What Is Computer Science?

March 31, 2021 | Staff Writers

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Computer science is the study of algorithmic processes, computational machines, and computation itself. It’s worth noting that there are plenty of principal areas of study within Computer science. They include artificial intelligence, computer systems and networks, computing security and cryptography, databases and data mining, information technology, computer visualization, graphics, and software engineering. Apart from the mentioned areas of study, other notable areas include image and sound processing, concurrent, parallel and distributed computing, and programming languages.

Over the past few years, the demand for computer scientists and computer engineers has increased. Due to this increase, computer science and computer engineering degrees have become some of the country’s most sought-after college degrees. In the past, many students avoided being computer science majors as they thought that for one to be allowed to pursue a computer science degree, he/she had to possess adequate programming skills. However, this isn’t the case as although programming enables one to be a good computer science student, it is only one element of computer science. Thus, even without adequate programming skills, you can still pursue a degree in this field.

If you’d like to be a computer science graduate one day, you ought to be aware of certain essential aspects of this field. To get a more comprehensive insight into computer science, let’s explore the following critical aspects of computer science:

  1. The types of computer science degrees
  2. The jobs for computer scientists
  3. The salary and other benefits of completing a computer science degree (660)
  4. What to know when choosing a computer science degree program

Types of Computer Science Degrees

Computer science degrees deal with the theoretical foundations of information and computation. According to many practitioners, computer science is a foundational science. It’s worth mentioning that there are a good number of computer science and online computer engineering degrees. As such, it’s logical that you may find choosing one to pursue a bit of a struggle. If you’re wondering which degree to pursue, here are some of the highly-ranked computer science degrees that you consider majoring in.

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Computer Science
    The BA in Computer Science degree is a program designed to educate computer science majors on basic computer science techniques. This program also teaches students how to apply computer science techniques to subject areas such as business, graphic design, and many more. Once you complete this degree, you’ll be able to analyze problems and identify the computing/mathematical techniques needed for their solution. You’ll also be able to apply design and development principles in the construction of software systems. Given that this bachelor’s degree program opens doors to various job opportunities, choosing to pursue it would be a brilliant decision.
  • Bachelor of Applied Science (BASc) in Computer Science
    The BASc is a four-year computer science course designed to enable students to grow into highly knowledgeable and skilled systems analysts, database administrators, software developers, and system administrators. Time and again, this program has been ranked as one of the best computer science programs as its graduates, more often than not, find high-paying jobs soon after graduating. Thus, by selecting this course as your preferred computer science degree, you need not worry about being unemployed long-after completing your degree.
  • Bachelor of Computer Security in Computer Science
    In the last few years, there has been a surge in cyber-attacks. Due to this surge, the demand for computer security experts has arisen. If you’d like to be a computer security expert, choosing to pursue this program is advisable. This course, designed to equip majors with the knowledge required to keep computer networks safe, features programs such as information technology, data recovery, and data communications. Suppose you settle on this course as your computer science program-of-choice. In that case, you’ll be good at computer programming languages, computer forensics, understanding computer artificial intelligence, information science, and security, as well as building firewalls and VPNs.
  • Bachelor of Engineering (BEng) in Computer Science
    A BEng in Computer Science is an academic, computer engineering program that provides students with a foundation in basic science, mathematics, and software engineering. This computer science degree is known to open doors to various master’s programs. Thus, if you aim to pursue a degree that’ll enable you to get into a master’s program easily, this is the right computer science program for you.
  • Software Engineering
    Software engineering refers to the study of how software systems are built. This magnificent program touches on topics such as project management, quality assurance, and software testing. Although software engineering and computer science are closely related, if you’re interested in learning the overall life-cycle of software rather than specialize in fields such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, you should pursue a software engineering program. As computer engineers are not so many, you’ll land a job immediately after completing this course.

What Is the Difference Between an IT Degree and A Computer Science Degree?

The question mentioned above is one of the most searched queries on the internet. If you’re one of those wondering, you should note that the key difference between these degrees is that they often equip people with different sets of skills. The skills you’ll learn from an IT degree include project management, information service, and customer service. On the other hand, you’ll learn software engineering skills, JavaScript skills, and a good understanding of Python when you pursue a computer science course.

If you choose to pursue an IT degree, you’ll acquire knowledge that’ll help you be a computer support specialist, an IT project manager, or even a network administrator. Suppose you settle on being a computer science major. In that case, the skills and training you’ll receive in this program will equip you to be a successful computer engineering expert, computer network architect, computer systems analyst, software developer, software engineer, or cloud application engineer. 

What’s the Difference Between a BA and a BS In Computer Science?

Although both BA and BS in computer science degrees usually prepare students for employment in the same career paths, they slightly differ. A BS in computer science allows you to major in a certain area for your prospective computer science career. Unlike a BS in computer science, a BA allows you to take electives in other subjects. As such, a BA provides for a double major.

All in all, a BA is perfect if you’re unsure of which career path to pursue, whereas a BS is perfect if you’re certain of which career you want to pursue.

Jobs for Computer Scientists

Before the internet, after many Americans completed their college degrees, they would get a job near where they graduated because, in a lot of cases, they just didn’t know what else was out there. Most other individuals would get a job near where they’d grown up. However, since the introduction of the internet, this is no longer the case, primarily because the internet has made it easier to find jobs anywhere in the USA. If you’re a computer scientist looking for a place where you can easily land a job, here are some of the areas you should consider moving to.

Silicon Valley, California

Referred to as the world’s tech capital, Silicon Valley is home to some of the world’s largest tech corporations. Some of the said corporations are Apple, Google, Visa, and Chevron. Given that it is home to several large tech organizations, it’s safe to say that the valley is full of high-paying computer science jobs. Thus, once you’ve completed your software engineering associate degree, a move to Silicon Valley is advisable.

Atlanta, Georgia

Over the years, Atlanta has grown to be known as the location of several top educational institutes. However, in recent years, this majestic city has gained popularity as the home of many technology companies. This being the case, if you want to further your career as a software engineer, computer scientist, or even web developer, moving to Atlanta would be a wise decision.

Dallas, Texas

One of the largest cities in the country, Dallas, TX, has, in recent years, witnessed an influx in the number of tech companies. This can be attributed to the fact that the State of Texas has laws that favor such corporations. With this in mind, if you’re looking for a place where you can secure a job as a research scientist, system analyst, database administrator, or even software developer, you should consider moving to this fantastic city.

What Industries Have Positions for Computer Scientists?

If you’re a computer science major, you must decide which industry you want to work in before you graduate. Various industries usually need the expertise of computer scientists. Some of the notable industries include aerospace and defense, agricultural, financial services, healthcare, retail, as well as telecommunications. Other key sectors where computer scientists usually are hired include industries such as entertainment and management consultancy. From this long list of suitable industries, it’s pretty clear that choosing to pursue a computer science program would be wise as you’re assured of easily getting employed. 

What Are the Most Sought-After Computer Science Jobs?

Although there are plenty of computer science jobs, it’s worth noting that some jobs are better paying than others. It’s rather apparent that the higher-paying jobs are usually more sought-after than the lower-paying jobs. Some of the well-paid computer science professionals include:

  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning engineer
  • Software development directors
  • Computer security consultants
  • Cybersecurity engineer
  • Computer hardware engineers

Given that none of those mentioned above professionals earn less than $100000 annually, you should consider choosing one as your preferred career path.

Salary and Other Benefits of Computer Science Degrees

One of the critical reasons several individuals have been opting to pursue computer science degrees is that they lead to well-paying jobs. Many students often have inflated expectations of their future incomes. It’s worth mentioning that computer science majors are projected to have the highest starting salaries in the opinion of several survey institutes. According to these famous institutes, computer science degree holders earn about 69000 dollars. In comparison, bachelor’s degree holders of other disciplines often earn about 47000 dollars. Judging by these findings, it’s safe to say that, by deciding to choose a computer science degree, you can expect to earn roughly $20,000 more than other professionals.

Importance of Obtaining A Master’s Degree In Computer Science

The question, “Is a master’s degree in computer science a worthy investment?” is frequently asked by several bachelor’s in computer science degree holders. If you’re wondering if a master’s degree in computer science is a worthy investment, here are some of the reasons why it is.

  • Higher Earning Potential
    If you’re a computer scientist or engineer looking to improve your salary, completing a master’s degree in computer science is one of the best ways to do so. According to PayScale, employees with a master’s degree in computer science often earn no less than 101000 dollars. Thus, master’s degree holders earn $40000 more than their counterparts with only bachelor’s degrees.
  • Ability to Specialize
    If you’d like to develop your career as a specialist, it’s in your best interest to complete your master’s degree. Some of the most preferred computer science fields of specializations include artificial intelligence and machine learning, information security, and data administration. Going by the high median salaries specialists in these fields earn, choosing to be one would be great for you.
  • Increased Access to Government Jobs
    In recent years, government agencies have been increasingly hiring CS graduates, just like other private businesses. This can be attributed to the fact that government agencies also require system analysts, research scientists, computer programmers, and software engineers. Given that government jobs are normally well-paying and have job security, many individuals usually apply for these positions. If you have a master’s degree, employers will likely hire you before other applicants who only have associate degrees.
  • You’ll have a Strong Foundation to Work in Many Different Industries
    One of the key benefits of completing a master’s in computer science degree is that you’ll widen your range of job possibilities. As a master’s degree equips you with a huge variety of skills, you can easily land a job at a company of your liking. With a master’s degree in computer science, you can easily get the software engineering job you’ve always dreamed of. If you don’t fancy software engineering, you can easily land a job as a programmer at a top tech company. Either way, with a master’s degree, you’ll have increased job prospects.

Benefits of Being A Computer Science Graduate

Apart from good pay, computer scientists usually enjoy many benefits packages. Listed below are some of the most common ones.

  • Job Security
    Compared to other professions, computer scientists tend to enjoy tremendous job security. This can be attributed to the fact that their positions in companies are significant. Without a computer scientist, a company becomes prone to cyber-attacks, network failures, malware in their databases, and other computer-related problems. Given that these types of problems can easily lead to a business’s collapse, most companies never cut-down their IT budgets and personnel even during tough economic times. As such, by choosing to be a computer scientist, software engineer, or even system analyst, you can rest assured that once you’re employed, you’ll not lose your position easily.
  • Freedom of Travel
    If you like traveling, you should pursue a career in computer science. Computer science professionals such as information security consultants usually fly in and out of cities all the time. Other computer science professionals such as computer engineers also constantly move around. This being the case, if you genuinely enjoy traveling, a career in computer science is advisable.
  • Flexible Time Schedules
    Most organizations typically allow their computer scientists to work from home. Other organizations often allow their computer scientists to work at their choosing. As this is the case, if you choose to pursue a career in computer science, you can rest assured you’ll have a lot of free time on your hands.

Choosing a Computer Science Degree Program

Given that there are various computer science degrees, you may find it challenging to find one that suits you. Choosing a computing program is an incredibly personal decision. This is because only you know what works best for you.

Importance of Choosing a Computer Science Degree Program with a Robust Research Department

When looking for an institution to pursue your dream computer science degree program, one of the essential qualities you must ensure it possesses is a robust research department. Here’s why.

  • Specialized Fields Are Demanding
    It’s common knowledge that computer science includes a wide range of specialized fields. It’s also common knowledge that these computing fields are some of the most demanding. Due to their challenging nature, these fields rely heavily on strong research skills and adequate practical experience. As this is the case, you may find it rather challenging to grow and develop the required skills without a broad research department. As such, if you wish to major in a given specialized field of computer science, it’s in your best interest to enroll at a university with an up and running research department.
  • Quality Technical Education Is Normally Hands-On
    According to reports by renowned research institutions, practical, hands-on educational methods often deliver better teaching results than traditional, non-practical educational methods. By choosing to pursue your computer science program-of-choice at a university with a large research department, you’d be making a wise decision as such institutions usually educate using practical, hands-on educational methods.

Real innovation is usually a result of practical learning. Given that employers hire more computer science majors from institutions renowned for having robust research departments than from other institutions, choosing to enroll at an institution with a vast research department will be one of the wisest decisions you’ll ever make.

How to Determine Which Computer Science Degree Is Appropriate for You

Unlike in the old days, nearly every employee in a company nowadays relies on computer technology. Because of this advancement, there’s a greater need for professionals who can keep servers, databases, and software working. Suppose you’re one of the many individuals interested in becoming one of these needed professionals. In that case, it’s safe to assume that at one point, you’ve asked yourself the question, “Which computer science degree is appropriate for me?”

If you’re wondering which computer science or computer engineering program to pursue, there are specific steps that you need to follow to figure out which program is the right one for you. The first step is that you need to ask yourself where you see yourself working. You also need to ask yourself what you see yourself doing. By asking yourself these simple questions, you can easily identify the programs that answer both questions satisfactorily.

After asking yourself these simple but vital questions, the next step you need to carry out is to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Once you identify your strengths and weaknesses, you can easily know which computing/engineering programs are likely to pass easily and which programs you’ll likely find difficult. Many students have dropped out as computer science programs are known to be immensely difficult in the past. To avoid being part of that statistic, you ought to choose an undergraduate computer science/engineering degree that aligns with your strengths.

As simple as these steps sound, they have, on numerous occasions, assisted several individuals in making the right decisions and ultimately landing lucrative careers. Similarly, they can help you too.

Steps to Follow When Looking For a Trustworthy Online School to Enroll At 

As many people nowadays want to pursue computer science and applied science degrees, the number of online universities has surged. Even though all these universities claim to offer exceptional computer science and engineering degrees, this isn’t always the reality. To avoid enrolling at an online university that offers low-quality computing graduate programs, it’s in your best interest to follow some precautionary measures. Listed below are some of the said measures.

  • Seek Referrals
    The first precautionary measure you need to follow when searching for a university to enroll in is to seek referrals. Seeking referrals is essential as it assists you narrow down your list of potential universities to enroll. Thus, it saves you a lot of time.
  • Carry Out Thorough Background Checks
    Once you’ve got your references, the next step you ought to carry out is to conduct a thorough background check on all of the suggested online universities. When you carry out this measure, you’ll be able to identify which of the recommended universities that offer computing programs have clean backgrounds and which ones don’t. Top universities usually have clean backgrounds. As such, the cleaner a university’s background is, the better.
  • Past Students’ Reviews
    Finally, after carrying out thorough background checks on all of your references, you should go through each of the suggested universities’ past students’ reviews. Across all sectors, past clients’ reviews are usually quite essential. Online universities that typically offer below-standard computer science and electrical engineering courses generally have poor reviews. With this in mind, it’s critical that before you settle on a given university, you ensure that it has plenty of fantastic reviews.

Schools With The Best Computer Science Programs

If you’re searching for a university where you can get the high-quality science/engineering computing programs you desire, here are some of the schools that you should consider joining.

  • UMass Online
    Regarded by many as one of the best online universities in the country, UMass Online has, for years, offered exceptional computer science and engineering programs. Given that it has many well-trained and experienced online instructors choosing to pursue your preferred computing program here would be prudent.
  • Florida State University
    Florida State University has, time and again, been ranked as one of the best universities in the country. This is primarily because this university has terrific instructors and research resources. As it offers its computing/engineering programs at affordable rates learning here would be an excellent financial move.

In Summary

Like most professions, computer science and engineering isn’t a career that everyone will like. It’s also worth mentioning that computer science does have its drawbacks. If you don’t enjoy learning, and keeping your skills up-to-date, then an environment in which constant innovation is a requirement, hence a career in computer science would not be advisable. If you love moving around from time to time, you should avoid pursuing a computer science profession as most jobs in this field are often quite sedentary, requiring you to sit at a desk for several hours at a time.

However, if you see yourself designing and creating software systems, computer science might be the right course of study. If you are thinking of becoming an executive or administrator to a technical enterprise, a degree in computer science or the information and computer sciences could provide you with the qualifications you require to achieve your goals. If you believe becoming a researcher in a technical field is your calling, information and computer sciences could provide you with the skills and understanding necessary to succeed.

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