In 2016, Iowa lawmakers introduced a bill into the House of Representatives to create a computer science advisory council within the state education department. This council would work with local legislators to implement high-level computer science programs for K-12 students. The bill (SF274) passed the Senate in 2017, and now all middle to high school level Iowans will participate in mandatory computer science courses by the year 2019. Per the bill, the state government will contribute $250,000 to train teachers in computer science instruction.
The bill and its provisions were largely influenced by the governor’s STEM advisory council. This council spearheads initiatives like the Code Iowa and STEM Scale-Up programs to boost computer science education in Iowa. In 2017, CompTIA released a report detailing Iowa’s tech industry. This industry generates $7 billion for the state’s economy. Approximately 45,000 Iowans work in this field, which boasts over 4,000 tech businesses. Nationally, the state ranks 32nd in the nation in terms of tech industry employment.
Higher Education in Iowa
The Iowa Board Of Regents oversees all higher-education institutions in the state, which includes three state universities: the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa. These schools offer some of the best computer science programs in Iowa. Students at UNI can choose a specialization in software engineering, systems and traditional computer science, or information science. Additionally, the University of Iowa and Iowa State University offer combined five-year accelerated programs where computer science students graduate with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in the field. University of Iowa students can also pursue a Ph.D in computer science.
The Board of Regents also rolled out a distance education strategic plan in 2017, which aims to improve Iowa’s distance education programs by aligning them with the economic needs of the state and expanding access to its residents. The plan also endeavors to improve education technology, making it easier to deliver high-quality online courses. Schools like UNI use the Blackboard learning management system to deliver online instruction, and Iowa State University offers a master’s in computer engineering program that can be completed entirely online. Distance courses may be taught synchronously or asynchronously, depending on the structure of the program, where students take classes at their own pace (asynchronous participation) or login during a specified time (synchronous participation).
Computer Science Careers in Iowa
According to a recent CompTIA Cyberstates report, the U.S. boasts close to 7 million tech jobs, and the tech industry contributes $1.3 trillion to the U.S. economy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 19% increase in the number of computer and information scientist jobs within the next decade. The aforementioned CompTIA study also reports that the tech industry adds over 180,000 IT jobs to its sector annually. The best computer science schools in Iowa prepare graduates for careers in software engineering, data analytics, and system administration. The most common IT jobs in Iowa are software developers, systems analysts, and computer support specialists. Although Iowa lost about 1% (834) of its tech jobs in 2016, the number of IT services and custom software services jobs grew by 7% in 2017. The engineering services sector is also experiencing continued growth of about 7% per year.
Median Salary for Computer Science Careers by Degree
Computer Science Employers in Iowa
- Rockwell Collins: Rockwell Collins offers high-tech aviation solutions to companies in the commercial and military sectors. They deal with cabi electronics, information management, and mission communications. The company works closely with local students and offers fellowships, internships, and opportunities for co-op employment. It routinely hires software engineers, systems engineers, and software technicians.
- IBM: IBM started out as a company that mostly built computers, software, and hardware, but now this multi-billion dollar corporation also provides cloud-based solutions to help companies outsource work or manage information and employees. IBM also offers site-hosting and builds healthcare applications. The company employs a large number of software engineers, application security engineers, and many other works with a computer science background.
- Wells Fargo: Wells Fargo is a financial services company founded in 1852. Today, the company help customers with banking, investing, loans, insurance, and wealth management. To handle its many computer-related duties, the company hires information security engineers, data architects, information security analysts, and other IT professionals.
How Much do Computer Scientists Make in Iowa?
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Computer Science Programs in Iowa
Computer science schools in Iowa offer students a comprehensive educational experience. On-campus students meet at regularly scheduled times to attend classes, and schools like UNI emphasize smaller class sizes to encourage better student-teacher interaction; computer science classes at UNI contain no more than 30 students. Many on-campus learners schedule meetings with their instructors before or after class and have access to a wealth of student services, such as computer labs, tutors, and academic advisors. Students also have direct access to on-campus student organizations that specialize in computer science. They can join these associations and serve as board members to coordinate on-campus activities.
Students pursuing an online computer science degree in Iowa have a slightly different experience. Schools typically have an entire department dedicated to online learning and distance education. These departments have dedicated advisors, administrative staff, and faculty members. Students access courses through an online learning management system, where they use their school credentials to login to the system to view the syllabus, coursework, and interact with their peers and instructors. Courses may use a hybrid format or be available fully online. Hybrid courses require students to attend periodic on-campus meetings, while fully-online classes have zero in-person class attendance requirements. Iowa computer science schools receive regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. Regional accreditation affords many benefits, such as federal financial aid and easier credit transfer. Additionally, many employers only hire workers who hold a degree from an accredited institution. Computer science programs in Iowa can also earn national or specialized accreditation from the Computing Accreditation Commission.
Types of Computer Science Degrees
There are many types of degrees students can choose when pursuing education in computer science: associate degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate degree. In general, further formal education within a field results in a higher salary. In addition, some positions require a certain level of degree. For instance, many research positions or teaching positions at the university level require at least a master’s or doctorate degree. The table below features descriptions and basic data about each degree type.
An associate in computer science provides students with foundational knowledge in computer languages and programming. In addition to learning about computer systems, students will emerge with general education courses usually required by four year colleges. Graduates with an associate degree qualify for entry-level computer science positions in the job market.
Average Program Length – 2 Years
Median Salary – $32,897
A bachelor’s in computer science provides students with knowledge of operating systems, a variety of programming languages, database management, and computer systems and architecture. These programs typically require 120 credit hours of coursework and a capstone project. Many employers in the industry are increasingly hiring individuals with a bachelor’s degree.
Average Program Length – 4 Years
Median Salary – $60,835
A master’s in computer science provides students with a deeper understanding of computer systems, design, and programming languages. Some master’s programs may provide specializations for those who wish to concentrate further in a specific area. Individuals with a master’s degree typically earn a higher salary upon graduation than those with a bachelor’s.
Average Program Length – 1-2 Years
Median Salary – $104,269
A doctorate degree in computer science is designed for individuals who wish to pursue research in the field. These intensive programs often require students to narrow their field of study and design and carry out a specific research project that culminates in a dissertation. Graduates with a Ph.D in computer science often go into academia as computer science professors.
Average Program Length – 4+ Years
Median Salary – $126,744
What Schools Offer a Computer Science Degree in Iowa?
The following list highlights all of the accredited online computer science programs in Iowa. This list features the admission requirements, course objectives, and important deadlines of different schools and programs. This directory serves as a handy resource to evaluate the many computer science colleges in Iowa. Once you’ve decided on a program, you should also contact the school directly using the provided contact information.
schools that match your search
Professional Computer Science Organizations in Iowa
Joining a computer science organization can be incredibly beneficial to students. These organizations offer learners the chance to network with other computer science majors and professionals in the industry. Most on-campus student organizations also help their members find intern positions at local tech companies and attend tech events. Professional organizations typically arrange annual conferences, help members with job placement, and provide continuing education services. Below are some popular organizations available to students pursuing a computer science degree in Iowa.
- The Technology Association of Iowa: The TAI is a statewide association for workers in Iowa’s tech industry. The association develops local talent through its workforce and education committee and influences public policy by working closely with legislators to improve STEM funding.
- Iowa Association on Business and Industry: The ABI works to strengthen the state’s economy and consists of 1,500 members from different industry sectors. Its public policy team works to regulate businesses through legislature and fosters relationships between members to promote more business collaborations.
- Association for Computing Machinery: The ACM is a global organization that works to advance computer science technology. The University of Iowa has a student chapter of the ACM on campus; student membership affords access to events hosted by the national organization.
Additional Computer Science Resources in Iowa
- Microsoft Imagine Academy: The Iowa STEM advisory council partnered with 150 local schools to create a program to help students receive STEM training and certification, preparing them to succeed in tech-related jobs. Upon completion of the program, students receive Microsoft certification in computer programs, enhancing their skill set and setting them apart from their peers.
- STEM Scale-Up Program: Launched after the STEM council’s creation in 2012, the Scale-Up program includes a variety of STEM initiatives designed to engage local students in STEM concepts and careers. The 2017 program menu features Project Lead the Way, a course centered around computer science, engineering, and spatial-temporal math.
- Code Iowa: During “Computer Science Week,” the STEM council hosts a free coding program for local residents. Participants commit to logging onto code.org to practice for an hour each day. Coding programs are also available for free year round on the code.org website. This program recently received additional funding from Google and Verizon.
- Iowa Public Universities Application Portal: The Board Of Regents created a portal to streamline the application process to regent universities. Using this resource, students can apply to multiple schools at the same time.