Students study contemporary theories and practices of computer programming, database structure, Web design, online security, computer forensics, and various computer applications. Learning these topics is achieved through classroom studies, as well as hands-on lab exercises and projects. Most commonly at the bachelor's and master's levels, students are able to choose an area of concentration. Program specializations include computers and networking, bioinformatics, artificial intelligence, information systems, computer software engineering, and computer graphics.
Applicants should hold a high school diploma to enter a bachelor's degree program. Students applying to a master's degree program should first have a bachelor's degree in computer information. Previous math and computer science coursework is strongly desired. Doctoral candidates are expected to hold a bachelor's or master's degree in computer information science before enrollment. Some schools require applicants to the doctoral program secure approval from a faculty adviser in advance. In some cases, applicants for these graduate degrees are considered if they've earned a degree in a closely related field.
Other requirements for degrees in this field may include an internship, a thesis, or a dissertation.
Bachelor's Degree in Computer Information Science
A Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in Computer Information Science program introduces students, some of whom are bachelor's degree completion learners, to contemporary theories and practices in computer science and programming. The Bachelor of Science curriculum is more likely to require that students take additional science and math courses. Learning takes place in classrooms and computer labs. Concentrations in sub-fields like programming, multimedia and Web design studies, computer forensics, or business are available. The curriculum also includes computer networks and operating systems.
A mixture of general educational requirements and courses in computer information science make up the degree program curriculum. Students are able to enroll in co-op or internship experiences. They also have to complete a capstone project. Students will enroll in classes including:
- Introduction to operating systems
- Web design skills
- Design and implementation of computer networks
- Algorithms and computer science
- Computers and media technology
- Fundamentals of computer programming
Master's Degree in Computer Information Science
Master of Science or Master of Science in Engineering in Computer Information Science programs offer students advanced education in computer software, algorithms, computer intelligence, computer networks, and computer architecture. Access to computer labs facilitates development of students' technical skills in networking, programming, and game design. Students pursue specialized study in software engineering, database management, computer networking, and networking security.
A master's degree program in computer information science allows for thesis or non-thesis study. Common courses, some of which require computer lab work, include:
- Network architecture
- Relational databases
- Concepts in bioinformatics
- Advanced algorithms
- Artificial intelligence
- Software systems
Doctoral Degree in Computer Information Science
A Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science program is research-intensive and allows for specialization in computers and networking, bioinformatics, artificial intelligence, information systems, computer software engineering, or computer graphics. Coursework involves in-depth analysis and application of increasingly sophisticated theories and practices as well as original research and computer lab work. Some programs have a qualifying exam component while some require doctoral students lead an undergraduate course in computer science.
In addition to advanced lectures in specific topics in computer science information, students engage in practical application and directed research to prepare themselves for researching and writing a dissertation. Students take classes such as:
- Network and information security
- Foundations in algorithm design and analysis
- Statistical research methods and computer science
- Wireless network communications
- Fundamentals of data mining
- Advanced software engineering
Popular Career Options
A bachelor's degree in computer information science may qualify graduates to work in designer, developer, or administrator roles. A graduate of the program may find a job as a:
- Database administrator
- Web designer
- Game developer
- Mobile applications developer
- Network administrator
A master's degree in computer science prepares graduates for advanced, hands-on work like designing, implementing, and maintaining computer networks or managing databases. Some popular career paths for graduates include:
- Research and developer
- Network administrator
- Computer systems analyst
- Web service applications developer
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Computer and information research scientists, who typically hold a Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science, can, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), look forward to employment growth of up to 11% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). In May 2015, the BLS also reported that computer and information scientists earned a mean annual salary of $115,580. Additionally, California employed the greatest concentration of computer and information scientists, while Oregon employed the highest-paid of these professionals.
Bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree programs in computer information science often include a mixture of coursework, hands-on learning, and applicable internships. A degree in this field can offer various job opportunities in web design, network administration, and research and development, with the potential for an above average salary.