Overview of the Best Computer & IT Degrees for the Future
With the ever-changing technological landscape, it can be hard to decipher the difference between many of the computer and IT degrees. To help you decide, we have compiled information about three of the best computer and IT degrees for the future, below, along with information about how to choose among them and facts about computer and IT careers.
Information and Data Sciences
Big data is more than just a buzzword. With the invention of smart electronics (smartphones, smartwatches, smart home, etc.), we are generating more and more data just by checking Instagram or going for a jog. Our steps are being tracked, our sleep is being monitored, and our cars are driving themselves. Data science programs can train individuals to use this data to solve complex problems.
Phishing attacks, account breaches, and ransomware threats can jeopardize our finances and even our identities. Major businesses have been the target of hackers, and there is a growing need for cybersecurity experts as these threats continue to become more sophisticated and damaging.
Human and Computer Interactions
A relatively new field of study, a growing number of universities are offering degrees in human computer interactions. This degree option often focuses on the many ways we use computers, smart phones and other electronics. It focuses on user experience and design, as well as electronic games and online teaching.
Typical admission requirements include submission of standardized test scores, high school (or GED) transcripts and applicable fees. Additional requirements may include specialized letters of recommendation from a teacher, guidance counselor or from a professional contact, such as a current work supervisor. Applicants may also be required to write a personal essay that explains their interest in the program. Bachelor degree programs geared toward working professionals may require applicants to submit a copy of their current resume or CV.
Students in these degree programs will often have opportunities for hands-on learning experiences. Other coursework requirements may include a comprehensive senior project. The following are examples of common course options.
User Interface Design
We (humans) interact with a variety of computer systems in our daily lives. This type of course could introduce students to the important process of designing computer systems, with a focus on how humans will interact or utilize the system. This course may also include a component in an actual design studio where students may work with a team to design an actual computer program throughout the course.
Computer and IT degrees require a strong foundation in mathematics. Students should expect to take several classes in statistics, including business statistics or courses focused on probability and statistics. Students may also need to take other advanced mathematical concepts, in areas such as algebra and calculus.
In this sort of course students might explore how to conduct research in the field. They might be required to present arguments backed by evidence gained through their research. This type of class may also review basic grammar and writing techniques, in addition to developing critical thinking skills.
Privacy, Security and Ethics
This course might provide an overview of the ethical and legal issues associated with the internet, technology, and mobile applications. Other topics may include how to handle sensitive information and follow intellectual property laws. This course might also give students the opportunity to learn how user experience may be impacted by security concerns.
A course in this area might address the basic principles of project management. Students could learn how to manage complex IT projects, including goal setting, staff and budgeting. The course might also share strategies about how to measure the project's success.
How to Choose Degrees
Bachelor degree programs in the information technology fields are common at most major public and private universities in the country. Many IT degrees require a strong foundation in advanced mathematics, including calculus, while others may have more of a statistical data focus. Students should consider if they are interested in studying data and numbers or if they would prefer more hands-on research where they would get the opportunity to build computers and computer processors.
Additionally, as technology continues to change, you should keep in mind which degrees offer the most potential for the future. Degrees with a narrow focus or scope may limit your future career growth.
Career Options for Computer and IT Degrees
Graduates of degree programs focused on information systems and data are sometimes employed as operations research analysts in a variety of fields (healthcare, government, nonprofit). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for these analysts in 2018 was $83,390 per year, with projected job growth from 2016-2026 at 27%.
Those who graduate from cybersecurity-focused degree programs might be employed as computer systems analysts. According to the BLS, the median salary for these analysts in 2018 was $88,740 per year, with projected job growth from 2016-2026 at 9%.
Graduates of degree programs focused on human computer interactions can be employed as computer software developers. According to the BLS, the median salary for a software developer in 2018 was $105,590 per year, with projected job growth from 2016-2026 at 24%.
The following list includes other careers you might consider with a computer or IT degree: