What Coursework Can I Expect for a Master’s Degree in Computer Science?

coursework computer scienceIf becoming a computer science professional appeals to your future goals, then mastering the required computer science courses for a master’s degree is essential. In 2013, employers told Forbes magazine that technical knowledge and computer software proficiency were two of the top ten skills they desired all employees to possess. A year later, Forbes reported that three of the top jobs were in fields requiring computer technology degrees: Software developers ranked number one, web developers at number six and database administrators at number eight. In view of this, computer science graduates with accredited master’s degrees will have an edge for employment and career advancement in a today’s technology-driven world.

Standard Curriculum Components for a Master of Computer Science

Computer science courses for a master’s degree may vary by school or specialization, but there are some common, core curriculum standards that apply. The degree has its foundations in math and science disciplines and requires that candidates possess strong analytical reasoning skills to solve problems. Once approved for a program of study, coursework breaks down into three general areas:

  • Systems, which explores networks, databases, operations, programs and design parameters.
  • Theoretical foundations, which delves into algorithms, logic, programming languages, software development, abstract interpretation, performance modeling and complexity.
  • Artificial intelligence(AI), which outlines applications, optimization, computer architecture, machine learning, computer vision and other AI components.

Specialization Areas for Master’s of Computer Science Degrees

Almost all master’s programs in computer science will offer ways to personalize the degree for specific career goals. Concentrating study in one particular area can be an advantage for professionals who wish to advance in a specific occupational areas. Specializing a degree does not typically mean more time to complete the degree, rather, courses are built into the curriculum. Popular areas of specialization include:

  • Software engineering.
  • Data analytics.
  • High performance computing.
  • Artificial intelligence.
  • Computer and network security.
  • Human and computer interactions.
  • Real-world computing
  • Database systems.

Often, the type of occupation will determine the desired specialization. For example, computer science employees working in biomedical settings on artificial limb development may opt to study human and computer interactions to enhance their proficiency in that area.

Formats for Learning and Completion Time

Many master’s programs in computer science are built around time frames that suit working professionals. Full- or part-time programs are available, with classes often scheduled during evenings or on the weekends. Formats include traditional on-campus settings or distance learning programs with interactive cohort participation.

Degree programs also vary with regard to completion times. Credit requirements typically span 27 to 45 semester hours depending on the program. As a result, it can take as little as nine months or over two years to complete a Master of Computer Science degree.

Computer science professionals with master’s degrees have a place in every occupational setting, including public and private corporations, banks, industry, research facilities, government agencies, the military, and non-profit groups. Employers understand that these trained professionals are the key to keeping business operations running smoothly. As a result, graduates with the competencies attained from computer science courses for a master’s degree are likely to have multiple employment and career advancement opportunities across occupational platforms in a competitive job market.

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