A bachelor’s degree used to be enough formal education to propel your computer science career forward. But, the popularity of online master’s degree programs coupled with changing industry standards is prompting more professionals to ask themselves: is a master’s in computer science worth it?
In this article, we will help you unpack that question and discover the information you need to decide whether pursuing a master’s degree in computer science is right for you.
Why Go Beyond a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science
The high demand for computer scientists used to mean that you could find a fulfilling job with only an undergraduate degree.
So why pursue a graduate degree?
In the past, an undergraduate computer science degree and work experience could set you up for an entry-level career, but employers are increasingly including grad school in their minimum hiring requirements, especially for leadership career paths. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 15.3% jump in the number of computer science jobs that will require a doctorate by 2022.
Depending on your career goals, graduate school might be just the thing to accelerate your professional career.
Many computer science professionals find fulfilling work in software development, information technology, cybersecurity, software engineering, data science, and many other specializations. High average salaries and ample career opportunities through steady job growth mean that you'll be more likely to enjoy a comfortable career with a master’s in computer science.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for qualified talent in computer science is expected to grow by another 11% within the next eight years, fueling more opportunities for graduates with an advanced degree to obtain full-time jobs in computer science or related fields.
From Jobs to Academia: Online Master's of Computer Science Program Benefits
Graduate-level computer science degrees unlock new career and academic paths where an undergraduate degree alone is not enough.
Expanded job opportunities: A master’s degree in computer science offers rigorous training to develop your skills in cutting-edge topics, from advanced algorithms and new programming languages to cloud computing and distributed systems. These computer science programs are also designed to prepare you for leadership roles across many computer science fields.
Pathway to Academia: With companies increasingly requiring graduate degrees as minimum qualifications, a master’s degree can position you as a competitive candidate for a doctoral program. Students with a graduate degree from a computer science program often become leaders in computer engineering and top information research scientists. Graduate programs allow students to move up in pay scale and take on leadership roles in multiple industries, from academia to healthcare and beyond.
Online programs make graduate degrees a much more accessible option for working professionals to pursue these benefits.
One student enrolled in the Master of Computer Science program from The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) said that his experience in the online program benefited from flexibility, as well as quality of faculty and peers.
“I have learned and benefited immensely from being enrolled in this course,” the student said. “I appreciate the flexibility, access to top professors, TA, and an engaging and motivated cohort of students.”
Theory and Practice: Skills From a Computer Science Master’s Degree Program
A master’s of computer science program is designed to provide students with a broad understanding of the field through foundational coursework and various electives on subjects in high demand within the industry, including:
- Information systems
- Machine learning
- Distributed systems
- Computer systems
- Operating systems
Students are also likely to develop a deeper understanding of deep learning and neural networks, virtualization, artificial intelligence, and other concepts that lie at the heart of innovation.
While courses typically focus on building a theoretical understanding of computer science, many online programs are organized around applying this theory to real-world problems. Working professionals can then immediately apply lessons learned during their degree programs to their jobs.
Students enrolled in UT Austin’s Computer Science Master’s Degree program cited affordable degrees, quality courses, and an interesting list of course topics as the most relevant aspects of their studies.
So, Should You Get a Master’s in Computer Science?
Obtaining a master’s degree in computer science can ensure growth in both career and salary. Online master's degrees are more in demand than ever, as many are increasingly offered as part-time programs, with opportunities to complete prerequisites ahead of time and obtain financial aid.
The flexibility of online master’s programs provides a perfect solution for professionals currently working as programmers, web developers, and software developers, among others, to build new skills immediately applicable to their work.
If this sounds like you, there are many ways to get started. If you’re looking for a flexible and affordable program from a reputable institution, consider this top-ranked Master of Science in Computer Science from UT Austin.