What is a Computer Science Major and Is It Right for You?

Choosing a major can be an overwhelming task. If you’re entering college soon, you may be interested in pursuing a computer science major. Before you start, though, let’s take a look at what it entails so you can be sure that this is the right path for you.

What is a Computer Science Major?

A computer science major is a four-year degree on the study of computers. This study focuses on computational systems and the software that runs them.

A computer science major can expect to study all aspects of software systems, from the theories behind them to their development and application, and everything in between. So, this degree is a good fit for anyone interested in programming languages and the ever-changing world of technology.

What Classes Can You Expect to Take?

A computer science major is a four-year college degree. Often, computer science majors will start with core classes on the basic topics and then choose a specific track on which to finish their studies.

For example, in the Stanford undergraduate major in computer science, students begin with classes in systems and theories. Then, they can choose to specialize in “Artificial Intelligence, Theory, Systems, Human-Computer Interaction, Graphics, Information, Biocomputation, Unspecialized, and Individually Designed.”

What Job Opportunities Does a Computer Science Major Provide?

Computer scientists are in high demand and the field is expected to grow. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that “By 2022, the computer and mathematical occupations group is expected to yield more than 1.3 million job openings.” This is an 18% change from 2012 and shows that the field is growing faster than average.

Computer science majors have a wide variety of job opportunities to choose from. Some common positions for graduates with a computer science degree are in software engineering, web development, programming, data administration, information security analysts and much more. Indeed reports that “The average salary for a Computer Scientist is $100,914 per year in the United States,” and continues to say “The typical tenure for a Computer Scientist is 2-4 years.”

Top Schools for Computer Science Majors

US News and World Report ranked the best undergraduate computer science programs in the United States for students in 2019.

The top five on the list are Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, Stanford University in California, the University of California Berkeley, and the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta.

The University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign, Cornell University, University of Texas – Austin and Purdue University – West Lafayette round out the top ten.

How Can You Prepare for a Computer Science Major?

The best way to prepare for a computer science major is by searching the specific requirements for the course at the schools you’d like to study at. If possible, take introductory classes in high school or at a community college before you apply. You could also consider hiring a computer science tutor to get a head start on some course material. This can help you be a more successful applicant and save time and money through the course of the degree. Some of these common requirements for computer science degrees are calculus and physics.

In addition to these courses, students hoping to complete a computer science degree can prepare by staying up-to-date on innovation in the tech field and becoming familiar with popular programming languages like JavaScript and Python. There are paid and free courses online to help you get started.

Master’s and Doctorate Degrees in Computer Science

Once you complete a computer science degree, it’s also possible to continue your schooling with a Master’s and a doctorate in the field.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that “All of the computer and mathematical occupations typically require at least some college education. Through 2022, more than 3 in 4 new jobs occurring in this group are projected to be in occupations that typically require at least a bachelor’s degree, with the fastest projected growth among occupations that need a master’s degree.”

Master’s degrees typically take two years and can often be done online. Beyond this, it’s also possible to earn a doctorate in computer science (DCS) or a PhD in computer science through more years of work and advanced study.

Is a Computer Science Major Right For You?

Use this guide to dive deeper into the world of computer science and find salary expectations, job growth, school recommendations, tips for prep and much more. Learn what you can expect in your classes and the different job opportunities that this degree will provide. Then, use this advice to decide if a computer science major is right for you!

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