Overview of Bachelor's in Computer Science Programs


Updated May 24, 2024

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Is a bachelor of computer science the right degree for you? Explore what it takes to earn this degree, how to pay for it, and what you can do after graduation.

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Computer scientists blaze a trail for the future across society and enterprise. A bachelor's in computer science offers a launch pad to potentially exciting career opportunities as a technology specialist, entrepreneur, researcher, or corporate executive.

Graduates can pursue solid careers, graduate school, or new research opportunities. If you enjoy solving puzzles, have a propensity for mathematics, and hold a high school diploma, you may qualify to start a computer science BS degree.

Discover more about the different kinds of computer science degrees, ways to pay for your education, and what you can do after graduation with this helpful guide.

What Is Computer Science?

Computer science explores computational theory, software design, algorithms, data structures, and human-computer interaction. As an academic discipline, computer science blends many fields, such as mathematics, electrical engineering, and robotics.

Electronic digital computing first began when several countries tried to gain the technological upper hand during World War II. After the war, computer science continued to grow. In 1962, Purdue University launched the first computer science department in the U.S.

Today, computer science helps advance the frontiers of medicine, communication, education, and disaster response.

Popular Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Is a Bachelor of Computer Science Degree?

A bachelor's degree in computer science is a four-year program combining general education with computer science, mathematics, and technology coursework. This degree can prepare graduates to pursue roles in the workforce or advanced degrees.

Popular careers for recent graduates include computer programming, information security, and software development. Advanced degrees can prepare students to become software engineers or computer science researchers.

Many colleges and universities offer computer science degrees online, sometimes with specializations such as cybersecurity, data analytics, or artificial intelligence. In some of these programs, students may accelerate their studies and graduate in less than four years.

Skills Learned in CS Bachelor's Programs

Students can learn technical, practical, theoretical, and soft skills in bachelor of computer science programs. The specific skills they acquire depend on their concentration, program emphasis, and choice of BS or BA degree.

Common computer science skills include:

  • Theory and mathematics of computation
  • Problem analysis
  • Programming languages, such as Java or Python
  • Decision loops, variables, and how to write functions
  • Technical writing

Students also learn soft skills, such as these:

  • Communication
  • Time management
  • Attention to detail
  • Collaboration

Enrollees can also develop skills in these fields:

Degree Designations for CS Majors

Depending on your interests and career goals, you can choose from several options for bachelor's programs and concentrations in computer science.

Undergraduate Computer Science Degree Options
Program Components BA BS BAS BBA
Program Focus Computer science and the humanities Technical and practical aspects of the field Technology's interface with social and human values Business information technology
Student Goals Holistic learning Computer science skills Combine a humanities major with computer science Blend critical thinking with business analysis and information technology
Skills Learned Communication, art, psychology, theory Engineering, cybersecurity, statistics, computational theory Unique to each student Data analysis, computer ethics, problem-solving
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Career Paths Game designer, UI/UX designer, augmented reality designer Software engineer, data scientist, systems architect, cybersecurity analyst Technology attorney, medical technologist, researcher, post-secondary instructor Data analyst, business information technology careers

Concentration Options for Bachelor's in CS Students

  • Bachelor's in Computer Programming: This degree combines coursework in programming, data structures, and cybersecurity to empower new programmers, developers, and administrators.
  • Bachelor's in Computer Science: Bachelor of computer science prerequisites include a high school diploma and basic knowledge of math, statistics, and computers.
  • Bachelor's in Cybersecurity: These degrees focus on breach mitigation strategies to equip information security experts with knowledge of data analytics, penetration testing, and digital forensics
  • Bachelor's in Data Science: In addition to computer science, students learn the mathematical uses of technology required to solve operational problems.
  • Bachelor's in Software Engineering: Emphasizing computer programming, engineering, and math, this degree prepares individuals to pursue work as software engineers and research scientists.

More Factors to Consider When Choosing a CS Program

As you research the right program for you, consider these important characteristics of each option:

  • Online vs. in-person vs. hybrid
  • Asynchronous vs. synchronous
  • Accreditation
  • Prestige
  • Faculty diversity and background
  • Graduation rate
  • Career services

Popular Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Are Bachelor's in Computer Science Degrees Expensive?

As of the 2020-21 school year, the average net price for one year of college at public institutions stood at $14,700 and $28,400 at private nonprofit institutions, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. A quick review of online computer science programs shows that tuition can run from $130-$550 per credit, though costs can vary significantly.

Online degrees may be more affordable than on-campus programs, but many other factors also affect the cost of higher education. For instance, large public universities often charge less than small private colleges. Your state residency may also determine your tuition rate at a public university.

Some schools offer subscription-based programs, which allow you to complete assignments at your own pace. Highly motivated students can save money by completing coursework quickly. You can also use financial aid options like scholarships, grants, military or veterans funding, or employer tuition assistance.

Scholarships for Bachelor's in Computer Science Majors

Many private companies and foundations offer scholarships for computer science majors. Typically, applicants must meet the donor organization's criteria for support and often have to compete against other qualified applicants.

Some scholarships may support computer science majors broadly, while others only fund students in specific concentrations, such as cybersecurity or software development. The list below is not comprehensive but offers an example of relevant scholarships for students in this major.

Betty Stevens Frecknall Scholarship: Named for a pioneer in computer repair, analysis, and programming, this scholarship supports students pursuing computer science or other related majors. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or residents enrolled full time in accredited institutions. Each candidate needs one semester or more of college credits and a GPA of 3.0 or better.

Lockheed Martin STEM Scholarship: Each year, Lockheed Martin awards $10,000 to 200 recipients studying engineering or computer science. Awardees can renew their scholarships up to three times, totaling $40,000. An applicant must hold a 2.5 GPA or higher and be willing to intern with Lockheed Martin to qualify.

Palantir Future Scholarship: This scholarship supports students from racial and ethnic groups historically underrepresented in technology careers. Applicants can be first-year, second-year, or third-year students in accredited colleges in the U.S., Mexico, or Canada.

More Resources for Bachelor of Computer Science Students

Computer Science Scholarships for Women

Computer Science Scholarships for Women

Tips for Succeeding in Computer Science Classes

Tips for Succeeding in Computer Science Classes

Organizations for Black Computer Science Students

Organizations for Black Computer Science Students

CS Organizations for Asian American Students

CS Organizations for Asian American Students

What Can You Do With a Computer Science Bachelor's Degree?

Computer science graduates can pursue many careers, qualify for further education, and even launch technology-related startups. As of May 2023, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that computer science and related occupations provided a median annual wage of $104,920.

A bachelor's degree in computer science can prepare you for a career in computer programming, information security, software development, or web development. To advance into a specialized position or leadership role, you can earn a master's in cybersecurity, a master's in information technology, or another degree.

If you aspire to teach or perform research, consider pursuing a Ph.D. in computer science. With this doctoral degree, you may have the chance to shape the technology of the future.

Questions About Computer Science Bachelor's Degrees

What is the best degree to get in computer science, a BS or BA degree?

A BA in computer science emphasizes the liberal arts, while a BS focuses on math, science, and technology. Either degree can be helpful, but a BS is more likely to open doors to specialized careers or advanced degrees.

Is computer science a hard major?

With heavy workloads and exacting theories, computer science can be a complicated field to study. However, if you have a strong foundation in math and statistics, along with disciplined study habits, computer science can also be a rewarding and achievable major.

How long does it take to complete a bachelor of computer science program?

A bachelor's degree typically takes four years to finish. However, if you enter with an associate degree or AP credits, you may complete your degree in less time. Accelerated options can also shorten degree timelines.

Is a computer science degree worth it?

A computer science degree can help open doors to many dynamic careers. The BLS projects that employment in computer and information technology will grow faster than average from 2022-2032, with jobs in this group paying a median annual wage of $104,920.

Last reviewed May 15, 2024.

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