Colorado School of Mines Graduate School Insights

What to consider when pursuing a master’s in computer science

Are you thinking about pursuing an advanced degree? Read on to see whether a master’s in computer science is right for you and how you can achieve it, efficiently—with or without a CS or technical background.

Computing is ubiquitous in today’s society, playing a part in nearly every aspect of modern life. Its role is only expected to grow over the next decade, with the United States projected to add 546,200 new jobs in the field between 2018 and 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That means increased demand for workers with the necessary expertise in computer science, information technology and cybersecurity.

A master’s degree in computer science makes you a highly desirable candidate.

Learn more about job prospects for those with master’s degrees in computer science »

While a bachelor’s degree in computer science qualifies students for entry into most occupations (computer information research scientist is one exception), there are other advantages to earning a master’s degree.

Jobs in computer science, information technology and cybersecurity are already among the highest paid, but workers with a master’s degree often enjoy a wage premium. For example, network and computer systems administrators with bachelor’s degrees earned a median annual wage of $70,000 in 2013, compared to $88,000 for those with master’s degrees.

Learn how an advanced degree in computer science can benefit you financially »

An advanced degree can also provide workers with greater professional fulfillment—graduates earn the depth of knowledge that allows them take on bigger challenges, higher-level projects and specialized positions.

It’s important to know which particular areas of computer science you are interested in and what types of problems you want to solve to maximize the value of your master’s education.

See the various fields you can specialize in for your computer science master’s degree »

Don’t have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related STEM field? Not a problem. In fact, that can be a benefit. STEM graduate degree holders are increasingly in demand in traditionally non-STEM fields such as policy, law, media and communications, nonprofits and government.

Adding computer science skills to your existing expertise makes you twice as attractive to employers and gives you the ability to implement current best practices as well as develop new knowledge more efficiently.

Learn how you can add a master’s in computer science to your bachelor of arts »

With or without a BS in computer science, pursuing an advanced degree is a huge commitment  of time, money and effort. It helps to know what you want to achieve. Is it higher pay? Pursuit of knowledge? Job advancement—a better title? Or is it some other form or personal fulfillment? Is your heart set on a particular specialization?

What resources do you have? Do you plan to keep working, or study full time? Will your company provide tuition support? Will you need some kind of financial aid? Are you open to relocating? Do you prefer learning in the classroom or online?

Knowing what you want and what you need to reach your goals will help make deciding on a program much easier.

How to choose the right program for a master’s in computer science »

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