How to Get a Degree in Computer Science

by Nancy

Computers are in almost every area of our lives. Computer science is a growing field that offers many career options from programming and software development to computer and information systems management and more. Earning a computer science degree not only opens doors to individuals interested in this field but also is the first path towards success in this constantly-growing area. Learn what it takes to get a degree in computer science.

1. Choosing a Degree

Most colleges and universities offer computer science in both the bachelor and master degree levels. Regardless of the degree level, students complete courses in logic and programming languages, mathematics and network security. The bachelor degree program takes four years to complete while a master degree requires a couple more years of education. The curriculum, which combines theory and practice, teaches students the basics of computer science while helping them develop analytical and practical skills necessary to solve current problems and recognize new ones. Many programs are offered through distance.

2. Prerequisites

Even at the bachelor degree level, students need to complete several general education courses. These are necessary so students have a broad knowledge of the various areas of computer science. It also helps them prepare for the different areas of specialization from which they may choose. The prerequisite courses may be completed prior to enrollment, but are typically taken during the first year of the undergraduate degree programs. Typical prerequisite courses in this program may include:

  • Calculus
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Linear algebra

3. Core courses

In addition to the prerequisite courses, students also must complete many core courses. In fact, the bulk of the program consists of core courses. The type of core courses the student takes have a lot to do with the area of computer science they may have chosen for their career. The more success the student has in completing the core courses, the better prepared the student will be for a career in this field. The core cores provide an introduction into computer science while also preparing them for specialized tracks. Core courses may include systems programming languages, algorithms, data structures, operating systems and networking, among others.

4. Choosing a Track

When the student has the core course completed, he or she can choose a specialized track in the computer science field. Upon doing this, the student takes upper level elective courses based on the area of interest. While the core courses are completed in the beginning of the program, the upper level courses are completed during the last year or two. Some examples of core course options are computer graphics, artificial intelligence or robotics.

5. Practical Experience

During the final semester of the program, the student gets to put to use what was learned in the classroom by displaying his or her practical skills. For instance, an aspiring computer programmer will write a program to complete the practical education portion, or a potential software developer may design a software program. Students may be required to complete an internship during the final semester of the program.

6. Finding a career path

Computer science graduates have many career options available to them upon graduation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that computer and information systems managers should see employment growth of 12 percent between 2016 and 2026 while software developers could expect a 24 percent job growth. These are just two of the many career options in this field. Below are just a few of the career options open to graduates.

  • Information systems manager
  • Business analyst
  • Computer scientist
  • Computer programmer
  • Application analyst
  • Database administrator
  • Games developer
  • IT consultant
  • Network and computer systems administrators
  • Software developer