How Can You Specialize a Computer Science Degree?

Computer ScienceIf you’re considering going to graduate school, you may be wondering how to specialize a computer science degree, and the answer is that it’s fairly easy to do. Basically, all you have to do is choose a specialization when you enroll in a master’s program, and you can usually change your specialization at any time. Computer science specializations include artificial intelligence, mobile and Internet computing, human-computer interaction, analytics, data mining, software theory, management and information and, depending on the school you go to, possibly others.

Choosing the Right Specialization

You will be required to choose a focus before you can enroll in any classes, and the path you choose determines who your professors and fellow students will be in your research groups. While it’s not really possible to specialize a bachelor’s degree in computer science, you can begin preparing to become an expert in a particular area by choosing the appropriate undergraduate degree track.

For example, if you want to go into software engineering, you should choose the software design track as an undergraduate. If you want to go into information, management and analytics, you should choose the business track for your bachelor’s degree. If you want to go into artificial intelligence, data mining, human-computer interaction or another academic, research-heavy area, you should choose the science track as an undergraduate.

How To Prepare for Graduate School

When you’re still earning your bachelor’s degree, you can choose extracurricular activities to complement your degree, such as research internships or software development projects. The more real-world experience you have by the time you graduate, the further along you’ll be in your career. If your main interest is theory and research, doing summer research internships will give you professional experience in your career, although your first internships probably won’t be very intellectually exciting as you will mainly be a lab assistant at this stage.

If your overall goal is to become a software developer, working on programming projects is the only way to get professional experience while you’re in college. You can browse available open-source projects on GitHub and Google Code, and these projects always need volunteers to submit code, do debugging or even just write documentation.

When you specialize your degree, it’s a good idea to spend some time thinking about what you want to specialize in so that you avoid wasting time in the wrong area. Choosing a specialization is a lot like choosing a major, and repeatedly changing either of these decisions increases the amount of time you spend in college and the amount of money you spend on your education.

It doesn’t matter which focus you choose, as long as it’s the most interesting area of computer science to you. Whether you choose software design, artificial intelligence, data mining or analytics, you will have abundant job opportunities after graduation. There is expected to be a 20 percent increase in jobs for software developers and a similar increase for researchers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To do professional-level computer research, you need to get a Ph.D, but with only a master’s, you can still do many advanced computing and research jobs.

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Computer science is one of the fastest-growing industries, and as computers become accessible to more people all over the world, software engineering is only going to get more prevalent. Before enrolling in graduate school, take time to plan how to specialize a computer science degree to make your time in college more effective.