Computer science is an incredibly rich and potentially lucrative career path. This field encompasses the creation, implementation, and management of the hardware and software applications needed to make modern technology work.

If you’re interested in software development, web development, networking, cybersecurity, or any other type of computer science career, it’s time to take a closer look at a master’s degree in computer science. By earning a computer science degree, you could help chart or change the course of digital transformation, putting you at the forefront of technological advancement.

Read on to learn more about what computer science is, which disciplines fall under its purview, what skills you will acquire by earning a degree in this field, and the types of jobs you can pursue once you have your degree.

The Foundation: What Is Computer Science?

Computer science, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, is “the study of computers and computing, including their theoretical and algorithmic foundations, hardware and software, and their uses for processing information.”

Moreover, “[c]omputer science is considered as part of a family of five separate yet interrelated disciplines: computer engineering, computer science, information systems, information technology, and software engineering.”

Luminaries throughout the last two centuries helped pave the way for modern computers. The mathematician and inventor Charles Babbage first proposed computers in the 1800s, although Alan Turing offered the first proof that binary computing was viable.

American mathematician John von Neumann devised the stored-program computer, which can maintain instruction sets in its memory to repeatedly perform the same sequence of variable-dependent events.

Today, big data and small startups alike use these foundational principles to design new devices, release software updates, and define the future of tech jobs. The good news? If you’re looking to start—or restart—your career today, you have a lot of options.

The Breadth of Computer Science Disciplines

While the phrase “computer science” likely makes you think of a desktop computer sitting on a table, keyboard, and mouse nearby, there is so much more to computer science than that. Here are just a few of the top occupations within the field.

Software Development

Software development is all about creating new programs and applications to help people achieve their goals. From editing a photo to tracking a job to monitoring heart health, the software programs that perform these tasks all rely on computer science concepts.

People who work in this field not only design programs, they also engage in tasks such as software debugging, code optimization, and user experience (UX) design: ensuring that a program, application, or website is accessible to its audience.

Web Development

Browse the vast expanse of the internet, and what you're navigating is the tangible product of web development. It's the craft of building and maintaining websites, making sure every click, every image, and every interaction feel seamless. Whether you're a fan of aesthetics and diving deep into creating visually appealing web pages, or you're more inclined to ensure the back-end functionality hums perfectly, web development has a niche for you.

Web developers juggle coding languages, work with databases, and sometimes also dabble in graphic design. From constructing the very framework of online businesses to personal blogs and massive e-commerce platforms, they play a pivotal role in how we experience the digital world. If you have a penchant for combining creativity with technical know-how, web development might just be your calling.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Love the idea of working with neural networks and logical reasoning? Feel strongly that ethical and conscientious computer science professionals should be there to help shape and guide the AI revolution?  In that case, you might be a good fit for a career in AI and machine learning, fields geared toward developing new intelligence that can help us manage healthcare, educate the population, improve our food systems, expand our climate modeling options, and more.


Digital security is a big deal. Without proper protocols, hackers can do much worse than steal credit card information. They can bring down the grid, steal from the government, hold medical facilities hostage, or abscond with priceless proprietary information.

Cybersecurity is the art of keeping intruders out. It’s an arms race, with cybercriminals continuously developing new ways to hack into systems, and everyone else working to prevent it. If you’re interested in career paths such as ethical hacking—trying to break into secure databases and breach firewalls to show where weakness lies—then this might be the field for you.

Human-Computer Interaction

According to the Interaction Design Foundation, “[h]uman-computer interaction (HCI) is a multidisciplinary field of study focusing on the design of computer technology and, in particular, the interaction between humans (the users) and computers.”

This is the arena in which engineering, the human brain, and computers collide. It tracks how people interact with personal devices: what works, what doesn’t, how to increase efficiency, and more. It’s a fascinating combination to which many with computer science degrees are ultimately drawn.

Networking and Systems

The modern age of cloud computing makes it significantly easier to store and retrieve data, but someone still has to manage all of it. Networking and systems is the study of how devices link to one another, where information is stored, and how we can communicate in a fast-paced world.

People who work in this field focus on making information exchange more efficient, driving developments in wireless technology, and more.

Skills Acquired in Computer Science

On your way to computer science expertise, you will learn several skills that are useful in the field, or any field. These include:

Analytical Thinking

Analyzing what’s in front of you is a critical skill for any computer scientist. Binary is not our native language, and computer architecture can work in seemingly mysterious ways. Analyzing what you see and getting to the deeper truth is essential.

Problem-Solving Abilities

The ability to solve problems on the fly is critical in time-sensitive fields like computer science. If a system goes down and your team is responsible for bringing it back online, you need the ability to work on a problem and come up with correct, often novel solutions, all without buckling under the pressure.

Programming and Coding Proficiency

If computer science has a “bread and butter,” it's programming and coding. Whichever way your career path takes you, you need these skills on board.

Teamwork and Communication

Soft skills such as teamwork and communication are just as important in this field as any other. Delegation, leadership, and listening all make working with computers much more efficient and effective.

Exploring the Computer Science Career Path

There are many opportunities for people who earn degrees in computer science. If you’re just starting, you might consider roles such as software developer, IT technician, or system analyst.

People with more experience often land roles such as data scientist, software engineer, or IT project manager. Those in senior roles can work as a solutions architect, IT director, or chief information officer (CIO).

Because there are so many options, you can tailor your degree to your interests, then leverage it to work toward the career of your dreams.

Learn More, Today

Are you curious about the possibilities for your computer science career? We’d love to tell you more. The University of Minnesota  works to provide students—regardless of access or schedule—with the opportunity to learn the principles that can enable a gratifying career in computer science.

Learn more about the Master of Science in Computer Science, which combines coursework with a range of exciting research opportunities to deepen your understanding of the field, or the Master of Computer Science if you prefer a coursework-only track.  Both degrees are offered in a hybrid format. This means that they are not fully online, and students will need to participate in certain on-campus components or sessions. We encourage prospective students to review the course structure and requirements in detail before enrollment to ensure the program aligns with their scheduling and learning preferences.

If you have questions about your digital career opportunities, contact us today—and don’t wait any longer to start your new career!