Computer scientists are behind the scenes for all types of technology. Earning a degree in computer science can lead you down a path of creating and designing new technology and tools and being a problem solver. If you want to be part of a community who plays a role in advancing technology further, a career in computer science could be for you.
What Computer Science Degrees are Available?
- Associate's degree: Students learn the basics of computer programming. Instruction is given on the intricacies of hardware and software, data structures and programming. Many of these programs are intended to prepare students for a four-year college or university to earn a bachelor's in computer science.
- Bachelor's degree: The fundamentals of computer science are covered in a 4-year program. Students learn about software engineering, how to design and implement computer applications and developing and programming websites. Areas of mathematics, such as discrete math structures and calculus, are usually covered in these programs as well. Aspiring computer scientists should find no shortage of computer schools offering bachelor's degrees as many small and large colleges and universities have a computer science program.
- Master's degree: By this point in the education path, students will choose a specific concentration to focus on. Examples of specializations include network systems, computer security, artificial intelligence and computer architecture. Some programs will also include research opportunities.
- PhD: Doctorate programs tend to be small in size and focus on research. Course work and requirements differ by school, but typically students will be exposed to topics such as algorithms, advanced software engineering and computer graphics. A PhD in computer science culminates with a dissertation in an original area of research.
Despite technology being an ever-present aspect of daily life, computer science graduates are not overflowing out of colleges and universities. Because of this shortage, aspiring computer scientists will have their pick from a number of jobs across all areas of technology.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17, jobs for computer and information research scientists are expected to grow 11 percent through 2024, which is faster than average for all occupations. If you earn a PhD in computer science, you'll likely be in high demand by employers. PhD graduates tend to be few and far between making them hot commodities to businesses.
Before enrolling in computer school, consider if you're a good fit. Computer scientists are complex problem-solvers, critical thinkers, decision makers and of course, have a love for computers. You'll also want to think about the time, money and effort you'll need to invest in a lengthy educational path.