From algorithms to infrastructure design, computer science is all about creative problem-solving in the Information Age.
Computer science is no more about computers than biology is about microscopes, astronomy is about telescopes, or art is about paintbrushes. Computers are the tools of the trade, but the discipline is essentially concerned with information: how it’s represented, stored, manipulated and presented.
Computer scientists tackle problems by designing solutions and verifying that they’re effective. They might create the algorithms that underlie sophisticated computations. Or, they might build the hardware and infrastructure systems upon which most commercial and government enterprises rely. Still other computer scientists take the path of software design, database administration or game development.
Like other scientific fields, computer science demands a rigorous and methodical approach, including invention of new algorithms and paradigms, design that solves computational problems, and analysis and experimentation of new theories, software and products.
Do you have a passion for problem-solving? Like to crack codes and unscramble puzzles? This degree has your name all over it. Whether you’re just starting on the educational journey or upgrading your skills, the world needs more analytical, creative minds as we fast-forward into the Information Age.
Check out the top traits that make for a successful student of computer science:
Use mathematical reasoning and logical rigor to approach problems and seek solutions.
Generate new ideas and model complex problems through the use of abstractions.
Juggle hypotheses in your head to generate new answers to tough questions.
Recognize patterns and piece out clues to uncover elegant solutions to difficult problems.
Describe problems and solutions to colleagues who didn’t study computing.
A growing number of colleges and universities offer computer science degrees in both traditional campus settings and online. Ideal for working adults, the virtual approach yields degrees at every level—including associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and certificate programs. Forget commuting hassles and relocation costs. You’ll study at the time that’s most convenient for you while you keep your work and family commitments.
Are online computer science degrees legit? In a word, yes—if you study in an accredited program. An accredited college is one that has received an outside stamp of approval from an agency that verifies it meets standards for quality.
Check for these types of accreditation: regional (the gold standard for all U.S. colleges and universities), or a nod from the Distance Education TC or Accreditation Board for Engineering Technology. Beware: Some shady operators will create their own, fake accreditation agencies to dupe unsuspecting students. If a school claims accreditation by an agency other than the ones above, make sure it’s recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Only students at accredited schools are eligible for financial aid.
An online degree in computer science is exactly the same as its brick-and-mortar counterpart. The course content is the same, and the same faculty often teach both in-person and online classes. The online work is just as rigorous as the traditional degree path—and can be even more difficult, considering that you won’t have the built-in accountability of face-time with your professor each week.
When you pursue a distance degree or certificate, you’ll log in to listen to lectures (either independently or at scheduled times), watch videos, download materials and interact with the instructor and other students. Many instructors hold set office hours in which you can check in on your progress and share questions or concerns about the materials.
Your degree or certificate in computer science won’t list the fact that it was earned online. Potential employers are primarily concerned about your mastery of the material—not the delivery method.
Just starting out? A certificate can show a potential employer that you’re serious about earning the skills you need to get the job done. Paired with an existing degree, a certificate in desktop support could open the door to a position on an IT team. A certificate in multimedia development might lead to a role as a web designer.
Technology is a notoriously fast-moving field. If you’ve already chalked up solid experience in a computer-related discipline, a certificate can help you move forward in your career. Taking the extra step to earn a certificate demonstrates your commitment to keeping up with this dynamic arena. By adding to skills to your quiver, you’re showing your employer that you mean business.
A computer science degree opens up almost limitless career possibilities. From the high tech enclaves of Silicon Valley to the retail pet store around the corner, computer-savvy pros are active in practically every industry. Whether they’re designing retail search engines or pursuing a cure for cancer, computer scientists are on the cutting edge of change in business, education, medicine, entertainment and other diverse fields.
Whichever of the myriad career paths you pursue in computing, the job prospects tend to be positive.
Computer science graduates tend to enjoy great earning power. Here’s how the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook estimates the annual median pay for the following professions:
Computer network architect: $98,430
Computer programmers: $77,550
Software developers: $97,990
Network and computer systems administrators: $75,790
Web developers: $63,490
A degree in computer science opens up a staggering array of career possibilities, from software development to cybersecurity, database administration to game development. Computing is fundamental to almost every industry and professional pursuit, whether you aim to launch a satellite into orbit, or develop and code an award-winning website.
Computers have only been around since the late 1940s. The computer science field is young and dynamic; now is an exciting time to study because so many unsolved problems remain. Some observers speculate that we’re living in the golden age of computing.
Highly-focused classes give you the game development education you need to excel in a short amount of time.
Designed for working adults who want to begin a cybersecurity career or want to add to their existing skills, certificates offer a quick way to learn about the field.
Due to the complicated topics and advanced skill set needed for cybersecurity careers, the most common type of certificate is at a graduate level. For those looking to enhance their existing credentials, a certificate program gives you the specialized courses you need. If you’re considering earning a master’s degree in the future, a certificate in cybersecurity offers you an introduction into the field. Many schools allow you to use credits from a certificate program toward a graduate-level degree.
Tacking on a cybersecurity graduate certificate to your existing degree can help you move into information security analyst roles. It also equips you with the skills to lead a cybersecurity team. While financial institutions and government agencies employ information security analysts, many actually work for computer systems design companies.
Some cybersecurity professionals also specialize in certain areas, such as homeland security or policy, making their career path more defined.
These short programs usually includes courses such as ethical hacking, cryptology and network security, enterprise and cloud cybersecurity policy and white collar crime.
Build a foundation for a cybersecurity career with studies in network security or information assurance.
Associate’s degrees are designed to take approximately two years, however, online programs may allow you to finish sooner.
Few schools offer an associate’s degree in cybersecurity, but you can find programs in related fields that can be used as a stepping stone. Network security courses will teach you how to install firewalls and build secure networks for all types of organizations.
Most cybersecurity jobs require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, however, with an associate’s degree you’ll be qualified to work in a related field. Look for entry-level positions in network security or as a computer support specialist to build your experience. Because your education focused on cybersecurity, you’ll bring a unique perspective to the job. It’s a great opportunity to hardwire your skills and pursue further education in the future.
Some of the courses you may find in an associate’s degree program include cyber defense, system assurance security and organizational security.
The material in your associate’s degree courses will also prepare you to take industry certification exams.
With practical coursework at the forefront of the curriculum, a bachelor’s degree gives you a well-rounded education to fight online criminals.
Bachelor’s degrees take about four years to complete, however, some schools offer an accelerated pace.
Programs tend to use a multidisciplinary approach as you’ll need to be well-versed in topics related to law, technology, business and government. With an emphasis on critical thinking, and problem solving, students learn about the basics, such as installing software, as well as more advanced areas of the field like security principles.
With a comprehensive education under your belt, a bachelor’s degree prepares you for roles as a cyber security software engineer, information systems security administrator or information security analyst.
Courses for an undergraduate degree may include such topics as fundamentals of Information Technology, cybersecurity in business and government organizations, and human factors in cybersecurity.
A bachelor’s degree can help prepare you for industry certification exams, such as CISCO and CompTIA, which may be required for your job.
Secure your future with graduate-level study. Designed for professionals who are at a crossroads in their technology career.
Master’s degrees take about two years to complete if you attend full-time.
Prevention and detection are always the goal, but a cybersecurity professional with advanced skills can efficiently address problems if and when they do arise.
With a master’s degree, you’ll be able to oversee a team of information security analysts or head up risk management initiatives. Interested in teaching others what you know? Cybersecurity professionals often work as instructors at colleges and universities, especially as this field continues to grow.
A solid understanding of computer hardware and software is necessary before enrolling in a master’s program.
You’ll study many topics, including secure software engineering, cryptography and coding, intrusion detection and prevention and cyber crime investigation.
STEM education teaches students that science, technology, engineering and math are necessary in all aspects of our lives.
The computer information systems—or CIS—degree covers a broad range of practical applications.
People who are keen on logic and math are good candidates for a software engineering degree.
From icons to animation, a web developer is a digital visionary who plans and designs everything you see on a website.
Working closely with software developers, programmers translate designs into detailed computer code.
With billions of people relying on software apps, the demand for talented developers is exploding.
Networking is one of the innovations that enabled the technological revolution. These days every company relies upon it.
Every enterprise needs a team of technology wizards to help it run smoothly.
Hackers target databases to steal sensitive information. If you’re up for a challenge, cybersecurity might be a great fit.
Companies know data is power, and to stay competitive in the marketplace, companies are collecting more data than ever before.
Innovation. You’ll hear this term often if you pursue a master’s degree in technology management.
If you want to hone your computer skills and join a fast-growing field, an online computer programming degree could be the answer.
Network security is an important consideration if you build and maintain an organization’s computer networking infrastructure.
Cybersecurity is a vital and growing field. As our reliance on electronic databases expands, so does our need for heightened security.
Software developers are the creative minds that develop computer applications or the systems that run computers and networks.
Two things you can bet on as computer repair technician: Every day will be different and you’ll never get bored on the job.
Information security is more vital than ever since we store so much of our important data electronically.
Websites are created by a web developer who is fluent in coding and computer programming languages.
When you join the IT world, you’ll be entering an in-demand profession with one of the highest entry-level salaries awarded.
If you enjoy a broad range of tasks that relate to business and technology, you may find information systems to be a satisfying field.
Technology’s speedy evolution has a lot to do with one group of people: Innovative software engineers.
From testing to configuration to updating, software engineering encompasses many disciplines.
From Atari to Xbox, the world of video game design has seen a dramatic evolution over the years.
Because online security is more important than ever, there is a growing demand for people skilled in the area of cybersecurity.
Computer networks are a basic part of nearly every business and are becoming prevalent in residences where people work from home.
MIS is an area of technology that marries management and information technology.
An information systems master’s delves deeper into technological issues facing modern business.
Earning a master’s degree in IT can enhance the career of any tech-minded professional. Here’s what you need to know.
Database administrators are currently in high demand. Here are the basics you’ll need to learn how to become a one.
There are different programs for database management and it is important to weigh each one against your personal career goals.
If you’ve been working in IT and want to advance your career, a cybersecurity master’s degree can be the gateway to a new path.
Computer information systems majors keep companies running and people in contact. Here’s what you need to know about CIS.
Have an aptitude for math and puzzles? Attending a computer technician school could propel you to the next phase of your career.
As a computer forensics expert, you’ll gather computer data evidence as part of a criminal investigation.
Program outcomes vary according to each institution's specific curriculum and employment opportunities are not guaranteed.
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