Should I Get a Master’s in Computer Science? Questions to Ponder as You Decide

From cloud computing to artificial intelligence, new technologies promise to change every aspect of our daily lives. These advancements are possible thanks to the hard work of innovative professionals who boast extensive training in computer science. If you’d like to join their ranks, you could be a great candidate for a master’s degree in computer science.

Graduate-level coursework can expand your academic and professional horizons, but it represents a significant commitment. As such, you should feel confident in the long-term value of such targeted training before you enroll. You may be wondering: How do I know if an M.S. in Computer Science is right for me? What do I need to make the most of this opportunity? Targeted questions may help, so keep the following considerations in mind as you determine whether you’re an ideal candidate for pursuing your master’s degree.

1. What does my career trajectory look like? Are any gaps in technical knowledge holding me back?

Many of today’s best job opportunities (in fields such as cloud computing or cybersecurity) call for advanced skills that you may not have gained while enrolled in a bachelor’s program. In fact, depending on when you attended college, some of the fastest-growing, most in-demand niches may not yet have existed. As such, your skill set may contain some significant gaps that keep you from landing the positions you desire.

Thankfully, it’s not too late to level up your computer science skills. An M.S. allows you to build on foundational knowledge as you explore intriguing new concepts. You will be able to apply this newfound understanding not only when you graduate, but also, while you’re still enrolled in your M.S. program.

While many students enter graduate-level computer science programs after obtaining bachelor’s degrees in similar areas, this approach is not always necessary. Admission to an M.S. program is possible even if your bachelor’s is in an unrelated area. If you lack coursework in foundational topics such as discrete math, you’ll have the opportunity to complete such requirements before you take on graduate-level coursework.

2. Am I ready to move into a specific niche as I take the next step in my career?

Perhaps you’ve already developed a strong foundation, complete with a thorough understanding of the technical concepts required for your current position. Your skills have taken you far, but now, you’re ready to explore a new niche. A Master of Science in Computer Science will allow you to do exactly that.

Once you decide to enroll in an M.S. program, you can select a concentration based on your interests and career goals. Top options offered at Lewis University include:

  • Software Engineering
  • Cyber Security
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Digital Forensics
  • Enterprise and Cloud Computing

Another exciting option: crafting your own concentration. This needs to incorporate knowledge units involving database design and object-oriented programming, but it still offers a great deal of flexibility. This is an excellent opportunity if you’re looking to develop a specific skill set for a current or future employer.

3. Could I benefit from an internship or other forms of hands-on computer science training?

While theoretical coursework forms the basis of the M.S. in Computer Science program, hands-on experience is also crucial. Your ability to apply complicated concepts in the real world will determine whether you’re able to excel in quickly evolving areas such as enterprise networking or mobile device forensics.

The ideal M.S. program will grant you access to a variety of hands-on opportunities that help you build practical skills. Lewis University, for example, is involved in an internship co-op program with Argonne National Laboratory. These internships often turn into full-time jobs, with dozens of Argonne’s current IT staff members having once attended Lewis University.

Argonne National Laboratory represents just one of many compelling internship opportunities. A variety of other exciting positions are also available, with many relating directly to career niches that are full of potential. Beyond internships, students are encouraged to get involved with service-oriented projects, which allow them to make a real difference as they build on techniques they’ve already explored in the classroom.

4. Am I interested in contributing to the rapidly growing body of computer science research?

When you study computer science at the graduate level, you enjoy the exciting opportunity to build on an already impressive body of research. First, you’ll delve into key research methodologies, such as mathematical proof techniques and algorithm analysis. You’ll also gain insight into key aspects of the research process, such as literature review, design, and even ethics.

Once you’ve mastered the basics of computer science research, it’s time to contribute your own insights in the form of your master’s thesis. During this process, you will work closely with a faculty adviser. Together, you will delve into a relevant topic and produce a document that is worthy of publication. This will be presented to fellow students, as well as faculty members, granting you the opportunity to share your discoveries with other influential individuals.

5. Where do my current networking efforts fall short? Do I need a mentor or professional contacts within my preferred professional niche?

The technical skills gained in an M.S. program are valuable, of course, but the potential for building strong professional relationships should also be considered. Networking can be challenging for employees in technical fields, but it remains crucial for advancement.

Interpersonal connections form a core component of the Master of Science in Computer Science at Lewis University. These are often formed while taking foundational and concentration courses in which small class sizes are prioritized to enable high levels of interaction.

In addition to building strong relationships with fellow M.S. students, you’ll interact extensively with faculty members. As esteemed leaders in their fields, these instructors practice the material they’re charged with teaching. Their industry connections will prove valuable as you seek internship and job opportunities.

Perhaps most notably, you’ll develop a close working relationship with your faculty advisor, who will provide insight and motivation every step of the way. Your advisor plays a crucial role in your master’s thesis and will remain a valuable resource long after you’ve graduated.

A Master of Science in Computer Science could be your ticket to advancement in one of today’s most promising fields. With a little soul-searching, you may discover that you are an ideal candidate for graduate-level education. Your commitment to furthering your education could pay off in the form of an impressive professional network, a job you love, and the personal satisfaction of earning your master’s degree.

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