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2021 Computer Science Degree Guide

If you've ever wanted to build a robot or create a computer you can have a conversation with, Computer Science might be the major for you.

Computer Science majors analyze the way computers and humans interact so they can build programs or systems that aid people in solving problems. Classes in calculus, data logic, information management, artificial intelligence, software engineering, and data structures and algorithms among others will give students the skills to help engineers solve complex math problems, design and test new operating systems, and improve computer user interfaces.

Rapid Growth in Computer Science Degrees Awarded

#19 Most Popular Major
47.9k Degrees Awarded
7.5% Increase in Graduates

Computer Science was the 19th most popular major in the 2018-2019 school year. Colleges in the United States reported awarding 47,906 degrees in this year alone. This is a difference of 3,593 over the prior year, a growth of 7.5%.

There are 778 schools offering degrees in computer science in the United States. Our 2021 Best Colleges for Computer Science ranking analyzes 209 of these schools to determine the best overall colleges for computer science students. Explore this or one of our many other custom compsci rankings further below.

Computer Science Degree Requirements

Computer scientists often have a background in mathematics and enjoy problem solving. You will be responsible for creating programs and computer systems that will assist humans with projects or complex computing problems. Successful computer scientists are able to work as part of a team, have strong critical-thinking and analytical skills, and have ingenuity and creativity.

Most computer scientists work full time with a typical 40-hour workweek. However, when conducting research, computer scientists are able to set their own hours, which may be more flexible. Internships and summer jobs within the field will be beneficial since employers are looking for employees with concrete skills.

Getting Accepted Into a Computer Science Program

New students will need to have completed high school or a GED program and each school will have their own minimum GPA and SAT/ACT test requirements. In addition to these basic computer science program qualifications, to serve in some compsci careers, special certification may be required outside of your degree.

Computer Science Degree Types

CompSci degree levels vary. You can get anything from a associate's degree in computer science to the highest compsci degree, a professional practice doctorate. The type of compsci degree you choose will determine how long it takes to get your diploma.

Degree Credit Requirements Typical Program Length
Associate Degree 60-70 credits 2 years
Bachelor’s Degree 120 credits 4 years
Master’s Degree 50-70 credits 1-3 years
Doctorate Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation At least 4 years

A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to compsci, with approximately 56.6% of workers getting one. Find out other typical degree levels for compsci workers below.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 57.3%
Master’s Degree 11.2%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 9.0%
Post-Secondary Certificate 6.1%
Some College Courses 4.9%

Most workers in compsci have at least a bachelor's degree. View the chart below to get an idea of what degree level most of those in computer science careers have.


This of course varies depending on which compsci career you choose.

Career Opportunities for CompSci Majors

Above Average Number of Jobs
$66.6k Average Starting Salary
16% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

There are multiple routes that Computer Science graduates may choose. Previous graduates have gone on to work for computer system development companies, software publishers, research and development companies, and the federal government. This major equips students with the skills to pursue any career that deals with interactions between humans and computers. Those who want a career in computer and information research will have to earn their Ph.D.

High Growth Projected for CompSci Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your compsci degree? Computer Science careers are expected to grow 15.7% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to computer science.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
Software Applications Developers 1,086,600 30.7%
Systems Software Developers 472,100 11.1%
Computer and Information Systems Managers 411,800 12.0%
Computer Workers 313,800 9.3%
Computer Programmers 273,600 -7.2%

CompSci Degree Salary Potential

Computer Science graduates between 2015-2017 reported earning an average of $66,561 in the 2017-2018 timeframe. Earnings can range from as low as $18,200 to as high as $153,400. As you might expect, salaries for compsci graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


Highest Paid CompSci Careers

Salaries for computer science graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top 5 highest paying careers compsci grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Computer and Information Systems Managers $152,860
Computer and Information Research Scientists $123,850
Systems Software Developers $114,000
Software Applications Developers $108,080
Information Security Analysts $102,470

Getting Your Computer Science Degree

With over 1,555 different compsci degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased compsci school rankings to help you with this.

Study Areas in Computer Science

One of 10 majors within the Computer & Information Sciences area of study, Computer Science has other similar majors worth exploring.

Related Major Annual Graduates
Computer Information Systems 76,482
Information Technology 33,399
Information Science 17,779
Computer Systems Networking 14,055
Computer Software & Applications 12,793

View All CompSci Related Majors >


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