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What is Computer Science?

Computer science professionals include many essential roles in information technology, research, and communications. Computers drive the Internet and the massive amounts of data that governments and private companies use to carry out their operations. Among their important contributions, computer science professionals manage databases, develop network and data security, and work on software. Computer science is the foundation for computer research, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.

Computer science professionals may have multidisciplinary backgrounds and education. They can be engineers, biologists, and medical researchers that combine computer science into their and methods to meet specific needs. Computer analysts and specialists help keep our systems up and operating in the day-to-day operations of business and government.

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Computer Science Education in Maryland

The Maryland economy has traditional areas of high business volume and employment including manufacturing, real estate, and professional services. Maryland’s location near the Chesapeake Bay and Washington, D.C. supports a vibrant and unique commercial fishing industry and business environment. Maryland has a regional economic hub in the City of Baltimore; the Capitol in Annapolis is also home to the US Naval Academy.

Information technology and computer-based fields drive the current expansion of the economy. Finance, healthcare, and insurance are technology intensive industries, and Maryland has high business volume in these sectors. State and federal agencies located in and near Maryland provide many career options for computer technology professionals.

Maryland’s computer science graduates have some distinct advantages. With the Nation’s Capital and Virginia as just some of its neighbors, Maryland is part of a national technology hub. Cyber security and telecommunications are among the high growth sectors in recent years. The state has robust presence in aerospace industries and defense contracting.

The Maryland-D.C. area is also a leader in medical research. The national Medicare and Medicaid Centers are in Maryland along with a substantial part of the National Institutes of Health. Maryland is a national leader in biotechnology and technology related to research on the human genome.

Maryland colleges and universities offer systems and theory in computer science, and students can select from many computer science degree tracks. Students can take degrees or concentrations in emerging fields like bioinformatics, human-computer interaction and visualization, and data science and cloud computing. Maryland schools supply graduates in the high demand fields of cyber security, data communications and networking, and database systems and knowledge management. Commercial and private concerns search for talent in enterprise and web computing and software engineering.

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The best computer science schools in Maryland have full accreditation. The schools have overall institutional accreditation and program accreditation for the computer science departments and programs. For each degree type, Maryland offers computer science education that can lead to a rewarding career.

Computer science professionals work in nearly every part of the economy. Data intensive sectors like healthcare, banking, and finance employ thousands of employees with computer science educations. Social media platforms and Internet based commerce need computer science professionals, as well. They can find work in government, industry, and the non-profit sectors.

Associate Degree in Computer Science (AS)

An associate degree is the basic computer science degree in Maryland. The typical associate degree is a two-year program requiring between 60 and 66 credit hours. Maryland schools and colleges offer Associates of Science and Associate of Arts degrees in computer science. Associate level studies in computer science combine general education with basic computer education. AS and AA programs provide hands-on computer programming and computer maintenance experience.

Students take general education courses in mathematics, English, and humanities subjects. The computer science core classes consist of foundational coursework in computer databases, computer networks, introduction to cyber security, operating systems, and programming.

An associate degree can meet entry-level education requirements for positions including information security analysts, computer support specialists, and computer systems analysts. Graduates can gain valuable experience and qualify for higher-level positions through training and certificate courses.

An associate degree is an excellent step toward a bachelor’s degree. However, students should make sure they select an accredited program. Two-year schools can also have agreements with four-year schools to accept credits toward a bachelor’s degree.

Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science (BS)

Bachelor’s degree programs in computer science equip graduates with skills and knowledge to enter the computer science field. The education requirements can vary by school, but the typical requirements include about 120 credit hours of study, which students can complete in four years of full-time study. And institutions with engineering, internship, or lab science requirements may require a higher number of credit hours and a five-year program.

Computer science involves multiple disciplines. Concentrations allow students to focus on areas of interest. Popular areas include game design, bioengineering, and web development. There are a wide range of career paths for a Maryland computer science graduate, and students can specialize by taking additional credit hours.

A bachelor’s degree is an entry-level educational for many positions. Graduates can compete for a range of jobs across the industry. And experience gained in undergraduate internships and academic concentrations can speed advancement. Certifications can demonstrate knowledge in specific areas such as computer languages and coding.

Master's Degree in Computer Science (MS or MC)

The requirements for entry to a master’s degree vary by program and the student’s level of past education. These range from 30 to 60 hours depending on the extent of engineering, internships, and thesis writing required. Students can usually complete the program in one to two years of full-time study.

The core courses offer education in topics like machine learning, programming, database management, and more. Software engineering and software developer are other popular specialized fields. Beyond the core requirements, electives and concentrations can provide a high level of focus. The capstone experience adds to the student’s body of professional experience.

Schools require a demonstration of the skills and knowledge acquired in the course of study. To that end, these programs typically requires a master’s thesis or capstone project. The master’s project option is an opportunity to demonstrate levels of achievement through research activity. Master’s degrees are advanced degree levels, and they prepare students for further graduate study and doctoral degrees, as well as providing them with higher credentials, access to more certifications, and deeper knowledge in a specific subject area.

PhD Degree in Computer Science (PhD)

A doctoral degree is the highest level of education in the field of computer science. These degrees typically take four to five years of full-time study to complete. The requirements include independent research in a specific area of study. Students must complete coursework, research projects, and exams prior to defending a doctoral dissertation or thesis. The coursework can range from about 72 to 90 credit hours.

Doctoral programs typically require a master’s degree, although some programs combine the doctorate and master’s into a single program. The field is multidisciplinary and, while some students focus on computer science, there are other specializations. Among the areas of specialization are machine learning, algorithms and optimization, artificial intelligence, and software engineering. Candidates can use electives to add advanced specializations like discrete structures and object-oriented design, and data structures.

Typical examples of doctoral-level coursework includes advanced studies in programming languages, database management, algorithm design and analysis, cyber security, and big data.

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Become a CIS Professional in Maryland

Maryland is in a vibrant region of intensive computer science adoption. Maryland borders Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Pennsylvania. The region holds a high number of research, development, and commercial enterprises that focus on information, information security, and data analysis. There are thousands of fully employed software developers, cryptologists, and cyber security professional in the regions, and an ongoing demand for more.

Education is a key for getting into, and advancing in, a computer science-related career in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, also known as the DMV. Maryland students can learn on-campus or online. The state has an excellent network of community colleges, state colleges and universities, and private colleges and universities. Computer science education is affordable and available starting at the associate degree level and going up to master’s and doctoral degrees. Higher education brings greater opportunity, work responsibility, and rewards.

Experience is a key element in a successful computer science career. Education, certification, and continuing education are excellent tools for career advancement. Continuing education is particularly important in an evolving field like computer science. New discoveries and innovations create opportunities for learning and advancement, and many credentials and certifications require that you earn continuing education in order to maintain certification.

Accreditation is an essential part of getting into a computer science career. Accreditation increases the value of education because it is an assurance of quality education. Government, educational institutions, and employers rely upon accreditation. Institutional accreditation supports quality of education at the entire school. Program accreditation for computer science will be specific to computer science departments and programs on top of school-wide accreditation. Maryland students have a lengthy list of ABET-accredited computer science programs available to them.

Maryland offers nationally ranked computer science at in-person and online computer science programs from leading schools like the John Hopkins University and the University of Maryland. Science students can add computer studies to their degree requirements to expand career options. Maryland graduate students have a wide range of options for internships and practical work experience form the computer science-based industries located in the state’s hubs in Baltimore and the D.C. area.

Careers for Computer Science Graduates

  • Technical Support Specialists / IT Support Specialists are often the first line of resources to troubleshoot and resolve technology issues. In a given organization, tech support help keep operations flowing smoothly by managing glitches and interruptions. As an external service, IT specialists can move form organization to organization resolving issues and tech problems. IT and tech support help keep an organization’s employees productive and informed. Tech support can operate in person or remotely by telephone and web connections.
  • UI Developers make user interface concepts that remove constraints to business and user requirements on web applications. UI developers use front-end technology to translate creative designs and ideas into user experiences. They develop must-have mastery over the technical stack, graphic design tools, and frameworks like HTML, Java script, and Ajax. UI focuses on the visual aspects of web applications and concerns the look of the site, the ease of navigation, complexity, and accessibility.
  • Application Developers design, create, and install programs and program updates. They can develop applications for the web, specialized devices, or networks. Developers are essential members of teams that manage projects or functions to meet user needs. The work includes coding, application management, solving problems, and addressing security threats or risks.

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  • Data Scientists use skills in technology and other areas like social sciences to identify tends and meaningful uses of data. The data scientist discovers meanings by using technological knowledge, contextual logic, and continuous testing of assumptions. Data scientists apply analytical tools like algorithms and processes to extract significance from structured and unstructured datasets.
  • Network Architects are highly specialized computer professionals that design and help build data communication networks. They work on intranets, local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and cloud infrastructure. Architects can create layouts for communication networks and can initiate systems by developing new and customized networking systems and novel technological applications. Network architects manage the nearly constant tasks of system expansion and upgrading.
  • Full Stack Software Developers work with both sides of computer applications. In software development, the back end is the server side of computer applications, and the front end is the client side. Full stack development includes on-app user interactions and databases for the server or back end of the application. The full stack developer must ensure the application’s compatibility and see to the optimization of the system.
  • Security Consultants (cyber security) focus on protecting digital systems. The role involves maximizing efficiency and prevention against unauthorized intrusion and use of data. The consultant provides expertise gained by education and experience. The consultant identifies hacking risks, potential vulnerabilities, and emerging threats. Consultants can bring an outside perspective to security analysis with fresh views and insights.
  • Computer Science Professors are advanced degree holders in mathematics or one or more computing fields. Employers increasingly ask for this degree for job seekers to hold digital science innovation jobs, advanced research positions, and complex computing roles. A doctoral degree also qualifies graduates for policy level positions in the public and private sectors.

    PhDs are also essential in higher education settings as they can become tenured faculty. PhD holders teach core courses in major fields and graduate level courses.

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