What is computer science and what can you do with a computer science degree?

computer science degree

Key Takeaways:

  • As compared to an associates degree in computer science, a bachelor’s degree in computer science offers better job opportunities, covers more programming languages, and prepares students for graduate studies and professional internships.
  • An associates degree in computer technology is still valuable. It is cost-effective, suitable for exploring the field before committing to a four-year program, and offers basic required courses.
  • Students should assess their skills, motivation, and financial resources honestly to choose between a bachelor’s and associate’s degree program in computer science.
  • Regardless of duration, a computer science program provides valuable skills for starting a career, requiring careful consideration of individual circumstances and goals.

Computer science actively shapes the future. It is literally everywhere you look in our modern world. From the apps on your phone to your video doorbell, computer science is there. Computer science is also a very lucrative field. Those with computer science degrees can expect to earn substantial salaries. Individuals with postgraduate education can see six-digit salaries easily. 

The key to getting into these fields is getting a computer science degree. There are two ways you can do this. The first is going to a traditional four-year college to get a bachelor’s degree in computer science. The other, however, is getting an online computer science degree. There is a lot more to learn and consider, though. 

Featured Programs

We are going to take a good look at computer science degrees. In addition, we will cover AI majors, since AI degrees are becoming incredibly popular. You will learn what they are, how to get one, and what it can do for you. We will look at the various doors they can open. Step by step, you will get the information you need for a fast-paced career.

Your Computer Science Degree

The path to earning your computer science degree is complex. This degree is not just about learning to code. Or learning some networking techniques. At its core, this degree is about using technology to solve complex problems. First, you are going to start with the basics. You will learn about algorithms, how data is structured, and some programming. This will be the foundation of your entire computer science toolkit. You will learn to code efficiently and effectively, but that is just the start. 

Once you cover the basics, you will move into software development. Here is where you will bring concepts and ideas to life. Digital life. You will have small and large projects. You will also typically have to do both solo and group or team projects. This is going to prepare you for eventual, real-world scenarios. You will be challenged, and you will find solutions. This is where you will truly begin to learn computer science. 

While it may deter some, math is going to be an important part of your eventual degree. You will need math to understand algorithms. This means you will study significant amounts of math. This will include statistics, calculus, and discrete math. These branches of math will help build strong analytical skills. Strong analytical skills will make you a good problem solver. 

Computer science coursework will also cover important database and networking knowledge. You will learn how data is stored, protected, and retrieved. You will learn the various ways computers connect and communicate. This is going to be critically important since we are constantly becoming more interconnected.

Your degree will also cover ethics in technology. This is a growing focus and includes discussions of privacy, security, and the social impact of technology. These discussions will be important to your development as a technologist, helping to shape how you think about problems. 

With AI being such a new and exciting field, your degree will undoubtedly touch on it. You may explore neural networks, machine learning, and the challenges of robotics. 

Finally, your degree will teach you critical thinking and creativity. You will learn to approach problems methodically. But you will also learn how to implement more creativity and think outside the box.

Undergraduate Computer Science Opportunities

If you obtain a computer science degree, countless industries open their doors to you. Tech is obviously one of the most common choices. Entering the tech sector you could easily find work as a software developer. You would build applications and systems. It is a job that combines creative problem-solving with technical skills. Another common entry-level job is a web developer. You would create elegant websites that normal templates simply cannot provide. 

The finance sector is another space where computer science majors can flex their value. Financial systems need systems analysts. System analysts analyze and improve computer systems used by banks and other financial entities. A similar analyst job in the same space is a data analyst. Here you would interpret data to help companies make more informed business decisions. 

Healthcare is incredibly tech-driven, and computer science majors can find plenty of work. Entry-level positions include health information technician. In this job, you would manage patient data and help keep it secure. You might also find work as a software engineer for medical devices. These devices use software that must be developed specifically for the unique function of the device. 

Gaming is a booming field for computer science graduates. Game developers are in high demand. As a game designer, you would design and code video games. This is a great position for someone with technical skill and artistic vision.

No matter what industry you look at, they need cybersecurity experts. As a security analyst, you help protect computer networks, systems, devices, and data. This is a role that needs a highly strategic mind, as well as vigilance. 

If these sound interesting, they are only the tip of the iceberg. Computer science graduates can find work in almost any field, almost anywhere in the world. Many international students study computer science in the US. Each one offers unique challenges, solutions, and rewards. Your degree will equip you with a powerful set of versatile skills. These skills will open a lot of different doors. This means your career path can be as unique and diverse as your interests.

Getting an Online CS Degree

Online computer science degrees offer substantial flexibility and accessibility. They are great if you need to balance work, family, or any other commitments. You can study and complete coursework from anywhere. All you need is an internet connection and time. This flexibility means getting your degree can be done around the rest of your daily life.

Contrary to popular belief, online degrees are not easier than conventional ones. The curriculum and materials are just as rigorous. The course covers the same materials. This includes programming, the software development cycle, and data structures. The difference is all in the material delivery. Lessons are largely done at your own pace, and you can access course materials at any time. 

One of the key features of online programs is the interactivity. While it may not always be “live”, there will typically be videos, lectures, and forum interaction. Many students worry about missing out on networking opportunities at an online school. However, online programs generally have vibrant communities. They create significant opportunities to network and collaborate. 

Online computer science degrees are also very cost-effective. They typically have far lower costs than traditional four-year colleges. You also save money on housing and commuting. This can make getting an online computer science degree far more accessible than going to college for many people. 

If you still have trouble deciding between an online and a traditional degree program, consider your learning needs. Do you prefer going to class, or do you find self-paced to be more comfortable? 

AI: The Future of Computer Science

Artificial intelligence, AI, is rapidly transforming the trajectory of computer science. It combines intelligence with machines. AI allows computers to learn from experience, more like we do. It can adapt to new needs and functions. It can leverage massive amounts of data and raw knowledge.

One very exciting area of AI is machine learning. This is a field that centers around computers learning without being specifically programmed. They get better through practice and exposure to new data. Machine learning impacts things you may not even realize. Suggestions and recommendations on your favorite streaming service? That is a machine learning what you like, and suggesting new things.

Another exploding area of AI computer science is natural language processing or NLP. NLP is what helps computers understand human language. Computer science allows NLP to power assistants like Google, Siri, and Alexa.

AI is not just about making things easier or more convenient, though. It is about solving complex problems. Often, problems that are far too complex for humans to quickly solve. AI can analyze incredible amounts of data quickly. This makes it perfect for understanding data-heavy research, like climate change, or diseases. AI and machine learning are able to find patterns and solutions unbelievably fast.

AI is at the forefront of computer science. Many of the best colleges in the United States are doing AI research. It is an area of endless potential applications. 

Graduate & Postgraduate Paths

Once you complete your undergraduate degree, your journey in computer science does not have to end. There are so many paths to consider. Continuing to graduate and postgraduate studies offers deeper knowledge and potential specialization. They will be the degrees to prepare you for advanced technology roles.

Obtaining a Master’s degree in computer science is the next logical step. It will let you specialize in fields like cybersecurity, data science, and so on. These programs will generally focus on research and advanced theory. They will also involve projects or experiments to apply what you have learned. 

After your Master’s, you can begin work on your Ph.D. These programs are for individuals who want careers in academia or research. Doctoral degrees require intense dedication and a deep personal interest in your field. Obtaining your doctorate can put you into higher positions in academia, as well as high-level research positions. 

Graduate and postgraduate studies also offer considerable networking opportunities. You will meet professors, peers, even industry professionals and thought leaders. These connections can hold significant value throughout your career. 

Graduate certificates require less of a time commitment. They will focus on specific skills like machine learning or cloud computing. These are proficiency certificates that highlight your expertise. They can make you more competitive in the job market. 

However you decide to do it, continuing education is important. Particularly for computer science majors. Technology evolves and advances quickly. Graduate and postgraduate studies help keep you equipped with the latest skills and knowledge bases. 

Choosing an Online Computer Science Program

If you are considering an online computer science degree, your choice needs careful consideration. Ultimately, you want a program that meets your learning needs and long-term goals. 

First, make sure your choice is accredited. This means the program has been evaluated and meets minimum standards. Whether or not your degree is accredited affects its value in the job marketplace. 

Curriculum is another big factor to think about. Make sure your program covers the fundamentals we mentioned earlier. Things like programming, algorithms, and data structures. It should also offer exposure to fields you are interested in exploring.

The qualifications of the faculty are equally important. Instructors should be able to show some industry experience and relevant qualifications. They should be able to create and deliver high-quality online education.

Your school of choice should also have ample support services. Learning needs support. Support services include things like academic advising, tech support, and even tutoring, or the online equivalent of “office hours”.

If you know you have other commitments, make sure your chosen program is flexible. They should allow you to learn at your own pace, while still participating in the needed class interaction.

Choosing your online computer science program is a huge decision. Take your time. Research your top few school selections. This can help put you on the right path to a lucrative and fulfilling career.

Using Your Computer Science Degree Effectively 

Once you have obtained your computer science degree, it is time to really get to work. Start by getting a portfolio together. You can fill it initially with projects from your coursework. Then, fill it out with personal projects that show off your skills and talents. Your portfolio should demonstrate your computer science proficiency and your creativity. 

You will also need to devote energy to networking. Networking in the tech space is critical. Go to workshops. Attend industry conferences and expos. Engage with computer science forums and groups online. Connect with peers and other professionals in your field. Connections lead to opportunities, collaborations, and more. 

We mentioned how continuous learning was important. Once you have your degree, you are ready for the next step. Whatever that step may be, from taking online specialty courses to getting certificates on your LinkedIn, take it.