Who Should Get a Masters in Computer Science
BY Meghan MalasJuly 22, 2022, 1:54 p.m.
View, looking east across State Street to the DePaul Center, store. (Photo by Interim Archives/Getty Images)
Computer scientists and computer scientists are among the highest paid professionals with a master’s degree, receiving a median salary of $131,500 in 2021, according to the US Department of Labor. It is therefore not surprising that more and more people are turning to the field; 3,200 job openings for computer and information researchers are created each year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Computing has a tremendous impact on society and has become an indispensable, even central, part of society,” says Ljubomir Perkovic, professor and director of the School of Computing at DePaul University. DePaul ranked No. 4 on The wealth list of best online masters programs in computer science.
A master’s degree in computer science is a promising way to break into the field or improve your current skills. To learn more about who is best suited for a Masters in Computer Science program and the resulting career opportunities that await graduates, Fortune spoke with Perkovic and three alumni of computer science master’s programs.
You don’t need a background in computer science to get a master’s degree in the field
You don’t need a bachelor’s degree in computer science, or even a background in technology, to pursue a master’s degree in the field. Take it from Daniel Steilen, who spent seven years as an editor for an educational book publisher after earning a bachelor’s degree in English in 2007.
While Steilen loved his job, he wanted more opportunities, so he began to consider a career change. He had been curious about programming for a while, so he decided to try it out for himself by working on an introductory book on the subject.
“The master’s degree helped me move into a new field with both more opportunities and better pay,” says Steilan. “Even if I had been able to acquire the skills through alternative means, I think it would have been difficult to convince employers to take me seriously without a degree.”
Steilan graduated from DePaul University’s Master of Computer Science program in 2017. Shortly after graduating, he landed a job as a software engineer for a company that manufactures devices for the telecommunications industry.
And Steilan’s indirect route to a career in IT is not unique. “A number of universities have created pathways for students with a bachelor’s degree in a non-computer science discipline to pursue a master’s degree in computer science,” says Perkovic. “DePaul University, for example, offers a master’s degree in computer science available to college graduates who have never programmed before.”
In this version of the program, students take a set of introductory courses that prepare them for graduate studies in computer science. And more than half of the 2,500 students who have graduated from DePaul’s master’s program over the past five years have taken this route.
That said, it is also common for students to already have computer experience and return to school to update their knowledge and skills.
“The program complemented my work experience as an engineer, providing technical skills and concepts that I had not received as a liberal arts undergraduate,” says program graduate Jake Gerstein. in computer science from DePaul in 2019. “Along with my work, the courses accelerated my learning of software development and computer functions,” he added.
Gerstein is now director of cloud strategy and enablement for a financial services company.
The skills acquired in a master’s degree program provide opportunities for multiple career paths in IT
The constant demand for people with computer training also provides options for professionals. “Choosing IT as a career is currently the best way to achieve financial security and a comfortable lifestyle,” says Perkovic, adding that 11 of the top 15 jobs on Glassdoor’s list of America’s Best Jobs for 2022 are in computing.
Common occupations for MSc in Computer Science graduates include data scientist, full stack engineer, software engineer, and more specialized roles in machine learning engineering, cloud engineering, and the enterprise architect, who ranked #1 for job satisfaction on Glassdoor. listing.
And the salaries for these types of roles are very high. According to Glassdoor, the median base salary for an enterprise architect, someone who directs the maintenance of a company’s computer networks and services, is $144,997. For a full stack engineer, it’s $101,794, and for a data scientist, it’s $120,000.
“Most students who enter a master’s degree program in computer science have the goal of becoming software developers,” says Perkovic. “Many graduates do this, with ‘software engineer’ often being their first professional title.”
Technology isn’t the only industry where IT jobs are on the rise; employers in all industries are looking to increase their IT capacity. The massive growth in the amount of data available justifies the need for more professionals to manage and create value from this data. Finally, as Fortune reported in June, cybersecurity is a growing concern across all industries and more than 700,000 positions still need to be filled in the United States
“Every sector of the economy now relies on IT and IT professionals,” says Perkovic. “A master’s degree in computer science is a pathway for students to have an impact on society, while providing social mobility and financial stability.”