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Career Advice

The History (and Maybe the Future) of Computer Science

You may have heard the entire buzz surrounding computer sciences and wonder if this hype is really worth your time and energy. Although computers were first conceptualized way back in the early 1930s, the field of computer science wasn’t established in a university until the 1960s. Since then, computer sciences departments began popping up on several college campuses and now every reputable university in America wouldn’t be complete without a thriving computer science program. Little is known about the history of computer programming as a degree, but what is certain is that this concentration will continue to grow and produce talented professionals for several years to come.

The First Computer Science Department

The inaugural computer science department was established at Purdue University, which is located in West Lafayette, Indiana. The first few years of the program, which was originally considered part of the university’s Division of Mathematical Sciences, were modest; instructors spent these crucial first years establishing a curriculum and designing course schedules for the handful of students interested in this virtually unknown concentration. By the 1970s, Purdue University’s computer science department began to flourish, which led to the formation of similar divisions in 15 colleges across the United States. By the 1980s, the majority of college campuses featured a variety of computer science courses, and many weren’t equipped to handle this influx of interested students. It’s believed that during the early 80s, approximately 9% of all college students were majoring in computer science. From the early 1960s to the present, computer science has transformed from an anomaly to the department of choice at several major universities.

Why is Computer Science So Popular?

Although every student will tell you a different reason for seeking a degree in computer science, there seem to be several key reasons why this once obscure concentration is now a hot commodity on several college campuses. One main motivation seems to be the fascination with computers and the need to fulfill several technological curiosities. Many students also enjoy the major’s diversity, which in turn allows them to either specialize or gain a general knowledge of the many facets of computer sciences. Ultimately, the biggest draw for several eager future computer science professionals is the opportunity to earn a hefty salary. Many talented and well-educated computer science graduates are commanding impressive salaries, especially those that obtain a Master’s degree in the field.

Top Reasons to Pursue Computer Science

Aside from a passion for technology and a healthy thirst for knowledge, there are several other practical and financially motivated reasons to pursue a degree in computer science.

  • The opportunity to collaborate. Long gone are the days of tired computer programmers and IT specialists sitting hunched over a desk in a poorly lit basement office. Today’s computer science professionals are working with a variety of other departments to ensure they, and the company, succeed.
  • The endless fascination. The world of information technology and several other aspects of computer science are constantly evolving, allowing you to be on the cutting edge of major technological advances. You can proudly tell your friends and peers you were there and participated in a groundbreaking scientific innovation.
  • The chances for advancement and longevity. Computers aren’t going anywhere, and many people enter this field simply because their jobs are secure due to this fact. Depending on your degree level, it’s possible to advance into executive and supervisory-level positions that often command six-figure salaries.
  • Opportunities at several skill levels. Although it doesn’t hurt to attain a Master’s or Ph.D., many are finding well-paying, entry level jobs with a certificate or diploma from a community college.

The Future of Computer Science

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for those seeking employment in computer science is very favorable, and at 19 percent, is above-average compared to several other careers. The world’s ever-growing dependence on computers is creating several opportunities for computer science graduates with a variety of degrees and levels of education. There will always be computer issues to fix, code to write and information technology to monitor, which means that computer science majors can breathe a deep sigh of relief at the idea that their field isn’t going anywhere.

Computer science is a popular major, you are even able to get an online computer science degree, but rest assured:  it isn’t for everyone. The coursework is often demanding and requires a particular skill set, such as above average abilities in math. If you are able to handle the workload and give your studies 100 percent, you’ll find the job prospects and opportunities for advancement make seeking a degree in computer science a sound investment.

This guest post article was provided by James Bird.  James is a freelance writer and full time student who is currently working towards his Master of Public Health.


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