Computer Science Programs in Wisconsin

The demand for computing jobs in the state of Wisconsin is higher than any other occupational category. The state Department of Workforce Development projects the number of professionals in this field to increase by 7% between 2012 and 2022, although certain occupations are expected to increase at a much faster rate. For example, the number of information security analysts is expected to increase by 26%.

In addition to a need for computer scientists in the state, Wisconsin is also a worthwhile place to study tech-related disciplines. Madison was one of four U.S. cities recently identified by the Atlantic Council as a vibrant “tech hub,” and the state is expected to experience continued growth and innovation in the future. Read on to learn more about what it’s like to study computer science in Wisconsin.

The state Department of Workforce Development projects the number of professionals in this field to increase by 7% between 2012 and 2022

Higher Education in Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s higher education system includes 80 colleges and universities with a total enrollment of more than 360,000 students and the highest retention rates in the region. The state’s public universities also rank among the best schools for technical and scientific research. The University of Wisconsin system, one of the world’s largest public education systems, serves almost half of Wisconsin’s student population (175,000 students) at 13 four-year universities across 26 campuses. These include the state’s largest institution (the University of Wisconsin-Madison), which is home to a nationally ranked computer sciences department. Students in this program have interned with and secured jobs at many prestigious high-tech companies, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple.

Several other two- and four-year computer science colleges in Wisconsin, including those discussed in the ranking below, also have departments of computer science and related fields. These include UW-Oshkosh and UW-Green Bay, as well as Silver Lake College and Concordia University. These computer science schools offer a variety of work experience opportunities in northeast Wisconsin, where computer scientists are in particularly high demand, as well as in the southern cities of Madison and Milwaukee, which rank among the top U.S. cities for tech jobs.

Computer Science Careers in Wisconsin

No matter what specific computing field you pursue, from software engineering to business analysis to video game design, the outlook for computer scientists is bright. The demand for these professionals far outweighs the supply, and the continuous evolution of technology creates new jobs all the time. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the field to grow by 13% through 2026, which is much faster than the average job in the U.S.

The most popular computer and information technology positions have significantly higher median annual salaries than other occupations, especially at the master’s degree level:

Median Salary for Computer Science Careers by Degree

Bachelor's Degree

Senior Software Engineer/Developer/Programmer $98,967
Software Developer $65,692
Software Engineer $76,707

Master's Degree

Senior Software Engineer/Developer/Programmer $108,432
Software Developer $79,893
Software Engineer $90,469

Computer Science Employers in Wisconsin

The booming computer science industry in Wisconsin has created a wealth of job opportunities. Major cities offer an abundance of tech jobs in a variety of sectors, including education, finance, and healthcare. In fact, Wisconsin is home to 10 Fortune 500 firms that hire computer science graduates, including the companies listed below.

  • Johnson Controls: Johnson Controls is a leader in HVAC technology and a multinational firm with 170,000 employees. The company has computer science-oriented positions at all levels. Some of these (including software engineers) require a bachelor’s degree, while others (such as data scientists) require a master’s degree.
  • Northwestern Mutual: This insurance and investments company offers a variety of information-based tech jobs, from DevOps engineers to mobile developers. The organization regularly recruits personnel with computer science backgrounds, especially in areas such as big data applications and cybersecurity. Most jobs at Northwestern Mutual are located in Milwaukee.
  • ManpowerGroup: Also headquartered in Milwaukee, ManpowerGroup (comprised of Manpower and Experis) is a multinational staffing and recruitment provider. Experis focuses on IT, engineering, and finance resourcing for a range of positions, including data warehouse programmer analysts and firmware engineers.

How Much do Computer Scientists Make in Wisconsin?

The field of computer science is broad and the earning potential varies widely across disciplines. A professional’s salary also depends on their level of education, previous experience, employer, and location. As can be seen in the table below, Wisconsin’s average salary for computer and mathematical scientists is slightly lower than the national average; however, the state’s cost of living is also less than the U.S. average. For example, the cost of living in Green Bay, which is one of the most populous cities in Wisconsin, is 9% below the national average.

Employment Hourly Mean Wage Annual Mean Wage
Wisconsin 74,950 $34.71 $72,200
United States 4,165,140 $42.25 $87,880

Source: BLS

Computer Science Programs in Wisconsin

Computer science is split into two main subdivisions: theoretical and applied. Depending on the program you choose, you can focus more on the theories behind concepts, like coding and algorithms, or on the practical applications of software engineering and network architecture. You can also specialize in a subfield. Computer science programs in Wisconsin cover the fundamentals of software, hardware, and networks and may require students to complete a portfolio or a capstone project for a client. Some schools, such as UW-Milwaukee, offer thesis options and supervised internships.

Online computer science programs in Wisconsin offer curricula through flexible learning formats. Classes at most schools are taught asynchronously, allowing students to study at their convenience rather than within the confines of a cohort-based classroom. Some programs also offer accelerated formats. For example, the University of Wisconsin system’s “UW Flexible Option” is a competency-based format that lets students apply college credit or on-the-job experience towards your degree, helping individuals save money and graduate faster.

Accreditation is another important factor that prospective students should consider. Many colleges and universities only accept transfer credits from accredited schools. Additionally, schools with regional or program-level accreditation are more likely to meet industry- and region-specific standards. The programmatic accreditor to look for in this field is ABET (formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology), although only some computer science schools in Wisconsin (including UW-Oshkosh) hold this accreditation.

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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.

Associate in Computer Science

 

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

Bachelor’s in Computer Science

 

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

Master’s in Computer Science

 

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

Computer Science Ph.D

 

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

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What Schools Offer a Computer Science Degree in Wisconsin?

Choosing the right online program is a personal decision and depends on a student’s individual academic and professional goals. To help with this decision, the following ranking presents the best computer science schools in Wisconsin. This list details Wisconsin computer science schools known for providing top-quality programs and should help narrow your search.

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Professional Computer Science Organizations in Wisconsin

Recent graduates and students currently pursuing an online computer science degree in Wisconsin should consider joining a professional organization. These organizations provide opportunities to make valuable connections within your field through networking, conferences, career services, and continuing education programs. Each offers members a unique set of benefits, and many organizations focus on certain subfields or specialties. The list below includes three of the top associations in the field of computer science.

  • Association for Computing Machinery: ACM is the world’s largest scientific computing society and delivers a digital library of resources, including leading publications and career resources. Chapter members gain access to these plus subscriptions to newsletters, copies of ACM’s student magazine, and an acm.org email address.
  • Association for Information Science and Technology: This professional organization bridges the gap between information science practice and research. ASIS&T serves practitioners and learners from 50 countries across several fields, including computer science. Members can attend discounted events and free webinars, access ASIS&T’s online career center and journals, and receive bookstore discounts.
  • Association for Women in Computing: AWC works to provide professional growth opportunities for women in computing professions. The organization runs chapters nationwide, and individuals can join as an independent member if they are unable to attend meetings. Most chapters hold monthly luncheons and organize regular volunteer, leadership, and mentoring opportunities.

Additional Computer Science Resources in Wisconsin

  • CRA Job Announcements: The Computer Research Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing computer science in academia and the government. The association describes its job board as the “premier place” to find top computer science opportunities, both professional and postdoctoral, across the country.
  • National Science Foundation: The NSF is a federal agency that offers a variety of computer and information science and engineering (CISE) funding opportunities. Its website lists research programs aimed at strengthening science and engineering enterprises in the U.S., for which individuals can submit proposals and assist research organizations if accepted. Further information about projects is available at grants.gov.
  • GitHub: GitHub is an online community for developers that fosters collaboration. Developers can upload and store their projects, learn from and contribute to other members’ work, and network with like-minded professionals. It provides access to an abundance of knowledge and ideas for professionals seeking feedback on their projects.
  • The Taulbee Survey: The Taulbee survey is a CRA effort that provides information about computer science employment in academia. The survey collects data related to the salaries and demographics of computer science professors and Ph.D holders across North America, analyzes trends in computer science programs, and shares results with CRA members.