In general, both associate and bachelor's programs cover computer programming languages, as well as operating systems, hardware and software. Four-year bachelor's programs often go into greater depth on computer topics, and the curriculum may culminate in a final project. Two-year associate's programs usually prepare students for entry-level IT careers or transfer to a 4-year school. Prerequisites for these programs include a high school diploma or GED.
Associate of Science in Computer Science
Preparing students for transfer to a 4-year university or entry-level employment in the computer science field, associate degree programs provide undergraduates with a solid foundation in all aspects of the computing field. Upon completion of an associate's degree program, graduates will be able to analyze computer programs, design networks and create databases. Many computer science associate degree programs suggest prospective students take ample mathematics and computer science courses in high school.
Common topics covered in computer science programs include computing theory, software engineering algorithm development and hardware capabilities. Courses also cover:
- Computer science fundamentals
- C++ programming
- Assembly language
- Database design
- Java programming
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Students in bachelor's degree programs in computer science gain an understanding of computing and mathematics, as well as legal and ethical issues in the computing industry. Graduates are equipped with computer programming, software development, computer networking and database management skills. In many bachelor's degree programs, undergraduates also gain hands-on experience by completing projects in which they must analyze, design and evaluate computer systems or components. Areas in which computer science majors can focus include software engineering, bioinformatics, systems analysis, artificial intelligence, digital gaming, operating systems, computer networks and Web design.
Prior to beginning a bachelor's degree program in computer science, students must often complete mathematics courses such as linear algebra, statistics and advanced calculus. Prerequisite computer science courses, such as Java programming, are sometimes required. Completing introductory physical science courses may also be necessary.
Undergraduates in bachelor's degree programs in computer science gain problem solving-skills and the ability to understand and utilize new technologies. Required mathematics and computer courses provide instruction in:
- Computer programming
- Discrete mathematics
- Data structures
- Web programming
- Computer architecture
- Operating systems
Popular Career Options
A computer science degree program prepares graduates for a variety of entry-level occupations in the computer and information sciences field, including:
- Computer scientist
- Systems analyst
- Database administrator
Graduates of a bachelor's-level computer science program are eligible to work in government, business, law, publishing, education and entertainment fields. Occupations within these fields include:
- IT worker
- Software applications engineer
- Web designer
- Computer programmer
- Computer software engineer
- Network systems analyst
Continuing Education Information
A large number of computer science associate degree programs are designed specifically to assist undergraduates in their pursuit of a bachelor's degree in computer science. Many schools maintain articulation agreements with 4-year schools in order to ease the transition.
For students seeking more advanced training, master's and doctoral programs are available in computer science. Many schools also offer a combined bachelor's and master's degree computer science program that can be completed in just five years. These programs allow students to begin taking graduate courses in their final year of a bachelor's program.
Graduates of an associate's degree program in computer science are eligible for entry-level jobs in the computer industry, while bachelor's-program graduates are qualified for employment as web designers, computer programmers and network systems analysts. Continued education at the master's degree and doctoral levels in computer science is also available.