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Thinking about a computer science career in West Virginia? This page helps you choose a college to attend and degree to pursue, whether online or on campus. Computer science job opportunities continue to expand in West Virginia, and the evolving field offers opportunities for those with all levels of experience and education.
Many quality schools in West Virginia offer computer science programs, and several large employers within the state need computer science professionals. Pursuing your computer science degree within West Virginia fosters valuable contacts that can lead to exciting and lucrative positions. Though West Virginia does not currently offer any online computer science programs, those pursuing an online education can find many options that offer in-state tuition to out-of-state students on the Southern Regional Education Board's Academic Common Market website.
Higher Education in West Virginia
Students can choose from a number of options when looking at computer science programs in West Virginia. West Virginia University (WVU), the state's major higher education system, established its flagship campus in Morgantown and now offers an education to more than 30,000 students. WVU offers computer science degrees at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. Other West Virginia computer science schools that offer a bachelor's option include Fairmont State University, Marshall University, and Bethany College. Several community colleges and technical schools offer associate degrees in computer science. These programs tend to cost less and enable students to earn credit that transfers to four-year schools with relative ease.
Computer Science Programs in West Virginia
Students can select one among many computer science colleges in West Virginia. Four-year schools typically offer a bachelor's degree in computer science and teach most classes in computer labs, giving students plenty of hands-on experience. Some schools offer specific concentrations, certifications, or electives relevant to students' career goals. For instance, Fairmont State University offers a bachelor's in computer science with an optional cybersecurity concentration.
Additionally, Bethany College and Davis & Elkins College each offer students a choice between a bachelor of arts in computer science for those who plan to work in a business environment and a bachelor of science in computer science for individuals hoping to work in a scientific setting or at a software development firm. WVU's computer science program offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees.
Online programs offer students with full-time jobs and families a convenient educational option. Unfortunately, no schools currently offer online computer science programs in West Virginia. That said, some schools may offer online programs that lead to a related degree or certification. While you cannot pursue an online computer science degree in West Virginia, you may qualify to pay reduced rates at out-of-state colleges through the Academic Common Market.
The best computer science schools in West Virginia hold accreditation, so you should always verify that a higher education institution and/or program boasts accreditation status before applying. Accreditation demonstrates that a school provides a rigorous education that meets specific academic standards and assures any future employers that your degree is valid. Regional accreditation serves as the most prestigious form of accreditation, and the Higher Learning Commission oversees regional accreditation for colleges in West Virginia. Additionally, computer science programs in the U.S. hold accreditation from the Computing Accreditation Commission.
TYPES OF COMPUTER SCIENCE DEGREES
Computer science programs in West Virginia offer varying degree levels, and most professionals go on to earn a bachelor's degree in this field. The following sections outline your degree options, from an associate degree to a Ph.D.
ASSOCIATE IN COMPUTER SCIENCE
An associate degree requires about half the work of a bachelor's degree, and students can complete the degree at a community college with a relatively small investment. You can quickly complete an associate degree and enter the workforce, or you can complete the degree while already working without much difficulty.
Earning an associate degree through a computer science program in West Virginia gives you the exposure you need to begin your career and can help you save money on a bachelor's degree by allowing you to transfer credits to a four-year college or university. This degree level focuses on the foundations of computer science, ensuring that you possess the basic skills and knowledge needed to either enter the workforce or move onto a bachelor's program.
BACHELOR’S IN COMPUTER SCIENCE
Most computer science programs in West Virginia offer bachelor's degrees, which come standard in the field. This degree grants you the knowledge and skills needed to work in a variety of computer science careers and to elect a specialization that interests you.
A bachelor's degree requires about twice as many credits as an associate degree, both within your field and in general education courses. These give you the opportunity to explore computer science concepts to a greater degree and choose courses that compliment your major and interests. A bachelor's degree requires 120 credits that students can earn in four years of full-time study. Some colleges and universities offer accelerated and intensive programs that students can complete in less time.
MASTER’S IN COMPUTER SCIENCE
A master's degree in computer science allows you to specialize further and can prove useful for advancing your career. Master's degrees generally require a thesis or another significant final project. Completing such a project may seem daunting, but doing so marks you as an expert in your field and gives employers the confidence that you understand their needs. Holding a master's degree gives your resume a boost and serves as a requirement should you want to enter a Ph.D program in the field.
A master's degree typically takes 2-3 years to complete and can require anywhere from 30-60 credits, depending on the program -- assuming full-time study. Accelerated options offer students an even faster graduation timeline.
PH.D. IN COMPUTER SCIENCE
The Ph.D. is the highest level of degree in computer science. This degree focuses on research, and most people who earn it stay in academia to teach and conduct further research. Though a Ph.D. might not prove necessary for the majority of computer science careers, it can lead to some exciting positions and academic opportunities.
Schools offer most Ph.D. programs on campus, though some include online options. A Ph.D. generally takes 4-5 years to complete, but this can vary dramatically depending on the level and amount of research necessary for a student's dissertation.
Professional Computer Science Organizations in West Virginia
Professional organizations for computer science-related occupations offer a variety of resources to students and professionals alike. They typically help members keep up to date with recent developments in the industry through journals, presentations, conferences, and other educational programming. These organizations also facilitate networking, which can help members find jobs and other career opportunities. Many of these groups also come with memberships specifically for students. The list below contains a few computer science organizations students in West Virginia may want to consider joining while pursuing their degree.
Computer Science Careers in West Virginia
Earning your computer science degree serves as the first step toward finding employment in computer and information technology (IT) fields. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that total employment in these fields will grow by 13% over the next 10 years. Potential jobs for people with computer science degrees include positions as computer programmers, software or web developers, software QA testers, security analysts, software or systems engineers, and database or network systems administrators.
Graduates find computer and IT roles at organizations in almost any industry. For example, a company may need a special database created to manage customer records and orders. Additionally, most organizations employ trained workers to maintain hardware and install software, and companies consider data security one of their top priorities. While larger cities tend to harbor more of these jobs, the need for computer skills means that smaller towns also come with opportunities.
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Mean Salary for Computer Science Careers in West Virginia
COMPUTER SCIENCE EMPLOYERS IN WEST VIRGINIA
- WVU Medicine: Formerly known as West Virginia United Health System, this nonprofit serves as the state's largest employer and operates WVU's network of teaching hospitals around the state. Each hospital needs skilled workers to handle its computer systems, including managing software and hardware, maintaining digital patient records, and monitoring data security.
- Charleston Area Medical Center: CAMC is a complex of hospitals in Charleston; it includes the state's highest-level trauma center, the only kidney transplant center and dedicated children's hospital, and one of the nation's top heart programs. The hospital complex requires personnel who can maintain computers and data to ensure that patients receive the highest level of care.
- Mylan Pharmaceuticals: This pharmaceutical manufacturer built its headquarters in the city of Morgantown and additional facilities in other states and around the world. To operate smoothly, the organization requires a strong computer network team to link all of these locations and business units.
- West Virginia Academy of Science: Founded in 1924, WVAS publishes the Proceedings of the West Virginia Academy of Science, which provides a forum for new research and findings in computer science and other fields.
- CompTIA Association of Information Technology Professionals: CompTIA AITP brings together professionals from across the world and at all stages of their careers with a focus on networking, professional development, and certification programs. CompTIA offers many professional certifications for IT and computer science -- as well as continuing education programs for members.
- Institution of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Computer Society: Consisting of 400 local chapters, the IEEE Computer Society includes educators, professionals, and students. The group sponsors conferences and other networking opportunities that allow computer scientists to share their findings and improve the field.
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