The reach and application of computers extend beyond business and robotics. With a computer science degree, commonly referred to as a CS degree, you’re well-positioned to work in virtually any industry you choose.

According to  the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for someone with a degree in computer science or a related field was reported to be $100,530 in May 2022.

Few other fields of study offer this level of versatility and demand. If you’re the type who loves to engage both sides of your brain—the analytical and the creative—then you’re set up for success in computer science.

Think about it. Are you a puzzle lover? Can’t get to sleep without cracking that problem stuck in your head? Got a thing for math or open to learning it? If that’s a yes, then a CS degree is a solid  choice.

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Computer science is the study of designing, and developing computers and computational systems (a term for any type of device used for information processing such as a simple calculation to human thinking). 

It’s not just about programming, but also about understanding how computers work and how they can be used to solve a wide range of problems. 

A computer science degree helps you grasp the fundamental theory, design, developmental standards, and application of the hardware and software components that make up the computational systems.

There are many sub-areas within the broad study of computer science that could be specializations in their own right, including:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Machine learning
  • Vision and graphics
  • Human-computer interaction
  • Networks and databases
  • Programming languages
  • Theory of computation
  • Game design

Related: Getting A Game Design Degree: Is it For You?

Now, before you check out the degree options offered by colleges and universities, let’s explore the key differences between computer science and related fields. By knowing the nuances, you can make a more informed choice for your career.

Computer Engineering vs. Computer Science

Computer science is more theoretical, focusing on problem-solving, software, and algorithms, while computer engineering is more practical, concentrating on the design, integration, and maintenance of hardware and software interfaces. Here’s your quick take-away:

Computer EngineeringComputer Science
OriginBegan as a branch of electrical engineeringDeveloped as a branch of mathematics
Degrees1. Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering
2. Master of Science in Computer Engineering
3. PhD in Computer Engineering
1. Associate of Science in Computer Science
2. Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
3. Master of Science in Computer Science
4. PhD in Computer Science
Concentrations1. Energy
2. Bioengineering
3. Cybersecurity
4. Digital forensics
1. Distributed and cloud computing
2. Information and knowledge management systems
3. Information security
Job Roles1. Software Engineer ($129,120 /year)
2. Hardware Engineer ($77,700 /year)
3. Network Engineer ($92,669 /year)
1. Software Developer ($124,200 /year)
2. Database Administrator and Architect ($112,120 /year)
3. Web Developer and Digital Designer ($80,730 /year)
OverlapBoth require an in-depth understanding of software and hardware programming, along with knowledge of various operating systems and networks.


Some degree programs may be titled “Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering and Computer Science” to deliver a dual-major coursework with dedicated modules from both areas of study.

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Data science is about extracting insights and making predictions from data using algorithms, statistics, and machine learning. Here’s how it differs from computer science:

Data ScienceComputer Science
Basic DifferenceData science is primarily concerned with extracting insights from data.Computer science is the study of computers and computing technologies.
EducationData science often requires a strong background in statistics and programming, with a focus on the tools and techniques for analyzing large datasets.Computer science education typically involves studying programming languages, algorithms, computer hardware, and software design.
DegreesData science is an overarching field encompassing data engineering, data analytics, machine learning, and a lot more.

1. Associate of Science in Data Science
2. Bachelor of Science in Data Science
3. Master of Science in Data Science
4. PhD in Data Science
1. Associate of Science in Computer Science
2. Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
3. Master of Science in Computer Science
4. PhD in Computer Science
Roles1. Data Scientist ($100,238 /year)
2. Data Engineer ($96,510 /year)
3. Machine Learning Engineer ($117,874 /year)
You can pursue all data science roles with a computer science degree along with a few extra courses related to machine learning or data science. 

A computer science degree mostly contains a math-based curriculum. If you’re someone who feels math is not their cup of tea, don’t worry, you’re not alone. 

With consistent study and practice, you can earn a decent grade to land a good entry-level job after you graduate. 

Also, internships, internal school projects, and participating in student organizations can help you master the concepts in CS. Student clubs conduct workshops, mentorship programs, networking events that help you get a head start in the field.

Keep yourself engaged with open-source projects and follow free tutorials and guides by searching on YouTube and sites such as or

And as you practice, keep adding those projects to your personal portfolio or resume. The good thing about building your resume during your education is the difference in skills that you bring to the table once you graduate. 

Employers love to see prior experience in working with real-world programs and code.

There are programs which don’t specify “online” or “on campus” on your degree certificate. So, feel free to pursue an online degree in computer science.


Computer Science Associate Degree

Most associate degrees are two-year degree programs that lead to an Associate of Science (AS) in Computer Science, making it easy for you to become job-ready sooner. You can also often transfer credits from your associate degree to continue on to a bachelor’s degree later.

Sample courses:

  • Technical ethics
  • Data structures and algorithms
  • Math for computing
  • Computer architecture
  • Programming fundamentals

Career outlook:

  • Mobile Applications Developer ($104,863 /year)
  • Web Developers and Digital Designers ($80,730 /year)
  • Computer Support Specialist ($59,660 /year)

Bachelor of Computer Science

This is a four-year undergrad degree that puts you on the leaderboard. With a bachelor’s degree in computer science, you’re equipped with the right skills to get hired for a high paying job. Please make sure you enroll in an accredited program. 

Related: What Does ‘Accredited’ Mean for College Students?

All accredited programs require you to complete a capstone project at the near-end of the curriculum. All you learn throughout the coursework helps you complete the project, an attempt at applying your knowledge to solve a real-world problem.

Sample courses:

  • Version control
  • Data structures and algorithms
  • Operating systems
  • Software development lifecycle
  • Software testing, automation, and quality assurance
  • Scripting and programming
  • Client/Server development
  • Business of IT
  • Mobile architecture and programming
  • Discrete mathematics

Sample electives:

  • Computer graphics
  • Embedded systems
  • Human-centered software
  • Network security
  • Digital circuits
  • Programming language semantics
  • Big data
  • Constructive logic
  • Data Validation
  • Distributed systems
  • Parallel computer architecture and programming
  • Probability and computing
  • Applied statistics

Sample concentrations:

  • Data analytics
  • Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Information security
  • Software engineering
During your college search, you may come across a concentration called “computer engineering.” That’s designed to help you understand the application of hardware and software to industrial use cases. Please remember, this is different from a comprehensive dual-major you read about above.

Career outlook:

  • Software Developer ($124,200 /year)
  • Information Security Analyst (needs certification and some relevant work experience often less than five years) ($112,000 /year)
  • Network and Computer Systems Administrators ($90,520 /year)

Related: Popular Bachelor of Science Degrees for Tech Savvy Students

You may come across accelerated BS to MS degree programs. In such programs, you can take graduate-level courses that count towards your master’s degree while pursuing your bachelor’s degree.

Master’s Degree in Computer Science

A two-year master’s computer science degree programs lay the groundwork for further studies and research work in PhD. And anyways, you can always target the most lucrative job roles if you don’t wish to study beyond your MS degree. 

An online MS degree program is sought out by both traditional students and adult learners. The opportunities with a graduate degree are too sound and its applicability is wide ranging. Here’s what you study in a graduate program:

Sample courses:

  • Database Management
  • Operating Systems
  • Computer Systems, Networks and Architectures courses
  • Animation & Planning in Games
  • Computer Language Theory
  • Design and Analysis of Algorithms
  • Computational Aspects of Matrix Theory

Sample concentrations:

  • Computer Networks
  • High Performance Computing
  • Data Analytics
  • Application Development
In some schools offering multiple areas of focus, you can declare more than one concentration. If some courses overlap between one or more specializations, only one course may count towards the completion of both concentrations.
You may also come across programs that offer different tracks, some that end with a thesis or a project and others that only require completion of the coursework without any practicum.

If you wish to pursue a business degree such as an MBA in the near future, you can enroll in an MBA-MS joint degree program in computer science. There are many schools which offer such joint degree programs but their eligibility may differ considerably from a traditional MS degree program. Please read the school requirements before you proceed.

Moreover, there are pre-doctoral programs infused into an MS computer science degree curriculum. Such programs are designed to help you explore research opportunities along with faculty members and make you a competitive candidate for a PhD program in computer science.

Entry-Level High Paying Computer Science Salary Options

Explore the lucrative roles that a degree in computer science or a related field can unlock. These roles are found across industries like economics, healthcare, education, and more, so there’s practically never a shortage of good opportunities.

Employers in this field span across startups, government agencies, mid-sized businesses to Fortune 500 companies. And as you advance along this career path, you’ll find opportunities for even more rewarding positions. Take a look:

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  • Computer Programmers ($97,800 /year): These individuals create and modify computer programs by converting project requirements into code. 
  • Computer Systems Analysts ($102,240 /year): They study current computer systems and procedures and design solutions to help the organization operate more efficiently and effectively. 
  • Database Administrators and Architects ($112,120 /year): Database administrators ensure that a database is available, is performing properly, and is kept safe from unauthorized access, while database architects design and build the structures needed to store and manage data.
  • Network and Computer Systems Administrators ($90,520 /year): They’re responsible for the day-to-day operation of computer networks within an organization, including maintaining, securing, and upgrading systems as necessary.
  • Web Developers and Digital Designers ($80,730 /year): Web developers build and shape a visitor’s experience at a website, while digital designers create the look, layout, and features of a website. The job involves understanding both graphic design and computer programming.

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Increasing reliance on technology for remote work, climate change, sustainable practices, globalization, innovation, and many other initiatives has pushed the boundaries of computer science and its applications across the world.

Getting a computer science degree is only going to add more job choices throughout your career. And these opportunities come with great pay too. So, all-in-all, if you have a knack for math and the drive to keep your skills revised, this career is for you.

What can you do with a computer science degree?

A computer science degree can lead to a variety of careers in technology and beyond. You could become a software developer, data analyst, systems analyst, IT consultant, or network administrator. You could also work in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, machine learning, or game development. Additionally, some computer science graduates use their analytical skills in finance, marketing, or business roles.

Is computer science hard?

The difficulty of computer science varies from person to person and depends on one’s aptitude for problem-solving, logical thinking, and understanding complex systems. It involves learning programming languages, algorithms, data structures, and computer architecture, among other topics. While it can be challenging, you may find it rewarding and intellectually stimulating. With dedication and practice, it’s certainly possible to excel in this field.