North Wales Management School - Wrexham University

How to find the best online master’s computer science programme

Posted on: April 24, 2024
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What can I gain from studying a master’s in computer science?

Have you got a keen interest in technology and a passion for problem-solving? If so, a career in the fast-paced, cutting-edge and ever-evolving computer science industry might be for you. Our increasingly digital world requires individuals with the skills, talent and experience to stay ahead of technological developments and use in-depth computing knowledge to solve key business challenges.

An online Master of Science in Computer Science can be a strategic stepping stone to professional development and future career opportunities.

  • Employment opportunities and job security – The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) state that ‘overall employment in computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations from 2022 to 2032.
  • Earning potential – According to the BLS, the median annual wage for computer scientists and IT professionals was $100,530 in May 2022 (approximately £79,205) – higher than the median annual wage for all occupations of $46,310 (approximately £36,486).
  • Skill development and specialised knowledge – From enhancing problem-solving abilities to refining specialist technical skills, you’ll gain a level of expertise, experience and understanding that can help you excel in specific job roles and land senior positions.
  • Widespread application – With just about every industry relying on technology and information systems to meet business needs and solve common issues, you’ll be well placed to enter any job sector.

What is the difference between a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in computer science?

According to Harvard Business Review, the main reasons for pursuing graduate programmes include a career change, a desire for higher earnings, or to follow an interest or passion.

Perhaps you already have an undergraduate degree in computer science and want to deepen your understanding and expand your skillset with a graduate degree? Or perhaps you don’t come from a computing background but want to start afresh in a new industry? Whatever your reasons, the main difference between a BSc Computer Science and an MSc Computer Science degree is that the latter generally narrows your focus to a specific area of study – for example, software engineering, information security, or AI – or explores topics at a more complex, advanced level.

Common specialisations include:

  • artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)
  • computer systems and software engineering
  • cybersecurity
  • web development
  • robotics
  • data science and big data analytics
  • computer networks and systems.

However, there are also plenty of courses that offer a more generalised approach, providing you with a broad-based understanding that spans the discipline. In addition, computer science master’s degrees are shorter in duration than bachelor’s degrees.

Can I study an MSc Computer Science programme online?                              

It’s absolutely possible to study your master’s in computer science online – in fact, it may prove a far better fit for you than traditional, on-campus options.

There are plenty of universities, training providers and higher education services now offering online master’s degrees, so you’ll have the freedom to find a computer science course that perfectly matches your needs and requirements.

So, why might an online or distance learning computer science course work better for you?

  • Greater flexibility. Distance learning is self-led and self-paced, giving you the option to study as and when it suits you. This makes it an ideal option if you’re employed, have family, caring or other responsibilities, or simply if studying according to your own, asynchronous schedule would work better than timetabled learning.
  • More choice. Learning remotely means you aren’t bound by geographical restrictions, enabling you to take your pick from universities and providers around the world – whose online computer science programmes may more closely align with your needs and career aspirations than those closer to home.
  • Financial savings. As well as potentially lower tuition fees, you can save money on the additional costs associated with in-person study, such as accommodation, living and transport fees.
  • Same benefits. The quality of today’s online courses is better than ever, with course content and materials, virtual learning environments (VLEs), academic support, and student services carefully designed to deliver the same experiences, opportunities, and benefits as more traditional learning set-ups. In fact, you may even find there are other, additional benefits – such as accessing a more diverse, global network of like-minded online peers and learners.
  • More accessible. Prospective students opt for online learning programmes for a variety of reasons, including greater accessibility. For those who cannot attend in-person learning sessions – for example, due to caring responsibilities or personal reasons – learning from the comfort of your own home presents a fantastic alternative.

If you’re sold on distance learning and its many advantages, how should you now go about finding the best online master’s in computer science? Let’s find out.

How do I find the best online computer science master’s programme?

Choosing which master’s degree to study is a big decision – not least because it represents a significant investment of your time and money. It’s understandable you want to find the perfect computer science master’s degree, and we’re here to help you make an informed decision.

Here’s some questions prospective graduate students should consider when searching for the best online computer science courses.

  1. What is the programme format? Many online courses are highly flexible – allowing you to learn in your time, at your own speed, from anywhere in the world – but it’s worth looking into whether the course operates on a full-time, part-time, or fully flexible basis. Enrolment dates will also vary, with some offering multiple starts across the academic year.
  2. What is your specialism? If you’re fascinated by human-computer interaction (HCI), you may want to find an online degree that features greater concentrations of AI and ML content. Course content differs between online computer science degrees, so double-check that programmes cover the relevant topics and modules.
  3. What is your budget? Comparing programme fees – as well as any grants, bursaries or financial aid offered by different institutions – will help you to find the right online course for your budget.
  4. What universities rank highly for computer science? Taking into account subject rankings – such as those published by Times Higher Education – can help narrow your search, helping to choose a programme that is highly regarded and recognised by employers.
  5. How would you like to be assessed? Does the programme assess by means of coursework or examinations? Finding this information out can help you play to your strengths and reach your potential.
  6. Is accreditation a critical factor? Some online programmes will be accredited by professional bodies, for example the British Computer Society (BTS), which may be useful to factor in.
  7. What are the entry requirements? Ensure you meet the admissions requirements (such as your GPA), together with any other prerequisites (such as a GRE General Test).

Ready to embark on your next venture in the exciting field of computing and information systems?

Whatever your academic or employment background, gain the skills to succeed in a computer science career with Wrexham University’s online MSc Computer Science with Software Engineering programme.

Explore the practical science of software systems and computer programming, on a highly flexible, online master’s degree programme that caters to the needs of real-world, commercial businesses. With course content designed to help you succeed in your future computing and information career – whatever your aspirations – you’ll gain in-depth understanding of the fundamentals of computer architecture, systems, software, and safeguarding. Elective modules will span software development, mobile application development, programming languages, operating systems and systems engineering, computer engineering, cloud computing, data structures, data mining and algorithms, and much more.