Computer Science: As Second Degree?

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Here’s everything about getting computer science as a second degree:

This really depends on you.

If you have a passion for computer science or if you think you could learn enough computer science to incorporate it into what you already do, a second degree makes a lot of sense.

If you’re trying to change careers, a bachelor’s in computer science particularly makes sense.

So if you want to learn all about whether getting computer science as a second degree is right for you, then this article is for you.

Let’s get right into it!

Computer Science: As Second Degree? (Everything to Know)

Should You Get a Computer Science Degree as a Second Degree?

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There is no simple or short answer to this question.

First off, you could potentially go after a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in computer science.

Many degrees are sufficient to be considered for a master’s program in computer science.

If your degree is one of them, then you aren’t just considering a second degree.

You’re considering which type of degree makes the most sense.

Since there’s so much to this question, let’s try to keep everything in simple chunks.

Reasons Getting Computer Science as a Second Degree Makes Sense

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There are a lot of cases where it makes perfect sense to get a second degree in computer science.

We’ll split these into undergraduate and graduate degrees later.

For now, let’s explore when and why this might be a good idea.

The most obvious possibility is that you want to change careers.

You think you could really be happy working in a computer science-related job, and the aspects of computer science appeal to you in general.

If that’s the case, a degree in CS could be the perfect option for you.

Another possibility is that you’ve discovered a passion for computer science.

You aren’t looking to change careers, and you might not even want a new job.

But, you think you could enjoy some CS projects, and you might even be able to find ways to incorporate computer science into what you already do.

In this case, there are options besides a degree, but a degree isn’t a bad way to expand your learning and pursue these goals.

Maybe you just won the lottery and you want to collect degrees.

Go for it!

Reasons You Shouldn’t Get Computer Science as a Second Degree

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More seriously, the other common answer is that you want to make more money.

This relates to changing careers, but it’s a slightly different motivation.

If this is about making more money, that’s perfectly reasonable and commonplace to be.

I wouldn’t mind finding ways to make more money myself.

But, as a motivation for getting into computer science, you’re very likely to find that it’s not enough.

I’ll go over this again, but the greatest challenge in computer science is the busy work.

If you’re enjoying it, computer science is very attainable as a pursuit.

If it makes you miserable, you don’t stand a chance.

You want to be sure that you have more driving you than just finances.

To add to that, there are a couple of reasons why a degree might not be the best option.

After all, you can look into boot camps if coding is your goal.

You can do self-learning too.

There are very few fields that are as developed and approachable for self-learning as computer science.

The thing to remember is that degrees are expensive.

You already have a degree, so it’s going to be hard for you to find scholarships to go back to school for a bachelor’s in computer science (master’s programs are another story, and I’ll talk more about that later).

In that same vein, degrees eat up a lot of time.

If you want to learn computer science at your own pace, it’s very doable.

If you want a degree, you’re going to have to sacrifice some sleep (unless money isn’t a problem and you don’t actually have to work to pay your bills).

Most of all, a computer science degree won’t necessarily help your career.

By all means, computer science is touching every industry.

No matter your profession, there are probably computer tools that can help you do your work.

But, that doesn’t mean that you need to be the one making those tools.

If you already work as an attorney, you really shouldn’t expect your new computer science degree to boost your income or make you a more successful lawyer.

And, that holds true in less specialized positions too.

There are a lot of fields of work that just don’t naturally mesh with a computer science degree.

It’s something to keep in mind.

Should You Get an Undergrad Computer Science Degree? (3 Factors)

software development programming on laptop screen

Let’s start getting a little more specific.

Whether or not you go after a master’s or a bachelor’s depends on a lot of things, so let’s consider the bachelor’s first.

Should you get an undergrad computer science degree as your second degree?

#1 What Is Your Other Degree?

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When it comes to going back to school for another undergraduate degree, this is always a big question.

If you have a degree in a related field (like most engineering majors), then you’ve already knocked out a lot of the prerequisites for computer science.

Here’s an easy example.

A lot of computer science degrees require up to two semesters of calculus.

If you have an electrical engineering degree, you probably took four semesters of calculus and possibly a few more advanced math classes.

Since those are all covered, transitioning into computer science is that much easier.

On top of that, a lot of degrees these days include at least some level of programming.

I’ll say this now (and I’ll probably need to say it again).

Computer science is about a lot more than programming.

But, programming definitely comes up.

If you’re already comfortable with programming in general, it helps.

Most engineering and hard science degrees include programming.

A lot of accounting and finance these days also dip into programming.

There are countless other degrees I can’t hope to name right now that fit this mold too.

So, if you got decent programming experience with your previous degree, then getting a bachelor’s in CS is going to feel a lot more approachable.

All of that said, if you have a lot of prerequisites out of the way, then you might be able to go straight to a master’s in computer science.

The times when a second bachelor’s makes the most sense are when your previous degree was very distant from computer science.

If you have an art history degree, then you’re missing so many prerequisites that going for a bachelor’s in CS first makes the most sense.

#2 How Many Credits Do You Need?

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This is going to sound like a bit of a back and forth, but that’s because this is a complicated question.

But, you might find that because you’ve already knocked out so many prerequisites, you can get a BS in CS pretty easily, while a master’s would still take up a lot of time and money.

If that applies, then the bachelor’s makes a ton of sense.

If you only need six classes to get the second degree, that seems awfully tempting.

In fact, the only time this wouldn’t make sense is if you absolutely needed the advanced degree to pursue your goals.

Conversely, if you’re going to need 100 credit hours for the new degree, that might show you that it’s more trouble than it’s worth.

Ultimately, this is really up to you, but these are easy things to consider that can help you with a rather large decision.

#3 Are You Transitioning Careers?

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I mentioned this as a good motivation earlier, and that holds true.

If you need a degree to transition careers, then a bachelor’s in computer science could make a lot of sense.

Regardless of how many credit hours it might take, if it’s the best step forward, then that pretty much answers the question for you.

Here’s the most likely difference between you going after a bachelor’s or a master’s in computer science right now.

You’ll want to go after the master’s if you are already primed for a specialty.

In most cases, this means that you are trying to fuse computer science with what you already do.

More often than not, if you’re fully changing careers, then the bachelor’s will make more sense, and it will often be easier to obtain.

Should You Get a Master’s in Computer Science? (3 Things)

male programmer working

We talked a lot about bachelor’s degrees right now, and necessarily, I already made some comparisons to master’s programs.

Still, there’s more to discuss.

These are the questions to ask yourself if you are thinking about getting a master’s in computer science.

#1 Can You Get Into a Computer Science Master’s Program?

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This is always the first and most important question.

It doesn’t matter how good a master’s in computer science might be for you if you can’t get into a program.

That’s the nonstarter you have to deal with.

If your bachelor’s is in a field that translates very well to computer science, you might be able to just pick up the master’s in CS.

I say might, because this is always going to depend on the computer science department in question.

The non-CS fields that are most likely going to lead to success here are software engineering, electrical engineering, physics, and anything else that requires large amounts of coding and math.

Even though a master’s in computer science is going to cover a lot of topics outside the scope of coding, the coding background is necessary to get into the program in the first place (usually).

Also, many master’s programs require at least two semesters of calculus before they will accept you.

If you don’t have one of these degrees, it’s still possible to go straight to a master’s, but you’ll probably have to take some supplemental courses first.

Talk to the college in question, and they’ll let you know what they want from you.

But, it’s important to understand that even if you have a bachelor’s in a related field, you’re not guaranteed to get into a master’s program.

Most master’s programs are funded, and that means they’re very selective.

You’ll have to prove yourself competitive to get in, and if you don’t get into a program, then this whole conversation becomes moot.

#2 Why Are You Getting the Master’s in Computer Science Degree?

Pensive young adult woman in glasses work study at kitchen using laptop

Let’s say that you are accepted into a master’s program.

That still doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right move for you.

If the degree is definitely on the table, then there’s another important question.

Why are you doing this?

If you’re hoping that a master’s in computer science can help boost your pay, there’s a good chance that it can.

No matter your field or industry, as long as data is a part of it, then a master’s in computer science could make you qualified to work on computer systems or even AI related to your industry.

Those positions tend to pay pretty well.

The problem with doing this for pay is something I’ve already mentioned before.

Computer science really isn’t for everyone, and this isn’t a gatekeeping kind of thing.

If a college is admitting you into a master’s program, you clearly have the mental abilities necessary to succeed.

That’s not the issue.

The issue is that computer science can be incredibly unfulfilling if you don’t have a passion for it.

I may or may not be speaking from experience here, but computer science can feel like low-grade torture when you don’t enjoy it.

It’s something to keep in mind.

If, however, your motivation is a passion for computer science, then go for it.

Similarly, if you think that computer science can feed into your existing passions (like maybe you do want to write an AI to help you at work), then you’re probably going to be just fine.

#3 Would a Different Master’s Program Make More sense?

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Depending on your motivations, you have to consider this question.

Is computer science for sure the right master’s program?

If you’re trying to boost your pay range, you can also consider an MBA (master’s in business administration).

MBA degrees essentially make you qualified to be an upper-level manager in your industry.

You already have a bachelor’s, and presumably a career (or career prospects).

The MBA is just boosting your pay and responsibility potential, and for most people, it’s not the most painful degree ever.

It really can be punching a ticket (although plenty of people get an MBA for passion as well).

And, there are more than two options here.

Sometimes, a master’s in your specific field makes more sense.

In other cases, switching gears and going towards psychology or neuroscience would have more value, even if your goal is to make an AI for work

There are a lot of different areas of specialty, and if you can see a way to make any of them valuable in your line of work, then it’s worth considering very seriously.