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What is Computer Science?
Idaho is well-known for agriculture, and famous for Idaho potatoes. In fact, the state supplies about one third of the nation’s potatoes. However, Idaho also has vibrant sectors in business, food processing, and manufacturing. The educational services sector, finance businesses, and professional services also account for significant chunks of the state economy. Healthcare is a rapidly expanding sector and amongst the state’s fastest growth economic areas. One of the common characteristic of the non-farm sectors is their reliance upon computer technology.
Computer science is at the core of the modern Idaho economy. In recent decades, the economic environment in Idaho has shifted to technology-intensive lines of business. The emphasis on business technology creates demand for graduates of degree programs in the computing sciences. Idaho businesses and institutions will need computer science graduates at all levels of education. The economy will absorb computing science graduates and workers with information technology education and professional experiences alike.
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Computer Science Education in Idaho
Computer science graduates will find that there is high demand in information technology, banking systems, and cyber security. For example, Idaho’s healthcare systems offer exciting career options. In a large healthcare system, a professional information technology worker can serve as a network administrator, develop an object-oriented programming language, or design creative media campaigns.
The best computer science schools in Idaho offer flexible methods of attendance and a range of degree options. The University of Idaho, Idaho State University, and Boise State University offer computer science curricula in on-campus formats. Students can attend in-person classes at all levels of education. For those that prefer remote learning, Idaho colleges can provide an online computer science degree.
Students can also resume an interrupted course of study with a degree completion program. Idaho students must make certain that the programs they choose have accreditation. Whether seeking an associate degree or a doctoral program, Idaho colleges and universities have computer science education to meet student’s needs.
Computer science professionals contribute to the body of knowledge that makes computers useful. These professionals also apply knowledge and skills to make computer technology a vital part of everyday life. Computer professionals may develop models for human interaction with computers, software, and a range of computer-based devices. Computer scientists work with technology to use computers to solve problems and perform tasks.
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Computer professionals can hold many essential roles in technology and perform a wide range of tasks and functions that instruct computers and computer systems or aid users through support functions. For example, computer science graduates become programmers, engineers, and software developers. Computers, at their cores, are simple machines that perform tasks very quickly. Computer science professionals tell computers how to solve problems by writing code, developing algorithms, and applying creative solutions. Computer science assesses the ways that computer technology can process information and applies those concepts to programs.
Associate Degree in Computer Science (AS)
An associate degree in computer science requires about 65 hours of coursework. Idaho students can complete an associate degree in computer science in two-years of full-time study. Students can attend online, on-campus, or in a hybrid type program. These short programs can support further study and a four-year bachelor’s degree.
An associate degree provides a solid base in general education and basic education in computer technology. Students will study mathematics, programming, programming languages, and operating systems. Completing an associate degree helps graduates enter the computer science field in positions in database management, software, and numerical data analysis.
An associate degree can also be a useful steppingstone for further education. The degree equips students to use entry-level positions to gain experience and on-the-job training. The two-year course of study includes general education and can represent part of a bachelor’s degree at a four-year institution.
Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science (BS)
A computer science bachelor’s degree is a four-year course of study that equips graduates for most entry-level positions in the field of computer science and prepares them for promotion. The typical coursework for an Idaho student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science includes principles of programming, operating systems, computer network architecture, and computer systems.
This four-year course of study requires about 120 credit hours and schools can add a practical internship or capstone project. These programs provide general education, mathematics, theoretical, and applied computer education. Students can study computational theory, programming languages, and systems management, among other options.
During their course of study, Idaho students can complete a design project, develop mobile apps, and write codes in one or more programming languages. A capstone project can combine their coursework into an activity that demonstrates a body of knowledge. The bachelor’s degree is also an educational steppingstone toward graduate education and higher levels of knowledge and specialization.
Master's Degree in Computer Science (MS or MC)
A Master of Science in Computer Science prepares graduates for advanced careers and leadership roles in the field of computer science and management. Master’s graduates bring problem solving skills and technical knowledge to the workplace and a master’s degree prepares students for upper management and leadership roles in their fields. A master’s is also a prerequisite for a doctoral program in computer science.
A master’s degree requires about thirty-six credit hours of advanced coursework. Idaho students can complete the master’s in one or two calendar years. Students must complete advanced level studies including operating systems, data analytics, database design and theory, and advanced programming and master’s level studies may also examine the nature of human and computer interaction.
A master’s degree program may require a thesis or schools could also ask for a capstone project. Some schools divide their programs into thesis track and a capstone project track. Students can elect one or the other; candidates considering a doctorate might choose the thesis track.
PhD Degree in Computer Science (PhD)
The PhD is the highest computer science degree in Idaho colleges and universities. The PhD is an excellent path to high-level research and educational policy roles. The doctoral level is essential for graduate education and educational leadership; PhDs teach at the master’s and doctoral levels in addition to undergraduate courses. Entry into a PhD program may require a master’s degree in a related field.
Students can complete a typical PhD program in computer science in about five years. The course credit requirements range between about seventy-two credit hours to about ninety credit hours. Students must complete written and oral examinations before a reviewing committees and develop an original thesis proposal. The theses or dissertation must demonstrate the candidate’s research capabilities and make a contribution to the field of computer science. Computer science PhDs have performed important research and contributed innovations to the field of computer science.
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Become a Computer Science Professional in Idaho
Computer science is a broad field and one that grows continuously as computer technology spreads to new users and uses. Just as computer technology has reached into nearly every economic activity, the opportunities to use computer science education also occurs in nearly every type of business or organization. Computer technology affects most people in their daily lives. Computer science includes data science, software development, web development, cyber security, computer systems, and computer networks.
Education is an essential ingredient for entering into the field of computer science and its important sub-fields. A bachelor’s degree is a widely used entry-level degree. Employers that have complex needs can prefer applicants with master’s degrees and some specialization in an area of the employer’s need.
Idaho has a history of computer science employment. The Hewlett-Packard Company began in Boise in 1973. HP has grown into an industry leader in product development, research, and computer technology. Other significant Idaho computer science firms include Micron Technology and General Dynamics. Idaho computer science graduates can look for positions in a wide range of settings. Computer technology is in high demand in government and the private sector. Idaho has a booming financial sector, substantial banking concerns, and a robust manufacturing sector; these sectors will continue to employ computer science graduates.
Idaho students can study at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral levels. The associate and bachelor’s degrees are entry level credentials. Salaries grow substantially with graduate degrees and work experience. Upper-level positions including management and leadership roles typically require higher levels of education than entry jobs. Employers request master’s degrees for roles like senior management and research.
The business uses of computer technology grow as employers find new and better ways of doing business. Computer science graduates can work to promote sales and commerce on the Internet. Web developers earn high incomes are in demand. Similarly, software developers help solve problems by creating or innovating software solutions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects high growth for web developers and software developers.
Careers for Computer Science Graduates
Computer science education prepares graduates for a wide range of jobs and careers. Given the nature of innovation and development, graduates may discover new careers or participate in emerging fields of computer science.
- Technical Support Specialist / IT Support Specialist
When systems fail or users require assistance, support specialists provide prompt assistance. In addition to regular maintenance and system security routines, support specialists serve as a resource for system administrators, analysts, and security teams. Support specialists must keep up with changes in the system and hardware.
- Cyber Security Analyst
Companies must protect their investment in computer technology against threats and risks of abuse. Cyber security analysts design and maintain systems to prevent intrusions and unauthorized access to computer systems. The below listed items are similar positions to protect computer technology.
- Security Analyst
- Security Consultant (cyber security)
- IT Project Manager
Information technology managers perform complex research and development activities. They provide oversight, staff direction, and guidance to a team of professionals. Applying project management principles, the IT project manager organizes, plans, and carries out assignments that may involve substantial personnel and other assets. Project management defines tasks and organizes the work effort towards the project goals.
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- Senior Database Administrator
Senior database administrators perform all necessary work to keep data available, protected from loss, and accessible to authorized personnel. They makes sure that the system is secure, with all needed software updates, and that the system has regular and thorough maintenance. The senior database administrator oversees system testing and resilience from backups.
- Big Data Analyst
Big Data Analysts review and examine massive quantities of data, which include varied types of information. The goal of big data analysis is to identify significant facts such as trends, relationships, and connections. The big data analyst builds upon the skill set of data analytics and applies it to the broadest and most diverse sets of data. Big data analysts can help organizations make better decisions by providing insights and revealing unseen data relationships.
- Web Designer & Developer
Web designer and developers combine the artistic and creative skills to provide compelling graphics with the technical expertise to build websites. The web designer and developer creates the website’s design, layout, and programming. They combine the technical and graphic functions into a process that make it easy for users to find their way around and use the site as it is meant to be used. This powerful combination of website skills is in high demand in a wide range of industries and sectors. Public and private organizations that conduct some or all operations online require website design and development.
- Application Developers
App developers design and build computer applications. These talented professionals build software and customized solutions for organizations, public bodies, and customers of nearly every description. App developers are a specialized type of software engineer that provides services from development through testing and use of a software program. Application developers must provide coding, software design, application management, and testing. The follow-on services include troubleshooting issues and ongoing testing and assessment.
- Computer Science Professor
Graduate education is a key to the growth of computer science. Professors teach at college and graduate levels and are essential to ongoing educational capacity. Graduate students must have doctoral level teachers and advisors to guide their paths to master’s and doctoral degrees. Professors often perform critical research projects and engage the future leaders and innovators in research and development. Computer science professors lead in education and education policy.