Computer science is an industry that is ever-changing, so one of the best ways to advance in your field is to earn a masters degree. Masters of computer science programs fall into two main categories – online schools and traditional campus programs. Both can be great educational options; let’s take a look at how they compare so you can find the best school to meet your computer science learning needs.
Advantages of Online Programs
Online programs were, at one time, rarely available and seen as a lessor option compared to traditional campus programs. This is no longer the case. there are a number of advantages to getting your masters of computer science online. These include the following:
- Flexibility: Master’s degree students often have jobs and families – if this is the case for you, you may not be able to just quit your job to go to school full time or move across the country to attend a top program in the computer sciences field. With an online program, you can schedule classes to fit your busy life, rather than having to schedule your life around classes. You also have the flexibility to go to school part time instead of being a full time student.
- Cost: Because you aren’t helping to pay for campus maintenance and student activities, online programs tend to be extremely affordable. Of course, it depends on the program you attend, but if cost is a factor, check out what online schools have to offer. You’ll also save money on gas traveling to and from campus or the cost of room and board.
- Access to the Best Computer Science Professors: As good as a campus college might be, the top professor in your field might teach at another school, on the other side of the country or even on the other side of the world. When you go to school online, you aren’t limited by location. You can get your education from the top minds in computer science, regardless of where they live.
- Forward-Thinking Technologies: In the computer science world, being on the forefront of your industry is important if you want to find a job in this field. Online colleges are often much more advanced when compared to offline options, especially if you’re comparing programs of the same cost.
Advantages of Campus Programs
While online colleges are great, there are also some advantages to campus programs that you should consider. These include the following:
- Internship Opportunities: It depends on the program, of course, and you don’t have to complete and internship to earn a master’s degree in the computer science field – but if this is something that is important to you and you want to take advantage of all the benefits of participating in internships, campus programs might be a better option. Some online schools offer credits for internships, but you almost always have to do the legwork yourself to find internship opportunities, whereas at many campus colleges there are complete internship departments to help students.
- Hands-On Learning: If you go to school virtually, you’ll have training modules, videos, online lectures, and more to help you learn valuable skills in computer sciences – but some students just need that hands-on learning you can only get from an in-person education. If you’re the type of student who needs this kind of environment, campus programs are better.
- Student Activities: Most online colleges don’t have many student activities beyond alumni networks. At campus colleges, however, you can participate in sports, fraternities and sororities, clubs, honors organizations, and more. You and your virtual classmates don’t have the opportunity to get to know one another at an online school. If you’re a busy parent or work full time, you might not mind the unavailability of these student options (remember, it keeps the costs lower), but if you do want that “college experience” you’re going to find it more readily at a typical campus college.
How to Decide
So how do you decide which type of program is right for you? Start by considering your educational preferences. As an undergrad did you value independent work, or were you the type of student who thrived on group projects and spent a lot of time in professors’ offices? Then, consider your current lifestyle. Do you need the flexibility of an online program to fit classes into your busy lifestyle or are you hoping to have more of a college experience that can only be found on campuses? Lastly, check out both online and offline options. It can help you make a decision by going on tours, either virtually or in-person, and asking questions.