Computer science and technology degrees provide an excellent return on investment due to the in-demand skills and knowledge they provide. Students graduating with a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree should qualify for a wide range of high-paying careers upon graduation. Below we take a look at the various admission standards for each level of degree.
The intense technical rigor and popularity of IT-related degrees make admission to bachelor degree programs of this kind competitive. Most institutions require a set list of prerequisite courses and minimum GPA standards to ensure the potential student possesses the ability to succeed if admitted into the major. Typically the more selective the overall institution, the more selective admission to the major will be.
Prerequisite courses vary depending on the type of computer and technology degree. For example, computer science degrees are more technical in nature than management information systems (MIS) and require more math, science, and programming courses. MIS programs blend together computer science and business courses, which require applicants to successfully complete prerequisite classes in economics, accounting, and finance.
The general consensus is computer science majors should have a minimum GPA of 2.5 and have successfully completed sequence courses, such as C/C++, Java, and calculus.
Master’s programs in computers and technology provide students the opportunity to learn skills and concepts well beyond the baccalaureate level and to contribute to the field of knowledge through engaging in their own original research. These programs include substantial coursework, as well as independent research under the guidance of qualified faculty members.
Admission standards generally include a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution in a computer and technology-related degree such as computer science, information systems, MIS, web design, and information technology. For programs that allow students from all academic backgrounds, there is usually a lengthy list of prerequisite courses that students must show on their transcript to demonstrate competence and aptitude for a master’s level program. In addition to coursework, candidates are evaluated on a holistic basis using metrics such as cumulative GPA, GRE test scores, letters of recommendation, and statement of purpose. Less selective programs may not require or may waive the GRE test score requirement based on academic background and/or undergraduate GPA. It is critical to understand the admission requirements to each program, due to the variance in standards and required materials.
Doctoral and Ph.D. degrees are both the highest academic degree an individual can obtain but are designed for different outcomes. A Ph.D. in a computer and technology-related major is designed to prepare the graduate for a career in research or academia. A doctoral degree is an applied degree that prepares individuals for high-level management positions.
Ph.D. program admissions are more traditional in nature and require a strong background in computer and technology courses. In addition, they may require a master’s degree, or at minimum, a bachelor’s degree. Additional requirements will include GRE test scores, personal statement, 2-3 letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Most Ph.D. programs do not require professional work experience in the IT field.
Doctoral admissions generally require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a computer or technology-related degree or a master’s degree. For those programs that allow applicants without a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a related field, admission requirements may be met with a list of completed courses or through significant professional experience. The vast majority of doctoral programs are structured for working professionals and require applicants to have at least two years of management experience. Many programs will not have or will waive the GRE test score requirement. Applicants will also have to submit letters of recommendation and personal statements.
Demand for workers with computer and technology skills and knowledge shows no sign of slowing down. As technological innovation continues to increase and society’s reliance on technology continues to grow, IT-related jobs will continue to expand. Below we take a look at some of the top information technology jobs according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Quality Assurance Engineer
These individuals test software products such as to ensure feasibility of use and compliance with industry standards. This is a critical role, as these professionals often serve as the last line of defense before a product is released to the intended end-user. This occupation is prevalent in the mobile app and gaming industries, along with other technology that needs quality assurance testing.
Software Engineer is one of the highest-paid computer and technology careers, with an average salary of $110,000 per year. The position requires in-depth knowledge of mathematics and computer science to develop or improve software used for networks, enterprise applications, and operating systems. The minimum degree required is a bachelor’s in software engineering. It is common for these professionals to pursue graduate studies.
This is an entry-level position, typically requiring a bachelor’s or associate’s degree. These individuals provide general support for end-users or employees, helping them solve issues with software, hardware, and other technical support issues. In addition to obtaining the degree, employment chances may increase through acquiring industry certificates related to end-user technical support.
These professionals develop websites including appearance, navigation, and even content. They utilize a variety of skills including coding language, graphics, and applications. A bachelor’s degree with industry certifications are helpful when pursuing employment opportunities. It is critical the applicant have a demonstrated background in web development through the completion of a portfolio.
Technology moves fast. The rate of obsolescence can be alarmingly quick; some of the skills learned in college can be antiquated by the time the graduate hits the job market. Obtaining an IT certificate can show a potential employer the graduate has an updated specific skill set relevant to the job.
AWS Certified Developer
Offered by Amazon, this certification states the individual is able to create and debug cloud systems with AWS. To sit for this exam, individuals must have knowledge of programming and a year of experience with AWS systems.
Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
Offered by the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants, this certificate acknowledges the individual’s ability to find and eliminate security vulnerabilities in a variety of applications. The individual must have at least two years of experience working in information security.
Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
This globally recognized certificate recognizes an individual as an expert in information security auditing. It is an excellent option for those working in IS auditing, quality control, or security. Individuals must have at least five years of related experience and pass an entry-level exam before sitting for this certificate.
Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
This highly regarded certification is offered through the International Systems Security Certification Consortium. It signifies the individual’s expertise in IT security and use of best practices.
Project Management Professional (PMP)
Individuals with a bachelor’s degree and three years of project management experience are qualified to earn this certificate that covers the five stages of a project: initiation, planning, executing, monitoring, and closing.
The average cost for a college education varies greatly by institution and program. The average bachelor’s degree is approximately $21,000 for public in-state programs and $48,000 for private institutions. Online degrees also have a wide range when it comes to cost. These degrees range from $39,000 – $60,500, but it is not uncommon to find excellent accredited programs with highly trained faculty that cost $10,000 – $15,000. Also, potential students should not be scared off by high tuition sticker costs. Oftentimes, institutions will offer generous financial aid and scholarship packages that drastically reduce the out-of-pocket expenses paid by the student. With several affordable programs out there, it is possible to graduate from an undergraduate or graduate program with little to no debt. It is critical for the potential student to research financial aid opportunities within each institution, as well as outside options like government assistance and external scholarships.
Earnings & Pay
One of the main reasons computer and technology degrees are so popular is the high rate of pay. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median (average) salary for a computer and information technology professional is $88,240 as of May 2019. This is far above the average salary of $39,810 for all other occupations. Those with master’s degrees in disciplines related to computers and technology should earn salaries even higher than the median. Some of the top-paying jobs include computer and information research scientists ($122,840), computer network architects ($112,690), and software developers ($107,510).
The job outlook for individuals with computer and technology-related degrees continues to be strong. High demand is being driven by the continued expansion of technology into all phases of modern life. Other aspects, such as continued security threats and the desire for data-driven decision-making, also place an importance on hiring individuals that can address these issues. Overall, the growth rate for computer and technology jobs is expected to be 12 percent from 2018-2028, which is nearly double the average rate for all other occupations. In fact, a look at the fastest growing occupations shows several computer- and technology-related jobs on the list.
Information Security Analysts
With a $99,000 per year salary and a projected growth rate of 32%, this occupation is expected to add nearly 36,000 job openings to the economy during the ten-year period of 2018-2028.
Operations Research Analyst
With an average salary of $85,000 and a projected growth rate of 26 percent, this occupation is another of the fastest growing jobs in America. These individuals often have a degree in computer science and spend their days helping organizations solve complex problems and make sound decisions using technology and data.
Software and Application Developers
This occupation is expected to increase by 21% and add 284,100 jobs to the economy. The average pay is $105,590 a year, which far exceeds the average salary of all other occupations.
This occupation is expected to grow by 30% through 2028 and add an additional 14,400 jobs to the economy. The average pay of $92,030 is excellent. This job typically requires a master’s degree in mathematics, computer science, or a similar discipline.
There are dozens of different majors to choose from when it comes to computer and technology-related degrees. Below we discuss some of the most popular options and what makes them unique.
This major teaches students to write the distinct language that makes computers execute specific tasks and functions. It is a hands-on major and is currently undergoing a change, as technology moves to web-based technology.
This major is theoretical in nature and integrates mathematical principles that serve as the foundation for computers and their related applications. Any student considering this major should have strong math acumen. Lower-division studies focus on advanced mathematics courses.
This field of study focuses on mathematics and communication in relation to computers and technology. Students take a variety of courses in mathematics, computer security, human and computer interaction, and data analysis.
Management Information Systems
This major blends together information technology skills and knowledge with business concepts. The goal of any management information systems (MIS) program is to teach the student how to solve business problems and leverage opportunities using technology. Students take a variety of IT-related courses along with business classes in finance, economics, accounting, and marketing.
Software engineering is a complex major that blends together computer science and technology concepts with engineering. Software engineers work in nearly every sector of the economy due to the ubiquitous nature of software. They can be found working in healthcare, education, entertainment and gaming, science, government, and more. Possible jobs include software developer, computer hardware developer, systems analyst, and software technician.
Rankings in Computers & Technology
- Computer Science (International Students) – This ranking of the top 50 computer science degrees for international students takes into account factors like the percent of student population comprised of international students, tuition, average 20-year net return on investment, and distinguishing characteristics that set individual universities apart from the crowd.
- Online Master’s Information Systems – Pursuing an online master’s information systems degree has become an increasingly attractive option for those technical professionals hoping to advance their careers and increase their salaries. In fact, Forbes has reported the online MIS degree as the best master’s degree to have in terms of return on investment and job growth.
- Master’s in Management Information Systems Online – The United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the employment for computer and information systems managers is expected to grow 12 percent over the next eight years. This is a faster employment growth rate than the average of all other occupations. A rise in employment means more jobs as companies expand their digital platforms. With an increase in jobs, qualified candidates are needed, as most management roles will require a master’s in management information systems or closely related degree.
- Information Technology Degrees Online – While “tech” programs have been a part of most universities’ repertoire for several decades, they only recently took center stage. And as far as distance education goes, what better subject to offer online than one that counts the Internet among its essential topics of study?
- Online Tech Degrees – Our online technical degrees ranking takes an intentionally broad survey of undergraduate programs related to technology and other practical, high-tech subjects. Instead of focusing solely on online information technology degree programs (although we do describe a number of schools with online IT degrees on this list) we considered distance education programs ranging from Cybersecurity to Information Systems to Communication Technology, plus interdisciplinary options like “Technology and Innovation.”
- Master’s in Information Technology Online – The demand for IT specialists will stem from an industry push and demand from the private and public sector on information security, storage, and cloud computing. To accommodate the expected growth, online master’s in information technology programs are offered from some of the nation’s most reputable institutions.
- PhD Computer Science Online – If you want to be a cut above the rest, have opportunities in the newest technologies, and use your expert abilities to spend time growing and working in the field that you love, completing a PhD in computer science online is just right for you.
- Online PhD Management Information Systems – As companies and organizations expand their business to digital platforms, the need for MIS managers will increase. Demand for jobs also means a demand for qualified candidates with both experience and an online PhD in MIS.
- PhD Computer and Information Systems Security Online – This career space is projected to grow more than any other in the coming years. You can take yourself to the top of the cybersecurity domain with one of these affordable programs.
- Online Computer Science Degree – Computer science is one of the most lucrative and fastest-growing fields in the modern world. Earning your computer science degree online can be a great way to save money and keep you from having to move across the country to your school of choice.
- Web Design Degree – If you are interested in either design and development, or both design and development, you will find an affordable program within this ranking that meets your needs, whether online or on-campus.
- Online Master’s Software Engineering – Software engineering blends the design and development of software using foundational principles seen in computer science, engineering, and mathematics. Software engineers enjoy a favorable job outlook and annual salaries that can exceed $100,000 per year.
- Online IT Certificate Programs – Whether you’re looking to expand your skill set, or just transition into the IT field, an online certificate in information technology can be exactly what you need. Online IT certificates might not be the best choice for everyone, but they can be a great move for many people. It all depends on your individual goals.