In my school we offer a Computer Science program (my program), Graphic Arts, Photography, Information Technology, and Media production. All of these programs have a heavy computer component to the learning. Career paths in post-secondary education in these programs will certainly involve use and mastery of certain computing skills. Even in my program of Computer Science, I have discussions with students about post high school paths. These include discussions around Computer Science vs. Computer Engineering, Web page development vs. traditional graphic design, etc. This article goes over some ideas in choosing a computing major:
Teachers are an important resource for students when it comes to their college decisions. Indeed, undergraduates students often state that a high school teacher influenced their decision to become a computer science major. This blogpost includes a number of for CS teachers to help their students learn about computing related majors. It might also help teachers recruit students in their computer science courses and highlight the breadth of majors available for students. Along with my colleague Susanne Hambrusch, we have developed the following list of resources for computer science teachers as a part of our NSF-funded PD4CS project. There exists a range of four-year computing and computing-related degrees a student can pursue. It can be daunting to determine differences and commonalities. Four-year Liberal Arts Colleges will typically offer one degree, most likely in Computer Science. The simplicity may have a drawback: the number of courses offered may be small and few opportunities for specialization may exist. On the other hand, many liberal arts colleges provide a strong computer science education that is often combined with flexibility, allowing students to take diverse courses in other areas. Large, research-oriented schools tend to offer multiple computing degrees. The types of degrees and specializations offered are often influenced by whether Computer Science is in a College of Science, a College of Engineering, or in its own College (e.g., College of Computing, school of Information). Most schools provide information and guidance for incoming students. For example,
- Purdue University summarizes its computing degrees
- Michigan State University provides a list of computing related majors and minors
- The University of Washington summarizes computing-related degrees at both its main campus and its branch campuses
- Indiana University Computing and Informatics Degrees
- Georgia Tech’s undergraduate degree programs
Many rankings of computer science programs exist. No ranking is perfect and many schools not ranked or not ranked highly can provide an excellent undergraduate education. The US News and World Report rankings have a good reputation and are respected by universities and colleges. They rank different types of institutions, different research areas, different geographical regions, and more.
- US News Best Colleges for Computer Science gives a ranking for the research oriented computer science programs.
- Best Colleges for Computer Science by Value considers the education provided by the university compared with the cost of the tuition. This ranking does not consider the in-state tuition reduction for residents.
Students majoring in a STEM field often consider getting a minor in Computer Science.Having a CS minor will give them additional and often attractive job opportunities after graduation. A minor typically consists of 5-6 CS courses (the student is expected to have the appropriate math courses). Students majoring in math or physics can often double count courses and may be able to complete a minor with less effort. Guidelines and expectations differ and a student needs to find out the details for the particular program.