4 Reasons to Study Computer Science

December 14, 2022

In the last decade, digital innovation has fueled advancements in dozens of fields, from healthcare to cloud computing. Computer science is at the heart of these innovations, and skilled computer science program graduates are in high demand across various sectors.

Often, the demand for these tech-savvy workers far outstrips the available supply. In a recent poll by LinkedIn and the Capgemini Digital Transformation Institute, more than 50 percent of organizations believe that a lack of talent is hampering their digital transformation initiatives, causing them to lose their competitive advantage. Meanwhile, management consulting firm Korn Ferry report predicts that by 2030, U.S. businesses could miss out on $162 billion in annual revenues due to unfilled gaps in high-tech positions.

As such, employers are constantly on the hunt for internal and external candidates who can help meet these needs. Many organizations are willing to fund their employees’ advanced education in computer science or artificial intelligence. Investing in continuous training programs helps companies remain on the cutting edge of technology and lets them leverage AI, big data and automation to their benefit.

Computer science is one of the few disciplines in which students can receive a fully immersive education, online and part-time. SMU Lyle School of Engineering has a flexible-yet-powerful online program: the Master of Science in Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence Specialization (MSCS-AI). Students can continue working full-time and advancing in their fields, all while learning to implement effective AI and machine learning solutions and mitigate the challenges of AI strategies.

Is enrolling in an online computer science master’s degree program the right path forward for you? To answer that question, consider the following four reasons to study artificial intelligence and computer science.

1. Computer Science Is a High-Growth Discipline

From the smartphones we use to the cars we drive, computer systems are becoming more and more prevalent in our lives. It’s no surprise that employers are looking for graduates with the right skills and talent to work on these systems and make technological breakthroughs.

Industries such as healthcare, transportation and manufacturing desperately need well-trained, highly competent CS professionals. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for computer science professionals will grow by 13 percent from 2022 to 2030. Some career pathways, such as software development, can expect an even higher growth rate of up to 20 percent.

As such, computer science and related fields such as software engineering, computer engineering and data science have become some of the most sought-after courses of study – for a good reason. Many industries require computer science experts familiar with foundational data structures and programming languages. Specialties such as artificial intelligence and cyber security are also increasingly in demand.

The high demand for computer science professionals isn’t likely to slow down soon. According to the 2022 PwC Pulse Survey, 60 percent of business executives believe digital transformation will be their most critical growth driver – and computer science and AI will help support and power these initiatives. As a result, studying artificial intelligence can help “future-proof” your career. For career stability and opportunities for advancement, there are few options better than a master of science in computer science.

2. You Can Work in Any Industry, Anywhere 

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has said that “every company is now a software company,” thanks to the widespread adoption of computing technology. One of the most significant advantages of online computer science master’s degree programs is that the technical skills in the curriculum tend to be broadly applicable. No matter what field or sector you want to work in, there are roles for computer science professionals with advanced skills.

Healthcare, for example, is an industry that increasingly relies on Big Data, cloud computing, AI research and automation. New technologies such as wearable health devices and electronic health records require technical specialists to help develop and maintain these information systems. AI researchers use machine learning techniques to predict how viruses will evolve, anticipating future outbreaks. There are over 10,000 active job listings on Indeed combining healthcare and computer science or IT. 

Earning a computer science master’s degree from SMU can put you at the forefront of this growing healthcare tech industry because research is a university priority. During the COVID-19 pandemic, SMU computer science and AI professors, researchers and students worked tirelessly to collaborate on a text mining project to help generate insights for creating the COVID-19 vaccine.

Tech experts are also vital in the modern automotive industry. As cars become “smarter” and more connected, computer science graduates must develop and test the software that powers these vehicles. Many leading automakers – including Tesla, BMW and Volkswagen – are investing heavily in computer science and AI professionals to work on self-driving cars, embedded systems and other technologies.

Computer science is an increasingly valuable skillset in dozens of industries, from education to environmental science. Nearly all industries and businesses require software developers, information security specialists, systems specialists, etc. – all career paths that require a computer science degree.

In particular, AI specialization is a hot ticket across industries. With artificial intelligence advancing at breakneck speeds, many companies are looking for computer science professionals who can help them develop and implement AI and automated systems with many different objectives, e.g., automating manual project management tasks, improving customer service, boosting employee productivity and efficiency or increasing sales and profits.

An MSCS-AI from SMU can give you the skills to work in any industry, anywhere in the world.

3. Careers in Computer Science are Lucrative

The return on investment of an online computer science master’s degree program is easy to calculate. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers 2022 Winter Salary Survey, computer science degree holders at both the bachelor’s degree and master’s degree levels earn some of the highest salaries right out of school.

If cost is a concern, many employers are willing to fund graduate degrees in computer science or artificial intelligence to build a more robust workforce. SMU’s online computer science master’s program can help you achieve your mid-career advancement goals while working full-time.

After completing your studies, how much will you earn with an artificial intelligence degree? With so many job titles available to those with computer science and AI degrees, giving a concise salary range is difficult. Below are just some of the career titles and salaries open to MSCS holders:

  • Machine Learning Engineer: According to Indeed, the average salary for machine learning engineers is about $128,000.
  • Software Developer: The BLS estimates the average salary among software developers, quality assurance analysts and testers is about $110,000.
  • AI Research Scientist: According to Glassdoor, the median salary for AI research scientists is about $118,000, but there’s plenty of room for growth. For example, the Silicon Valley research lab OpenAI paid its top researcher more than $1.9 million in 2016.

Computer science degree programs with concentrations in artificial intelligence can unlock new career opportunities. One 2021 study found that AI skills carried a wage premium of 11 percent for job postings within the same company.

SMU Lyle School of Engineering’s online Master of Science in Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence Specialization teaches students to utilize advanced AI skills – such as machine learning in Python, algorithm engineering, natural language processing and data mining. These vital skills make it easier to take advantage of high-paying career opportunities in AI engineering, machine learning software engineering and data science.

4. You Can Make a Positive Difference in the World 

Beyond the stability and high salaries of computer science careers, another reason to study computer science is to make a positive impact. CS and AI professionals are helping solve some of the world’s most pressing issues – from developing new energy sources to finding cures for diseases.

McKinsey’s “Tech for Good” report explores how technological developments like robotics, clean tech and AI help improve human well-being. Computer scientists at Google have even developed a way to use smartphones to predict earthquakes.

Artificial intelligence has hundreds of practical applications in the realm of societal change. For instance:

  • Hiring managers can use AI to reduce human bias while sorting through applicant pools, reducing discrimination in recruiting.
  • The waste management industry uses AI-powered reverse logistics infrastructure to streamline recycling processes.
  • Intelligent power grids can monitor energy demand and usage in real-time, so that utility companies can respond to urgent or changing electricity needs.

If you’re interested in using CS for good, the online master’s degree program in computer science from SMU Lyle School of Engineering is one of the best ways to achieve this. Students learn to use cutting-edge techniques and technologies to make a real-world impact and how to practice ethical and responsible AI implementation.

Should You Get an Online Computer Science Master’s Degree?

There are several different reasons to earn an artificial intelligence master’s. The next question you may have is ‘How?’ You can now pursue a reputable master’s degree in computer science online or on campus, and you will earn the same degree regardless of the program format. Choosing between them involves assessing your goals and circumstances and carefully researching different programs. 

Some computer science master’s degree programs require prospective students to have an undergraduate degree in CS or a related field. Others cast a wider net, requiring applicants to have taken only a few STEM prerequisites before enrollment. Be sure you understand the admission requirements before applying to any MSCS program. At SMU, for example, MSCS-AI applicants do not need a bachelor’s in computer science to apply – provided they have the necessary technical skills to understand the computer science master’s curriculum content. 

An online computer science degree program may be right for you if you’re looking for:

Flexibility: One of the most significant advantages of online programs is that it offers greater flexibility than traditional programs. This is especially helpful with graduate programs, which are often coursework-heavy. Enrolling in an online program allows you to study at your own pace and on your own schedule. It’s never been easier to earn an artificial intelligence degree while working full-time.

Affordability: While traditional computer science master’s programs and their online equivalents often cost the same total tuition, you can keep working and earning income while enrolled in an online MSCS program. Additionally, nearly all online programs offer the same scholarships and financial aid opportunities as on-campus programs.

Convenience: Online programs tend to be more convenient than traditional programs. You can study at any time and anywhere in the world, as long as you have a computer and an internet connection. This is ideal for many types of students: for example, those who live in rural areas or other countries, those who travel frequently and those with other commitments or job responsibilities.

A degree from SMU Lyle School of Engineering’s online MSCS-AI program is an excellent way to stay ahead of the curve in the ever-changing world of computer science. The cutting-edge program attracts ambitious professionals, and the online format offers the perfect balance of flexibility and personalization. Weekly hands-on sync sessions allow you to interact with professors and classmates face-to-face.

With its focus on implementing cutting-edge AI technologies, the program will give you the skills and knowledge you need to make a real-world impact throughout your career. The MSCS-AI curriculum includes core classes in computer science and several AI-focused electives, ensuring you get the solid education necessary to succeed. Whether you’re looking to switch careers or advance in your current position, the career services team can help you chart a new path before and after graduation.

Get in touch with an SMU enrollment advisor today and learn how the MSCS-AI program can help you achieve your career goals.