Choosing a Computer Science Program
Choosing a Computer Science Program: 4 Things to Look For
Computer science has become a core element of today’s society. Organizations across industries rely on our digital ecosystem to stay afloat, which leads to a persistent need for professionals who have the cutting-edge technological skills to keep up.
If you’re looking to broaden your understanding of computer science and sharpen your technical acumen, an undergraduate degree could be the key to unlocking your career potential. But when it comes to choosing a computer science program, not all institutions will equip you to achieve the same outcomes. There are a few important elements you should be looking for when evaluating your options.
Join us as we outline the forecast of computer science jobs and explore some of the attributes many top computer science programs share.
First, why study computer science?
It’s easy to see why computer science professionals are in high demand. Nearly every business and organization today relies on web applications to stay in operation. Computer scientists are the ones who create and support these applications, systems and networks.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), overall employment in computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 15 percent by 2031, which is much faster than the average for all occupations nationwide.
To break that down even further, the increase is expected to result in more than 680,000 new jobs. And this is in addition to the nearly 420,000 job openings that will be made available due to vacancies from retirement and other reasons.
Encompassing job titles like computer programmers, computer systems analysts, database administrators and information security analysts, the compensation for computer and information technology positions is also quite competitive. The BLS reports that the median annual wage for this group was $97,430 in May 2021 — more than double the national average.
It’s important to note that this salary data accounts for workers all across the country and with varying education and experience levels, but it still goes to show that there is exciting earning potential for individuals looking to build a lasting career in computer science.
The most effective entry point into a thriving computer science career is an undergraduate program. A bachelor’s degree in computer science can equip you with the basic skills you’ll need to get started.
But if you’re committed to choosing a computer science program that will go above and beyond to provide you with the interdisciplinary and practical skill set employers are looking for, keep an eye out for the following elements.
1. Flexible learning options
One of the most prominent barriers to earning a degree is accessibility. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) notes that a majority of undergraduate students balance their studies with full- or part-time work to help fund their academic and living expenses. It’s also true that more than one in five college students are parents, adding caregiving responsibilities to their plates.
Everyone’s circumstances are different. Whether you have children, you’re planning to work while in school or you have other commitments that make maintaining a traditional course load difficult, it’s clear that flexibility is key for today’s college students.
If this is important to you, be sure to look for a computer science program that offers flexible learning options. Finding a fully online program that allows busy, working adults like you to continue their education without interrupting your existing commitments can be the difference between success and struggle in pursuit of your degree.
Finally, if you’re looking to learn online, it’s vital to seek out a computer science program that is equipped with instructors who possess widespread industry experience. But it’s just as important for faculty to be well-versed in providing students with a meaningful and engaging online learning experience.
Be sure to look into the institution’s history of online instruction and consider speaking to graduates of its online programs to learn about their experiences.
2. An interdisciplinary approach
Many computer science programs excel in providing students with the cutting-edge tech knowledge they’ll need to be effective in the industry. If you’re looking to hone your expertise in this area and continue down a more skills-focused path, these programs could be great options for you.
But there’s increasing demand for computer science professionals who also possess the soft skills that can help them succeed in any business setting. If you’re seeking a more well-rounded computer science degree that will be suitable for any professional environment, you may want to look for programs that offer an interdisciplinary approach.
This isn’t a distinction you’ll find in all computer science programs. At Concordia University Texas (CTX), however, students can opt to pursue either a Bachelor of Science (BS) or a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Computer Science.
The BS in Computer Science takes a more technical, skills-focused approach to computer science education. This path requires additional high-level mathematics courses to expand your technical acumen. Students can also opt to add a Data Science concentration to their degree if they pursue a BS.
The BA in Computer Science takes an interdisciplinary approach. Students develop the technical skills and knowledge they need while also focusing on invaluable interpersonal abilities like communication, collaboration, presentation skills and more. This holistic design also enables students to develop an understanding of how software design and development decisions work within organizational objectives.
3. Opportunities for hands-on experience
Many computer science programs teach students using hypothetical scenarios. But there’s an undeniable benefit to applying the concepts you’re learning to real professional dynamics. Students often find that the latter better equips them to take what they’ve learned and incorporate it in a practical way.
If you perform better with hands-on learning opportunities, be sure to seek out computer science programs that will offer you the chance to do just that. Whether CTX students opt to pursue a BS or a BA in Computer Science, the program’s capstone course provides a unique opportunity to produce a solution for a real tech company.
Students gain real-world experience regarding the entire software development lifecycle — from concept to delivery — all while receiving direct support from a highly qualified CTX professor. Not only will you become more comfortable navigating actual business challenges, but you’ll also gain some of the practical work experience tech industry leaders are looking for.
4. Easy access to student resources
When seeking out an effective computer science program, it’s easy to focus on things like curriculum and faculty while overlooking something relatively simple such as access to student resources. But for students looking to take advantage of flexible online learning options, this can be a critical ingredient for success.
Each school’s suite of student resources will look a bit different, but it’s still
important to seek out an institution that offers comprehensive, easy-to-access support.
At CTX, for example, all students have access to the following free resources:
- Financial aid assistance
- Military & veteran student services
- Mental health counseling
- The Writing Center
- The Math Center
- The Speaking Center
- Peer Tutoring
- Career Services
- CTX Library’s expansive eBook collection
- 24/7 Librarian chat services
The most effective way to learn whether an institution offers the support services you’ll need is to review its Student Resources page.
Now that you know a bit more about what you should be looking for when choosing a computer science program, it’s time to do some research. If you’re looking to make your mark in the cutting-edge world of tech as a computer science professional, you can find what you need with the flexible, interdisciplinary degree options at Concordia University Texas.
To learn more, explore theCTX Bachelor of Science or Arts in Computer Science page