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Do you really need a degree in Computer Science to get hired by a big software company?

Answer by Amir Memon:

No, but it REALLY REALLY helps.

When I see two resumes, one with a CS degree, and one without, I strongly favor the one with the CS degree. Generally, here’s how I rank specifically the education sections of resumes:

  1. By degree type. CS preferred, a degree in Software Engineering is just as good. EE or EECS a close second, but I really value strong OO Design skills, that the low level guys often trivialize.
  2. The country in which they got their degree. Preference order: US/Canada/Europe. It is common for somebody to get their undergrad CS degree in India, then come to the US and get a masters, jsut to have a US CS degree on record. This is great, and works for me.
  3. School reputation. I consider all the top US news top 100 to be in the same boat. The top 5, especially Stanford, will get extra brownie points with me. As for the other 95 in that top 100, I’ll consider them equivalent, and let them differentiate themselves in other ways (like experience, “cultural fit”, etc).
  4. Degree level. Very often the best candidates are those with just a bachelors degree — they were hot stuff out of college so landed a great career, and kept landing more without ever needing to get a masters+. That being said, a masters is great too, of course.
  5. Certifications. These help only if they’re directly applicable.

If they don’t have a CS degree, but have one in like Art, I’ll drill them harder to make sure they can code well. Again, I like to focus on OO Design.

Sometimes you find a guy that dropped out of his bachelors degree program because there were just amazing opportunities for him in the industry (like at Facebook), I’ll certainly give a guy like that “credit” for having a degree in my mind. I will, however, drill him hard on experience and cultural fit. Guys like this can have a problem with completing stuff… it really depends, so I need to screen for that.

I’m assuming you are talking about getting hired as a software engineer.
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