There is a wide selection of majors that a student could choose from for their computer degree, and there are computer degrees available at all levels of upper education from associate to doctoral degrees. Often there are further specializations within each major that allow students to prepare for a specific career path.
This article was originally published in November 2022 and was updated and revised to reflect the most up-to-date information available in January 2024.
Some of the most common majors within the field of computer science are:
- Computer Science
- Information Technology
- Information Systems
- Computer Engineering
- Software Engineering
Students will also be able to choose the format of their degree, as many institutions offer computer degrees with classes on campus, online, or a hybrid of both. Online options are typically suited for working professionals who are looking to obtain a computer-based job, or already one and are looking to increase their credentials for career promotion.
Graduates with computer degrees are some of the most sought-after employees, as there is a large skills gap between the number of computer jobs and qualified applicants. Therefore, some people may find that an affordable computer degree will get their foot in the same door as a degree from a prestigious Ivy League school, at a heavily discounted rate.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer-related degree graduates can expect to earn an average of $100,530 annually. The job outlook also is positive with a “much faster than average” rate of growth.
For reference to some of the most affordable computer science degrees, check out our list of the Top 10 Cheapest Online Bachelors of Computer Science Degrees.
Let’s take a closer look at what differentiates the different computer degree majors from each other.
Computer Science is the most common major for computer degrees. The field of computer science can encompass a wide range of subjects, giving students a broad background and basis from which to later choose a specialization.
In general, the field of computer science teaches the underlying scientific theories and reasoning that go into the building blocks of computing. Majoring in computer science is the most versatile computer degree, as it will not pigeonhole you to any particular specialization.
Information Technology is the second most common major for computer degrees and focuses on data archive, retrieval, and transmission. This major emphasizes learning how computers connect through Local Area Networks (LANs), Wide Area Networks (WANs), and Ethernets.
Areas of specialization within the field of Information Technology include but are not limited to:
- Information Assurance and Security
- Network Administration
- Software Analysis and Development
The specialization of students within the field of Information Technology will qualify them for particular careers like Information Security Analyst, Systems Administrator, and Software Developer.
Information Systems is a very similar major to Information Technology, with the slight difference being that Information Systems majors will focus on the business applications of IT principles. This degree concentration will teach students how to analyze companies, corporations, governments, and other institutions to define and achieve specific goals.
Computer Engineering majors deal with computer hardware, learning how to construct and program motherboards, and design the different devices that these motherboards operate. They also focus on the interface of personal computing, designing seamless interactions between humans and technology.
Research scientists and other computer scientists in computer technology often have an engineering degree. Engineering is also often the highest-paying online degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Software Engineering majors create the operating systems and applications that utilize what Computer Engineers have created. They will learn how to write code, and will usually specialize in one of the major computer programming languages like Java, Python, and C+, among many others.
Some of the careers you may take on with one of these degrees include:
- Computer Systems Programmer
- Database Administrator
- Web Developer
- Systems Analyst
- Computer Programmer
- Information Systems Manager
There are related, high-demand concentrations students may want to consider, such as:
- project management
- game development
- web design
- human-computer interaction
- artificial intelligence/machine learning
- application development
- database management
- big data
- software systems
- data structures
In addition to the fundamentals, strong, in-demand computer science programs should also emphasize soft skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, and real-world, hands-on applications in their coursework. Enrolling in a full-time bachelor of science program is just the start!
- Top 10 Cheapest Online Bachelors of Computer Science Degrees
- Top 10 Bachelor of Computer Science Degree Programs
- Top Ten Online Schools for a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science