thebestschools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
Are you ready to discover your college program?
Computer science courses offer applicable training for the information technology sector.
Computer science is a broad discipline. It covers information technology — especially computation using computer systems. Computer science courses train students for careers in STEM, business, healthcare, and government.
Computer science students can take standalone classes, attend coding bootcamps, or earn a computer science degree. To best understand what you’ll learn in a computer science degree program, prospective students should examine their curricula. This article explores common computer science courses, including introductory and advanced topics.
Computer Science Classes
More in-depth cloud computing certificates, specializations, or graduate training can cover designing, building, and evaluating cloud systems.
In more specialized programs, these courses cover big data practices, machine learning, and computational methods for specific uses, such as economics, healthcare, or social sciences.
Since these computer science classes include programming, machine learning, and algorithms, they often occur later in a computer science curriculum.
More advanced computer science courses explore interactive protocols, digital watermarking, fingerprint recognition, and quantum cryptography. Cryptography classes often appear in computer science certificates and degrees.
At the graduate level, these computer science classes tackle bioinformatics applications, databases and data sets, efficient information retrieval systems, and geographic applications.
In advanced classes, database courses often explore relational models, object-oriented databases, and physical database design. Some programs cover intelligent query processing, machine learning, and data analysis optimization.
Full-stack training covers end-to-end development, including programming, design, and server development. It also includes project management, business operations, and interdisciplinary projects.
More advanced Java training covers client and server architecture in Java, servlet lifecycles, session management, and helper applications. Computer science courses can also prepare graduates for Java certification.
The training explores common machine learning applications, such as data mining, bioinformatics, robotic control, and autonomous navigation. Students learn how to develop models for statistical pattern recognition and text recognition.
Beginners study Python applications for data types, text processing, graphical user interface-driven applications, and object-oriented programming. More advanced topics cover scientific uses, such as data exploration and genomics.
React classes are common within full-stack development coursework for computer science certificates or degrees, though some programs offer standalone courses. Advanced training may include server-side rendering, custom hooks, and Graph QL.
Many computer science certificates and degrees include software engineering classes to demonstrate how developers tackle challenges and inefficiencies in computer systems. Learners often take on practical assignments in these courses.
Advanced topics cover specific software security for mobile and smart devices, along with the legal and ethical considerations of cybersecurity
What Kinds of Computer Science Programs Are There?
Computer science students have a lot of options when it comes to getting an education, so it's important to do your research. Knowing the differences between computer science and computer engineering and computer information systems, for example, can help candidates choose the appropriate pathways for their career goals.
Undergraduate Certificate Program in Computer Science
Computer science certificate programs cover introductory topics, including cybersecurity, programming, and database management. Learners can usually complete these programs in less than one year. They qualify graduates for entry-level careers.
Certificates can also come at the graduate or post-graduate level, where they cover advanced, niche topics. These certificates typically require a bachelor's degree to apply, and they lead to career advancement opportunities.
Associate Degree in Computer Science
An associate degree in computer science includes high-level classes that introduce students to the field and provide them with entry-level skills and knowledge. These two-year programs include courses in network administration, programming, software development, and systems management. Associate degrees also cover general education courses. Graduates can use these degrees to later pursue bachelor's degrees.
Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science
A bachelor's degree in computer science and a bachelor's in computer information systems offer similar curricula. Computer science courses focus more on software design and theoretical and mathematical approaches, while computer information systems focuses on practical business applications for technology.
A bachelor’s in computer science takes approximately four years to complete. These degrees equip graduates with skills in programming, database design, software development, and networked environments. Graduates can qualify for computer-related professions, such as programmer, information security analyst, and software developer.
Master's Degree in Computer Science
A master's degree in computer science typically takes two years to complete. Graduates qualify for most computer occupations, including management and leadership positions. These degrees include advanced computer science courses, such as software modeling techniques, collaborative design, and automata and applications.
Master's degree students usually specialize in a subdiscipline, such as networks, cybersecurity, software design, or digital media. Many learners use master's degrees to pursue management careers or apply to doctoral degrees.
Doctoral Degree in Computer Science
A doctoral degree in computer science covers advanced research, theory, and multidisciplinary approaches to the field. Students typically graduate within 4-7 years and pursue careers in management, research and development, or academia.
Doctorates cover advanced topics in software engineering, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence. Doctoral students also pursue specializations, such as intelligence and robotics or computer communication networks.
Choosing an Online Program
Prospective students should consider several factors when choosing their programs. First, they should check for regional and programmatic accreditation. Regional accreditation is the gold standard for academic institutions. Computer science programs usually hold ABET accreditation. Students should also look into what specializations are available at each school.
Pursuing online colleges may help learners reduce tuition, travel, and room and board expenses. The following links offer more information about accreditation, online learning, and choosing the right college.
What Can You Do With a Degree in Computer Science?
A broad field like computer science offers many professional opportunities for degree-holders. Graduates can pursue computer engineering, web development, and web design careers. They can also find employment in computer systems design services, manufacturing, software publishing, and management.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 11% employment growth for computer-related professions from 2019-2029, with faster-than-average growth for software engineering and software developer careers.
Interview With an Expert
Alejandro Cantarero builds data-driven products. Most recently, he works as chief technology officer at Nami ML, helping companies with apps create happy customers through their subscription experiences. His previous roles include VP of Data at Tribune Publishing and the Los Angeles Times, where he led teams of analysts, data scientists, consumer researchers, and engineers in building data products to improve the digital news experience. He has a Ph.D. in mathematics from UCLA.
What certificates or degrees in computer science do you hold?
I have a bachelor of science in computer science and a science Ph.D. in mathematics with a focus on numerical computation.
Why did you choose to study computer science?
I enjoy solving problems and building things. I wasn't particularly good at drawing, art, or physically constructing things, but I've always been good with computers. Pursuing computer science felt like a good way to leverage what I was good at and work on what I enjoyed.
What was your favorite computer science class and why?
My favorite class was an introduction to Boolean logic and digital circuit design. It was very interesting to learn how to build all the components of a computer starting from the logic gate level. It was not a particularly relevant class to my career, but it was fascinating to design and build circuits that operate in the same way that a computer program does.
Learning about these basic building blocks that ultimately power the software you write really gives you an appreciation for the work you do with a modern computer.
What computer science course do you think everyone studying computer science should take — and why?
Take a class on databases. This class was not very popular in my degree program, but storing, structuring, and retrieving data is an integral part of building any real-world application. Having a good understanding of these technologies will open the door to building much more interesting software.
What did you specialize in, if anything? What were your concentrations?
My specialization is numerical computation. I became interested in this area when taking a required linear algebra course for my degree. Our professor let us optionally take a lab to learn how to use the techniques we learned in class to analyze images. This was the first example
I encountered of using math to solve real-world problems. It was so interesting that I decided to make that my area of study.
What do you do for a career now?
I'm currently the CTO (chief technology officer) at Nami ML, a company that helps apps build and run successful subscription businesses. I've also worked extensively as a data scientist, including as the VP of data at the Los Angeles Times and Tribune Publishing, where we used data, analytics, and machine learning to help newspapers offer a compelling, modern digital product.
What advice do you have for someone considering pursuing an educational path in computer science?
Take some classes just for fun. Most of the work of a developer you'll learn on the job. Computer science programs often have some classes that may be a little less practical in terms of landing a job, but good computer scientists who go on to become good developers are curious and like to solve problems.
Anything that piques your curiosity and keeps you interested in learning is worth studying.
Common Questions About Computer Science
What Are the Best Courses in Computer Science?
Programming language courses, like HTML, CSS, or Python, are often the most popular computer science courses. Computer science classes can also cover topics like cybersecurity, full-stack development, or systems management.
Is a Certificate in Computer Science Worth It?
Yes, a computer science certificate can provide access to entry-level careers, credits for degrees, and niche training. Depending on your career goals, a certificate can be very worth the investment.
How Long Does It Take To Get a Computer Science Certificate?
Most programs take 3-12 months, but computer science certificates vary in length. Bachelor's degrees typically take four years.
What Classes Do You Take for Computer Science?
Common computer science classes include programming, networking, software and web development, and machine learning. The discipline is broad, so curricula vary.
Doug Wintemute is a Toronto-based freelance writer with professional writing interests in higher learning and entertainment. He completed his BA and MA in English at York University, graduating summa cum laude and earning academic merit, research, and writing awards at both levels. Since 2014, he has contributed content and editorial work for award-winning digital trade publications, global SEO copywriting projects, and hugely popular online brands. He can be contacted through LinkedIn.
Header Image Credit: Sunwoo Jung | Getty Images
Learn more, do more.
More topic-relevant resources to expand your knowledge.
Popular with our students.
Highly informative resources to keep your education journey on track.
Take the next step toward your future with online learning.
Discover schools with the programs and courses you’re interested in, and start learning today.