Earning a computer science degree can be a lucrative educational path for students looking to expand their job opportunities and pursue an analytical, computational, and even creative career.
As the world becomes more technologically reliant, companies are expanding their search for qualified computer scientists to perform various tasks that keep their company relevant – through engagement, trending technology, security, etc.–in today’s digital marketplace.
Today’s present-day demand requires students to obtain comprehensive training to compete in the job market and stand out to hiring managers–especially for positions in desirable companies.
Because computer science is such a wide-ranging field that requires students to have an equally comprehensive understanding of the topic, earning a degree in computer science is the most straightforward and widely recognized path to becoming a computer scientist. Moreover, earning a computer science degree is the most comprehensive approach toward a career in this field.
Employers often look for a candidate holding at least a bachelor’s degree when hiring for a computer scientist position.
Many students even continue to earn a master’s degree in computer science. Candidates with master’s degrees in computer science are highly regarded by hiring employees because of both the breadth and depth of the candidates’ education.
For students ready to enter the workforce, and choose not to pursue a master’s degree, achieving a bachelor’s degree will prepare students to become qualified contenders.
Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science
Depending on specific career goals, interests, and skills, there are multiple routes for students to follow within this degree.
Common bachelor’s degrees to pursue a career in computer science:
- Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science
- Bachelor of Applied Science in Computer Science
- Bachelor of Technology in Computer Science and Engineering
- Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
- Bachelor of Mathematics in Computer Science
- Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science
- Bachelor of Computing in Computer Science
- Bachelor of Science in Engineering
- Bachelor of Computer Security in Computer Science
- Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
While these degrees are the most common paths to earning a degree in computer science, several other relevant bachelor’s degrees are available under different names depending on the school, each with varying specifications.
A bachelor’s degree generally takes students four years to complete through full-time attendance.
However, full-time enrollment is not the only way to earn a degree in computer science. Bachelor’s (and master’s) computer science degree programs are increasingly available through flexible, part-time scheduling and online attendance.
Pursuing a bachelor’s degree part-time will lead to a longer graduation track but is sometimes the best option for individuals with prior commitments–like those working full time or raising families.
Computer Science Bachelor’s Degree Online
Many computer science degrees are now available through online class structures and are increasingly available on a full- and part-time basis.
Pursuing an online degree full or part-time follows the same graduation track as their in-person counterparts: approximately four years of full-time enrollment and longer for part-time enrollment, depending on the credit load taken each term.
Attending school online is an option that makes some degree programs more accessible to students who would not otherwise have the opportunity–such as those living in rural areas with limited access to larger institutions or the college of their choice.
There are many benefits to earning an online degree in computer science:
Cost: cost of an online bachelor’s degree often comes with a more affordable price tag than many on-campus degree programs in computer science. While the quality of education remains the same, schools can charge students less for this option because there is less overhead cost for the school, such as IT networks, utilities, classroom space, and other things usually provided by colleges such as computer labs and equipment.
Flexibility: Students who have prior obligations, such as work or raising a family, can still pursue their degree in computer science through online options that offer flexible course completion in terms of time, commuting, and more. Further, students who do not plan to move to a different area can still access the program of their choice remotely.
Opportunity: Not only can students access their preferred program remotely, but online attendance also gives students the ability to receive an accredited, widely-recognized degree program online.
Access: Online students still have access to university resources, such as financial aid, career counseling, and other networking opportunities.
Choosing an Online Degree in Computer Science
There are many other factors to consider when pursuing a bachelor’s degree online. Some students find learning in a home setting more challenging since it can be distracting. Others prefer to interact with their peers and/or professors in person. Some students, on the other hand, thrive in a flexible environment.
Because online degree programs have become so popular in the last several years–and continue to be in the wake of COVID-19–there has also been an increase in the resources devoted to providing an equally enriching learning environment for online degree options as on-campus degree programs.
For example, online degree programs pay special attention to providing online students with networking, professional advancement, and other opportunities typically associated with on-campus learning.
Mentorships, weekly remote professor office hours, and social media groups centered around the class are one way that online degree programs offer students the opportunity to stay connected with their instructors. Robust online learning platforms also allow students to ask questions more readily and participate in class discussions.
Networking is typically done through programs like LinkedIn and any relationships with employers that the school has built to increase opportunities for networking for their students. These can include internships and other options that students can find through their school’s center for career development.
There are also many virtual events that students will be encouraged to participate in and even more that students can find based on their interests and career goals that provide networking opportunities.
How Much Does it Cost to Earn A Degree in Computer Science?
A bachelor’s degree can cost between $20,000 and $100,000+ depending on the university. This price range roughly applies to a graduate degree. It would be an additional $20,000 to $100,000+, making the total cost for a bachelor’s degree and a graduate degree in computer science between $40,000 and $200,000+.
Online degrees in computer science are generally considered to have more affordable education.
While the overall cost of a computer science degree, whether a bachelor’s or master’s degree, can seem daunting. However, since computer science is most often a high-paying field, the degree can quickly pay for itself once a job is obtained. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average earnings of a computer scientist run $126,830 per year.
The exact annual pay of any computer scientist depends heavily on the years of experience of an employee or job candidate, their level of education, the company they work for, and other factors specific to the job market.
Best Computer Science Schools: How to Choose
When deciding which computer science school is the best match for a student, there are many factors to consider.
Career counselors and individual university advisors can assist students in deciding which routes to take to achieve a degree in computer science and the specific skills to learn depending on their respective goals.
As mentioned previously, bachelor’s degrees generally take about four years of full-time study to complete and earn a degree.
Most institutions offer the option to pursue a bachelor’s degree and/or a master’s degree in computer science through online studies or an on-campus experience. Some institutions also offer a hybrid model of learning, where students take some classes on campus and some online.
When choosing the right degree program in computer science, students should consider several factors.
Learning style: students who prefer the in-person learning environment should make sure the schools they are considering offer a full- or part-time on-campus learning experience. For some students, face-to-face interaction with professors and other students is a critical element of their success in an educational program. For others, online learning allows them the concentration or flexibility to complete their work while staying connected to class members and instructors online.
Course Load: Some students want to complete their bachelor’s degree in computer science in about four years. They should specifically seek out computer science degrees that offer full-time enrollment. Other students may be working during their education or have other important commitments that require part-time enrollment in a degree program.
Curriculum: As discussed earlier, students can pursue several degree programs to become computer scientists. An essential factor in choosing the right degree is ensuring that the degree program and curriculum match the student’s long- and short-term career goals.
Budget: The cost of tuition for a bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer science can vary widely based on the institution, course load, and learning styles offered to students. Speaking with a financial aid advisor can help students make the right decision for calculating what they can afford to spend (or borrow) for their education.
Accreditation: Any school that a student attends for either a bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer science should be accredited. Accreditation for colleges means that an independent entity has evaluated the school to ensure that it provides a certain level (and uniformity) in its educational programs. Accreditation is also a requirement for financial aid and even some hiring managers.
Other Ways to Become A Computer Scientist
Under the umbrella of a computer science career, there are multiple skill routes a student can take to achieve the same title. This includes software engineering, information management, multimedia and gaming, technical writing, advanced mathematics, and enterprise computing.
Students can achieve many of these paths through a computer science bootcamp, a computer coding certification, and bachelor’s degrees in computer science or synonymous degrees.
The training and the exam for an individual certificate run between $700-$4,000.
Certificates are a versatile tool for those seeking to become computer scientists and professionals in the field; Professionals can also use certifications to further their education or earn specific specialization credentials. Certifications are also often part of an employee’s continuing education to help them stay updated on trending technology and best practices.
Bootcamps offer a similar educational opportunity as certificates but are more comprehensive and thus longer. Bootcamps can be completed online, in-person, or a hybrid between both. A computer coding bootcamp usually lasts six months to one year and costs around $13,000. However, many bootcamps require students to hold at least a bachelor’s degree, although the degree can be in a different field. For this reason, bootcamps are an appealing option for those who are making a career pivot and already hold a degree.
There are plentiful scholarship opportunities for each method towards becoming a computer scientist. Students should carefully research financial aid opportunities and contact the institution for additional options for financing their education.
Whether degree, certificate, or bootcamp, many computer scientist programs offer flexible options such as online learning and/or part-time attendance. Obtaining this education at different time intervals allows for balancing other obligations such as an additional job or family responsibilities.
As mentioned previously, the job opportunities for a professional with a degree in computer science are wide and varied. Computer scientists enjoy many opportunities for rewarding and high-paying jobs. Moreover, the job market for computer scientists is booming – the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports this career will grow 15 percent in the next ten years, much faster than average.
Another benefit of becoming a computer scientist is the wide range of industry employment available. For example, a computer scientist could focus on a niche they are passionate about, such as holistic healing or industrial production. The opportunities are endless for this career because almost every business in the digital realm needs a computer scientist on its team.