Gregory Caudill already has a bachelor’s degree in political science under his belt. However, after discovering that his undergraduate education was insufficient for a profession in computer science, he chose to return to school.
The 38-year-old Florida native is a database analyst for the Florida Department of Citrus and is pursuing his second bachelor’s degree at U.F. Online, the University of Florida’s online undergraduate division.
“When I was looking for a job, I didn’t have a degree that matched my experience,” says Caudill, who served four years in the military before working as a federal contractor with the military for seven years. “I wanted a technical degree to complement my technical experience.”
Was earning a degree online make sense for Caudill as a working adult with a family and a full-time job. He would be able to achieve both in business and his personal life if he had more flexibility.
“Computer science lends itself pretty well to online,” adds Caudill, who plans to graduate in August 2018. “I’ve seen you perform a lot of work remotely with folks from different regions in my job.”
Today’s computer science students, like Caudill, may pursue online degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that computer science and information technology employment would grow by 13% between 2016 and 2026, owing to a greater emphasis on cloud computing, data analytics, and information security. In May 2016, the median annual wage for these vocations was $82,860.
A degree in computer science can lead to or advance jobs in fields ranging from software engineering to web development. Therefore, experts recommend that prospective students address these four essential questions when studying online degree programs in the discipline, in addition to evaluating variables such as a program’s accreditation, student services, faculty, and interaction.
1. Which level of education makes the most sense for you?
S.K. Bhaskar, vice dean of computer information systems and technology for the undergraduate school at the University of Maryland University College, which offers an online bachelor’s in computer science and many related master’s degree programs, says it’s difficult to complete a master’s degree in computer science if you didn’t major in a tech-related field in college.
“It’s extremely advantageous if it’s in computer science,” Bhaskar says of an undergraduate degree for a master’s student, “since there is a systematic succession of courses within computer science moving from undergraduate to graduate.”
According to Candace House Teixeira, executive director for corporate and professional programs at the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering, students with a limited background in computer science frequently take additional courses to fill in their knowledge gaps. In addition, students who pursue a master’s degree, she says, often want to advance in their area by learning about the most recent issues and trends, such as cybersecurity, and advancing to management positions.
According to some experts, prospective students should also comprehend the distinction between a computer engineering degree and a computer science degree. This is a question that Jeremiah Blanchard, who teaches at the University of Florida’s online computer science bachelor’s program, commonly receives from students. He claims that there is some overlap between the two disciplines, while there are some variances.