If you enjoy working with computers, thinking abstractly, and solving complex problems, then a career in computer science might be a good fit. Computer science is a complex discipline that explores the theories of computation and its practical implementation techniques. During this program, students will use computers to solve problems, specifically within the areas of software and hardware design, computer architecture, and programming languages. At the master’s degree level, students build upon the knowledge and skills taught in undergrad, while focusing on advanced subject matter and complex problems within their specialized field of study.

Why a Master’s Degree?

The traditional degree route for many computer science professionals begins and ends with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Even though a bachelor’s degree is the minimum education requirement for many jobs, it may not be enough for your prospective employer, now or later. There are many professional and personal reasons to consider earning a master’s degree in this highly technical field. For instance, those who possess advanced knowledge and high order skills in the field of computer science are likely to have better job options, more advancement opportunities, and higher earnings than their colleagues who do not hold a graduate degree. Earning your master’s is also a great way to prepare for the challenging doctorate program.

Getting Into a Master’s Degree Program

Before enrolling in the computer science master’s degree program, all applicants must meet the minimum educational requirements set by their school. Although admissions criteria varies by location and discipline, most graduate programs look for the following:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Minimum cumulative GPA
  • Completion of related academic courses or demonstrated work experience
  • Submission of academic and/or professional recommendations

Inside a Computer Science Master’s Degree Program

The online masters computer science degree takes roughly four or five years to complete. Depending on the school and program, students are likely to take classes in software and hardware systems, database design, quality assurance and testing, and software project management. In addition to the core courses, students may also take subject-related electives, such as computation and optimization algorithms, mobile device programming, and secure software engineering to expand their knowledge and skills. Many graduate programs also require students to complete a capstone project or independent study/practicum in a course not offered by the school.

Like most online programs, graduate students will access their courses, class assignments, grades, and other materials on the learning management system provided by their school. Lectures and content may be delivered in a number of different ways, including text documents, audio or visual clips, slideshow presentations, modules, and other alternative formats. Although most graduate-level work will be done on your own time, some programs have occasional face-to-face meetings or examinations.

What’s Next for Computer Science Master’s Degree Holders?

Graduates will be qualified to work in a wide range of jobs. Depending on your interests and preferred industry, computer science graduates tend to work as computer and information systems managers, also known as information technology managers. This professional is in charge of planning, implementing, and overseeing various IT and computer-related activities at companies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of computer and information systems managers is expected to increase 18% by 2020. More managers will be needed to combat cyber threats and other IT security issues happening in most industries. Not only is this a challenging and exciting occupation, but it’s also a very lucrative one. Computer and information systems managers made an average annual salary of $115,780 in 2010, according to the BLS.

Although master’s degree holders have an overall optimistic job outlook, they may consider taking their education or career routes to the next level. The Ph.D. in computer science is the next education option and the highest degree offered in this field. Earning a doctoral credit opens the door for more advanced career opportunities in industry or academia, and, best of all, you will be considered an academic expert in this highly technical field.