Last Updated on August 28, 2023
Computer science associate degrees train students to provide people and organizations with technology-based solutions to various problems. Students learn how to improve organizational operations, secure information systems, and enhance products and services.
Computer science associate degrees prepare students for entry-level positions in computer science as well as more advanced degrees. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for computer and information technology careers exceeds $88,000.
Read on to learn more about associate degrees in computer science, including common courses and potential careers and salaries for graduates.
Computer science graduates enjoy access to an array of careers, titles, and industries. Most organizations rely on people with computer and technology skills to keep their businesses operating smoothly.
Graduates of computer science programs join a popular, steadily growing industry. According to BLS employment data, computer occupations are projected to grow by 12% from 2018-2028.
Computer science graduates write the programs that power our modern world, from the programs that run our cars to the apps on our mobile phones. They design websites, code online banking applications, and create video games. One computer science graduate, Mark Zuckerberg, created Facebook and became one of the world’s richest people.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer and information technology professionals earned a median annual salary of $91,250 in 2020. Computer science requires strong math, logic, and problem-solving skills. Learners who enjoy solving challenging problems may excel in a computer science career.
An associate degree in computer science is the first step for those who want to pursue careers as computer programmers, web developers, and computer support specialists. This degree can serve as a launch pad for those who want to continue their education at the bachelor’s level or beyond.
An onsite or online associate degree in computer science typically takes just two years to complete, which means you can enter the workforce sooner. Students can often continue to work full time while working toward their degree.
Although the BLS projects jobs for computer programmers to decline between 2019 and 2029, jobs for web developers and computer support specialists are projected to grow. Computer programmers can earn certifications to showcase their skills and make themselves more employable. Some of the most sought-after certifications include Microsoft certifications and the certified secure software lifecycle professional credential.
Students who obtain a four-year degree in computer science will obtain a foundation that permits them to adapt to new technologies and new ideas in software design, in the solution of computing problems, and in the use of computers to address emerging challenges.
Olympic College offers courses to prepare students to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science at a four-year institution. Careful planning is essential. The courses required to major in computer science vary, depending on the institution and the program chosen. At some institutions, admission into the Computer Science major is highly selective. Students should work closely with an advisor at the baccalaureate institution they plan to transfer to before finalizing their education plan.
Students can earn computer science degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Different degrees prepare graduates for specific career paths. For example, software developers need a bachelor’s degree, while most computer and information research scientists hold a master’s degree.
In addition to degree-granting programs, learners can also earn a certificate in computer science or attend a coding bootcamp. These shorter programs offer training in programming, web development, and computer systems without including general education courses. However, many employers expect a degree for careers in computer science, so bootcamp and certificate graduates may not have as many career opportunities.
This section explores computer science degrees at different levels, including common courses, career paths, and graduation requirements for each degree. Within a computer science program, degree-seekers often choose a concentration, like one of the ones listed below.
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
- Data Science/Analytics
- Software Development
- Software Engineering
- Software Systems
- Computer Networking
- Information Science
An associate degree in computer science introduces learners to foundational concepts in programming. Associate programs incorporate courses in programming languages, computer systems, and databases, as well as classes in statistics, algebra, web development, and operating systems. An associate degree meets the requirement for a career as a web developer or computer support specialist. Graduates can also transfer into a four-year college to earn a bachelor’s degree.
Completing an associate degree generally takes two years. During that time, learners take general education courses and classes within their majors. A transfer-ready associate degree often meets the general education requirements for a bachelor’s degree, significantly shortening the amount of time required to complete a bachelor’s program.