How to Choose a Computer Science Graduate Program in 2022
IEEE Computer Society Team
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One of the surest ways to earn a substantial salary is by pursuing a master’s degree in computer science. For example, the average pay for computer and information research scientists is $126,830, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. You should, first, get a shortlist of the graduate programs that best suit you. Read on to learn what to look for as you evaluate different CS grad programs.
A school’s reputation goes a long way, not just because it can open doors for its graduates but also because it serves as an impetus for the school to maintain its standards. How do you judge the reputation of a school? Instead of relying on what pops up in search engines, you can use some relatively objective data points, such as its:
Job placement stats
Student retention rate
Admission rates over time, which should stay steady or drop slightly as more students apply and don’t get admitted
You can also keep an eye out for scholarly articles published by the school’s professors and even appearances in the media. The more the school name is in the eyes and ears of the public positively, the better its reputation—and the bigger boost it can give to your employment prospects.
Even though a lot of CS jobs can get done remotely, schools nestled in regions rich in tech jobs may come with helpful fringe benefits, including:
Plenty of job placement opportunities
Tech partnerships with private and public organizations in the area
A richer selection of professional connections due to its proximity to local tech companies
Also, a school closer to where they ultimately want to live may be a better choice for some applicants, simply because they won’t have to uproot and haul their things hundreds of miles away to settle after graduation.
Your Career Goals
Your career goals are one of the most critical factors in choosing a CS grad school program, especially because some programs excel in specific CS disciplines. Like most people, you already have an idea how you’re going to put your CS degree to work. For example, most people who want to be programmers may keep their sites focused on app design and be less likely to shift out of that sphere to a job like a network admin or cybersecurity engineer.
If you know what you want to be, you can narrow your choices by choosing programs that boast a good reputation for producing professionals in your niche. If it seems like several schools have powerful programs, you can narrow your options by checking the job placement stats for the programs that address your goals.
A Program or Professor with Experience in the Field You’re Interested In
When checking out computer science graduate schools, you may want to gravitate towards a school known for having a strong program in your area of interest. For example, some schools may have excellent cybersecurity programs, while others may produce strong programmers. You can research peer-reviewed publications to find contributors from certain schools and then narrow your search down to them.
Similarly, there may be a professor or several that have excelled in your desired field. Their experience can add compelling value to their teaching and mentorship ability. If you get a few names in mind, you can check where they teach and then focus on those institutions.
Go for a Visit
You can learn a lot about the people, architecture, and infrastructural investments that make a school special by checking it out in person. Your visit should include a stroll through the places you’ll be frequenting the most, such as the library, common areas, food courts, and classrooms. You should also take some time to explore the school’s town. There may be attractions, job opportunities, transportation options, restaurants, or cool things to do that could tip the scales in favor of one school over another.
By scoping out the reputation, location, and costs of the schools on your list, as well as seeing how they align with your career goals, you can choose which schools to visit and apply to. Regardless of which program gets the nod, a membership with the IEEE Computer Society can help you establish and advance your tech career. Make connections, learn what it takes to excel at your job, and keep abreast of the latest developments in your niche. Check out the membership options available today!