Is An Associate's Degree In Computer Science Worth It?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 13 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When you consider pursuing a university degree in computer science, you may consider the merits of an associate's degree compared to that of a bachelor's degree or another course of study. Pursuing an associate's degree in computer science may create opportunities where you can develop the skills you need through your education. Understanding what an associate's degree in computer science is, and whether it is worth it, can help you decide if this is the correct path for you.

In this article, we discuss whether an associate's degree in computer science is worth it, then describe what an associate's degree is, look at what computer science is, and talk about skills you can gain from this course of study.

Is An Associate's Degree In Computer Science Worth It?

There are many factors to consider whether an associate's degree in computer science is worth it. Below are brief descriptions of these factors:

  • Advanced education: Once you earn an associate's degree, it can become easier to pursue a more advanced education, such as a bachelor's or master's degree.

  • Career prospects: An associate's degree in computer science can open more roles in the computer science and information technology (IT) fields. For example, you can find roles as a web developer, IT specialist or software developer.

  • Financial investment: An associate's degree is a college degree but has the benefit of being less expensive than a bachelor's degree or a master's degree. You can earn an associate's degree, then get work experience and save money before pursuing a more advanced degree.

  • Time investment: Most associate's degree programmes take two years to complete if you are attending classes full time. This means you do not have to leave your profession for an extended period, helping you maintain your professional networks and positions.

Depending on your unique combination of the above factors, you may find that pursuing an associate's degree is definitely worth the investments you make towards achieving that goal.

Related: 20 Best Computer Science Jobs In India (With Salaries)

What Is An Associate's Degree?

An associate's degree is a university degree you can pursue. Typically, an associate's degree is a shorter course of study than a bachelor's degree. It takes approximately two years to complete if you are a full-time student, though you can often complete them at your own pace. Organisations hire professionals who have an associate's degree because they have a university-level education but still have plenty of techniques, skills and other concepts they can learn from their roles. For professionals with this degree, it can be useful for finding entry-level roles in computer science because they have knowledge of the field.

Related: 8 Career Goals For College Students (With Examples And Tips)

What Is Computer Science?

Computer science is a field of study focused on learning how computation, automation and information can improve the lives of people. It often has some key differences with computer programming, though they have some overlapping fields such as coding. Computer science has many disciplines, which range from theoretical to practical. Theoretical fields include:

  • Algorithms

  • Theory of computation

  • Information theory

Practical disciplines in computer science include ones such as:

  • Software design

  • Software implementation

  • Hardware design

  • Hardware implementation

  • Computer engineering

Related: Computer Skills: Definition And Example

Computer science curriculum

When you pursue an associate's degree in computer science, you have a curriculum you follow to earn your degree. Since an associate's degree is shorter than a bachelor's or master's degree, you may have fewer classes to take for your general education and spend more time in classes related to computer science. You may still have general education classes such as:

  • Writing

  • Communication

  • History

  • Languages

For classes related to computer science, you may find ones in topics like:

  • Information technology

  • Software development

  • Application development

  • Cyber security

  • Coding

  • Mathematics

  • Hardware design

  • Computer engineering

Related: What Are The Courses After 12th Computer Science? (Job Roles)

Skills You Can Gain From An Associate's Degree In Computer Science

When you pursue an associate's degree in computer science, there are many skills you can gain from the curriculum. Below are descriptions of skills you can gain:

Advanced mathematics

Part of pursuing a course in computer science involves learning mathematics to support other aspects of the field. For example, you may learn how to create algorithms computers can use or codes they can follow. Both areas of computer science need a level of mathematics so they can make accurate decisions based on data within their computer systems. You may also use advanced mathematics to create designs for hardware. For example, you may design hardware with specific sizes and properties using mathematics as your guide. You may also create software capable of making calculations, for which you check the accuracy.

Coding

Depending on your degree concentration, you may learn the basics of multiple programming languages you can use on the job. For example, you may learn HTML, CSS and Java as a web development student. You may learn a combination of Python, Ruby, C#, Swift and other programming languages as a software and application development student. If you pursue information systems as your discipline, you might learn languages like SQL and other database languages. In some programmes, you may learn the basics of many languages or become an expert in a few that are vital to your career.

Related: What Is Coding? A Complete Guide To Coding Languages

Communication

Another skill you can gain from pursuing an associate's degree in computer science is communication. Communication is the ability to convey thoughts and information to other people. During your classes, you may describe advanced concepts to other students and your professors and create documents or write papers about concepts you learn or projects you complete. Communication is helpful in professional roles because it can help you understand the concepts your colleagues use for their roles. It is also important because specific roles you take may require you to understand concepts or be able to learn them to perform your duties.

Creativity

Creativity is another skill you may learn during your associate's degree in computer science. Creativity is the ability to create original ideas. In computer science, having imaginative ideas about how you want your projects to perform can help you create robust systems, solve challenges you may encounter, and make predictions about what challenges you may experience and prevent them. Creativity can also help you use other skills you gain during this course of study, such as communication, technical writing, coding and problem-solving. Finally, creativity can help you network with other professionals in your field, especially if they have diverse backgrounds.

Read more: What Are Creativity Skills? (With Examples And Benefits)

Data analysis

Being able to organise, analyse and draw conclusions from data sets is a vital skill for many computer science roles. An associate degree program may teach you skills in mathematical statistics, data science, data management and visualisation tools and critical analysis. Data analysis also includes skills to make predictions using the data you collect. When you study computer science, you may take classes that teach you how to collect, clean and organise data so you can use it for a variety of calculations, forecasts or other methods, depending on the roles you have.

Database management

Businesses use databases for a variety of purposes, including to store digital files or organise data. Many computer science degree programmes provide you with at least the basic skills, including relevant programming languages and secure practices, to manage databases for web and software applications or internal systems. If you specialise in a field where database management is a large part of the job, then you may learn advanced concepts and practices while pursuing your profession. Specialised education can help you get specific roles, while generalised courses can get you roles in a variety of roles in computer science.

Problem-solving

Problem-solving is the ability to identify challenges, create solutions and implement them so you do not experience them long-term. By itself, this skill can help you create solutions in computer science fields, such as overcoming the conditions that exist in the field. For example, problem-solving can help you find unique solutions to challenges such as needing a code to perform specific tasks within a computer system. Problem-solving can also help you combine your other skills to find solutions. For example, problem-solving uses creativity, communication and analysis to overcome challenges, especially in a team environment which you experience as a student.

Read more: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions And Examples

Technical writing

Technical writing is a skill you can use to create documentation for various aspects of the computer science field. Organisations use technical writing to describe their products and their functions to people external to the organisation. This type of writing is helpful in areas such as computer hardware, computer software, application development and computer engineering. As you learn this skill, you can develop the ability to describe complex designs, machines and codes to other people in a way they understand. For example, you can describe how a software system can accomplish tasks for a customer, increasing sales for your organisation.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.

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