Want to pursue a degree in computer science? Whether you’re a high school student with a knack for code or a seasoned graduate applicant, if you are worried about getting into college, here’s a brief overview of the admissions process for computer science schools.
Undergraduate Computer Science Schools
Getting into computer school is simply a matter of doing some research and preparing a carefully crafted application. The admissions process for computer science schools at a college is the same as for any other major.
At the undergraduate level, you have the choice between a two-year associate’s degree or a four-year bachelor’s degree in computer science. Typically, associate-level computer science programs are offered at vocational and technical schools and will have an emphasis on hands-on career training, whereas, bachelor’s degrees are generally offered at traditional colleges and universities (in addition to technical schools), and provide a broader curriculum in the arts, humanities, and sciences in order to provide students with a well-rounded education.
In terms of gaining admission to computer science schools that offer associate’s degrees, you will be required to have earned your high school diploma or GED certificate, provide your transcript, and declare your intent to major in computer science.
Although specific requirements will certainly vary, admittance to bachelor’s degree programs at computer science schools are usually more stringent and will often be carefully evaluated by an admissions committee. In addition to your high school transcripts, application requirements might include:
- Letters of recommendation– Letters of recommendation should be written by former teachers or employers who can attest to your positive qualities and capabilities as a student. A strong recommendation letter provides the admissions committee a clearer view of who you are as a person and can increase your chance of acceptance to the school of your choice.
- Personal statement essays– Many institutions will ask you to write an entrance essay which highlights your strengths and educational goals, with specific topics varying from school to school. When writing your personal essay, it is important to paint a picture of yourself to the admissions committees that sets you apart from the rest of the applicants.
- SAT/ ACT scores– The SAT and ACT are standardized tests, which evaluate your analytical and problem solving abilities to measure your potential for success at the college-level. The SAT is administered by the College Board, and the ACT is administered by the American College Testing Program, Inc. Visit their websites to learn about how to best prepare for each exam.
To sweeten your application, consider loading up on math, science, and computer classes throughout high school. You might also enroll in a precollege computer science program. From summer IT courses to community college classes, these experiences build technical knowledge and demonstrate interest in the field.
Throughout the application process, keep in mind that some schools only allow you to declare your computer science major after completing prerequisites. Check with the computer science schools on your list for more information specific to each institution.
Computer Science Graduate School
At the computer science graduate school level, you can choose to enroll in a master’s degree program, which will generally take two years of study and will require a bachelor’s degree in a related subject area as a perquisite. Depending on your career goals, you could pursue a Master of Science in computer science for an in-depth computer science curriculum or an MBA with a focus in information technology for more of a business emphasis.
After earning your master’s degree, you might choose to go on to a doctoral degree, (some computer science graduate schools will combine the master’s and doctorate into one program) which can take 3-5 years to complete and will culminate with a research dissertation in conjunction with a thesis advisor.
Students often liken the graduate admissions process to a full-time job, because a lot of time and preparation goes into applying to computer science graduate school. Start by compiling your list of prospective graduate computer science programs, focusing on those that suit you academically and philosophically. In particular, pay heed to the research interests of each school’s faculty.
Like with undergraduate computer science schools, the computer science graduate school of your choice will generally require you to provide letters of recommendation, personal statement essays, and test scores. The standardized tests required for grad school will vary and might include one of the following: