Do you really need a computer science degree?

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I am currently a college student, however I am thinking about getting
a job in IT or maybe a job in software. My current degree is in
communications and I was wondering if switching majors to computer
science would be worth it.

Would it be best to just complete my communications degree and get an
associates or minor in computer science? How worth it would this path
be? I was also wondering if I should just study computers and get
certifications on my own and how useful this path would be? If this
path is advisable what are some books and certifications would I need?

-- Kamuela Kaneshiro, January 8, 2009


Nearly all the new IT jobs will be in health care, since that is what is being funded by our planned economy. You might be best off learning about the business and practice of health care, with some CS courses on the side.

-- Philip Greenspun, March 6, 2009

In short, no, you don't need one. I'm a 24-year-old software engineer with no degree and things are coming along just fine.

The problem is that most people don't know anything about the IT / software field, so when they are hiring, all they know as far as prerequisites are concerned is to put down a BS. And what else would they pick but Computer Science? There is, however, a good deal of merit to taking some of those classes, the real basics of computing and such. It'll help you out a good deal more than you might think.

-- Evan G, January 25, 2009

It depends what type of job you want. If you just want to design and program business software, then perhaps not. However, if you are interested in scientific types of programming (navigation systems, flight simulators, etc) then a degree is required. Any type of programming that requires a high level of mathematics is where the CS degree comes in handy. Developers without degrees will have difficulty competing with developers with degrees (especially those with degrees from big name CS schools). The same developers will not have the background to do things like algorithm analysis, proofs, etc.

-- Tom T, September 25, 2009

If you are serious about a career in IT, it may be well worth to get a computer degree. Without relevant education, you might find the going pretty tough in the job market. Just think of it this way, you�ll be competing with people who have a computer related degree for a job. Why would an employer prefer you over them unless you demonstrate exceptional talent? To level the playing field, I would suggest getting a computer science degree. You can also consider a minor in CS if you don�t want to change your major!

-- Neal Gray, April 22, 2011