The world has seen massive technological advancements in the last few decades. The Internet has become more accessible, faster, and cheaper for everyone. Devices such as smartphones, tablets, and smart TVs are changing the way we connect with one another.

We even have self-driving cars, decentralized blockchain technology, and 3D printers that can construct complex three-dimensional objects from online blueprints.

As a result of this tech boom, the subject of computer science has become a fascinating branch of learning. It has changed rapidly in a relatively short space of time and involves the study of computer systems, algorithms, data structures, computational problems, computer software applications, and computer hardware.

Computer science can also lead to other areas like software engineering, data science, and data engineering.

Most computer science degrees include many hours of computer programming. This fundamental skill has growing importance in major sectors like finance, technology, manufacturing, and energy. However, you’ll learn much more than just coding. Due to the broad nature of computer science degree programs, students can be flexible in their career goals.

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Types of Computer Science Degrees

We want to help you understand your study options for a career in tech. We’ll discuss traditional education paths like bachelor’s and master’s degrees. We’ll investigate if computer science degrees are worth it, and examine some alternative, more focused learning programs like bootcamps and certification courses.

Computer Science Bachelor’s Degree

A computer science bachelor’s degree is traditionally the most popular route taken by students wanting to build a career in tech. Due to their broad and comprehensive curriculum, bachelor’s degrees allow flexibility. They give graduates the opportunity to start a range of different technical careers depending on their particular interests.

You can pursue a BSc (Bachelor of Science) in computer science, or focus more on engineering with computer science as your specialization. An engineering degree is better if you’re interested in using engineering principles to build hardware and software systems.

If you want a more business-oriented approach to your learning, you can pursue a BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration) with computer science as your major. Some universities also offer a BA (Bachelor of Arts) in computer science, which is perfect for aspiring graphic designers.

Most bachelor programs last 3 to 4 years, depending on your specific degree type. For a BSc in computer science, the time required is 3 to 4 years, depending on the institution. For an engineering degree, the duration is 4 years. BA and BBA computer science degrees also require 4 years to complete in most parts of the U.S.

The average cost to study computer science in the U.S. is difficult to calculate due to the many different colleges offering computer science degree programs. Tuition fees vary dramatically and range from $20,000 to $30,000 per year for a private institution. This works out at anywhere between $60,000 and $120,000 for a complete degree course.

The cost also varies between public and private colleges. In a public college, the fees may range between $10,000 and $18,000. The annual fee for an engineering degree in computer science can be as high as $80,000. The average cost of studying a BBA in the United States is around $32,860.

Undergraduate students are not expected to have prior knowledge of computer science. However, they should at least be familiar with programming languages like C++, Java, Python, and Pascal. Some institutions also offer joint courses where students are offered engineering, mathematics, and computing skills along with studying computer science as their major.

Computer Science Master’s Degree

A computer science master’s degree is a more specialized and streamlined study course that helps students master a specific area. A postgraduate program will prepare you for an area of professional practice. Before you enroll in a master’s program, it’s important to identify your specific interests and preferred future career direction.

Here are some computer science master’s degrees you can enroll in:

The time required for a master’s program is typically 1 to 2 years. This is generally the same whether you decide to focus on engineering or prefer a management-oriented degree.

The tuition fees for a master’s degree program is much higher than a bachelor’s degree. Although costs vary, a program at a top U.S. university can cost between $50,000 and $115,000 annually.

A master’s program equips students with practical skills and theoretical knowledge that will help them develop digital solutions and software tools. Students specializing in data science are exposed to a multidisciplinary domain that includes learning about the life cycle of data from gathering, planning to presentation.

Alternatives to a Computer Science Degree

Computer Science Certification Courses

There are plenty of certificate and diploma courses available, both full-time and part-time. These courses aim to sharpen your technical skills and teach you practical problem-solving skills that can be applied to real-life work scenarios. These certifications typically focus on coding and cover almost all major programming languages.

With certification courses, the emphasis is on validating existing skills rather than learning new skills from scratch. They provide you with the opportunity to demonstrate you understand a programming language and are competent in using it to solve problems. Computer science certification courses boost your resume and look great to prospective employers. They show you have a passion for staying up-to-date with technical tools and are committed to a particular field.

The duration for certification and diploma courses offered by universities and institutions can vary from 6 to 12 months. Online certification programs are generally shorter and can be completed at your own pace.

Computer science certification programs can cover a range of different topics such as programming, databases, web development, and AI. Programming certificates focus on core languages such as C++, Python, PHP, JavaScript, and HTML. Databases-oriented certificates cover popular technologies like MySQL, Mongo, and Neo4j.

Computer Science Bootcamps

Bootcamps are career-oriented learning programs designed to get students hired in their chosen fields. They’re more affordable, more intensive, and more focused than degree courses.

If you have a clear direction in mind, bootcamps are perfect for kickstarting your tech career at a fraction of the cost. Some specialized employers may even prefer focused bootcamps over more general degrees.

Bootcamps also give you the chance to build a professional portfolio of work, which can help you stand out from the crowd and further boost your chances of landing a job.

Computer Science Career Prospects

We live in a digital age. Tech companies are booming and each year the demand for technical professionals increases. Jobs in the space provide lucrative compensation packages as competing firms headhunt for the best talent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that on average, programmers earn $105,590 and the number of jobs is likely to grow by 21% in the next few years.

After completing a structured education program, you’ll have excellent career prospects in a wide range of fields. You can become a full-stack web developer, programmer, digital specialist, hardware computer engineer, IT consultant, cybersecurity consultant, database administrator, or information systems manager.

The good news is, you don’t need a degree to get started in many of these roles. If you have a technical mind and a passion for programming enroll in our web developer bootcamp to kickstart your coding career. We’ll teach you all the skills you need to land a well-paid job at a top tech firm. Our experienced mentors will support you every step of the way as you push to achieve your goals.

Hungry to learn more? Check out our tech blog. We have other articles online including A Day in the Life of a Web Developer where you can gain insight into a career in programming.

Learn to Code with Thinkful

Take the proven path to a high-income career with professional mentorship and support, flexible ways to pay, and real-world, project-based learning.

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