There’s probably never been a better time to pursue a computer science master’s degree because opportunity abounds in this field. Burning Glass Market Research reports there were 797,000 positions posted in the United States for computer science master’s holders in 2021. There may be more than a million open positions by 2030. And according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations is over $91,000 – close to double the U.S. median.
The prospect of pursuing a master’s in computer science may still give you pause, however, if you’re a busy working professional or you’re not located near a top technology school. Fortunately, graduate education has changed a lot in the past decade. You no longer need to give up your day job or even leave your hometown to pursue a top-tier computer science master’s degree.
You can maximize your career prospects without making significant personal or professional sacrifices in an online computer science master degree program such as SMU Lyle School of Engineering‘s 30-credit hour Online Master of Science in Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence Specialization (MSCS-AI). This guide explores the most compelling reasons to choose a flexible online, part-time computer science master’s program over a more traditional MSCS.
Six Reasons to Pursue an Online Computer Science Master’s Degree
Pursuing an online degree in computer science makes sense from a salary standpoint, but money isn’t everything. Here are six more reasons it may make sense for you to rekindle your academic journey in a program for distance learners.
1. Your Goals Involve Advancing into Technology Leadership
If you feel like a code monkey or that you’ve outgrown your responsibilities in your current role, an MSCS can be your ticket into more senior, higher-paying roles such as principal software engineer, VP of software development, senior solutions architect or Chief Technology Officer (CTO). You can continue working in an online computer science master’s program, so you won’t miss out on any opportunities for advancement while pursuing your degree. You might even get promoted while still in school because your employer is impressed by your commitment to professional growth.
2. You Want to Maintain Work-Life Balance While Studying
Many, if not most, online computer science master’s candidates in the U.S. are full-time, working professionals in related fields such as software engineering, information systems or computer architecture. Others are full-time parents or caretakers preparing to jump-start technology careers in the near future. Top graduate programs for distance learners, including SMU’s MSCS-AI, are flexible, student-focused and delivered in a convenient part-time format. They reach technologists with bachelor’s degrees who could otherwise not earn a master’s due to their professional or personal circumstances.
As an SMU distance learner, you won’t have to forgo two years of work experience or physically move across the country to earn an online computer science master’s degree. You can continue earning income, advancing your career and living in your hometown while going to graduate school.
3. You’re Looking for Opportunities to Explore Emerging Technologies
Computer science has changed dramatically over the past 25 years. If you earned a computer science degree before the advent of cloud computing, machine learning or open-source software, enrolling in an online computer science master’s program is a way to enhance your knowledge and rejuvenate your career without taking time off work. In SMU’s online Masters in Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence Specialization, you will learn leading-edge computer science skills you can use in your current position and how to apply the technologies, programming languages and computer systems that will shape the future.
4. You Need Maximum Flexibility
Online education is flexible, convenient and mobile. It also offers a surprisingly collaborative and engaging student experience. Lyle School of Engineering’s distance learners meet weekly in virtual classrooms – typically in the evenings or on weekends to accommodate working professionals’ schedules – providing them ample face time with professors and classmates. Virtual study sessions and group project work further nurture camaraderie, collaboration and networking among online MSCS-AI candidates.
5. You’re More Interested in Skill-Building than Theory
Online MSCS programs tend to have applied, non-thesis curricula – meaning students don’t lose semesters or years developing new computation theories. They offer students hands-on training in computing systems and computer organization they can apply immediately in professional environments. SMU’s MSCS-AI program teaches advanced computer science skills related to logic programming, machine learning, natural language processing (NLP) and knowledge-based systems, as well as their practical applications in a variety of contexts. Four core online courses cover fundamental computer science and artificial intelligence skills. Elective computer science courses let students customize their learning experience.
6. You Enjoy Connecting with People from Around the Globe
Distance learners interface with a more diverse group of professors and peers because students in online master’s programs aren’t necessarily regional. They come from everywhere and fields as varied as Big Data analytics, computer network engineering and database systems management. In the online MSCS-AI program, you can build a professional network made up of people working in different areas of technology at companies around the world. In the future, these diverse connections can open up opportunities you wouldn’t have had access to otherwise.
7. You Want to Maximize the ROI of This Degree
While online computer science master’s degree programs typically don’t cost less than traditional Master of Science in Computer Science programs, students who pursue master’s degrees virtually may spend less than colleagues studying in full-time, on-campus programs for two reasons. First, part-time graduate study may not impact your household budget as acutely as a full-time program. When you attend graduate school part-time in an online MSCS program, the cost of tuition is distributed over a longer time frame, reducing the economic burden of earning a degree. Second, you can enroll in a well-known, well-respected program like SMU’s without having to pay hefty relocation costs.
SMU Offers Distance Learners Unparalleled Support
SMU’s online programs provide distance learners with a seamless digital learning experience that leverages the most advanced educational technology. In the online computer science master’s program, you will benefit from a highly interactive, classroom-like experience guided by Lyle School of Engineering’s expert faculty. Everything from lesson plans to lectures and other class materials is accessible around the clock via SMU’s easy-to-use mobile app, putting access to your graduate education in the palm of your hands. Weekly hands-on sync sessions ensure you get plenty of face time with professors. And the online program includes coursework that is project-based, interactive and collaborative, ensuring you have opportunities to network with your fellow MSCS-AI candidates.
Is SMU Lyle’s Online Master of Science in Computer Science Degree Right for You?
Answering the question ‘Should I get a master’s in computer science?‘ isn’t easy. Choosing the right program can be challenging. SMU’s Online MSCS-AI attracts professionals looking to enhance their computer science skills and explore the potential of artificial intelligence when and where it’s most convenient. Several features of the MSCS-AI give it an edge over similar online and on-campus graduate programs.
SMU’s Specialization is Applied Computer Science
In Lyle School of Engineering’s online computer science master’s degree program, you won’t have to wait until you graduate to put your newfound knowledge to use. Coursework is hands-on and geared toward professionals looking to apply what they learn in the classroom to the office. MSCS-AI candidates quickly gain confidence and the esteem of colleagues and managers.
The MSCS-AI Program Anticipates Future Market Needs
Lyle School of Engineering designed the MSCS-AI program to be adaptable. Professors, faculty and staff are leading industry professionals and researchers, and they bring an up-to-date perspective to the online computer science master’s degree curriculum. As you move through the program, you will gain the knowledge you need to continue growing in your skills after you graduate.
SMU Teaches Technologists How to Use AI Skills Ethically
Knowing how to design and build AI technologies will automatically give you power in your organization. With such power, however, comes great responsibility. You will learn how to consider the ethical ramifications of AI in SMU’s online computer science master’s program, ensuring the artificial intelligence solutions you implement in your professional life don’t negatively impact the world.
SMU Offers Distance Learners AI Research Opportunities
Faculty research areas at Lyle School of Engineering include semi-structured Machine Learning, cyber security, data science, creative computing, net-centric software system development and electronic design automation. You can participate in current research projects without coming to SMU’s University Park, Texas campus. Reach out to the specific academic department or the SMU AI Lab.
Lyle School of Engineering Takes Online Education Seriously
The online student experience at SMU mirrors the on-campus experience closely because the university’s world-class instructional designers build highly interactive, immersive classroom-like experiences. You will learn the same theories and practical skills that computer science master’s candidates learn in traditional programs – using the latest mobile technologies.
Ultimately, SMU’s Online M.S. in Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence Specialization program is committed to student success, but only you can decide whether the benefits outlined above align with your professional goals and personal needs. Learning more about SMU’s MSCS-AI can help you understand how enrolling in an online computer science master degree program will help you achieve your career goals and make the best decision for your future. Don’t wait. Get your questions about prerequisites, financial aid and GPA/GRE scores requirements answered; connect with an enrollment advisor; and then apply.