Nancy Cheng: Validating the Value of a Stanford Degree

Master's Degree, Electrical Engineering

"I always knew that I wanted to get a master's degree," says Nancy Cheng, Senior Validation Engineer at Intel, "and I wanted to have solid work experience before I began any program. When I started work on my master's at Stanford, it was easy to see how what I learned in the classroom would translate into the real world."

"My degree gives me more than textbook knowledge; a Stanford degree teaches you a lot about time management, which is an invaluable skill."

  • Senior Validation Engineer, Intel
  • MS Electrical Engineering, Stanford University Honors Cooperative Program
  • BS Electrical Engineering, University of Texas, Austin
  • Interests: Dancing and watching TV

Cheng heard about the Honors Cooperative Program through colleagues and was excited by the idea of being able to earn her degree from Stanford on a part-time basis and completely at a distance. "After I found out about the program, I started auditing a couple of courses to see what they were like and to get a feel for online learning," Cheng explains, "That was enough to get me interested and soon after I began to take courses as a Non Degree Option student." The Non Degree Option allows students to take Stanford graduate courses and earn credit, without being formally admitted into a degree program. "It was a perfect option for me because it gave me time to prepare for my GRE while still earning credit and taking classes."

Cheng joined Intel over nine years ago as an intern. "It's actually a funny story how I ended up working for Intel," Cheng muses. "I entered my resume in a contest hosted by Intel to win a computer. I didn't think anything of it, but I heard back from Intel shortly thereafter and decided to take the internship they offered." Cheng was soon hired on a full-time employee, "I was thrilled to find out that Intel offered tuition reimbursement and would support my decision to go back to school part-time."

The knowledge Cheng gained at Stanford quickly impacted her work at Intel, "My favorite course was logic design because it was very different from what I was used to doing in my job," Cheng says, "It made my work as a circuit engineer easier and taught me how to communicate better with the people on my team who were doing logic design. It helped me think outside of my own roles and responsibilities."

When asked about how she balanced work, school, and a social life, Cheng explains, "The best part of the program was the convenience. I never would have been able to finish if it wasn't for the online option. There was a lot of balancing I had to do between work and school and I definitely gave up sleep."