What is Computer Studies?
Computer studies degree programs exist to teach students about computers in a general sense, without specializing in a specific aspect of the industry. These programs may touch on many different aspects of working with computers: hardware design, computer programming, software development, web design and information systems networks, to name a few.
There is a wide range of degree and certificate programs available for students who are interested in computer studies. Some are geared toward students who are just beginning their college education, while others are directed at those already working in an industry who wish to learn about computers. Many of these programs can even be pursued online.
Is a Major in Computer Studies Right for You?
If you are interested in how computers work, and have often wished that you could design your own computer programs, design a web site, or just operate computer applications more effectively, you may want to consider applying to a degree program in computer studies.
Some common characteristics of people who graduate from degree programs in computer studies include:
- Computer literacy
- Communication skills
- Critical thinking
- High level of organization
- Logical thinking
- Reading comprehension
- Writing skills
- Deductive reasoning
- Electronics knowledge
Online colleges and universities may also offer online degree programs in computer studies -- flexible programs that can offer more convenient education for an individual who is working and/or trying to raise a family than on-campus programs.
Career Education in Computer Studies
Computer studies is a very broad field, so there are many training options available in both a traditional college setting and in an online learning environment. Some courses use a combination of online learning and classroom work. Others require the student to complete a certain amount of work-study time in the computer field before graduating. Students should be sure to carefully research the programs they are interested in before applying in order to make sure that the degree program suits the needs and the learning style of the student.
Certificates in Computer Studies
Most certificate programs in computer studies are intended for students who already have some computer training but wish to specialize within their field in order to enhance their careers. These computer studies certificate programs each have a different emphasis. Many programs are available online or through flexible distance learning programs. Credits earned from certificate programs can often be applied to earning a Bachelor degree should the student decide to enroll in an undergraduate degree program in computer studies.
Some examples of certificates that can be earned in the field of computer studies include:
- Web technology
- Computer science
- Computer information systems
- PC hardware
- Web page design and development
- Computer studies education
If you use computers at your work and are interested in learning more about them, there is a good chance that your employer would be willing to pay for your education in earning a computer studies certificate. Employers are always eager for those already working for them to become more proficient in computers. For them, it means that they won't have to hire more workers with computer specialization. For you, it could mean upward mobility in your company.
Associate Degrees in Computer Studies
Most students who enroll in an associate degree program for computer studies find themselves exposed to the basics of computer programming, networking, Internet operations, web design, how to use most common applications, and more. Some students may pick up an emphasis or concentration in order to customize what aspects of computers they focus on in their program.
Earning an associate degree in computer studies also requires the student to fulfill several general education requirements in the following areas, such as math, science, social studies, English and humanities. Associate's degree programs typically last two years for students enrolled full-time, though some can be completed in less time.
Credits earned while the student is pursuing an associate degree typically can be transferred to a bachelor's degree program in a similar or related field. Students may also choose to earn certificates in specific aspects of computer studies in order to supplement their computer studies education.
Bachelor's Degrees in Computer Studies
Bachelor's degree programs in computer studies are concerned with giving the student a general computer studies education in a liberal arts setting. The first two years of bachelor's degree training in computer studies usually consists of lower-division computer courses and general education requirements. Computer courses taken during this time are likely to include beginning programming courses, applications courses, and networking courses.
The final two years of study in a computer studies degree program are usually more intensively centered around computer training. The student typically takes upper-division courses that may emphasize advanced programming languages, software development, systems analysis, and maintenance. Computer diagnosis and problem-solving skills may be developed through classes taught in computer laboratories, as well as through work-study programs.
What Can You Do With a College Degree in Computer Studies?
There are many career options available for those who have earned a degree in computer studies. Since computers have become central to doing business in today's environment, companies in every industry have people on staff specifically to design, maintain, and manage their computer information systems. This means that those with computer knowledge can look for work in nearly any industry they choose.
Technical Support Staff
Technical support is an increasingly popular job choice for those looking for entry-level positions in the field of computer studies. This requires assisting individuals in a variety of industries, helping them identify and solve computer problems either over the phone, via e-mail, or in person.
This job requires excellent communication skills and quite a bit of patience. Technical support staff personnel often communicate with people who do not know very much about computers. This means that the support staff must be able to explain procedures in simple terms so that the individual they are trying to help can understand. They also must be careful listeners in order to understand the nature of the problem as their client attempts to explain it to them.
Understanding computers can also help you sell them. Buyers want to be certain that the computer they are purchasing is going to fulfill their needs. Knowing the ins and outs of a product and what specifically makes it different from the competition can be both reassuring to the customer and beneficial to the salesperson.
Some smaller companies do not have the means or the need to keep an entire technical support team on staff. These companies may decide to hire a technical consultant. Technical consultants work with their clients to decide upon the hardware, software, systems and upgrades that might be necessary, then help to acquire and set up the agreed-upon technology. After it has been installed, they may help to train the company's employees and/or offer other technical support for a short time thereafter. These professionals may work individually as freelancers, or coordinate through a consultation firm.
If an individual has a penchant for programming languages, they can make a good career out of being a computer programmer. Computer programmers take specific instructions and design parameters and translate them into a language the computer can understand. This means that the programmer must have very good communication skills, as they must understand what their employer wants and then tell the computer exactly how to do it. Programmers usually know more than one programming language, including Visual Basic, JAVA, and C++.