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Do You Need a Masters in Computer Science?

do you need a masters in computer science

Do you need a masters in computer science?

Short answer–no.

You can always find a job with just a bachelor’s degree.

But are you particular about what you want to do? Do you want to work in more advanced areas? Do you like the idea of being managerial? What about making a bigger paycheck  let’s face it–who doesn’t?)?

If so, then the answer is probably a more resounding yes. But getting a master’s degree is a significant investment, to say the least. That’s especially true if you’ve already paid a lot for your undergraduate studies.

Should you get a master’s in computer science? U.S. News and World Report lays it out clearly.

A master’s degree in Computer Science isn’t a requirement to work in the field in general. However, if you want to serve in a leadership role, an affordable master’s degree is the way to go. You’ll enhance your education level for access to a broader range of job opportunities.

Needless to say, these jobs are in high demand. Your career opportunities will be limitless!

What Bachelor’s Degree is Best for a Career in Computer Science?

Do I need a masters degree in computer science to be successful in the computer science workforce?

Yes – but meeting your career goals all starts with getting the right type of bachelor’s degree. 

A master’s in computer science will provide you with the more advanced training you need to advanced computer science jobs. You’ll be able to specialize in fields of interest. You’ll complete advanced research that will prepare you for a doctoral program. You’ll also be able to network with other computer scientists, something that can help immensely when it comes to applying for in-demand computer science jobs.

But before you can do all that, you need a base degree in computer science at the undergraduate level. This will provide you with the early training you need in the fundamentals and basics of the discipline. 

Common undergraduate majors for  aspiring master’s in computer science candidates include:

  • Information technology
  • Computer programming
  • Computer science
  • Business
  • Data science

An undergraduate degree will offer the skills and training you need to be successful in a master’s in computer science program.

How Does a Masters in Computer Science Help?

A graduate degree in computer science will equip you with the skills you need for just about any computer science career. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you could work as a:

  • Computer and information research scientist
  • Computer network architect
  • Computer programmer
  • Computer support specialist
  • Database administrator
  • System architect
  • Information security analyst
  • Network and computer systems administrator
  • Software developer
  • Web developer
  • Digital designer 

…and in many other roles. According to what the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects, the median pay for these jobs is around $91,250. Plus, these jobs are expected to grow by about 13% before 2030. That’s much faster than the national average!

Earning a master’s in computer science can help in many ways. It gives you the skills you need to succeed in a more advanced position. You may also gain leadership skills and access to a more extensive professional network. You’ll be able to show potential employers that you fully understand the principles and applications of the discipline.

Finally, earning a graduate degree in computer science is wise for one other reason. It may help show you where your interests truly lie. Many students complete their bachelor’s degrees in computer science without understanding the best career stepping stone. A master’s degree will help you uncover your true passions. 

How Do You Earn a Computer Science Master’s Degree?

Do I need a masters in computer science? Yes. The answer is unequivocal. But how do you go about getting into a computer science master’s program, anyway?

All graduate programs have different requirements. This depends on the graduate school you are planning to attend. Which computer science programs are best? Again, only you can decide that. 

It’s important to visit multiple schools on your search for the right graduate programs. You can ask questions of the computer scientists who serve on the faculty there. Ask them what sorts of computer science careers this program will prepare you for. You might also want to ask what opportunities you’ll have to work with software developers and other working professionals.

You’ll need an undergraduate degree in a related field. Often, there is a GPA cut-off involved. Usually, this is a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.

After earning your bachelor’s, you might want to enter the workforce. That way, you can continue your studies while bringing in a paycheck. While there is plenty of master’s degrees financial aid opportunities, federal financial aid is limited (aside from loans). You may be able to pay the full cost of your graduate degree just with money from your job.

Some graduate degrees also ask for work experience as part of the application.

Other admissions requirements include:

  • Completion of the GRE (Graduate Records Examination)
  • Resume
  • Transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation
  • A personal essay

Some programs require students to come to campus for an interview as well.

Once enrolled, you will take classes in things like:

  • Software development
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Software engineering (something helpful for software developers and web developers to take)
  • Cloud computing (cloud computing is available as a concentration for some programs, too)
  • Information systems

These course requirements are similar between most master’s program options, even online programs. That’s because the skills are in high demand and can lead to a myriad of job opportunities. They’ll also equip you with the soft skills you need for leadership roles – including leadership roles in other industries.

So how do you choose? Weigh your pros and cons with your career goals. Only you can choose the master’s degrees that are right for you!

How Long Does it Take to Earn a Master’s in Computer Science?

masters in computer science

Do you need a degree for computer science? The answer, again, is yes. But how long will it take?

That depends on your goals and lifestyle. For many students, an online master’s degree is the right choice. An online master’s degree can be started at any time.

These online master’s degree programs are ideal for people who already have entry level positions in the computer science workforce. You can work and get your classes done at the same time. You don’t have to wait for the right time to start. You can start any time!

Some computer science programs can be completed in as little as one year. These are considered accelerated programs. Other graduate degrees can take as long as eight to ten years to complete if you’d rather take your time and get work experience along the way.

Consider the time limits for your graduate degree. In some cases, you may want to take classes slowly, just one or two at a time. This will allow you to fit in your other obligations and commitments. Graduating at a more accelerated pace is ideal for people who are fresh out of undergraduate school.

Earning a master’s degree program will take most new hires about three to four years. Sometimes it takes longer if concentrations or dual degrees in related fields are also completed. If you want leadership-level positions and the skills you need for the real world – not just entry-level positions – longer degree programs are smart. A longer master’s in computer science degree may provide you with more real-world experience for job growth.

When deciding how long to take in your studies, ask yourself this. Do you need a master’s degree right away – or can you chip away at your master’s in computer science? You may find the most benefit if you can take classes slowly. You’ll absorb more information and be able to apply it directly to your career, if you are already working. 

That said, taking classes full time might make more sense than part time if you’re interested in a competitive area of computer science. You can meet your long term goals more quickly while completing your degree program. Full time study will help you cross this goal off your list more quickly.

Either way, is computer science worth it? Yes. Computer science professionals are in high demand, regardless of when you complete your degree.

Is a Master’s Degree in Computer Science Worth It?

99% of the time, getting a masters in computer science is a smart choice. That’s true for your career and for your personal development.

But how do you find the right master’s degree?

A good place to start is looking for a good program online to gain your degree. Here’s a list of the best online master’s in computer science degree programs currently available.

Before you apply, you should answer a few key questions. Do you want to pursue a Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS) or a Master of Computer Science (MCS) degree? Does it matter?

Both degrees can probably get you where you want to go professionally. However, there are a few nuanced differences that may influence your decision.

A Master of Science degree may focus a little more on theory than application. That’s especially true for students who wish to go for a Ph.D. This may serve as a good foundation.

Of course, this does not mean that individuals who want to go into the job field directly upon graduation instead of studying further cannot pursue a MSCS. In fact, a solid theoretical understanding can benefit anyone. The Master of Computer Science degree does sometimes offer more concentration options.

This can be particularly beneficial for students who want to go into a specialized area of the computer science field, like:

  • Computer networks
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Human-computer interaction
  • Software theory
  • Data mining
  • Systems administrator
  • Network security
  • Information technology
  • Data science
  • Computer engineering
  • Robotics and gaming.

As stated, either master’s in computer science is a good choice. There are options for students of all professional backgrounds and goals. Want to complete a master’s thesis? Check. Interested in management positions? Check. Want to work with some of the best industry leaders? Double check.

A master’s in computer science is a clear smart choice.

Should I Get a Master’s in Computer Science?

masters in computer science

Do you need a master’s in computer science?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you want to specialize in a certain industry?
  • Do you want to be able to apply to a range of jobs?
  • Is getting a leadership position one day important to you?
  • Would you like a job that involves research?
  • Do you want to be considered an expert?
  • Are you looking for a way to differentiate yourself among other job candidates?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to consider taking the GRE and applying to a graduate program. The coursework you’ll take in a computer science master’s can help you meet any and all of these goals. 

What Kind of Jobs Can You Get With a Master’s Degree in Computer Science?

A master’s degree in computer science is an advanced degree that will present you with many career opportunities. It doesn’t matter what your career goals are. Master’s degrees of any kind are valuable if you want leadership positions or simply access to more jobs in general.

Master’s degrees in computer science will provide you with the skills you need to pursue jobs like:

  • Data scientist
  • Systems architect
  • Web developers
  • Software developer

…and many of the other career paths we already listed above. You’ll take classes in things like advanced algorithms, machine learning, computer architecture, and more. You’ll learn how to work with existing software. You’ll collaborate with working professionals. You’ll build essential communication skills.

Of course, you can get these jobs with just a bachelor’s degree, too. But an advanced degree, particularly a graduate program of study in computer science like an MS program, will provide you with the professional networks and qualifications you need to make a serious impact.

To make the most of your graduate program, take elective classes that interest you most. Interested in a computer engineering career? Take computer engineering electives. Want to pursue a career in software development? You can take classes like that in graduate school, too.

Look for a master’s degree program that provides plenty of room to take classes as you see fit. The best master’s degree program will have room for electives as well as internships and research experiences.

Also, look for a master’s in computer science that will allow you time to work with your peers. Collaborating with other professionals is one of the best parts about computer science programs.

Do You Need a Master’s in Computer Science?

Depending on how you like to learn and the courses you want to take, a MSCS or a MCS degree can fit your academic needs. So is getting a masters in computer science worth it? Definitely. Just look at the data we’ve reported from the Bureau of Labor Statistics! You can make more money with a higher median salary from a computer science master’s degree. You’ll be able to explore new software, as opposed to what you had access to in a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Plus, your new skills could help you get a job in a related field, like information systems.

The career options are unlimited. You just need to make an informed decision about your education. Choose the master’s in computer science that’s right for you.

The job market is so strong for computer science professionals right now. It doesn’t seem to be decreasing in strength in the foreseeable future. Again, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has the data to back this up. Getting a master’s in computer science just makes sense.

Going after either type of master’s in computer science is a smart move. Consider an online master’s degree program. You really can’t go wrong with online learning (sometimes called distance education). Many employers are becoming more used to seeing graduates of online programs and more accepting of them. Your master’s in computer science will be valuable regardless.

Even if they weren’t, a degree gained from an online program of a reputable, brick-and-mortar college or university is not going to indicate that the degree was earned online. You can pursue a quality career-advanced degree from your home. You can earn a master’s in computer sciencewithout having to give up your lifestyle.

How does that sound? Short answer: win-win! So is a master’s degree computer science worth it? Absolutely. A computer science program can help you be successful, no matter your goal or which of these computer science master’s programs you choose.

Get a master’s in computer science today. There’s a computer science program and a computer science degree out there for everyone. You won’t regret it!

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Michael Templeton
Managing Editor

Kacey Reynolds Schedler
Contributing Editor