What is Computer Science Graduate Certificate Programs? How are they different from a Computer Science Masters Degree?


Finding your place in computer science is one of the most crucial choices you can make throughout your studies. It can be frustrating and tedious to research available opportunities, but focusing on what you want to do and doing it diligently can give you the greatest chance of success.

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Graduates interested in pursuing a career in computer science should take advantage of a rapidly expanding profession that offers a wide range of options and potentially lucrative opportunities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), from 2018 to 2028, demand for computer and information technology jobs will skyrocket. Over that time frame, the BLS predicts a 12 percent rise in employment growth in the sector, which is slightly higher than the national average for all occupations. Some occupations, such as computer and information research scientist, are expected to grow much faster.

What is a Computer Science Certificate?

A graduate certificate in computer science is a course of study that teaches students about the basics of coding theory, programming paradigms, and mathematical principles. Evidence methods, algorithm analysis, combinatorics, finite automata, and discrete data structures will all be included. Participants in the program will also learn how to write object-oriented applications.

Online Certificate in Computer Science from Drexel University

This online computer science graduate certificate is a 5-course (15-credit) diploma program. It’s appropriate for those with a bachelor’s degree in a subject other than computer science.

Students will tailor their research schedule by taking an elective while also focusing on the basics. Many online students complete the certificate in one year because it includes fewer subjects than a full master’s program.

Drexel’s online computer science certificate program also serves as a stepping stone to master’s degrees in computer science, software engineering, and cybersecurity. To do so, you must complete the certificate with a B or better. Then take 14 additional courses to complete your master’s degree.

Online Graduate Certificate in Human-Computer Interaction from Iowa State University

Iowa State University’s Human Computer Interaction Graduate Program offers an online Graduate Certificate in Human Computer Interaction (HCI). Students employed in the private or public sector can engage in distance learning courses to learn more about HCI without needing to fly to the ISU campus or commit to a full graduate program.

How long does it take to complete the Computer Science Certificate?

Computer science certificate programs take less time compared to masters degrees. Usually between 8 – 24 months. The duration may vary depending on courses offered, institution, mode of the program and students’ effort.

Duration of Online Certificate in Computer Science from Drexel University

This curriculum is divided into four 10-week quarters a year (rather than the standard two semesters), allowing you to complete more classes with less time. 1.5 quarter credits are equal to one semester credit.

Duration of Online Graduate Certificate in Human-Computer Interaction from Iowa State University

If a student takes two courses per semester, the certificate can be obtained in one year, or two years if a student takes one course per semester.

What do you learn In a Computer Science Certificate?

What do you learn in Online Certificate in Computer Science from Drexel University?

Drexel University’s online Certificate in Computer Science program teaches fundamental philosophy, scripting, and other technological skills. It’s ideal for students with a bachelor’s degree who want to update their resume and take on new challenges. You’ll gain the expertise you’ll need in digital computing and related fields, many of which are rapidly expanding fields with a high demand for tech-savvy jobs.

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Courses offered in Online Certificate in Computer Science from Drexel University

  • Introduction to Programming
  • Data Structures and Algorithms
  • Systems Basics
  • Introduction to Software Design
  • Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
  • Data Structures & Algorithms I
  • Developing User Interfaces
  • Computer Networks
  • Programming Languages
  • Machine Learning
  • Web Services and Mobile Architectures
  • Software Design
  • Software Reliability and Testing

What do you learn in Online Graduate Certificate in Human-Computer Interaction from Iowa State University?

The Core Curriculum in Human Computer Interaction is an interdisciplinary educational opportunity that will provide students with specialized information technology training designed to promote career advancement by distance education. Industry has expressed an increasing need for a technical degree centered on the user interface.

Engineering-LAS Online Learning has online courses that use digital media over the internet. The program consists of four three-credit graduate courses in Human Computer Interaction (three core courses and one elective), totaling 12 credits. The courses include recorded lectures delivered via streaming media technology, as well as teacher-student engagement via chat, email, and phone calls.

Courses offered in Online Graduate Certificate in Human-Computer Interaction from Iowa State University

The certificate consists of four courses (12 credit hours), including:

  • Organizational and Social Implications of HCI, OR
  • Design and Ethics, OR
  • Communication Technologies and Social Change, OR
  • Communication Technology and Social Change, OR
  • Perspectives in HCI, OR
  • Cognitive Psychology of Human Computer Interaction, OR
  • Computer Graphics and Geometric Modeling, OR
  • Virtual Worlds and Applications, OR
  • Python Application Development in HCI

One Elective Course. Suggested electives include, but are not limited to:

  • Evaluating Digital Learning Environments
  • Computational Analysis of English
  • Scientific Methods in HCI
  • Optimization Methods for Complex Designs
  • Computational Implementation and Prototyping
  • Models and Theories in Human Computer Interaction
  • Visual Design for HCI
  • Emerging Practices in Human Computer Interaction
  • Cognitive Engineering
  • Human Factors
  • Foundations of Game-based Learning
  • Learn to Speak AI
  • Qualitative Research Methods in HCI

How much does a Computer Science Certificate cost?

The cost of a computer science certificate may vary by many factors like institution, curriculum offered, students’ residential status, and the model(on-campus or online) of the program students enrolled in. Usually, the total cost can range between $8,000 – $20,000. 

Tuition cost of Online Certificate in Computer Science from Drexel University

Total number of credits – 15

Cost per credit – $1,342

Total tuition cost – $20,130

Tuition cost of Online Graduate Certificate in Human-Computer Interaction from Iowa State University

Tuition cost for resident students

Total number of credits – 12

Cost per credit – $695

Total tuition cost – $8,340

Tuition cost for non-resident students

Total number of credits – 12

Cost per credit – $1,550

Total tuition cost – $18,600

What are the career benefits of doing a Certificate in Computer Science?

Graduate certificate programs, especially online graduate certificate programs, have increased in popularity over the last 15 years as more colleges and universities diversify their program offerings in order to draw more non-traditional students. 

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The benefits of obtaining a graduate certificate are straightforward: graduate certificates are an effective way of improving in-demand proficiencies, adding additional technical qualifications, and developing a higher level of experience in competitive fields. As compared to advanced degree programs, they are less costly and require less time investment, and they frequently have more streamlined admissions criteria (e.g., no GRE or GMAT scores required). A graduate certificate can be a suitable alternative to a master’s degree for practitioners seeking to progress in their current job or those looking to shift careers.

Furthermore, in some fields, receiving a graduate certificate may be a simple way to satisfy continued education standards as well as requirements for particular forms of technical licensure. Finally, while a graduate certificate is not the same as a master’s degree, many graduate degree programs will accept credits received through a graduate certificate program for a master’s degree if students choose to continue their education after their certificate program is completed.

What is an Online Computer Science Master’s Degree?

A master’s degree in computer science (CS) helps current computer scientists and engineers to extend their skills and acquire a more nuanced understanding of creation, troubleshooting, and other topics. Computer science master’s programs address subjects such as programming languages, software development, complex algorithms, and more.

Online Master of Software Engineering from Brandeis University

The switch to the cloud and IoT has spawned a slew of new, exciting, and quickly evolving software engineering applications.

With this online masters degree students will be able to keep up with industry developments with a real-world program that is updated on a daily basis after a thorough review by a board of software engineer industry leaders. The coursework will be instantly relevant to their professional work in software design, creation, validation, and maintenance.

Students can learn to create software solutions using various best practices, languages, technology, and life cycle methods in small classes of no more than 20 students.

Online Master of Computer Science Online from The University of Texas at Austin

This online Master of Science in Computer Science program offers a scalable learning experience that facilitates informal contact between professors and students. The curriculum provides intensive instruction in fields such as advanced systems programming, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, and is taught by UT faculty, many of whom are award-winning pioneers in the CS science community.

Online Master’s in Computer Engineering from Syracuse University

Industry is developing and leveraging emerging innovations in fields such as machine learning, system design, robotics, and systems engineering in an increasingly digitized environment. The Master of Science in Computer Engineering program at Syracuse University teaches students how to design cutting-edge hardware, software, and secure solutions for new and emerging systems.

Students in this immersive and demanding online master’s program in computer engineering will learn the critical-thinking skills required to fill key positions and solve difficult technological challenges in a variety of environments.

How long does it take to complete the online Computer Science master’s degree?

The time to complete a masters degree in computer science may vary by many factors like curriculum offered, how many hours a student dedicates, and also the model (part-time or full-time) students enrolled in. Normally students who enrolled in a full-time program may complete the degree in 2 years or 3 – 5 years if they enrolled in a part-time program. And with an accelerated program students can complete the computer science masters degree in less than 2 years.

Duration of Online Master of Software Engineering from Brandeis University

This fully online 30 credit online master degree is a part-time program which can be completed in 2 – 3 years.

Duration of Online Master of Computer Science Online from The University of Texas at Austin

This online masters program can take 1.5 – 3 years to complete depending on students’ effort.

Duration of Online Master’s in Computer Engineering from Syracuse University

This online masters degree program can be completed in 2 – 3 years

What do you learn In an Online Computer Science Masters Degree?

What do you learn in the Online Master of Software Engineering from Brandeis University? 

Students who finish the curriculum will be able to:

  • Plan, build, run, and manage computing systems using software engineering best practices.
  • Build technological applications in the framework of various corporate systems using various tools, developers, and life-cycle methods, with demonstrated Java programming skills.
  • To meet software development project priorities, collaborate and engage with team members and other stakeholders.
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Courses offered in Online Master of Software Engineering from Brandeis University

Required courses

  • Expert Software Development in Java
  • Object-oriented Design with UML
  • Software Development Methodologies
  • Release Control and Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (DevOps)
  • Software Testing Techniques
  • Software Engineering Studio

Sample electives

  • Software Development in Java
  • Mobile Applications and Responsive Web Design
  • Software Development in C++
  • Functional Programming with Java and Scala
  • Python Programming

What do you learn in the Online Master of Computer Science Online from The University of Texas at Austin?

The program includes foundational coursework that gives students a wide knowledge of the area, as well as elective coursework on topics that are in high demand in business (e.g. integrated systems programming, machine learning, and artificial intelligence), allowing students to adapt their research to their own needs. Students take weekly classes through the edX website and are guided and tested by UT Austin faculty and staff on rigorous assignments, programming tasks, and detailed tests that integrate computer science concepts with applied, project-based learning using real-world techniques and environments. Students also take part in peer grading of tasks to ensure that they comprehend the content fully.

Courses offered in Online Master of Computer Science Online from The University of Texas at Austin

  • Machine Learning
  • Advanced Operating Systems
  • Parallel Systems
  • Optimization
  • Deep Learning
  • Advanced Linear Algebra for Computing
  • Algorithms: Techniques and Theory
  • Online Learning and Optimization
  • Reinforcement Learning: Theory and Practice
  • Android Programming
  • Natural Language Processing
  • Virtualization

What do you learn in Online Master’s in Computer Engineering from Syracuse University?

Students will learn creative thought techniques to address information engineering problems in fields such as security and assurance, network systems, computer architecture, and advanced programming through the computer engineering curriculum. To that end, the curriculum puts a heavy focus on a variety of learning goals, including:

  • Conducting operations research to build prototypes that satisfy demands and product criteria, 
  • Recognizing the consequences of new knowledge for problem-solving and decision-making, and 
  • Improving judgment and decision-making skills for weighing risks and advantages of future activities are all valuable skills to acquire.

Courses offered in Online Master’s in Computer Engineering from Syracuse University

Core courses include:

  • Object Oriented Design
  • Advanced Computer Architecture
  • Advanced Data Structures and Algorithms
  • Introduction to System-on-Chip Design

Elective options include:

  • Internet Security
  • Object-Oriented Programming C++
  • Mobile Application Programming
  • Machine Learning

How much does an online Computer Science master’s degree cost?

The computer science masters program tuition cost will vary depending on whether the university is private or public, students’ residential status, number of credits offered, and model(part-time or full-time). Normally the cost of private universities costs more compared to public universities. And the total tuition cost of the degree can range between $10,000 – $100,000.

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Tuition cost of Online Master of Software Engineering from Brandeis University

Total number of credits – 30

Cost per credit – $589

Total tuition cost – $17,670

Tuition cost of Online Master of Computer Science Online from The University of Texas at Austin

Total number of course – 10 

Cost per credit – $1,000

Total tuition cost – $10,000

Tuition cost of Online Master’s in Computer Engineering from Syracuse University

Total number of credits – 30

Cost per credit – $1,683 

Total tuition cost – $50,490

What are the career benefits of doing an online masters in Computer Science?

Individuals seeking a graduate degree would be pleased to learn that a master’s degree in computer science has some benefits. While a master’s degree requires an additional two years of study and increases student debt, the benefits may outweigh the drawbacks. Here are five benefits of obtaining a Master’s degree in computer science.

  • Increased understanding

It stands to reason that the higher a student’s degree level, the better he or she can understand. Students learn about computer programming, computer architecture, data structures, and algorithms in computer science programs. Although they will learn about these topics in all bachelor’s  degree,  master’s degree students will learn about them in greater depth. Graduate students typically have a wider range of specialization options. Students seeking a master’s degree in computer science will have more chances to engage in summer internships and academic ventures, which will provide them with more skills and experience.

  • High-paying jobs

One of the most important reasons people want a graduate degree is to be able to earn a higher salary. Master’s degree holders receive 28% more over their career, demonstrating that obtaining a graduate degree can, in practice, result in a rise in salary.

Having said that, the wage rise that comes with a master’s degree in computer science significantly outpaces the national average. Software development engineer, with an average salary of $114,125, and computer scientist, with an average salary of $111,405, are two of the highest-paying positions held by MS in CS degree holders.

  • A wider network

In today’s business climate, networking is increasingly necessary. Social media has made it easier to do business with businesses from all over the world. Most of this is accomplished by networking. Master’s degree holders in computer science would have more networking options, not only with other professors and peers, but also with prospective employers. They are able to interact, work, and learn from a larger variety of people.

  • Advancement in your career

Because computers have become such an integral part of our lives, they are used in almost every business. Because everyone seems to want to work in a computer-related field, computer science is a very competitive field. An applicant who is competing for a popular computer job will benefit from a graduate degree in computer science. A master’s degree is likely to be more impressive than a bachelor’s degree, especially if work experience is included. In some cases, a master’s degree is the only way for a student to enter a particular field. Some occupations necessitate a master’s degree. According to a survey conducted by Career Builder, 33% of employers now require master’s degrees for jobs that previously required only a bachelor’s degree.

Which one should I take – Computer Science Certificate or an Online Computer Science Masters Degree?

Depending on the goals, all graduate certificates in computer science and master’s degrees have advantages and disadvantages. You can quickly pick the program that best meets your needs by taking into consideration some of the core factors that distinguish them.

Both options are excellent if you want to progress your computer science career and thereby improve your earning potential. However, if you want to move faster, you can enroll in a computer science graduate certificate program. Why is this so? A graduate certificate program in computer science can be completed in less than a year because it only teaches you the knowledge you need and does not go deeper into the computer science area. Furthermore, since the curriculum is not as comprehensive as that of a computer science master’s degree, these programs will be less expensive. Graduate certificate programs are also the best option if you want to pursue a computer science master’s degree in the future since credits obtained in these programs will usually be applied to a master’s degree.

When it comes to computer science master’s degrees, on the other hand, they provide you with a rigorous program that exposes you to specialized topics. A master’s degree would also increase your career prospects as well as your earning potential. Because of the comprehensive program, these degrees are typically more expensive and require longer to complete than a graduate certificate. Also, if you intend to do a Ph.D., you can pursue a master’s degree.

Computer Science Certificate vs Computer Science Masters Degree

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