Different Types of Computer Science Degrees

By Henry R. Steele - October 22, 2018
Reading Time: 4 minutes

The computer and information technology professions are poised for strong growth in the next decade. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports employment growth will rise by 13% in these professions through 2026, which is faster than average. As technology improves and commerce becomes more reliant on computer systems, employment will increase strongly in these fields.

Students and professionals interested in robust job and salary growth in the future may want to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer science. These degrees are appropriate for those who have strong analytical and problem-solving skills. Below is detailed information about computer science degrees that are available.

Computer Science Degree Basics

A computer science professional typically works in one of three general areas:

  • Writing, building and designing software
  • Developing innovative ways to handle computing challenges effectively with databases, data transfer, and network sharing, and devising new ways to fix security issues
  • Developing new ways to solve complex problems in computer intelligence, vision, and robotics

The type of computer science degree you select depends upon which of the above three descriptions fit you. For the most part, students can earn either a bachelor’s, master’s or Ph.D. in various specialties of computer science. The most common and popular specializations for a computer science degree include:

General Computer Science

General computer science teaches you skills in developing, testing and maintaining the computer programming language needed to make the device function. You also will learn how to develop new languages to program computers. After studying and completing general computer science classes, most bachelor’s graduates should be able to find good jobs in research or industry.

See also Computer Engineering vs Computer Science

General computer science graduates may also find jobs in companies that need professional experience to develop and maintain software and hardware.

An example of the general computer science curriculum at the bachelor’s level can be seen at the University of Texas – Austin:

  • Introduction to Programming
  • Data Structures
  • Computer Organization and Architecture
  • Principles of Computer Systems
  • Discrete Mathematics for Computer Science
  • Algorithms and Complexity

Computer Programming

Students studying computer programming learn skills needed to develop, test, and maintain the computer programming language that dictates how the computer functions. These students also learn how to develop new computer programming languages.

Students who graduate with a degree in computer programming often find jobs in software development, and in companies that create and package specialized software programs and software for general uses. A degree in general computer science should give you the basic computer coding skills to work with wireless application companies, web-based organizations, and also in cybersecurity.

A sample computer science in programming bachelor’s program is this one from Northwestern University:

  • Fundamentals of Computer Programming I
  • Fundamentals of Computer Programming II
  • Mathematical Foundations of Computer Science
  • Introduction to Computer Systems
  • Data Structures and Data Management

Software Engineering

A computer science degree specialized in software engineering gives you the skills and knowledge to develop and maintain software systems that companies depend upon today. Beyond mere software development and programming, a software engineer assesses the needs of the client and keeps these at the top of the list as they create new and innovative software. Software engineers are expected to see 30% growth in the next 10 years, so having your degree in software engineering can be an excellent option for a good career.

See also Top 10 Online Software Engineering Programs

You can expect to take the following types of classes in this curriculum example from Auburn University:

  • Computer Architecture
  • Introduction to Computer Networks
  • Computer Ethics
  • Software Quality Assurance
  • Software Process
  • Introduction to Operating Systems
  • Software Modeling and Design
  • Principles of Programming Languages

Artificial Intelligence

A computer science degree specialized in artificial intelligence incorporates topics such as modeling and probability, logical reasoning, robotics, natural language processing, and machine learning. Applications of artificial intelligence today include autonomous cars, data analysis and mining, and intelligent tutoring systems for teaching students.

See 5+ Artificial Intelligence Degree Programs

At Northwestern University, these are the courses required for this program:

  • Cognitive Modeling
  • Robotics Laboratory
  • Data Management and Information Processing
  • Artificial Intelligence Programming
  • Human Computer Interaction
  • Introduction to Computer Vision
  • Intro to Databases
  • Design of Problem Solvers

Computer Engineering

A computer science degree specialized in computer engineering designs, researches, develops and test computer systems and components to further advance computer technology. From keyboards to computer chips, to computer systems and printers, the computer hardware engineer must hand the design, development and testing of these systems and hardware.

This computer engineering curriculum from the University of Texas San Antonio has the following classes:

  • Introduction to Computer Science I and II
  • Integration and Infinite Series
  • Introduction to Engineering Design
  • Oscillations, Waves, Electric and Magnetic Fields
  • Mechanics Laboratory
  • Circuits Laboratory
  • Introduction to Discrete Structures
  • Operating Systems Principles

Computer Networking and Technology

Students who desire a degree in computer networking and technology will learn recent practices, theories, and trends in computer technology and networking. Students who want this degree will study operating systems, and how structures and components of a computer network are properly maintained. Graduates of computer networking and technology degree programs are often employed as computer support specialists, network administrators or network analysts.

A sample curriculum for a computer networking and technology degree is:

  • Introduction to Networks
  • Computer Science I
  • Routing and Switching
  • Computer Science II
  • Computer Organization
  • Security Principles
  • Statistics and Applications
  • Network Administration
  • Databases
  • Wireless Networks
  • Network Security
  • Network Administration
  • Computer Security

Internet Security

Students in the Internet security concentration of a computer science degree are taught the common attacks, risks, and threats of the cyber world. Students will learn the technologies and procedures that are used to design usable and secure information systems. Students also are taught ways to offer proper security to information systems that already exist, such as applications, networking, and databases. Graduates of a computer science degree in Internet security or cybersecurity degree may work as chief security officers or information security analysts.

Common courses you would take in an Internet security degree program are:

  • Object-oriented programming
  • Computer science I
  • Discrete mathematics I
  • Computer network investigations
  • System vulnerability assessments
  • Information assurance risk and compliance
  • Applied cryptography
  • Cybercrime investigations and forensics I

Whatever type of computer science degree you choose, you are selecting a growing career field with plenty of lucrative job possibilities. According to Payscale.com, the median salary for professionals with a bachelor’s degree in computer science is $83,000. Typical median salaries for various computer science career occupations are:

  • Software developer: $70,300
  • Software engineer: $81,200
  • Senior software engineer: $119,000
  • Software architect: $124,600
  • Web developer: $55,000
  • Network engineer: $69,100

You can have a great salary and job in any of these career specialities; you just need to decide where your passion is.

References

  • Computer and Information Technology Jobs. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm
  • Types of Computer Science Degrees. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://typesofdegrees.org/types-of-computer-science-degrees/
  • 5 Online Computer Science Degree Specializations (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.bestchoiceschools.com/lists/5-online-computer-science-degree-specializations/
Henry R. Steele
Henry R. Steele
Managing Editor
Henry is Managing Editor of BusinessStudent.com. He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.Follow on Twitter.com

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