Is Computer Science Hard? [2021 Guide]

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A computer science degree may allow you to access a field with explosive job growth, but is computer science hard?

Is Computer Science Hard

A bachelors program in computer science is likely to include advanced math and technical analysis.

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If you like computers, mathematics, engineering, and technical studies, you may want to consider joining the field of computer science.

Is Computer Science a Hard Major?

comp sci

Computer science deals with technical knowledge and concepts at the intersection of electrical engineering, advanced math, and algorithmic and numerical coding.

For those contemplating a computer science major, it can help to have a decent background in math. Computer science courses apply rigorous math concepts that involve abstract algebra and other concepts learned over 2 or 3 semesters of calculus.

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Another aspect of the major that some may find challenging is learning about computer science’s many subfields. In most computer science programs, you’ll be introduced to software design, computation, computer programming, internet technology, database management, computer networks, and artificial intelligence.

Computer Science Major Curriculum

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Here are some of the types of courses you’re likely to encounter if you decide to major in computer science:

  • Introduction to Computer Science
  • Software Design and Engineering
  • Operating Systems Design
  • Programming Languages
  • Systems Programming
  • Computer Security
  • Data Science and Data Management
  • Internet Technology
  • Computer Architecture
  • Artificial Intelligence

The courses in your curriculum may vary depending on the school and program you choose to attend. The difficulty level of your courses may also depend on your specialization.

5 Things You Can Do with a Computer Science Degree

team of ITs

A bachelors in computer science may allow you to pursue many careers in the world of computing, depending on your aptitudes and career preferences.

You might want to pursue a career in programming and engineering, help companies manage large computer networks and IT teams, or go into the rapidly growing field of data management and cybersecurity.

1. Software Developer

Software developers working

Software developer jobs are forecast to grow 22% for the next ten years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Software developers help design, build, analyze, and test new and existing software applications and programs. Software development is a part of many growing fields, such as electronic gaming, robotics, and autonomous vehicles.

As a computer science major, you may learn about software development and analysis methods as well as software languages and computer algorithms.

2. Computer Programmer

computer programmers working together

As a computer programmer, you may find opportunities to pursue jobs in any number of industries. You may work in virtually any kind and any size of firm.

You’ll likely be part of a larger IT team, supporting workers as they manage, install, and upgrade the computer programs they rely on for their business and collaborations.

3. Network and Computer Systems Administrator or Manager

Computer Systems Administrators working

Organizations across all industries and sectors need computer systems administrators and managers. In these roles, you may help organizations design and implement hardware and software upgrades and build out computer networks as the organization expands.

System administrators help monitor performance, access, and security tools of large IT systems. As a system manager, you might help organizations identify and purchase new software and help lead critical project management efforts when system upgrades are needed.

4. Web Designer

Web designers working

With the growth in e-marketing, online retail, and online business pages, you may have little difficulty finding a range of jobs doing web design. You may work in-house or as a freelance contractor or consultant.

As a web designer, you may focus on design elements, layout, and graphics. You may help ensure these function seamlessly when a client or visitor interacts with a website. You may also specialize in website automation or help design, build, and maintain online stores.

Whatever your specialty, there are many businesses today that need help either designing and upgrading websites or creating new websites.

5. Information Security Analyst

Looking for a modern-day gold rush when it comes to job growth? Information security analyst jobs are forecast to grow 31% for the next decade (Bureau of Labor Statistics). This is significantly higher than the average overall job growth of 4%.

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Cybersecurity is anticipated to generate an urgent demand for qualified workers in the near future. You may pursue a role securing data and information, guarding against and analyzing malware threats, or helping with secretive cyber-ops security teams.

Computer Science Careers

Computer Science Careers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, if you are a computer science major, you may qualify for many well-paying and high-growth careers.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Computer Information Systems Manager $151,150
Computer Hardware Engineer $119,560
Computer Network Architect $116,780
Software Developer $110,140
Information Security Analyst $103,590
Database Administrator $98,860
Computer Systems Analyst $93,730
Computer Programmer $89,190
Network and Computer Systems Administrator $84,810
Web Developer $77,200

An online bachelor’s in computer science can typically open the door to these career paths. Some of these jobs, though, may require additional industry certifications or work experience.

How to Know If a Degree in Computer Science Is Right for You

web developers in the office

A bachelor in computer science may open doors to a wide range of career paths. These pathways include engineering and software development roles as well as administration and management jobs. Computer science entails technical knowledge, advanced math, and complex engineering concepts.

Before you choose computer science as a major, you may want to consider if the following descriptions sound like you:

  • Analytical thinker
  • Problem solver
  • Enjoys working with numerical data
  • Can apply advanced math skills, such as calculus and statistics

With these kinds of technical and mathematical aptitudes, there’s a better chance you may enjoy the challenging but rewarding major of computer science.

What Is Computer Science?

degree in computer science

Computer science is the study of computers and computation. It spans hardware systems, computer programming, software development, web design, and the science of the internet. It also deals with algorithms, data science and data security, artificial intelligence, and human interactions with information technology.

The applications and innovations of computer science are quickly expanding. This field incorporates science, math, and technology applications. As a computer science major, you’ll likely start with foundational courses but then focus on concentrations that most interest you.

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For example, the skills needed to manage a large IT computer network are far different from the skills needed to analyze complex software algorithms, design computer hardware, or create graphics for video games.

Is Computer Science a Lot of Math?

computer science students in university

The science, principles, and language of advanced mathematics are essential to a computer science curriculum. Courses in a computer science program may include math concepts such as abstract algebra and advanced calculus.

As a computer science major, you may also take courses that involve advanced math, such as concepts from beginning and intermediate calculus and possibly statistics. You may also learn about designing and analyzing numerical coding and complex algorithms.

Your developed mathematical skills may also be utilized in computer science courses that focus on general computational methods and how to apply them.

Is Computer Science Hard for Someone with No Experience?

IT professional

The field of computer science is growing quickly and likely to benefit from a large pool of talent in order to meet future job demand.

Even if you enter an online computer science degree program without experience, you’ll most likely start out with introductory courses. These classes are designed to provide a broad survey of the field and its foundational branches and concepts.

Rather than past experience, an aptitude for analytical and numerical thinking may be the more deciding factors as to whether you’ll think computer science is a difficult major.

Is Computer Science an Easy Major?

computer science students studying

As with most college majors, computer science courses will likely require technical, mathematical, critical thinking, and analysis skills, along with disciplined study habits. Most successful students use study tips to help them to better digest the complex material in computer science classes.

In a computer science program, you may learn about software coding and design, computational architectures in computer systems, and how to manage large computer and data storage networks operating any number of software applications.

Data science and artificial intelligence are branches of computer science that involve complex algorithms and processing functions. You may qualify for other computer jobs, though, without these added challenges.

Some job roles, such as IT office support or web design, might require less rigorous challenges than jobs in software engineering, cybersecurity, or artificial intelligence.

How Difficult Is Computer Science?

computer programmer in the office

Your bachelors coursework will likely involve advanced math concepts, complex analytical thinking, and specialized knowledge. What may intrigue many computer science majors is the fact that computer science is challenging in part because its segments are often interdependent.

Hardware design requires knowledge of computational innovations and demands, and software design may require familiarity with hardware engineering concepts. Likewise, computers and the software codes and operations that drive them all have to interact with one another, across any range of tools and applications.

So, some may consider computer science to be a challenging or difficult subject. But computer science graduates may find opportunities to use their specialized knowledge in a variety of rewarding job roles.

You may want to note that if you are interested in studying computer science at the graduate level, but your bachelors degree is in an unrelated field, a growing number of universities offer a computer science masters for non CS majors.

After that, if you plan to go all the way to the doctorate level, you may want to explore PhD in Computer Science part time programs available at some universities. Attending part time may help you balance the demands of a PhD program with work and family responsibilities.

What Can You Do with a Computer Science Degree?

IT specialists working

Earning a computer science degree online from an accredited university may open doors to many career paths, depending on your interests.

You may pursue a career as a computer programmer, software developer, web designer, or IT specialist. With a CS degree, you may have the option to work for a large company in the US or abroad, work for a start-up, or work as a freelancer or consultant.

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Careers with high earning potential include computer hardware engineer, computer network architect, database administrator, and software developer. Experience, industry certifications, or an advanced degree may open doors to even more lucrative jobs.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Computer Science Degree?

As with most bachelor’s degrees, getting a degree in computer science may take about 4 years if you follow a traditional, 16 week semester and attend full-time.

Today many accredited online programs offer options for accelerated study. If you follow an 8 week semester and stay continuously enrolled year-round, you may be able to finish in less time. Some programs offer corresponding math courses you may need in order to complete your computer science degree.

Depending on your prior math knowledge and your program’s requirements, you may need some extra time for completing prerequisite coursework as you go.

What Is the Difference Between Computer Science vs. Information Technology?

web developers at work

It can be helpful to know the differences between a computer science degree versus an information technology (IT) degree program.

While these majors overlap, computer science programs typically focus on mathematical concepts and applications for developing, testing, and designing computer operating systems and computer software and data management applications.

Information technology courses, on the other hand, are more likely to prepare students for the challenges of managing workforce implementation of computer networks.

Information technology programs help prepare students to be IT network managers. In this role, you may assess an organization’s IT needs, plan and support IT expansion and training, and help ensure uniform workforce IT protocols for collaboration or data security.

Is a Computer Science Degree Worth It?

comp sci professionals

Yes, a computer science degree is worth it for many students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting 11% job growth in computer and information technology occupations over the next 10 years.

Common computer science careers in this field include computer hardware engineer, computer network architect, software developer, database administrator, and computer programmer.

A CS degree may lead to opportunities for work in organizations large and small across many sectors. Computer science programs may also open doors to fields that are expanding very rapidly.

You’re likely to find that an online bachelors in computer science from an accredited university is a first step to a future filled with fascinating career options. You may even find yourself working in the realm of robotics, autonomous vehicles, or cybersecurity.

Getting Your Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science Online

Computer Science Online

Getting a bachelor’s degree in computer science online can help you launch a career in one of today’s fastest-growing fields.

As a computer science graduate, your specialized knowledge may help you break into this field that has seemingly limitless innovations in its future. Many accredited universities offer flexible online programs that are designed with your career goals in mind.

If you like math, technical work, and problem-solving challenges, then you may consider exploring online computer science programs.

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Keith Nickolaus
WRITTEN BY
Keith Nickolaus
Keith has a Ph.D. and a M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of California - Berkeley and a B.A. in Literature from the University of California - Santa Cruz. A retired educator, Keith lives in Berkeley and researches and writes about trends in education leadership, innovation, and policy.