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Is a Computer Science Degree Worth It?

People working on laptops at a shared desk.

Generative AI has changed the upcoming landscape of work for many industries. Computer science is a field that seems to be in the crosshairs of AI. Already AI can create lines of code.

Despite the looming uncertainty, computer science (CS) is still a growing field that offers professionals opportunities for growth. However, the cost of education is always increasing. So, is getting a bachelor's degree in computer science worth it?

How Much Does a Computer Science Degree Cost?

The cost of a CS degree will vary greatly from institution to institution. There are several ways you can go about getting this degree and each option will change how much you’ll have to pay.

University or College

You can expect to pay between $35,000-$66,000 if you decide to enroll in an in-person degree program. That doesn’t include housing, food, administrative costs, or books. It also doesn’t include scholarships, which can be very helpful for decreasing the cost of education.

One bonus of attending in-person classes is the ability to network during your time there. You’ll likely make lifelong friends and professors can be helpful when looking for a career-starting job.

Online Degree

Online degree programs are cheaper than in-person programs by a significant margin. Yes, you lose the ability to network with professors and hang out with your peers, but you’ll have extra time outside of classes to focus on finding a job.

Most computer science online programs are accelerated. This means you won’t have to pay for 4 years of schooling. Instead, you could get your degree within a compressed time period. If you’re looking for a cheap, quick way to get your CS degree, an online program is great for you.

Do Your Research

Finding the right program for you is important for making sure you’re successful in your intended career. Do your research before committing to a program.

Important things to consider are scholarships and financial aid options. If you’ll be taking on debt, look for scholarship opportunities and consider attending community college to get your general education courses out of the way for cheap.

A computer science degree is not worth it if you take out too many loans.

A student examining code on computer monitors.

Do You Need a CS Degree to Work in Computer Science?

No. You don’t need a computer science degree to have a successful career in computer science. Like most careers, a degree will only jumpstart your career and perhaps your pay grade. If you have the required skills, you can work in computer science without a CS degree.

How to Work in Computer Science Without a Degree

Getting the right skills and knowledge for working in this field will be an uphill battle for some people. You need to be driven to do it. Here are some tips to break into the computer science field without a degree.

  • Take online courses: This is different from entering an online program. Taking online courses, free and paid, will give you a structured way to learn about computer science, and a certificate as solid proof of your accomplishments. Sometimes, this is the only boost someone needs to jumpstart their career. If you don’t know where to start, our course catalog has several computer science classes.

  • Do Research: scouring online forums to learn from people who are in the field is a great way to gain insight into what the industry is currently looking for. Consider joining the conversation and asking questions.

  • Join a boot camp or certification program: Boot camps are intensive programs that teach coding or other important CS skills. Some of these programs require you to follow a schedule, while other certifications can be completed on your own time.

  • Attend job fairs: Knowing the right person can be the difference between getting hired and not. Attend local job fairs and meet the business leaders in your area. You can also increase your online presence by updating your LinkedIn and networking that way.

  • Online certifications: Certifications are great ways to bolster your resume and prepare you for a new career. These programs can be free, but others cost money. If you’re looking for certification programs, you can apply to receive free tuition for several certifications through the REDC at Yavapai College.

You’ll have to put in a lot of work if you want to go this route. Once you land your first job, don’t stop learning. Continue taking online courses and keep equipping yourself for what’s next.

A laptop opened up to a video meeting class on someone's lap

What Jobs Are Available For Computer Science Majors?

Computer science is a big field, and getting a degree in it means you can work in just about every facet of it. But what are the entry-level jobs? And what career options are available for someone with a computer science degree?


Entry-level computer science jobs are available to those who have just completed a CS degree or people who have learned enough from online courses. Common jobs include:

  • Software developer

  • Tester

  • Information security analyst

  • Computer support specialist

  • IT support

  • Web developer

  • Web designer

Something to look for when looking for an entry-level CS job is the word “Junior”. Some job postings erroneously claim to be entry-level. Make sure the job you’re looking at doesn’t require years of experience, but if the job title includes “junior” or “level-1,” it’s probably a good job to apply for.

Computer Science Career Path

There are always new developments within computer science, but there are several career paths that will stay relevant for a long time. These career paths include:

  • Engineering: Software engineer, site reliability engineer

  • Analyst and Research: Information and computer research, security analyst, quality assurance analyst

  • Design and development: User experience and experience designer, web design

  • Development: Software development, web development, mobile app development

Getting a computer science degree opens the door to a lot of different options. You won’t be put in a corner, but picking an area to become an expert in will make you more appealing.

A laptop and monitor screen displaying code.

Compare The Cost

On average, people who work in computer science make $74,000 a year. However, if you stick to your career path, and things work out, you could be making as much as $160,000 if you land a managerial position.

With that being said, getting a computer science degree without debt is worth it. Everyone’s situation is different, but it’s not recommended to borrow more than you expect to earn within a year of a starting salary.

If you’re able to afford a CS degree, it is worth it. You’ll be able to learn in a structured setting, meet new people and hone your skills before setting off into your career.

Choose Another Option

If you’re unable to receive a degree in computer science—or aren’t sure yet if it’s worth the investment—you can still work in the field. Online courses and certifications can equip you to land an entry-level job and work your way down a career path.

If you're interested in free learning opportunities, the REDC at Yavapai College is excited to assist you in finding paid-for programs that give a wide range of career-oriented certifications. Apply for free certification courses and start your journey toward a fulfilling computer science career.

Home LinkThe REDC is a Division of Yavapai College.Go to yc.edu

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