Computer science is the foundation of all computing disciplines. It includes an entire range of subareas, like machine learning, natural language processing, computing systems, networking, operating systems, AI, and human factors.
Computing is part of everything we do. Computing drives innovation in engineering, business, entertainment, education, and the sciences—and it provides solutions to complex, challenging problems of all kinds.
Computer science is the study of computers and computational systems. It is a broad field which includes everything from the algorithms that make up software to how software interacts with hardware to how well software is developed and designed. Computer scientists use various mathematical algorithms, coding procedures, and their expert programming skills to study computer processes and develop new software and systems.
How is Computer Science Different from IT?
Computer science focuses on the development and testing of software and software systems. It involves working with mathematical models, data analysis and security, algorithms, and computational theory. Computer scientists define the computational principles that are the basis of all software.
Information technology (IT) focuses on the development, implementation, support, and management of computers and information systems. IT involves working both with hardware (CPUs, RAM, hard disks) and software (operating systems, web browsers, mobile applications). IT professionals make sure that computers, networks, and systems work well for all users.
What Careers does Computer Science Offer?
Computing jobs are among the highest paid today, and computer science professionals report high job satisfaction. Most computer scientists hold at least a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field.
Principal areas of study and careers within computer science include artificial intelligence, computer systems and networks, security, database systems, human-computer interaction, vision and graphics, numerical analysis, programming languages, software engineering, bioinformatics, and theory of computing.
Some common job titles for computer scientists include:
- Computer Programmer
- Information Technology Specialist
- Data Scientist
- Web Optimization Specialist
- Database Administrator
- Systems Analyst
- Web Developer
- Quality Assurance Engineer
- Business Intelligence Analyst
- Systems Engineer
- Product Manager
- Software Engineer
- Hardware Engineer
- Front-End Developer
- Back-End Developer
- Full-Stack Developer
- Mobile Developer
- Network Administrator
- Chief Information Officer
- Security Analyst
- Video Game Developer
- Health Information Technician
How Much do Computer Science Professionals Make?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations was $91,2502 in May 2020, and employment in computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 13 percent from 2020 to 2030—faster than the average for all occupations.
What Skills do Computer Scientists Need?
Learning how to program and code is only one element of the field. Computer scientists design, develop, and analyze the software and hardware used to solve problems in all kinds of business, industry, scientific, and social contexts. And because computers solve problems to serve and enrich people, there is a significant human component to computer science. Due to the range and complexity of the projects they take on, computer scientists depend on both technical knowledge and essential skills like communication, problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity. Other useful skills include:
- Analytical and logical thinking
- Technical and mathematical skills
- Attention to detail
- Project management
- Technical writing
- Art and design
Not all computer science professionals will need every skill listed—because of the broad nature of the field, they have the opportunity to focus on the skills pertinent to their unique interests and chosen focus area (which may change over time).
The Future of Computer Science
What does the future of computer science look like? There's no end in sight! Computing has permeated our lives and its influence just keeps growing—from the apps on our phones to any device with a computer processor, computing is here to stay.
Future opportunities in computing are without boundaries. Across virtually every industry, computer science professionals are engaged in programming, systems analysis, database administration, network architecture, software development, research, and more.
Computing at Michigan Tech
Michigan Tech's College of Computing is the first college in Michigan fully dedicated to computing, and one of only a few nationwide. Michigan Tech computer science students gain a depth of knowledge and experience through a wide range of classroom and hands-on learning opportunities.
From industry-standard learning labs to internships, co-ops, and our Enterprise program, you'll get lots of hands-on experience at Michigan Tech. In the Enterprise program, you'll work with a team of students (from any major) on real projects for real clients in an environment that's more like a business than a classroom. With coaching from faculty mentors, our Enterprise teams invent products, provide services, and pioneer solutions. You'll gain rich experiences in engineering design, team building, project management, and end-to-end original product development.
Studying computer science at Michigan Tech is a secure choice for your future. With a degree in computer science from Michigan Tech, you won't be tied to a specific technology or industry for your entire career. It's a fundamentals degree that will serve you throughout your life, no matter how your interests change over time. Plus, with the unique experiences you'll gain during your time here, you'll be prepared for whatever tomorrow needs.
General Computing Program
If you're still deciding which computer science focus you want to pursue, the first-year undergraduate General Computing program gives you one or two semesters to explore the discipline and decide which degree program sparks your curiosity the most. It's a starting point to give you some space to choose the computing field that fits you the best.
Undergraduate Degree Programs
- Computer Science (BS)—choose a concentration in Computer Science, Applications, Computer Systems, or Game Development
- Cybersecurity (BS)—choose a concentration in Software Security or System and Network Security
- Math + Computer Science (BS)
- Software Engineering (BS)
Graduate Degree Programs
- Computer Science (MS, PhD)
- Cybersecurity (MS)
- Data Science (MS)
- Computational Science and Engineering (PhD)
Accelerated Master's Program
Our accelerated master's program allows you to count up to 6 senior-level credits toward both a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Computer Science, Cybersecurity, Data Science, and many more majors.
Computer Science Research
What is computer science without research? Computing is a discipline without boundaries, and the Department of Computer Science leads computing-related research and education at Michigan Tech. As we build strong computer science research and teaching environments for our graduate students and faculty, we extend collaboration and outreach across campus, to our colleagues in engineering, science, and business, as well as to industry, local communities, professional societies, and alumni.