According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in computer science-related occupations is projected to grow by 12 percent, producing 488,500 new jobs through 2024 — almost twice as fast as the average for all occupations (7 percent). This growth is due, in part, to the increasing demand for cloud computing; collection, storage and analysis of big data; the internet of things (connecting everyday devices to the internet); and mobile computing.
The market for computer science-related professionals has not only grown, but it also has diversified. Careers involving computer science have proliferated to include a variety of positions with unique opportunities and rewards. Through 2024, the BLS predicts that the following occupations will grow:
- Web developers: 27 percent
- Computer systems analysts: 21 percent
- Information security analysts: 18 percent
- Software developers: 17 percent
- Computer and information research scientists: 11 percent
A master’s degree in computer science positions graduates to capitalize on these opportunities while establishing a foundation on which a lifelong career can be built. Not only does robust demand practically ensure job security, but remuneration is also high, with the BLS estimating that median annual wages of computer science-related occupations were $81,430 in May 2015 — more than double the average for all occupations ($36,200). Furthermore, rapid advances in the field of computer science ensure a lifetime of work that’s both valuable and exciting.
Master of Science in Computer Science
Syracuse University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science offers a 30 credit Master of Science in Computer Science program delivered online. The program prepares students with the necessary foundations to tackle complex technology challenges and develop expertise in areas such as security and assurance, artificial intelligence, computer architecture, and advanced programming.
Program Start Dates:
January, April, July, and October
The M.S. in Computer Science can be completed in as little as 15 months.
Master’s Degree in Computer Science Programs
A Master’s Degree in Computer Science program prepares students to discover groundbreaking solutions to the world’s most complex technological challenges in areas like security and assurance, artificial intelligence, computer architecture and advanced programming. Students are trained to incorporate emerging technologies into new system designs while building the analytical, critical-thinking and mathematical skills necessary to take on questions of advanced computing. Master’s Degree in Computer Science programs introduce students to the foremost developments in the field so that they may graduate to emerge at the forefront of discovery.
Admissions Requirements / Qualifications
While the particular admissions requirements of a master’s degree in computer science program may vary, routine qualifications include:
- A bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering, software engineering, electrical engineering or a related field from an accredited institution of higher education.
- A GPA of 3.0 or greater.
- Two letters of recommendation.
- Official transcripts from all attended academic institutions.
- Official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores.
- GRE scores may be waived for applicants with GPAs of 3.0 or greater, four or more years of full-time professional experience in a related field or a previous master’s degree.
- A resume including relevant professional experience with titles, dates and full-time or part-time status.
For international students, master’s degree in computer science programs may require:
- An English proficiency examination, such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language or the International English Language Testing System
- A credential evaluation report, such as offered by World Education Services.
The curriculum for a master’s degree in computer science program routinely starts with courses on programming, architecture, algorithms and operating systems. Beyond these core courses, students are able to pursue specialization through electives, often in artificial intelligence, software engineering, computer security and related fields.
Common core courses include:
- Structured Programming and Formal Methods;
- Advanced Computer Architecture;
- Design and Analysis of Algorithms;
- Principles of Operation Systems.
Specializations may include:
- Artificial Intelligence;
- Software Engineering;
- Object Oriented Programming C++;
- Android Programming;
- Object Oriented Design;
- Mobile Application Programming;
- Software Modeling;
- Computer Security;
- Internet Security;
- Fundamentals of Data and Knowledge Mining;
- Machine Learning;
- Introduction to Cryptography.
2U-Powered Computer Science Programs
2U partners with top universities to offer their degree programs online, including master’s programs in Computer Science. Students in 2U partner programs benefit from the highest-quality online learning platform available, with access to an online campus from anywhere they have an Internet connection. University faculty lead all academic issues related to programs, including instruction and curriculum development. 2U-powered programs feature:
created by faculty and available 24/7.
in a collaborative online classroom.
between students and universities.
at field placements or immersions.
from application through graduation.
What to Look for in an Online Master’s Degree in Computer Science
Not all master’s degree in computer science programs are created equal. Especially for students interested in an online Master of Science (MS) in computer science, it pays to be even more selective to ensure that your investment will truly yield the desired rewards. When considering where to pursue your online MS in computer science, these are a few things to consider when looking for the top or best program:
Consider accreditation at three levels: regional, governmental and professional. The top or best online master’s in computer science programs will be accredited by all three. Worthwhile online computer science master’s degrees are offered by schools that are accredited by regional and governmental bodies, such as the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and the New York State Education Department, respectively. Furthermore, the departments within those schools should be accredited by professional organizations, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.
Other kinds of recognition beyond outright accreditation, such as awards from government agencies, can also be useful when searching for the top or best online master’s in computer science programs. For example, the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security crown outstanding colleges and universities as Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education and Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Research.
While rankings, such as those published by U.S. News & World Report, can be insightful to some extent, it should be acknowledged that they are not all-encompassing. Rankings can reveal the relative strengths and weaknesses of a school or program as compared to other schools and programs, but the rubrics used may have blind spots. They may, for example, overlook programs that were recently launched, or they may ignore specific features important to you but unaccounted for in the ranking. It’s especially important to consider the source of the ranking, questioning whether it is a trustworthy journalistic or educational outlet and not an elaborate advertisement. More specifically, understand exactly what it is that’s being ranked: The school at large? The specific department? The individual program?
Though it does not necessarily have any bearing on a program’s status as the top or best, an important consideration when selecting an online master’s degree in computer science program is its length. Typically, a 30-credit degree program that’s designed to work around the student-professional’s career obligations can be completed in 15 months. But does the program you’re considering allow you to tailor it to your schedule? Is it available both full time and part time or just one or the other? Will it take one year or more? All important questions.
Of course, the cost of tuition is an important factor when considering master’s degree in computer science programs. While some students may believe that the tuition for an online master’s in computer science program should be less than a traditional on-campus program, that may not necessarily be the case. The top or best online computer science master’s degree programs employ the same faculty to lead their online courses as their on-campus courses, showing no preference for one medium over the other. Therefore, if tuition represents the cost of instruction, and the instructors are the same, it makes sense for the tuition to be the same as well.
Tuition aside, there are cost-saving elements of an online MS in computer science that can make it more affordable. Being online, such programs require no additional fees for boarding, which can save thousands of dollars each semester. Furthermore, online programs come with little opportunity costs, as they allow students to continue their careers while pursuing their degrees.
Learning Computer Science Online
In an online master’s in computer science program, the internet mediates your interactions with your professors, classmates and course materials, so the digital learning tools at your disposal should be thoroughly explored. The most effective learning platforms are engaging and available in various formats. These platforms offer opportunities to connect with faculty and peers and include aspects that function both online and offline; both at your desktop and on your mobile device; and both in real time and at your leisure. This adaptability not only creates a robust learning environment with every benefit of the traditional classroom, but it also presents unique advantages, such as allowing you to earn your degree while still meeting your professional and social obligations. Remember: Technology is supposed to enhance learning, not constrain it.
As previously mentioned, cloud computing, big data, the internet of things and mobile computing have all driven the growing demand for professionals with computer science skills. Careers in the field have never before been so numerous, varied and well paid, but these opportunities still rely on extensive knowledge and experience, such as that offered by a master’s degree in computer science.
Graduates who have earned their master’s degree in computer science can put their knowledge, skills and experience to use in a variety of positions. These are just a few of the occupations, complete with job descriptions, that are open to computer science professionals:
- Computer and information research scientist: invent new computing technology and find innovative applications for existing tools.
- Software developer: write computer programs for desktop, laptop, mobile or back-end devices.
- Computer network architect: design and build systems that allow computers to communicate with one another.
- Information security analyst: plan and install measures to protect computer networks and systems.
- Computer systems analyst: optimize computer networks and tools to allow organizations to operate more efficiently and effectively.
Remuneration in the computer science field is relatively high. As previously cited, the BLS estimates that median annual wages among computer science-related occupations stood at $81,430 in May 2015 — more than double the average for all occupations, which was only $36,200.
Among the various careers open to graduates who’ve earned their master’s degree in computer science, there are some whose salaries are drastically above others. According to the BLS, these are the computer science-related occupations with the highest median salaries:
- Computer and information research scientist: $110,620.
- Software developer: $100,690.
- Computer network architect: $100,240.
- Information security analyst: $90,120.
- Computer systems analyst: $85,800.
Should I Get a Master’s Degree in Computer Science?
Although a bachelor’s degree will qualify you for entry-level positions in most of the occupations listed above, a master’s degree in computer science can improve your salary and prospects for career advancement. Considering the minimum opportunity costs of an online master’s degree in computer science and the rewarding options it can open to you, the investment seems far from fruitless.