What Do You Study In Computer Science

Last Updated on December 14, 2022 by

By reading this article, you will gain free access to the best information about what you should study in computer science engineering and what you should study for a computer science degree.

Not just that, you will also discover related posts on what subjects you study in computer science and the benefits of studying computer science on collegelearners.

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Computer science degrees can lead to a wide range of fulfilling and rewarding jobs. This guide outlines the course structure, entry requirements, and career paths for computer science students.

Living in the material world: why studying computer science pays

computer science course requirements

Computer science majors are strong logical thinkers and problem solvers who use computers and computational processes to build websites, mine data and more.

Computer science majors must study calculus to earn their degrees, and other relevant math courses include statistics and linear algebra. Introductory computer science classes cover topics like algorithm design, computer organization and abstract data types. After students develop a strong foundation in the major, they can move on to more complicated courses related to data visualization, neural networks and cryptography, among other subjects. At some schools, students may choose to pursue either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science in computer science. The B.A. contains fewer required classes and may be more relevant for students who plan to work in another field after college. Many degree programs make it possible for students to combine computer science with another discipline, like architecture, electrical engineering or molecular biology. Students interested in research can seek out opportunities with faculty members, develop independent projects and look into relevant coursework.

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What Do You Study In Computer Science

You can expect to begin your computer science degree by developing a foundational knowledge of key computer science topics. Some core computer science courses you may cover include the theory of computation, fundamentals of computer science, compilers and operating systems, information theory, basic programming, systems and architecture, software development and testing, web applications and databases, algorithms and data structures, and principles of computer hardware. Mathematical concepts you may cover include formal methods, Boolean algebra, discreet mathematics, set theory, probability, statistics, linear algebra, differential equations and calculus.

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You will then choose from an ever-growing range of specialist computer science topics, including advanced internet, advanced programming, artificial intelligence and artificial life, computational logic, computer graphics, computer modelling, computer networks, computer security, computer vision, encryption, ethical hacking, GUIs, games development, human-computer interaction, mobile applications, multimedia computing, networking theory, professional issues and research methods, software engineering and design, and web-development.

A closer look at some of the most popular computer science topics is provided below.

Programming language theory

Programming is an interdisciplinary topic, incorporating elements from subjects such as mathematics, software engineering and linguistics. Programming language theory involves looking at the design, implementation, analysis, characterization and classification of programming languages and their individual features. Your introductory courses will teach you one or more programming languages. Knowledge of more than one will help you to better understand their individual strengths and weaknesses, which will in turn help you to better engage with the challenges addressed by programming language theory. You’ll cover topics such as syntax, natural semantics, structural operational semantics and abstract machine code.

Computer Programming

A significant portion of your computer science studies will involve programming. You start out by learning high-level, basic languages such as Java and C++. As you go on, you’ll be introduced to more complex coding methods, including Prolog, Scheme, and machine code, also known as assembly language programming. At first, you can expect to input basic commands that will print phrases such as ‘Hello, world!’ on your screen.

Computer Organization

Have you ever wondered how a computer performs basic operations inside? In this course, you study how a computer moves information from place to place. You examine the central processing unit, primary and secondary memory, accessories and peripheral devices, as well as the circuitry that conducts operations.

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Most computer science programs require or encourage internships, which give you hands-on computing experience. Your department’s faculty members and advisors will monitor your progress throughout the program, and strong candidates may even have job offers waiting for them after completing the internship.

Calculus and Discrete Math

If you don’t like math, computer science may not be for you. You’ll be going through rigorous mathematical classes that start with calculus, and you can also expect to study statistics and linear algebra. Study.com has its own course if you want to tackle calculus before you start a computer science program: Math 104: Calculus I.

Lab Science

You’ll also also gain experience working in a science lab. Many programs recommend taking a physics course, but you may have the option of studying chemistry or biology as well.

Fortunately, Study.com also offers video courses in the following subjects:

  • Biology 101
  • Chemistry 101
  • Physics 101

Computer graphics

Studying computer graphics involves using computers to create still or moving two or three dimensional images using specialized graphics hardware and software. You’ll study how to manipulate visual and geometric information using computational techniques, focusing on mathematical and computational foundations of image generation and processing rather than purely aesthetic issues. You’ll need knowledge of physics, light and materials, as well as knowledge of the mathematics of homogenous matrices, and of data storage, representation and manipulations. Computer graphics makes the interaction and understanding of computers and interpretation of data easier for both computing professionals and consumers. With companies exploring increased use of trends such as ‘gamification’, the demand for computer scientists with advanced knowledge of computer graphics has never been greater.

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Human-computer interaction

The study of human-computer interaction (HCI) considers the challenges in making computers and computations useful, usable, and universally accessible to humans, in order to prevent unexpected problems caused by poorly designed human-machine interfaces. Coupled with studies rooted in behavioral sciences, you’ll cover the study, planning and design of this kind of interaction, with the understanding that a computer has an almost unlimited amount of uses which can only take place in an open-ended dialogue between the user and the computer. You’ll approach the subject on the machine side, with computing techniques such as computer graphics, operating systems, programming languages and development environments, and on the human side, exploring communication, graphics, linguistics, social sciences such as cognitive psychology, and user satisfaction.

Artificial intelligence

The study of artificial intelligence (AI) is closely related to the field of artificial life (AL), and both are involved in synthesizing goal-orientated processes such as problem-solving, decision-making, environmental adaptation, learning and communication using computers and algorithms. While the field of artificial life examines systems and studies the complex behaviors that emerge from these systems, artificial intelligence uses systems to develop specific behaviors in machines and software. AI is a cross-disciplinary topic drawing on applied mathematics, symbolic logic, semiotics, electrical engineering, philosophy (of mind), neurophysiology and social intelligence. AI involves the automation of tasks (such as evaluative and predictive tasks) in computer applications involving complex real-world data – successful use of AI in this manner can act as a viable substitute for humans doing the same tasks.

Algorithms and data structures

Algorithms are a step-by-step procedure for making calculations, used in data processing and automated reasoning – this creates an output that is often, but not always, predictable. Data structures provide a way of storing and organizing data in a computer so it can be used efficiently – different kinds of data structures are suited to different kinds of applications and may be highly specialized to specific tasks.

Together, algorithms and data structures underlie all other aspects of computer science, and involve learning how to store and process data as efficiently as possible, while ensuring algorithms are able to cope with the system in question. You’ll learn things such as linked lists, sorting and recursion, trees, hashing, greedy solutions, graphs and optimizing data arrangements. You may also go on to the analysis of algorithms (determining the amount of resources necessary to execute algorithms).

why computer science is the future

Your future in computer science

With the fast changing connected world, computer science is a key area for future careers across the world.

The term computing covers every kind of digital technology that we use to create, store, communicate, exchange and use information. This makes it the foundation for small and large businesses to build their strategies and grow. It is also the key to making our personal lives easier and more fun: mobile phones, online shopping, social media – we owe them all and a lot more to computer science.

The Future of Computer Science

The Future of  Computer Science is promising. Choosing a career in this field will open the doors to many job opportunities.  Some of the many jobs offered in this field are Web Developer, Cyber Security, Database Administrator, Software Developer, and many more.


computer science jobs

Most jobs only require a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, but you might need a Master’s degree in management positions, which demand more specialised knowledge and work experience.

We’ve done our research and found a great report from PayScale, which reveals the highest paying Computer Science jobs in the US. We’ve included both the average annual salary and the mid-career pay – that’s how much you’ll earn after 10 years of work experience.

1. Software Development Director

  • Average annual salary: 143,000 USD
  • Mid-career salary: 157,000 USD

Main responsibilities and tasks:

  • Plan & manage the software development process
  • Facilitate communication between different team members and departments
  • Communicate with clients & identifying possible product improvements
  • Train and guide junior programmers
  • Create detailed reports, evaluations, and presentations

2. Principal Software Engineer

  • Average annual salary: 135,000 USD
  • Mid-career salary: 142,000 USD

Main responsibilities and tasks:

  • Scale projects efficiently
  • Maximise performance and minimise costs
  • Ensure design, application & maintenance standards are followed
  • Evaluate systems and networks

3. Site Reliability Engineer (SRE)

  • Average annual salary: 116,600 USD
  • Mid-career salary: 135,000 USD

Main responsibilities and tasks:

  • Develop systems & software that improve site reliability
  • Provide on-call support and manage incidents
  • Collaborate on designed solutions with product developers
  • Ensure software delivery pipeline is efficient

4. Security Consultant

  • Average annual salary: 85,600 USD
  • Mid-career salary: 111,000 USD

Main responsibilities and tasks:

  • Assess potential threats and implement preventive measures
  • Design and improve data security systems
  • Create emergency plans for data breaches or data loss

5. Development Operations (DevOps) Engineer

  • Average annual salary: 93,000 USD
  • Mid-career salary: 107,000 USD

Main responsibilities and tasks:

  • Create and maintain website platforms
  • Manage cloud infrastructure and system administration
  • Prioritise and repair problems quickly

6. Cyber Security Engineer

  • Average annual salary: 94,800 USD
  • Mid-career salary: 106,000 USD

Main responsibilities and tasks:

  • Analyse and maintain the security of computer systems & networks
  • Test and screen security software, like firewalls or data encryption programmes
  • Identify potential threats and create preventive plans and policies
  • Monitor and report security incidents

7. Security Engineer

  • Average annual salary: 95,600 USD
  • Mid-career salary: 102,000 USD

Main responsibilities and tasks:

  • Design new security software and infrastructure
  • Test existing infrastructure for vulnerabilities and keep it up to date
  • Maintain the integrity and security of data and data transfers

8. Full Stack Software Developer

  • Average annual salary: no data available
  • Mid-career salary: 98,700 USD

Main responsibilities and tasks:

  • Work with both the front and back end of websites or applications
  • Maintain the quality and responsiveness of software and applications
  • Organise and maintain code integrity

9. Computer Scientist

  • Average annual salary: 78,300 USD
  • Mid-career salary: 93,900 USD

Main responsibilities and tasks:

  • Create and maintain software & applications to improve the efficiency of organisations
  • Use applications and algorithms to find solutions to complex problems
  • Come up with research ideas, implement plans, and analyse research results

10. Software Developer

  • Average annual salary: 70,600 USD
  • Mid-career salary: 91,300 USD

Main responsibilities and tasks:

  • Develop and debug various applications and software for clients
  • Test software and create detailed reports
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Entry-level Computer Science jobs

The jobs mentioned above might attract your attention, but that’s not where most Computer Science graduates begin. We all have to start our careers somewhere, so we thought it would be useful to mention some of the most common entry-level Computer Science jobs.

Computer User Support Specialist

  • Average annual salary: 48,500 USD

Main responsibilities and tasks:

  • Diagnose and troubleshoot hardware and software problems
  • Help clients install software and operate computers or cloud applications
  • Log and escalate support calls, emails

Web developer

  • Average annual salary: 59,000 USD

Main responsibilities and tasks:

  • Talk with clients and establish the needs and preferences of a website design
  • Design, code, and modify websites
  • Develop user-friendly pages that are easy to navigate

Software Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer

  • Average annual salary: 69,000 USD

Main responsibilities and tasks:

  • Use test automation software to assess the functionality and user-friendliness of products
  • Estimate product performance, run tests and compare the results with the initial estimations
  • Use bug tracking systems to document problems

Computer System Analyst

  • Average annual salary: 67,800 USD

Main responsibilities and tasks:

  • Research and evaluate new technologies
  • Identify the hardware and software needs of organisations
  • Analyse costs and benefits
  • Tests systems and train new users

computer science fields

Computer science is an umbrella term that covers many different fields of study. Computer science can be applied to a variety of industries and disciplines, including business operations, banking and finance, architecture and construction, logistics, manufacturing, health care, research and academia, entertainment and more. The study of computer science can be broken down into several specializations, including:

  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning – Teaching computers and “smart” machines to carry out tasks and learn to solve problems by themselves.
  • Business Information Technology – Solving problems related to growing and managing businesses of all sizes.
  • Cybersecurity – Protecting systems, data and networks from cyberattacks and data theft.
  • Data Science – Using statistics, analysis, mathematics, engineering and visualization to solve complex problems by “mining” vast amounts of data.
  • Digital Content Management – Managing content such as text, graphics and media used by e-commerce and other platforms to keep information organized and accessible.
  • Health Informatics – Using information technology to collect and analyze health care records, study health care trends and improve outcomes.
  • Human-Computer Interaction and User Experience – Improving how humans and computers can interact to achieve desired goals.
  • Information Systems – Connecting and protecting computer systems that allow people to collaborate within organizations and around the world.
  • Library and Information Science – Designing and developing knowledge organization systems that help students, faculty and other researchers find information crucial to their work.
  • Software Engineering – Developing and building software and information systems using engineering principles to meet the needs of different users and platforms.

All of these disciplines require dedicated computer scientists and engineers who can develop, maintain and improve the software and systems that help make our lives easier and safer.


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