What is a Computer Science Degree?

Computer science is one of the most highly desired fields to enter and thus one of the most popular college majors. Obtaining a degree in the field allows for ample job opportunities and generous salaries. In the ever-increasing competitive job market, having a degree in computer science makes one very marketable.

The field of computer science is based on understanding how computer programs work. Computer scientists understand the basics of computer software, hardware, and networks. They use advanced mathematics to create new ways of using information. Computer scientists mainly work with the computer’s operating system and software. They understand and regularly use computer code. Depending on a computer scientist’s specific job title, they can perform tasks such as designing computer software, creating web page content, installing a network system, setting up proper electronic security to protect information or analyzing website functions to enhance performance. Computer science degree programs equip students to adequately perform these various tasks.

A bachelor’s degree in computer science usually requires around 120 credit hours that are completed in about four years of full-time study. However, a student can complete the degree faster by taking additional credit hours or slower, if desired, by taking fewer credit hours. Computer science degree courses teach students the basics regarding the various programming languages such as Python, Java, HTML, and C++. Students will also take several mathematics courses that can include linear algebra, calculus, discrete mathematics, differential calculus, statistics, and probability theory. Additionally, students will take courses about software design and development, algorithms, computer architecture, and data structures.

Online computer science degree programs are also becoming very popular. Due to its lack of in-person requirements that many majors require, such as the many lab sessions required for chemistry majors, computer science is one of the top online degree programs by enrollment. Many programs have the same rigorous requirements as in-person programs and are also accredited. Depending on the school selected, a program can be fully online or mostly online but require students to be in person for proctored exams. Online computer science programs are very similar to the programs that require in-person attendance. Many view online programs as a viable option. Online programs provide access to education if there are no in-person programs nearby. They also allow for a more comfortable environment as courses are usually completed in the comfort of the student’s home. Often, online courses provide greater flexibility as schedules are usually less rigid and will allow for students to access course material when their schedule allows rather than a set schedule for everyone in the class. Another great advantage of completing an online computer science degree is that there is not a commute. This can save a student time in a day and could be put to greater use for things such as studying. Although online computer science programs have many great aspects, there are a few disadvantages. Often tuition rates can be higher for online degree programs, especially if a school is located in a different state than the student. Students also have to be more disciplined to complete tasks as the schedule is usually very flexible and dependent on the student to essentially create their own schedule.

Many opt to complete a master’s degree. These individuals are usually interested in research or teaching. Most students usually already have about three to five years of professional work experience before beginning a master’s program. A master’s program usually requires about 30-45 credit hours for completion. This equates to about one to two years of full-time study or about three to four years of part-time study. There are full-time and part-time programs with many programs creating class schedules that still allow students to maintain their full-time employment. Master programs involve in-depth study of the field and typically offer a variety of degree specializations such as computer networks, data analytics, security, artificial intelligence, biocomputation, software architecture, and game development. Some schools even offer dual degree programs where the computer science program is paired with another degree such as a master’s in business administration or a master’s in architecture.

Ample job opportunities exist for those with a degree in computer science. Jobs are available in a variety of industries such as financial services, aerospace, healthcare, manufacturing, and government agencies. Jobs for computer scientists usually are housed in an organization’s IT (information technology) department. Computer scientists also can find entrepreneurship opportunities by starting an IT consulting firm or even a software development company that creates apps for video games. A few job titles that a computer science graduate would be eligible for include software application developer, computer systems analyst, software systems developer, network systems administrator, database administrator, and a web developer. These job titles have annual median salaries that range from about $66,000 to about $106,000. Computer science consistently ranks as one of the college majors with the highest starting salaries which are around $71,000 annually.

Computer science degrees offer job options in many different industries. There are a variety of positions to choose from and high salaries that come with the positions. Many find that obtaining a degree in computer science is a wise and satisfying choice.

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