Is a Master in computer science worth it?

9 mins

You want to ensure you're receiving a decent bargain before making a sizeable financial choice, such as purchasing a specific model automobile or applying for a mortgage.

You want the advantages of your purchase to outweigh – or at least equal – the expenditures. You want to make sure that anything you're thinking about getting is worth the money and effort you're investing into it.

Deciding to pursue a graduate study is no different. If you're thinking about getting a Master of Science in Computer Science (MS in CS), you want to be sure it's the appropriate decision before you start.

You've undoubtedly had a lot of questions about the sorts of job titles that are popular for graduates, the amount of money you'll make with your degree, the skills a school can provide you with, and the work you'll be able to do.

Maybe you're wondering if you can even enroll in a program if you don't have a background in computer science. Finally, you're asking these questions to assist you in deciding: Is obtaining a master's degree in computer science worth the commitment of time, money, and effort?

The value you anticipate obtaining from having earned the degree will determine whether or not a degree is "worth it." This value might be tangible, like a certain income, and subjective, such as a specific job title or career path.

Whatever your objectives, it's critical that you understand the outcomes you want from a degree before enrolling. Otherwise, determining whether or not acquiring the degree is the best move for you and your job is impossible.

Is a master's degree in computer science appropriate for you?

Before beginning acquiring any graduate degree, prospective students should conduct some research to ensure that the degree they are contemplating would genuinely help them reach their goals.

Otherwise, you risk receiving a degree that will not bring you where you want to go—in which case, the degree will be a waste of time.

To ensure that pursuing a graduate degree is the right next step for you, you should ask yourself many questions, including

  • What is my motive for pursuing this degree? Do I want to develop in my present industry or change occupations ultimately?
  • Will obtaining my graduate degree make it simpler for me to achieve my personal and professional objectives?
  • What kind of educational experience do I hope to get while working on my graduate degree?
    Is the degree format appropriate for my lifestyle? Is the degree program on-campus, online, or a hybrid of the two?
  • Can I afford all of the expenditures associated with obtaining a graduate degree, including tuition, books, fees, and transportation?

Once you understand your objectives and expectations, you will be better equipped to decide whether pursuing a graduate degree is the right next step for you and your career.

Does it match your professional goals?

Only you can decide whether a computer science master's degree is best for you. When visualizing your near and far future, consider how a graduate degree and your undergrad comp-sci degree may help you get there.

A master's degree may be required for some occupations. Others might merely need more experience or industry qualifications.

Enrolling in a degree program necessitates both time and money. There is no need to invest in your job aspirations, and do not necessitate a master's degree in computer science.

Is another alternative a better fit?

There are various fields of computer science, each needing specialized knowledge and education. A master's degree in information technology, cybersecurity, or a similar field may be more appropriate for your objectives.

Professional information technology certificates are alternatives to a computer science master's degree. Organizations provide certificates at various levels, including security, cloud fundamentals, and project development. One or more of these may better prepare you for your job.

Do you satisfy the criteria for the master's program?

A master's degree in computer science, like an advanced degree, necessitates preparatory courses. Students must have a solid foundation in mathematics, programming, and technology. While curriculum requirements differ, learners may be required to have prior job experience.

What Are the Purpose of Getting a Master's Degree in Computer Science?

In recent years, bachelor's degrees have grown significantly more widespread among employees. According to a Pew Research Center research from 2016, 40% of Millennials hold a bachelor's degree or above, compared to 32% of Gen Xers and 26% of Baby Boomers. This proportion is only projected to rise in the coming years.

That implies that receiving a graduate degree is a terrific method for potential students to help themselves stand out in today's job market, whether younger employees are entering the job market for the first time or older professionals pursuing mid-to senior-level roles.

As a result, obtaining a graduate degree is often connected with a variety of broad advantages, the most frequent of which are:

Career Advancement: Many firms prefer that their employees have a graduate degree; 33% of employers have lately upgraded their educational demands.

Increased Earning Potential: Employees with a graduate degree earn 28% more than those with a bachelor's degree during their careers. According to PayScale, computer science workers with a master's degree earn an average income of $101,000, compared to $86,000 for those with a bachelor's degree.

Earning a graduate degree can help you broaden your professional network by allowing you to connect, collaborate, and learn with instructors and other students who may benefit your career in the future.

Of course, the advantages of obtaining a degree differ from one business to the next and from one degree to the next. The three of the most popular benefits of getting an MS in CS are to help you decide whether it is the proper step for you to take to reach your personal and professional objectives.

Increased Career Opportunities

With only a bachelor's degree and some internship experience, it is generally feasible to get work in a computer science-related field.

However, they are entry-level employment with an entry-level salary, perks, and responsibilities most of the time. Candidates must distinguish themselves from other applicants to be considered for a more senior-level post.

One of these methods is to have a wide range of experience under your belt, but gaining such expertise through a job takes time. As a result, persons wanting a higher-level job title or position frequently pursue a master's degree in computer science from a university that emphasizes experiential learning.

Each MS in CS student has a four- to eight-month co-op in which they work full-time for a firm on a project, allowing them to apply what they learn in the classroom in the industry. It gives them a project to put on their resume and directly links them with possible employers.

Employees aren't the only ones who are concerned about the education gap. Many businesses have begun to require, or at least prefer, candidates with a graduate degree: According to Burning Glass Labor Insights, 24% of computer-science companies prefer to hire employees with advanced degrees.

Salary Packages

One of the most Well-known reasons people pursue a graduate degree is to increase their earning capacity. Master's degree holders make 28% more during their lifetime, demonstrating that obtaining a graduate degree increases compensation.

The income rise with a master's degree in computer science significantly outpaces the national average. Software development engineer, with an average income of $114,125, and computer scientist, with an average salary of $111,405, are two of the highest-paying positions for MS in CS degree holders.

Consistent Job Growth

Aside from better career opportunities and higher income, work stability is one of the most prevalent reasons people pursue a graduate degree. Aspiring students want to know the following:

  • Entering a stable profession.
  • Joining a growing field.
  • It will be easy to find a successor if they lose their employment.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer science-related employment is predicted to rise 16 percent between 2018 and 2028, far faster than the five percent growth expected for all occupations.

According to Burning Glass Labor Insights, this rise will be considerably higher for some professions: 14% for computer and information research scientists, 20% for software developers, and 23% for computer systems analysts.

This steady growth will keep the employment market stable for CS degree holders, ensuring that their degree retains its worth.

And, because there are more open computer science positions than qualified candidates, those with a CS degree will be able to negotiate more excellent salaries and perks.

As more people pursue bachelor's degrees in computer science to address the job gap, having a master's degree in computer science will help them stand out from the crowd and be considered the most competitive roles.

The brisk yet unmet demand for computer science specialists has enticed people with no prior experience to consider changing careers.

While transitioning into such a sophisticated sector may appear overwhelming, programs such as boot camps, specialized master's degrees, and other training opportunities allow beginners to hit the ground running.

For example, the MS in CS Align program provides students from various academic and professional backgrounds with the skills and expertise required to get into the field.

Choosing a Master's Degree in Computer Science

When you've decided that a computer science master's degree is the appropriate path for you, it's time to consider which program will best meet your needs. Coursework, concentrations, and research emphasis vary between programs, with online and in-person alternatives catering to diverse types of learners.

Curriculum and specializations

A computer science master's degree's core curriculum focuses on theoretical underpinnings and practical applications. Computer architecture, operating systems, logic design, and device use are among the subjects covered by students.

  • Computer science master's degrees often include research coursework, an internship, and a final project or paper.
  • Computer science programs feature optional classes and specialties to enhance the primary curriculum. Areas of concentration include:
  • Cybersecurity specialties focus on the methods and techniques of safeguarding electronic data.
    Artificial intelligence concentrations look at how technology is used to realize and reproduces human intellect.


Colleges and universities should be regionally or nationally accredited. Individual programs and departments may also be certified by a professional organization.

The Computer Accreditation Commission of ABET is the primary accrediting authority for computer science degrees. Accreditation attests to a degree's quality and reputation.


The cost varies depending on the school and program, but it usually ranges between $500 and $2,000 per credit. When looking for a computer science master's degree, students should examine all future expenses. Tuition, fees, textbooks, and transportation costs are considered.

Students can receive federal financial aid through the FAFSA application to help with expenditures. Individuals pursuing computer science degrees might benefit from computer science scholarships and grants. Several employers may contribute. Fellowships and loans are other financial help alternatives.

Online vs. in-person

An online degree is frequently more adaptable than a traditional curriculum. Many online computer science degrees offer expedited alternatives, allowing students to complete a master's degree in less than two years.

On the other hand, distance learners may be at a disadvantage when receiving personal attention and forming relationships with classmates and instructors. Online learners may also face resource constraints.

In-person programs allow for face-to-face engagement, but they also create additional problems. Meeting at a particular time might be challenging for working professionals and students with demanding schedules.

Time to finish

A conventional two-year master's degree in computer science is required. Some expedited programs can be completed in as little as 18 months.

What can I expect to earn with a master's degree in computer science?

Earning potential for those with a master's degree in computer science varies by employment. A master's degree can prepare students for high-paying upper-level or managerial roles.

As an example: Computer and information research scientists earned a median salary of more than $125,000 in 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

According to the BLS, most computer science jobs pay substantially over the national median earnings of $41,950 per year.

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