Computer science is a field that’s utilized in many industries, and many aspiring computer science professionals wonder how to choose the right master’s in computer science program. Choosing a master’s in computer science program can be a big decision. Because computer-based jobs are so prevalent, a computer science degree should be chosen based on several factors. Here are some thoughts to keep in mind when choosing a master’s in computer science program.
Related resource: Top 50 Master’s in Computer Science Degree Programs
Type of Program Format
Many colleges offer computer science programs on campus and online. Prospective students should get as much information as possible on both program formats to decide which one will be more beneficial. Candidates who are working full-time jobs and don’t want to quit their jobs may find an online program more convenient. Individuals who already have a bachelor’s degree may choose an on-campus program because it’s easy to advance the degree and transfer credits.
Some students have difficulty with the “work at your own pace” and need the structure of an on-campus program. On-campus programs also offer students valuable resources, such as access to labs and libraries, networking opportunities, internship assistance and interaction with instructors and peers. Many students find these resources extremely valuable when pursuing a master’s in computer science.
The type of education a student receives in college is often based on the college and its reputation. Aspiring students should do some research on the school and students who have been in computer science programs. Here are some things to look into when researching a computer science program.
• Student Retention Rate
• Admission Rate
• School Size
• Student-to-Faculty Ratio
• Graduation Rate
• Resources Offered
• Job Placement After Graduation
Geographic Location for Career
When choosing a master’s in computer science program, many students consider the state in which they wish to work after graduation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that there were about 4 million computer and mathematical professionals employed across the nation as of May 2018. Computer science professionals may find work in almost every state, but some states offer better job opportunities than other states.
Three popular career choices of computer science graduates include computer and network architect, computer and information research scientist, and computer systems analyst. According to the bureau, states where computer network architects earned the highest wages in 2018, were:
• California – $128,770
• New Jersey – $128,370
• Delaware – $124,310
• Oregon – $122,020
• Connecticut – $120,700
States where computer and information research scientists earned the highest wages were:
• Washington – $143,080
• Alabama – $138,510
• Idaho – $137,180
• New Mexico – $136,370
• California – $136,310
States where computer systems analysts earned the highest wages were:
• New Jersey – $107,540
• District of Columbia – $106,790
• New York – $106,320
• California – $103,930
• Virginia – $102,290
Knowing what type of job the individual wishes to pursue after graduation can also help choose a computer science program. Many computer science programs offer areas of specialization so the student can focus his or her studies on a specific area. A student interested in becoming a computer systems analyst may want a program that offers this as a concentration.
The bureau reports that computer systems analysts should see job growth of 9 percent during the decade of 2018-2028, while computer and information research scientists should experience a 16 percent growth, and computer network architects should see a 5 percent growth. Finding a career that appeals the most to a student can help the student choose a computer science program.
With so many jobs in the computer and information technology fields, earning a computer science degree can be the first step towards an excellent and lucrative career. Once a candidate has narrowed down the important factors, specifically career aspirations, choosing a master’s in computer science program can be a lot easier.