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Articles / Majors & Careers / Should I Major In Computer Science?

Should I Major In Computer Science?

Joy Bullen
Written by Joy Bullen | June 22, 2021
Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

Computer science is a fast-growing and in-demand major.

But what does it take to be a computer science major? What kinds of jobs are there for computer science majors, and how much do they pay? And is computer science really as hard as people say?

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) and straight-forward answers for anyone who is considering a major or career in computer science.

What is computer science?

Computer science(CS) is the study of the practical and theoretical applications of computers. Computer scientists create, test, and refine computer software and hardware. Computers play a huge role in modern life, and understanding the fundamentals of computer technology and how to design, code and test computer programs is an essential and in-demand skill. The field of computer science includes the study of artificial intelligence, computer systems and networks, security, database systems, human computer interaction, vision and graphics, numerical analysis, programming languages, software engineering, bioinformatics and theory of computing. Computer science is a popular and in-demand major. CS is often referred to as Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, or EECS.

What can you do with a computer science major?

There are lots of possible career paths for computer science majors, including software engineer, data scientist, app developer, computer systems analyst, solutions architect, web administrator, IT project manager, product designer, chief information officer and more. Computer scientists usually work full-time, and may be employed by for-profit, not-for-profit, or government organizations. Pairing a computer science degree with another major or minor, like business or design, can create a unique and sought-after degree.

Is computer science a good major?

Computer Science is an excellent major. It has a high starting salary, and can lead to many different career paths. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for computer scientists are projected to increase by 15 percent between 2019 and 2029, which is much higher than the average projected job growth of 4 percent. As long as the demand for innovative and efficient technologies continues to grow, the demand for qualified computer scientists is also likely to grow.

How much do computer science majors make?

The average starting salary for Computer Science majors in 2020 was $68,668, making it one of the highest-paid majors. Salaries vary by location and role, but in the U.S. in 2020 the median salary for computer scientists is at all levels of their career $126,830 a year.

Is computer science a hard major?

Computer science is considered one of the most difficult undergraduate majors. It requires strong mathematical skills and analytical thinking. The most successful computer science majors love solving problems, and are detail-oriented, creative, and have advanced quantitative skills. Requirements for a computer science major may vary from school to school, but most colleges require CS majors to complete courses in Calculus and Statistics, in addition to courses in computer theory, algorithms, and programming languages.

Should I take AP Computer Science?

It’s a good idea for high school students who are interested in pursuing computer science as a major or career to take an AP class to help determine if CS is a good fit for them. There are two AP Computer Science courses offered: Computer Science A and Computer Science Principles. Students who do well on the AP exam may earn college credit.

What’s the difference between AP Computer Science Principles and AP Computer Science A?

AP Computer Science Principles is an introductory course that does not require advanced coding skills; students will have the opportunity to apply the principles of computer science to find creative solutions to real-world problems. While no coding experience is required, it is recommended that students have completed Algebra I.

AP Computer Science Principles is an excellent choice for students who see themselves in more creative and less-technical roles in app or technology development. During the course, students will create their own app, program, or tool focused on a topic of their choice. Unlike AP Computer Science A, which teaches the basics of the Java programming languages, AP Computer Science Principles focuses on five ‘Big Ideas’: Creative development; Data; Algorithms and Programming; Computer systems and Networks; Impact of Computing. The AP score is based on two components: the AP exam and the submission of Digital Portfolio showcasing a project completed throughout the course.

AP Computer Science A is a more technically-oriented course that AP Computer Science Principles; students will learn the basics of the Java programming language, and design, write, and test their own computer program. AP Computer Science A is a great choice for students who plan to major in computer science and pursue careers in software engineering development. The score for this course is determined by the AP exam alone.

What are the best colleges for computer science majors?

College Confidential's 10 best colleges for computer science include:

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  2. Carnegie Mellon University
  3. University of California Berkeley
  4. California Institute of Technology
  5. Georgia Institute of Technology
  6. University of Michigan
  7. University of Washington
  8. Oregon State University
  9. University of Texas at Austin
  10. William & Mary

Considering going to college for computer science?

Join the conversation on the College Confidential computer science forums.

Written by

Joy Bullen

Joy Bullen

Joy Bullen is College Confidential's Senior Editor and Head of Content. She is a graduate of Kenyon College, where she majored in English and Creative Writing. She also earned a master’s in Psychology from The New School for Social Research in NYC.

Before becoming a full-time writer and editor, Joy coached thousands of prospective and enrolled college students on admissions and academic and career success. She also managed a team of academic and career coaches and consulted with universities on how to create programs that have better outcomes for students.

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