Computer Science Certificate Program Overview
Computer science certificates are available in fully online formats at both the undergraduate and graduate levels at several schools across the country. The length of these programs can vary greatly from one school to the next, with some programs taking more than a year to complete and others only requiring a few months. All programs offer an in-depth examination of fundamental and advanced topics in the field and prepare students to move into the workforce. Students usually do not need extensive programming experience in order to be eligible for these programs, although applicants to graduate certificate programs will need a bachelor's degree.
Almost all jobs in computer science require a bachelor's degree (either in computer science or a related field that includes mathematics and computer science courses) and candidates who hold only a certificate may have difficulty finding work. Candidates looking for even further education can consider earning a master's degree in computer science, which can open up even more opportunities. Many schools offer certificate programs that lead to graduate degree programs, like the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, which allows students who complete the Computer Science Graduate Certificate Program to waive the GRE requirement for the school's Master of Science in Computer Science degree program.
Online Computer Science Certificate Programs
Online certificate programs in computer science generally feature both required courses and electives, although shorter programs may not give students the opportunity to choose courses. Students begin by taking core courses in foundational topics such as computer programming, algorithm design, and data structures before moving on to more specialized elective topics like artificial intelligence, neural computing, and principles of computer systems.
In order to cater to students with specific career interests, some programs offer sub-specializations within computer science certificate programs. These tracks feature a heavy emphasis on certain areas of focus, including cybersecurity, information technology, and software engineering. Some schools also offer interactive services such as one-on-one advising and free tutoring to help students feel more immersed in the program.
Job Opportunities for Graduates with a Computer Science Certificate
The computer science field is a dynamic one and as such, candidates in this profession who have a bachelor's degree and a computer science certificate will have multiple career paths open to them. Potential roles in this field include computer programmers, computer research scientists, and computer network architects. Students who earn a master's degree can progress on to more advanced positions in the same sector such as computer and information systems manager. Students can opt for a master's in computer science, or branch out and earn a multidisciplinary degree such as a Master of Business Administration to prepare them for the challenges they will face in a more senior role.
The computer science job market is strong and should remain so in the future. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the employment of computer and information research scientists will grow by 16% from 2018-28, a surge that is far more than the national average and will create approximately 5,200 new jobs. Likewise, the BLS predicts that computer and information systems managers will experience an 11% employment increase. Compensation is also a major benefit of working in the computer science field, as computer and information research scientists had a median salary of $118,370 in 2018 and computer and information systems managers earned a median salary of $142,530 in that same year.
Computer science certificate programs are available in entirely online formats and many schools offer these programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Graduates who earn this degree will be able to pursue a number of well-paying and in-demand jobs.