Why Get an Online Master's in Computer Science?

computer scientest looking at computer screen
computer scientest looking at computer screen

An Master of Computer Science degree puts you on track for innovations inconceivable only a few years ago. Software engineers, data analysts and other practitioners are wise to heed the words of computer scientist Alan Kay:

“Computer science inverts the normal. In normal science, you're given a world, and your job is to find out the rules. In computer science, you give the computer the rules, and it creates the world.”

The nearly boundless potential for breakthroughs creates exceptional demand among employers for computer science professionals. For example, completing an online master’s degree in computer science helps fill the 3,500-person shortage of software engineers across Canada. A global shortage of computer science experts means your master’s degree in computer science opens possibilities around the world.

The benefits of an online master’s degree in computer science, including one from Wilfrid Laurier University, extend beyond landing your first post-graduate job. You aren’t simply building on your undergraduate studies; you are preparing for future possibilities. We start our exploration of why this graduate degree is beneficial by looking at the long-term benefits.

An Online Master of Computer Science Elevates Career Options

Having an online master of computer science degree brings advanced jobs within reach after graduation. In-depth explorations of complex industry-related topics, plus a portfolio of graduate projects, show employers your value. Your specialized knowledge and skills translate into a higher career ceiling and improved salary prospects.

Computer scientists understand the growing seamlessness between technology and humanity. An online master’s degree in computer science provides advanced technical skills and ethical grounding to further develop these connections.

Dr. Robert Sedgewick made this point in arguing for computer science education:

“Programming is an intellectually satisfying experience, and certainly useful, but computer science is about much more than just programming. The understanding of what we can and cannot do with computation is arguably the most important intellectual achievement of the past century, and it has led directly to the development of the computational infrastructure that surrounds us.”

Setting Yourself Apart with a Graduate Education

Dr. Sedgwick’s argument applies generally to computer science courses at the university level. Specializing in computer science at the graduate level goes beyond programming to bring innovations to the marketplace.

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) details how an online master’s degree in computer science helps your career. ACM suggests that a graduate degree acts as a tiebreaker for future job applications and promotions. Employers consider your graduate degree as a valuable asset when compared to colleagues with undergraduate degrees.

You can also branch out from the workplace into academia with an online master’s degree in computer science. PayScale places the average adjunct professor salary at $39,305 for early-career professionals and $67,407 for experienced practitioners. You can earn a solid second income imparting your specialized knowledge on future computer scientists.

Startup founders and consultants also benefit from the prestige of an online master’s degree in computer science. The competition for clients is high, and you can jump ahead of competitors by completing a graduate degree. Your online master’s degree in computer science shows a depth of knowledge gained through rigorous coursework.

Improving Career Satisfaction and Autonomy

One of the most important reasons to get a master’s degree in computer science is to craft a more fulfilling career. Your computer science master’s degree allows you to move toward the top of Colin Bartlett’s Pyramid of Software Developer Job Satisfaction. This five-level pyramid ranges from achieving huge success with your own concept to failing with someone else’s concept.

The Nimble Industries founder developed this pyramid to describe the benefits of autonomy in computer science fields. Bartlett said that he felt “immensely more pride and personal pleasure from working on my own product ideas than someone else’s.”

You are able to achieve success with your ideas through an online master’s degree in computer science. This qualification shows employers that you have used your ingenuity to complete complex projects and create your own ventures. You demonstrate that you aren’t stuck in the crowd.

Job Possibilities with an Online Master of Computer Science Degree

Pursuing an online master of computer science degree provides a competitive advantage over colleagues with undergraduate degrees. You can find work now in software and product development, but short-term gain is not your only goal. An online master’s degree in computer science sets the stage for promotions, leadership opportunities, and career paths not yet created.

We can look at a few common job titles for computer science graduates to see potential career paths. In each of these jobs, though, there is room for growth beyond the job description for ambitious professionals.

Software Engineer

Software engineers are in high demand in the Canadian job market. Maclean’s found a 22% growth in engineering positions from 2013 to 2018. The profession is ranked 23 on the publication’s list of the 25 best jobs in Canada.

Engineers earn an average salary of $90,000 per year with higher salaries available based on education and experience. This profession requires the ability to diagnose problems, develop solutions, and work within teams. Completing an online master’s degree in computer science provides the foundations for these skills.

Product Manager

Technology product managers ensure product quality and customer satisfaction throughout the development lifecycle. A product manager may be responsible for the following tasks during a project:

  • Outlining the development process to balance budget, timeline, and personnel.
  • Incorporating focus group and testing results into product features.
  • Pricing products and services depending on current and future trends.

PayScale places the average salary for a software product manager at $82,445. Exceptional managers can earn up to $109,000 per year. PayScale identified the following skills that can boost salaries:

  • Data analysis
  • Agile software development
  • Product development

An online master’s degree in computer science provides these skills and more. Your graduate coursework also simulates the product lifecycle through immersive projects.

Senior Application Developer

Product managers oversee the entire lifecycle while senior application developers ensure that product coding meets expectations. Senior developers track progress made by their teams on current projects while anticipating future updates. This supervisory position requires knowledge of multiple programming languages and testing techniques.

PayScale places the average salary of a senior application developer at $85,100. Top professionals in the profession earn $102,000 per year. You can reach the upper echelons of earnings in this field by learning:

  • Informatica (8% increase in salary)
  • COBOL (7% increase in salary)
  • Java (3% increase in salary)

Senior application developers require precision, technical knowledge, and analytical skills to succeed. An online master’s degree in computer science hits all of these marks and more.

Emerging Jobs for Master of Computer Science Graduates

Emerging Jobs for Master of Computer Science Graduates

Computer science professionals always look to push the envelope in terms of product features and design. This enthusiasm for the cutting edge is valuable in a discipline that continues to grow. LinkedIn’s 2020 Canada Emerging Jobs Report shows how you can direct your focus after receiving an online master’s in computer science.

Canada’s next frontier in terms of technology comes from a few growing industries. LinkedIn found the following areas rely on talent growth and innovation to boost the national economy:

  • Banking and finance
  • Casual gaming and eSports
  • Online education

The decreasing reliance on in-person work is a boon to Canada’s tech sector growth. LinkedIn determined that Calgary and Kitchener are joining Toronto and Vancouver as Canadian tech hubs. A shift from the nation’s biggest cities, plus increased remote working capabilities, means that you can innovate anywhere.

LinkedIn’s jobs report did not set out to be focused on tech jobs. The report’s top 15 jobs are overwhelmed by career options for computer science professionals. A look at the most popular emerging jobs shows potential growth after an online master’s degree in computer science.

Artificial Intelligence Specialist

The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into everything from mobile phones to household devices is relatively new. AI-enabled devices and systems respond to users in organic ways to improve experiences. A major benefit of AI is that the product or system learns from its experiences.

AI specialists are tasked with seamlessly fusing this technology into daily life. LinkedIn found that this profession experienced 85% annual growth in available jobs from 2015 to 2020. An advanced computer science degree anticipates the next generation of AI applications.

The average salary for an AI specialist is $113,000 according to PayScale. Neuvoo found a top salary of $153,286 for experienced specialists. These salaries reflect a high demand for AI skills and lucrative markets yet untouched by companies.

You can use your online master’s degree in computer science to understand AI and machine learning principles. Graduate courses and projects allow you to show your aptitude for this in-demand skill.

Site Reliability Engineer

You are reading this exploration of computer science on a functioning website and browser. Site reliability engineers work behind the scenes to make sure apps and websites function as intended. If all goes well, an engineer’s work is invisible to readers but invaluable to their employers.

An online master’s degree in computer science develops the holistic approach to site maintenance necessary for success in this position. A site reliability engineer’s checklist includes:

  • Observing performance to troubleshoot customer-facing issues
  • Automating as many updates and processes as possible to reduce human error
  • Perfecting backend performance processes to increase operational efficiency

Site reliability engineers earn among the highest average salaries for computer science professionals in Canada. PayScale calculated a $99,996 average salary for site reliability engineers with a high-end salary of $124,000. You can boost your salary with the following skills:

  • System administration (10% increase)
  • Amazon Web Services (5% increase)
  • Linux (3% increase)

Data Engineer

Companies of all sizes are looking at how to use waves of data to improve their bottom lines. Datasets don’t arrive processed and analyzed in a database; rather, raw data is messy and difficult to parse. The following data trends show the task facing data engineers:

  • 463 exabytes of data — or 463,000,000,000,000,000,000 — will be created each day by 2025.
  • 324 billion emails will be sent per day by 2021.
  • 5 billion online searches per day were completed in 2020.

Data engineers create intake, storage, and analytical systems for raw data. An engineer deploys these systems to extract useful conclusions and next steps for their company. The best data engineers adjust storage and analytical systems to reflect new capabilities as well as market changes.

An online master’s degree in computer science is essential for data engineering careers. PayScale’s average salary listing for this profession is $80,092. You can learn the following skills in your graduate studies to increase compensation:

  • Apache Kafka (14%)
  • Big data analytics (7%)
  • Amazon Web Services (2%)
Supercharging the Global Economy with an Online Master of Computer Science

Supercharging the Global Economy with an Online Master of Computer Science

Your work in the computer science field can also boost the economy and improve the lives of millions. Developers, engineers, and project leaders develop technological solutions to social, economic, and medical challenges. You can also use your online master’s degree in computer science to create entertaining and educational tools.

Completing a graduate degree in computer science positions you as a leader in the next generation of technology. We can look at revenue projections and talent shortages to underline the value of an online master’s degree in computer science.

Future Growth in Computer Technology

During a typical day, you see people around you who rely on computing technology for their livelihoods. Continuous access to the Internet and high-powered computing technology went from dream to reality in a single generation. This journey was completed by innovators in computer science who ventured into the unknown.

Statista notes that 4.57 billion people around the world are active Internet users. This total represents 59% of the global population. You can use your online master’s degree in computer science to serve these users while expanding digital usage.

We can look at potential future growth in specific applications of computer science to show the work ahead. You can use your skills and experiences to drive the following projections:

Tech innovators and leaders drive changes in these markets using advanced computer science skills. You can broaden the reach of new technology with an online master’s degree in computer science.

Filling the Talent Gap

The greatest limitation on computing technology innovations comes from a shortfall of talent. Startups and established companies alike struggle to fill positions essential to future growth. Your online master’s degree in computer science places you in position to find the right opportunity for your goals in a friendly job market.

Software development positions offer a glimpse into the struggles facing employers at the moment. Gartner’s survey of senior executives around the world found talent shortages to be among their top five risks for four consecutive quarters.

Canada’s Job Bank estimated that 3,500 new openings in the field would not be filled by 2028. The Job Bank found seven of 13 provinces and territories offered good job prospects for software developers through 2021. These locations extended from Prince Edward Island to British Columbia.

With your graduate degree, you do more than fill a position with a company. Your advanced skills and in-depth knowledge help the typical company hiring for tech positions to avoid:

  • A lengthy timeline from job posting to hiring
  • A hiring process for tech positions that is 50% longer than non-tech positions
  • A large productivity loss due to the length of the recruitment process
Earning an Online Master of Computer Science at Wilfrid Laurier University

Earning an Online Master of Computer Science at Wilfrid Laurier University

The Government of Canada’s Job Bank estimates a nationwide shortage of computer science professionals from 2019 to 2028. An online master’s degree in computer science allows you to help fill this shortage and compete for the best jobs. Receiving this degree from Wilfrid Laurier University sets you apart from fellow job applicants.

Laurier brings the best of Canadian education to students from coast to coast. The school ranked sixth in the Comprehensive Ranking of Maclean’s Universities Guidebook 2019.

Laurier’s online master of computer science reflects the university’s history of academic excellence. Enrolling in this program helps you:

  • Learn from experienced faculty who balance academic and real-world knowledge
  • Learn alongside the best computer science students in Canada
  • Develop understanding for in-demand topics like cybersecurity and data analysis

Laurier has designed the online master of computer science program to prepare graduates for high-level positions. After graduation, you possess a portfolio that demonstrates talent and potential.

An online master’s degree in computer science from Laurier is a passport to success in a growing field.