Do you need a bachelor’s degree in computer science to get a master’s degree?
Computer science programs rarely require a CS degree for admission. They often admit candidates who have undergone a different training. But applicants majoring in other fields must demonstrate their technical skills. A computer science minor, CS classes, or work experience can help applicants stand out.
You have options if you’re considering a master’s degree in computer science but studied another field. Our guide shows you how to get a master’s degree in computer science regardless of your bachelor’s degree.
How do you get a master’s degree in computer science?
Participating in a master’s degree in computer science can feel intimidating. Many of the top programs admit only a fraction of applicants. These tips can increase your chances of gaining admission into a computer science graduate program.
Consider your undergraduate major
A majoring in computer science can help your chances of getting into a CS masters program. Related fields such as information technology, computer engineering, or data science can also help.
Graduate programs, however, admit candidates with a variety of majors. Consider a minor computer science to build your technical skills.
Boost your GPA
Masters programs evaluate applicants on several factors, including test scores, work experience and GPA. During your undergraduate degree, try to keep your GPA above the minimum 3.0 GPA requirement for many graduate programs. Taking classes that pass/fail can help maintain a higher GPA.
Computer graduate degrees rarely require work experience for admission. But professional experience can boost your application in several ways.
Working in a tech-related role showcases your technical skills, while non-tech careers build important people skills. Consider what types of experience, including internships, freelance jobs, or volunteer work, can help with your application.
TO SEE: Tech jobs for students: gain work experience while getting your degree
Focus on your skills
Graduate programs care about your skills. Rather than worrying about your undergraduate major, make sure you have the technical skills needed for graduate-level CS classes.
If you have studied anything other than computer science, please consider computer science courses to enhance your skills.
Build your network
Networking can help you get a job — and it can help you get to high school, too. Build your professional network with fellow students, teachers, tutors and mentors. (View our network tips for advise.)
When applying for graduate school, contact former professors and supervisors to write letters of recommendation. These can increase your chances of an admission offer.
Know your career goals
A master’s degree represents a major investment of time and money. But is a masters in computer science worth it† That depends on your career goals.
Before researching graduate programs, consider your goals, what? jobs in computer science interest and whether a master’s degree is the best way to reach them.
Research Computer Science Programs
Spend time learning about computer science programs. Research their course options and their graduate results. Read more about the costs and options for financial support. And contact people in your network with connections to the program.
Learn as much as you can before applying to tailor your learning and application to the school’s requirements.
Sell yourself on the application
Use your applications to highlight your most desirable skills. That could be experience in data analysis, leadership skills or programming knowledge.
And think about what makes you unique as an applicant. What can you bring to the program? Sell your strengths and tell the program why you will succeed in grad school.
Prepare for job interviews
Some computer science graduate programs conduct interviews during the admission process, most notably: online masters computer science programs.
Prepare for these interviews in the same way as for a job interview. Research the program, practice your answers to frequently asked questions, and highlight your strengths. And check out our application tips†
Compare admission offers
In the best case scenario, you will receive admission offers from multiple programs. Compare the offers, taking into account the financial aid package, the strengths of the program, and the faculty’s mentorship opportunities.
Consider your career options for each program, including the alumni network and career services. And then choose the best fit for your unique needs.
TO SEE: Computer Science Scholarships
What skills do I need to succeed in a master’s degree in computer science?
Graduate students need a mix of people and technical skills to succeed in a computer science master’s degree. Technical employers are also looking for candidates with specific soft skills. Make sure to focus not only on hard skills such as programming languages, but also on people skills.
- Attention to detail
- Teamwork and communication
- Organization and time management
- Creativity and curiosity
- programming languages
- Operating system knowledge
- Hardware Insight
- Software development
- Data analysis
READ THIS: 5 soft skills for technical jobs
This article has been reviewed by Darnell Kenebrew
Darnell Kenebrew is a first-generation graduate of the 2020 class of San Francisco State University. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, which helped him launch a career in technology and pursue roles within data and engineering.
He is currently a data analytics engineer at Meta and an executive captain for COOP Careers – a nonprofit organization for overcoming underemployment. Kenebrew strongly believes in giving people opportunities and that everyone should have equal opportunities in the labor market. He believes that COOP Careers helps to realize this equality.
Kenebrew is passionate about how the industry is shaped with data and how data can be used in many aspects of business decisions to achieve goals. In addition, he has a passion for inclusion, community, education and using data for good. He hopes that he can redirect business decisions to make a positive, meaningful impact and that his work will have a positive impact on end users, as well as meet the business goals.
Darnell Kenebrew is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.
Last reviewed on May 19, 2022.