We are a reader-supported education publication. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission to help us keep providing content.
Are you interested in pursuing a career in information technology or software development but are unsure of what to study? Perhaps you’ve heard of computer science, but you’re not sure what all the major entails. Wonder no more! Our helpful guide will answer the big question — what is a computer science major — and tell you everything you should know about future career options.
Computer science is a broad major providing a well-rounded education on IT concepts that prepares you for success in software development, as well as other tech fields. The major emphasizes the design of computer systems, computer theory, computing problems, and logic from a scientific perspective. It focuses heavily on math, computational logic and coding.
You can get a master’s or doctorate in computer science and continue with research in the industry. This is the perfect field for students who are natural problem solvers or have logical minds. If you’re interested in STEM, coding or researching in these fields, this major might be the right one for you.
Many colleges and universities offer excellent computer science programs. U.S. News & World Report have rated these school’s programs as the best:
- Carnegie Mellon University (tie)
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (tie)
- Stanford University (tie)
- University of California-Berkeley (tie)
- University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign
You can expect rigorous math coursework to accompany your computer science major. Calculus, statistics, and linear algebra often appear on degree requirements. In introductory courses, you’ll find topics covering computer design, data types and algorithm design. As you advance in your major, you’ll move to data visualization and neural networks.
Depending on your school, your major will be a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science in computer science. B.A.’s will often contain fewer requirements and could provide a better option for students who plan on working in a non-tech field after graduation. Some universities may even make it possible to combine a this major with another discipline like electrical engineering, cybersecurity, or molecular biology. Contact your school faculty if you’re interested in these opportunities.
Because computer science provides a universal education, it’s highly applicable to several industries. Employers are always looking for workers with this type of background. Careers in tech-related jobs can vary, but the pay is generally reasonable. The average salary for individuals working in IT fields is $87,000. The pay range is $60,000–$130,000 annually.
According to Code.org, there were 500,000 computing jobs available in the US last year. Software development is a growing industry, and there are currently not enough qualified individuals to work in the field. As a software developer, you’d work to create programs and websites on computers and smartphones. To succeed in this field, you’d need a background in coding and the ability to focus on details.
Information security analysts can work in several industries. These employees are highly sought by private businesses and government agencies to ensure computer networks are secure from hackers. If you choose this profession, you’d determine the best safety system to protect your company. Having a thorough background in cybersecurity would prepare you for this role.
If you work as a computer hardware engineer, you will design, create and build entire computer systems, including circuit boards, memory devices and chips. Studying computer science would prepare you for your career in this field because you’d be equipped with technical and analytical skills to meet each day.
UX designers work to manage user experiences on products, brands or platforms. It’ll be up to you to make your product accessible and relevant to your audience in this role. Having a background in computer science is particularly important for working as a UX designer to aid with programming and improve computer systems.
If you’re a natural leader and enjoy working with others, an IT project manager could be the perfect job for you. In this role, you’d lead an IT team and oversee a budget for tech tools in your office. You’ll need strong leadership and communication skills as you’ll oversee guiding your team.
Now that you have the facts, will you choose computer science as your major? It’s a degree that ensures a future career with employment opportunities. If you have further questions about the major, reach out to a faculty on your campus to meet with them. See if you can sit in on a computer science class to see if the program is for you.