Computer Science Graduate Programs prepare graduates to conduct research, design, innovate and develop solutions to problems in the field of computer hardware and software. Computer Science is actually a pretty broad academic discipline spanning both the theoretical and practical aspects of the field. If you are analytical and science-minded, why not leverage your skills with a Computer Science Grad School Degree?
As we live in the digital age, computer and technology occupations are growing faster than other fields[i] - is a graduate degree necessary? According to the Bureau of labor Statistics, for technically complex jobs, a master’s degree may be required[ii], and most jobs for computer research scientists require a Ph.D. in Computer Science or a related field[iii]. Whether you are interested in computational theory, computer graphics, computer programming or the project management aspects of computer information and technology, there are various degrees to choose from and many reasons to build on your undergraduate education.
Computer Science Graduate Programs are offered as Masters and Doctorate Degrees. Typically, a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science prepares students academically for Masters Programs in Computer Science (MPCS). Although students may continue the academic path they began as an undergraduate with a more specific type of computer science grad degree. Graduates interested in a PhD in Computer Science usually complete a thesis as the PhD is geared to aspiring professors, research scientists and development[iv].
In addition to degree level, there are different types of computer science degrees depending on whether you are interested in research and academia or advanced technical knowledge and applied skills in areas that might include:
FACT: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer programmers and computer systems analysts with Masters degrees had a higher wage premium than those with a Bachelor’s Degree[v]
Masters Programs in Computer Science (MPCS) are usually offered as Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Computer Science. Some schools may even offer a joint MS/MBA as a way for students to combine their interests in computer technology with business management and leadership courses. Ultimately, the MPCS you choose should reflect your career aspirations. If your goal is to potentially move up into IT management, an MBA may be preferred since you learn budgeting, marketing and management in addition to computer-related courses. [vi] On the other hand, a master of science or, the technical computer science route, offers different graduate level options that are going to provide specialized skills for your niche field, and this is what many employers today are looking for.
DID YOU KNOW? Firms with large databases may prefer applicants who have a master’s degree focusing on database management, either in computer science, information systems or information technology.[vii]
Similar to Masters programs, doctorate degrees in Computer Science are commonly offered as Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Computer Science or Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Computer Science degrees. Computer and Information scientists work in data mining, robotics and design new computer programming languages, in addition to being qualified for advanced research and teaching roles.[viii]
Searching for Computer Science Graduate Degrees can feel daunting. You read about rankings for schools, wonder how much in debt you might get, and whether the degree will ultimately pay off. While these are important issues, there are a few other considerations that may be at play or even help you make a decision.
Since computer science encompasses a broad array of subfields, prospective students should try to select a Computer Science Graduate Program that specializes in the area that is most compelling to research or that specializes in the type of computer science degree you want to earn. Often graduate schools receive specific faculty research grants, or is known for theory over machine learning. Take the time to look into the inherent strengths and faculty of each graduate program.
If you have decided to look for a graduate school with an on-campus Computer Science Graduate Program, location may be important. Can you relocate? Is there an accredited university nearby? Are you hoping to study abroad? Use the navigation menu to find grad schools by city, state or country.
If you have decided to earn a graduate degree in computer science but cannot commute or relocate, you might consider an online degree. These are either fully online where you access all your courses through web-based systems or partially online (hybrid) where some on campus visits are required. Some Computer Science Graduate Programs may include computer labs or courses that explore the human interaction with computers. In cases where online study has its limitations, a hybrid program may make sense. In any event, use your preferences to refine your search.
Accreditation may be offered at the institutional level by the U.S. Department of Education and Council for Higher Education Accreditation or at nationally recognized regional agencies.
While most of the computer and technology fields require a Bachelor’s degree as entry-level qualifications, if your own ambitions are to acquire more advanced knowledge, open the door to possible upward mobility or the prospect of higher wages, start to review some options for Computer Science Graduate Programs. Among the sponsored listings are Master of Science in Computer Science, Master of Business Administration – Applied Computer Science, Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration –Applied Computer Science and Doctor of Computer Science Executive format, but these are only a few. Requesting more information from each school should help you to identify some of the factors mentioned here, give you some food for thought, and assist you in finding the appropriate degree to align with your ambitions.
Sources[i] bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm |[ii] bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-systems-analysts.htm |[iii] bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-and-information-research-scientists.htm |[iv] bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-and-information-research-scientists.htm |[v] bls.gov/careeroutlook/2015/article/should-i-get-a-masters-degree.htm#STEM |[vi] bls.gov/ooh/management/computer-and-information-systems-managers.htm |[vii] bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/database-administrators.htm |[viii] bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-and-information-research-scientists.htm