Is an online master’s degree in computer science worth it?

BY Sydney LakeJuly 25, 2022, 1:49 PM

Illustration by Martin Laksman

If you are a college scholar learning computer system science, you are presently shifting in the direction of a pretty fruitful profession. The typical income for laptop science graduates in 2021 was about $72,000. As opposed with other majors, this was the best income projection for that course 12 months, according to a report by the Countrywide Association of Schools and Businesses.

But what can take you even even further in your profession is earning a master’s degree in laptop or computer science. The 2021 median fork out for computer system experts was $131,490, according to the Bureau of Labor Data, which also notes that these careers ordinarily require a master’s degree in the industry. 

Although there are a good deal of in-individual computer system science courses out there, not all candidates have the overall flexibility to take classes comprehensive-time. Which is where the choice of an on line master’s in computer science program can be far more eye-catching. In fact, major computer system science universities these types of as Syracuse University, which Fortune ranks as obtaining the No. 3 plan in the U.S., features the precise exact same curriculum in its on-line and residential computer system science degree packages. 

“We provide the elementary rigor for prolonged-long lasting understanding in the tech subject,” Jae C. Oh, Syracuse College Electrical Engineering and Computer system Science section chair, tells Fortune. “Their investment decision in education and learning will pay out off many folds.”

Return on expenditure

With starting salaries very well over the 6-determine mark, pc scientists with an state-of-the-art degree make more than any other master’s graduates, on common, in accordance to NACE. By comparison, the median starting up income for MBA graduates in 2021 was $115,000, in accordance to the Graduate Administration Admission Council’s 2021 Company Recruiters Study. Going to any master’s method, nevertheless, can be a huge upfront financial commitment. Some prime packages can charge much more than $50,000 complete to go to. 

For example, Vanderbilt University, rated No. 1 by Fortune, expenditures extra than $66,000 in tuition on your own. Syracuse’s software costs around $52,000 in full, and Rice College (rated No. 10) expenses around $50,000. New Jersey Institute of Know-how (ranked No. 5) and Marshall University‘s (rated No. 6) have selling price tags of $21,000 and $10,000, respectively. 

Several pupils who enter Syracuse’s program are currently building lessen-to-mid six-figures, but a master’s degree will increase their pay back to the higher $100,000 selection, Oh states. Similarly, Craig Gotsman, professor and dean of Ying Wu University of Computing at NJIT, also sees learners landing higher-spending roles immediately after graduation. 

“Annual salaries can be any where concerning $100,000 and $200,000,” Gotsman says. “After a couple years in software enhancement, you can go into workforce management and then into administration roles.”

The College of Idaho, rated No. 7 by Fortune, also reviews regular graduating salaries of involving $110,000 and $170,000. Graduates of the university’s master’s degree application have landed careers both equally in the public and non-public sectors—including Fortune 500 companies—at places like the U.S. Section of Protection, Intel, Micron Technological know-how Inc., and Facebook.

“Whether you want to do the job at a technological firm or construct a profession in academia, this software prepares you to add to the area of computer science in new and novel techniques,” Alexiss Turner, a spokesperson for the University of Idaho’s College or university of Engineering, tells Fortune.

What you will need to do well

First and foremost, officers from a variety of master’s diploma programs in computer system science agree that learners want to have travel, enthusiasm, and a objective in intellect for how they want to be active in the industry soon after graduation. 

“Students need to have some thought of why they are pursuing this degree and what they count on to do with the diploma on graduation,” Paulus Wahjudi, professor and chair of the Section of Computer system Sciences and Electrical Engineering at Marshall College, tells Fortune. “It does not have to be fully clear, but there wants to be a aim that a scholar needs to obtain and an thought on what they want to do in their job.”

Common job paths for personal computer science master’s students at prime universities consist of computer software advancement, DevOps, cybersecurity, data analytics, personal computer techniques engineering and architecture, among the lots of other adjacent occupations. 

“Most frequently, we see STEM professionals enter our system with the intent of switching occupations into superior-demand from customers, high-income software engineering, data engineering, device finding out, merchandise management, and cybersecurity roles,” Scott Rixner, a professor of pc science at Rice, tells Fortune. “We search for candidates who have shown that they have the travel, mathematical aptitude, and shown interest in computer science to thrive in a [master’s in computer science] degree plan.”

Computer science master’s pupils at Rice have gone on to land jobs with Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft, he adds.

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