioned).

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Gail Amalfitano December 7, 2010 at 9:05 pm

I agree Pam. Associates is just the first 2 years of your BS or BA. Most people actually do complete those two degrees at the same place. I have heard people talk about doing their graduate degree elsewhere but Never the AA and BS/BA degrees at different schools.

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NA December 9, 2010 at 12:26 am

People do not necessarily complete their associate’s degree and their bachelor’s degree at the same school. Consider people that complete their first two years at a community college and then transfer to a four-year university to complete their bachelor’s degree. In most, if not all situations, the programs at community college last only up until two years, assuming that the program is completed in the typical way.

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Emmanuel December 8, 2010 at 7:35 am

I have a BS from one university and a MS from another university just because the first uni did not have the program I wanted to take. It would have been advantageous to continue in the same uni because some electives courses would have been carried over and save some money.

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grinwithin December 8, 2010 at 8:39 am

It’s me – Jennifer thanking you all for the input. I do appreciate it.

Promise, no songs – I am a writer not a singer … When I am not in school, I spend the jetlag hours freelancing for a music rag reviewing up and coming bands (Dig This Real) in fact a bunch of zine folks are coming with me on a “graduation cruise to Mexico. The zine family is awesome and always something to do while on the road when I have time. I am grateful they gave me an open door to come back whenever time allows.

I bet I could track one of the better bands out there … to rewrite that song… How about a new take on Rush’s Working Man – Logistics Woman? 😀

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Amy December 8, 2010 at 9:27 am

The associates Degree can get you more scholarships if you transfer schools, especially if it is within the states – a lot of states have agreements that they will accept more credits from in-state accredited schools than from out of state ones. I completed my Associates first, and got a Letter of recognition from one school, transferred, received my Bachelor’s and will be obtaining my Master’s from this school as well. In doing this, since I stayed in state, and my two schools had a prior agreement, 75 of my 92 credits transferred. Then I got permission for 9 additional credits to be allowed as the equivalent of 2 more classes, and they gave me a 2/3 scholarship. Also, because I had a college degree at that time, I automatically got paid more than my peers who completed the same amount of classes but did not get their Associates. It also means you had a well-rounded first 2 years, as opposed to all of the easy classes, or all bunch of your major’s classes, but no, say, religion or psychology.

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Corri December 8, 2010 at 12:28 pm

I honestly have never even heard that you shouldn’t get more than one degree from a single school. And I’ll be honest, I think that boils down to how you like the school over all. I’ve jumped schools a few times, only staying a year at each one until I finally found one that I adore. This school I will be staying to get my BA and my Masters, because this school is a very comfortable fit for me and I can handle it with my budget.

So, what you really want to think about rather than what it looks like, is if you think you can learn the most you can from the school you’re going to, stick with it. I mean why not? If you enjoy the teachers and learn a lot from them and it’s good for your budget I don’t see why you shouldn’t stay with it until you’re done with your programs.

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Jane December 8, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Hey,

I also do classified work for the government, and I have some suggestions for you, if you are willing to listen. Do your bachelors degree at the same place you are at now, and get the best grades you possibly can. Talk to your employer, and see if you can get lined up to go to the war college (there is one for each branch of the military and they are open to civilians and retired military as well). War colleges generally offer masters degrees in international studies, terrorism prevention, diplomacy, etc.

The hard part is getting in, and once you are in they bend over backwards to keep you. Having a degree from them will instantly put you in management position in any governmental agency; and will make you extremely employable in any non-governmental organization.

Good luck!

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grinwithin December 8, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Jane – Thanks so much.

I like your thinking on War College. I am heading out tomorrow morning to DC for the Military Ball. The Col. I work with (and have become friends with) invited me to sit at her table. This is really high profile even with so many stars your head would spin.. but a great way to start lobbying for a civilian spot in War College.

It is definitely a route to investigate and one I never considered. Thanks again for the info.

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Cori K. December 9, 2010 at 4:05 am

Honestly, for grad schools, you take what you can get in this climate, and sometimes that means applying to the same school or one close by. The spots are hard to come by, funding is even worse, and if your school has a solid program you can get into, stay put! Apply elsewhere too, but be willing to apply where you are, too.

I did my BA and MA in the same place, and it was fantastic–the faculty there had seen my research skills develop, and they supported it. I think I achieved more being in the same place and having some consistency. I’m now in a PhD program and am very grateful for the preparation I got before I arrived here.

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Amanda January 3, 2011 at 10:24 am

I’m working on a BS in two subfields of Information Systems, but before that I was going to a community college for teaching so I currently hold 2 AA’s for that along with the 2 AS’s for my Information Systems, all four were obtained at the same community college just because it allowed me to experiment and learn without the high cost of a university before I decided what I really wanted to do. I think that I saved myself time, energy, and money this way. This post makes me feel better about my decision because I was wondering if I had made the right choice by doing this, looks like I did!

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greg February 13, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Are there colleges that give credit for experience,that are non traditional .

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Just a reader February 13, 2011 at 3:49 pm

As a person that looks at lot’s or resume’s, my eyebrows go up when I see gaps in the resume. If you are continuing that would be a plus. Also back in the day when I studied for my masters and was my day job as the basis for my paper I worked w/ my security officer and adviser to change the values that made the project classiefed but still present the theory behind the work. Good Luck you should do well!

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