Computer Science Degree

Computer Science Degree

Obtaining a computer science degree is the first and most important step toward a career in the exciting fields of software design, web development, artificial intelligence or many other computer-based industries.

Here, we’ll outline the three basic types of computer science degrees, as well as give you a general idea of the work required for each. We’ll also review some potential career choices after obtaining each type of degree, and we’ll touch on which type of degree suits your needs and aspirations.

Associate’s Degree

Computer Science Degree

An Associate’s computer science degree is also commonly called a two-year degree, although these degrees can often be earned in as little as eighteen months. An Associate’s Degree is the lowest level of education in the world of computer science and is used primarily as a stepping stone before going on to pursue a higher degree. Many students earn their Associate’s Degree, obtain entry-level work using that degree, and work while furthering their education to the Bachelor’s or Master’s level.

An Associate’s Computer Science Degree has different requirements at every school. However, there are some generalizations you can count on at most institutions, whether they are vocational schools, public colleges or private universities.

Two years is the typical amount of time required to earn an Associate’s Degree. This can be shortened by taking more classes at the same time, and it can also stretch beyond two years if you take time off. The following are common requirements for an Associate’s Computer Science Degree:

  • Introduction to Computer Science
  • Web Fundamentals
  • Pre-Calculus
  • Database Design
  • Basic Programming
  • Network Fundamentals
  • Analysis and Design
  • Language of Programming

Keep in mind that these courses have slightly different names at different schools. You will also be required to complete a basic group of general requirements, which typically includes basic science, math, arts, humanities and English courses.

Bachelor’s Degree

The next step up from an Associate’s Degree, a computer science degree at the Bachelor’s level typically takes four years to complete. Credits earned in an Associate’s program often transfer and count toward your Bachelor’s Degree. A typical course load is twelve credits, but many students speed up their graduation by taking on more courses per semester.

The same basic general requirements remain the same, although they may be at a higher level. Expect a heavier emphasis on math courses such as calculus and algebra. Speech courses and humanities are sometimes emphasized as well, to ensure a well-rounded education. The following are common core subjects for a Bachelor’s Computer Science Degree:

  • Technical Communication
  • Software Architecture
  • Network Systems Security
  • Data Structures and Algorithms
  • Operating Systems
  • Computer Organization
  • Computer Languages
  • Database Management
  • Human Computer Interaction

These subjects will include, in most cases, multiple classes. You will also be required to complete a capstone course, which usually involves some type of major project demonstrating your learned knowledge. Capstone courses are typically the last courses taken prior to graduation. In addition, many schools require a few additional credits or units of electives (typically between four and six). Your school may allow you to choose any elective, or they may require that you choose from within the computer-based fields.

Master’s Degrees and Doctorates

Once you’ve completed your course work and earned your Bachelors of Computer Science Degree, you can move on and begin studying for your Master’s degree. You may also choose to obtain a Ph. D., also known as a Doctoral or Doctorate Degree. Your chosen field and its particular requirements usually determine whether a Doctorate or a Master’s degree is right for you. In general, a Master’s degree takes approximately two to five years to earn, while a Ph. D typically demands four to eight years. If you aspire to teach at the college level in your chosen field, a Ph. D is often required.

Studying at the Master’s and Doctoral levels is a much more individualized experience than obtaining an undergraduate degree. To a much higher extent, you will choose your own learning experiences, and have an opportunity to truly fine-tune your knowledge. Most Master’s and Doctoral programs involve at least one year of independent study, culminating in a dissertation which encompasses your overall learned knowledge and findings.

Since they are so personalized, it can be difficult to pinpoint the classes you will be taking in order to earn your Master’s or Doctoral Computer Science Degree. A few generally approved fields include Vision and Robotics, Databases, Graphics and Visualization, Artificial Intelligence and Real-World Computing.

Keep in mind that this is only a small portion of the potential Master’s Degree focuses available to you. Any Master’s or Doctoral Degree program is planned and approved with and by a student’s advisor. Your advisor will be able to suggest applicable classes and projects, as well as help you set up a time-line and assist in outlining your dissertation.

Careers and Benefits for Computer Science Degree Graduates

Computer science is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world today, and so any computer science degree is valuable. However, if you want to maximize your earnings and advancement potential, a higher degree is certainly better.

At the Associate’s level, you can expect to find work as a database administrator, an IT specialist, a computer or systems network administrator, or possibly even a software engineer. Keep in mind that the positions open to you with an Associate’s Degree are likely to be entry-level positions. It can take years to work your way up within a company with this type of degree, and many companies officially require higher degrees for advancement.

As you move up through the levels of education, more employment opportunities become available to you. At the Master’s and Doctoral levels, you are qualified for top positions at many companies, and entry-level positions at some of the largest and most prestigious companies in the world.

While any level of education is commendable, the world of computer science is booming right now, and that boom means a large number of qualified applicants flooding each job opening.

Education and experience are the keys to setting yourself apart from the pack. Since you need education to gain experience, it makes good sense to attain the highest level of academic achievement which is financially available to you.

And don’t forget about tuition assistance; for most students, there is a way to obtain financing for any level of degree. A computer science degree can take you to amazing places in today’s fast-paced world of technology, and the higher your degree, the more doors will open to you.

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