Lifelong education is crucial in today’s job market. If you want to keep your knowledge up to date and your skills sharp, then you need to keep learning. This is true no matter which industry you work in, but perhaps especially so in the ever-changing world of computing. That is not to say that you necessarily have to go back to college – training courses run by your employer, self-directed learning at home, and online certificates are all valid means of boosting your development. However, if you truly want to remain competitive and give yourself an edge, studying for a master’s degree in computer science could be the perfect answer. Here is why.
What is computer science?
It is no secret that computers are vital for our lives nowadays and have completely changed the world we live in. Computer science combines theory and practical skills to understand computer systems and networks, software engineering, algorithms, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, programming, and much more. This can help society to make the most of computing technology in a wide range of applications, from healthcare and finance to communications and entertainment. It is a field that is continually growing in scope as new technologies are developed and can be applied to almost any industry in the world.
What will I study on a computer science master’s program?
A computer science masters enables you to cover a broad range of related topics by taking a series of compulsory and elective academic modules. This gives you the chance to tailor the program to suit your specific interests, whether that is data science, software engineering, or another track. Most modules involve a blend of lectures, seminars, tutorials and practical work in a computer lab, with assessments conducted through both examinations and coursework.
The specific modules available to you will depend on the college that you study with, however the following list gives you a good idea of what to expect:
- Mathematics for Computer Science
- Data Communications
- App Engineering
- Cybersecurity Concepts
- Applied Data Science
- Cloud Computing
- Computer Architecture and Operating Systems
- Data Mining and Analysis
- Data Visualization
- Distributed Systems
- Advanced Software Engineering
- Software Verification and Validation
- Machine Learning
- Quantum Computing
- Artificial Intelligence and Neural Computing
- Internet of Things
In addition to your modules, you will also normally be required to complete an independent research project on a topic of your choice. This generally involves writing a dissertation and gives you the chance to take a deep dive into an aspect of computer science that you are passionate about. Choosing a topic that is relevant to your career goals can also be very helpful.
These days it is possible to take a master’s in computer science both on campus-based programs and through virtual learning, meaning that you can study alongside existing work or family commitments. The program usually takes one year to complete on a full-time basis, or two years if you prefer to study part time. Some online courses might be even more flexible, allowing you to take one module at a time to suit your personal circumstances.
Who is eligible to study for a master’s degree in computer science?
Every college will have its own entry requirements, but generally speaking you will need an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject to be eligible for a computer science masters. That is because an understanding of mathematics, programming, computer systems and software engineering is required in order to study computer science at this higher level.
If you do not have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject, it does not necessarily rule you out though – some colleges will accept those who have significant relevant work experience or who can demonstrate their suitability for the program in other ways. You might also be required to pass some preparatory modules before the master’s degree begins, in order to be ready for the main program of study. Finally, most colleges will require you to submit letters of recommendation or references that can attest to your capability to complete the course successfully.
How can doing a master’s in computer science help my career?
Studying for a computer science master’s program can give your career a huge boost. You will develop high level knowledge and technical skills in the field, as well as strong problem solving abilities and a capacity for analytical thinking that will give you an edge in the job market. It means you will be eligible for more advanced and specialist roles, and hence able to enjoy a correspondingly higher salary. As well as the financial benefit, these positions also tend to be more interesting and rewarding.
A master’s degree in computer science can open doors for you in a surprising variety of industries, from gaming all the way to healthcare. That means you can focus on the specific type of job role and field that you are interested in and carve out a career that truly motivates and fulfils you. In fact, you do not even need to stay in the computer science arena. You will develop many different transferable skills – from attention to detail and critical thinking to organization and time management – which will be of use in any number of businesses, broadening your options even further.
Having completed your master’s degree there is also always the option to take your education to the next level and study for a PhD. This is a fantastic choice for those who love the world of academia and are hoping to move into teaching or research. Whichever path you choose, studying for the master’s will give you the opportunity to network with like-minded professionals and make it more likely that you will achieve your goals.
Finally, because computer science is such a desirable skill, being qualified in it can open doors to working abroad too. Spending time working in another country can be wonderful for widening your cultural horizons, learning new skills, and networking – plus it looks great on your resume when you return! Even if you do not want to work abroad, being in a higher level job role often gives you the chance to attend conferences overseas, so you may still have the chance to travel that way.