Non-CS Majors: Should You Consider Pursuing a Master’s in Computer Science?

If you’ve considered a career switch, a master’s in computer science for non-CS majors could be a worthwhile step. Explore this guide to learn more.
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  • A master’s in computer science offers advanced skills and career opportunities.
  • Several high-paying and in-demand computer science careers require a master’s degree.
  • Non-CS majors can pursue a master’s in computer science with a developed portfolio.
  • Degree concentrations can help you pinpoint an area of interest in computer science.

The field of computer science has several in-demand and potentially exciting careers, including data scientists and cybersecurity specialists. But what if you decide you want to make the switch to computer science after starting your higher education path with a bachelor’s degree in another area?

Fortunately, several schools offer a master’s in computer science for non-CS majors, allowing students to transition into this evolving, fast-paced field regardless of their previous education.

Explore this guide to learn why you might consider applying to a master’s program and how to build your profile to improve your chances of admission acceptance.

Popular Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Top 5 Reasons to Pursue a Master’s in Computer Science

Pursuing a master’s in computer science for non-CS majors has several benefits. It can open the doors to in-demand careers, which can in turn lead to attractive pay potential and advancement opportunities.

Consider the following reasons to pursue a master’s degree in computer science as you navigate your best educational and career path.

Varied Job Opportunities

Master’s degree graduates can take numerous careers in the computer science industry. For example, a master’s degree in computer science is often required for computer and information research scientists.

Employers may also prefer candidates with a master’s degree to fill roles as computer and information systems manager, computer network architects, and computer systems analysts. At some companies, master's degrees help qualify you for managerial roles.

Advanced Skill Development

Computer science master’s degrees build on foundational concepts and theory. If you already have professional experience in the computer science field, pursuing a master’s degree could help you develop more advanced skills in multiple areas, like artificial intelligence, data science, and computational geometry.

Higher Pay Potential

Earning a master’s degree can boost the salary potential of computer science professionals. According to Payscale data from December 2023, a bachelor’s degree in computer science yields an average salary of $92,000 annually. In comparison, graduates with a master’s degree in computer science earn $110,000, on average.

Excellent Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects computer science jobs to grow by 10% from 2022 to 2032. Additionally, the BLS projects the demand for computer and research scientists, who typically need a master’s degree, to increase byComputer and Information Research Scientists : Occupational Outlook Handbook 23% in the same period.

Preparation for Doctorate or Certification

If you plan to continue your education with a doctorate, you’ll likely need to earn a master’s degree in computer science first.

A master’s degree can also provide the skills necessary to earn industry-renowned certifications, like CompTIA A+ and AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional.

Top 5 Online Computer Science Master's for Non-CS Majors

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#1 Non-CS Majors: Should You Consider Pursuing a Master’s in Computer Science?

Franklin University

  • Columbus, OH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: N/A

Avg. Cost per Credit:
In-State | $670
Out-of-State | $670

Credits to Graduate: 36

Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio, offers a fully online MS in computer science degree that provides experience with SQL, Java, and Git. The 20-month program covers software design, computing theory, and software architecture. Students can add a concentration in data analytics, cybersecurity, or software systems. 

Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and a minimum 2.75 GPA. Applicants with a lower GPA can petition for conditional enrollment. The university offers a tuition guarantee that lets students lock in their tuition rate when they first enroll.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$9,552
Out-of-state
$9,552
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$16,080
Out-of-state
$16,080
Retention Rate
9%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
5,926
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#2 Non-CS Majors: Should You Consider Pursuing a Master’s in Computer Science?

North Carolina State University at Raleigh

  • Raleigh, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: N/A

Avg. Cost per Credit:
In-State | $526
Out-of-State | $1,635

Credits to Graduate: 31

The online master of computer science program at North Carolina State University at Raleigh's College of Engineering features an impressive faculty, including 20 National Science Foundation CAREER award recipients. Designed for working professionals, the degree does not require a thesis or comprehensive exam. 

The curriculum prepares graduates for careers in programming, software development, and database administration. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA, submit GRE scores, and complete prerequisite undergraduate computer science coursework, but do not need a bachelor's in computer science. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$6,535
Out-of-state
$26,654
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$9,095
Out-of-state
$26,421
Retention Rate
94%
Acceptance Rate
46%
Students Enrolled
36,042
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
91% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#3 Non-CS Majors: Should You Consider Pursuing a Master’s in Computer Science?

Lewis University

  • Romeoville, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: N/A

Avg. Cost per Credit:
In-State | $845
Out-of-State | $845

Credits to Graduate: 33-51

Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois, offers an online computer science MS that accepts applicants from diverse undergraduate backgrounds. Students choose from concentrations in software engineering, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and digital forensics. Other options include enterprise and cloud computing and a non-declared concentration that lets learners design their own specialization. 

Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree, resume, and minimum 3.0 GPA. The program requires a two-page statement of purpose and two letters of recommendation. Applicants must complete undergraduate classes in programming, algorithms, and discrete mathematics.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$34,268
Out-of-state
$34,268
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$14,580
Out-of-state
$14,580
Retention Rate
80%
Acceptance Rate
66%
Students Enrolled
6,437
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
89% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#4 Non-CS Majors: Should You Consider Pursuing a Master’s in Computer Science?

City University of Seattle

  • Seattle, WA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: n/a

Avg. Cost per Credit:
In-State | $735
Out-of-State | $735

Credits to Graduate: 39-59

Students can earn an online MS in computer science that explores computer architecture, information security, and software engineering at City University of Seattle. The program offers an optional internship and requires a capstone course. Students can learn about ethical issues in information security, software validation and testing, and C++ programming.

Applicants without a bachelor's degree can apply for a bridge version of the program that helps students without technical backgrounds move into tech careers. This requires completing four preparatory courses on topics like operating systems and database technologies and a pre-entry orientation class. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$13,658
Out-of-state
$13,658
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$11,812
Out-of-state
$11,812
Retention Rate
Not provided
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
2,052
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
83% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
#5 Non-CS Majors: Should You Consider Pursuing a Master’s in Computer Science?

The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga

  • Chattanooga, TN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: N/A

Avg. Cost per Credit:
In-State | $587
Out-of-State | $634

Credits to Graduate: 33-36

The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga offers an online computer science master's degree that covers computer algorithms, computer programming languages, and advanced computer architecture. The university is a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance. Students must complete either a graduate thesis (33 credits) or graduate project (36 credits). 

Applicants without a computer science bachelor's degree need a minimum cumulative 2.9 GPA or a minimum 3.2 GPA during their senior year. They also must complete an additional 18 credits in foundational computer science coursework. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$7,836
Out-of-state
$23,954
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$8,450
Out-of-state
$16,514
Retention Rate
77%
Acceptance Rate
83%
Students Enrolled
11,728
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
35% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

What Can You Study With a Master’s in Computer Science?

Many learners are drawn to computer science for its variety of focus areas. Computer science master’s degrees frequently offer concentrations, allowing a non-CS major to specialize in an area of interest.

For example, if you’re interested in designing or developing games, you can choose a concentration in game development. Or, you might select a health informatics concentration if you want to work in a hospital’s IT department to improve and maintain its electronic records system.

The following are a few common concentrations for a master’s in computer science:

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Big data
  • Business intelligence
  • Computational biology
  • Computer forensics
  • Cybersecurity
  • Game development
  • Health informatics
  • Mobile computing
  • Computer Networking

Computer Science Careers and Outlook

Computer science is one of the most versatile degree paths, allowing you to work in multiple industries, including healthcare, entertainment, and finance.

However, non-CS majors should consider completing an internship in their chosen specialty while pursuing their master’s degree or after graduating.

Computer science jobs can be competitive, and employers often seek candidates with professional experience. Several CS master’s degrees encourage or require students to complete an internship for this reason.

Although not a comprehensive list of possible careers for computer science graduates, the following table lists a few potential options.

Computer Science Careers and Wages
Computer Science Career Median Annual Wage (2022)
Computer and Information Research Scientist $136,620
Computer Network Architect $126,900
Software Tester $124,200
Database Administrator $112,120
Health Information Technologist $58,250
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Several other careers, like software developer, computer systems analyst, and network administrator, are also possible outcomes of a computer science master’s degree.

How to Build Your Profile Toward a Master’s in Computer Science

An undergraduate degree in computer science isn’t always a requirement to enroll in a CS master’s program.

However, a strong profile of computer science-related work can help you stand out among other applicants; it marks you as someone serious about pursuing this pathway. Admissions counselors want to see that you have at least some computer science skills or experience to ensure you’re prepared for the coursework that lies ahead.

Consider taking the following steps to build your portfolio toward a master’s in computer science.

1. Complete an Internship

An internship can provide you with valuable technical and practical skills that you can take into your computer science master’s degree. Pursuing an internship also shows schools that you’ve taken the initiative to get yourself to the next level in your career and studies.

2. Consider Pursuing a Bootcamp

A computer science bootcamp offers efficient training, usually over several weeks or months, in crucial areas, like UX/UI design, software development, and programming languages. A bootcamp could give you the background knowledge necessary to skip prerequisite courses for your master’s program.

3. Develop a Research Project

Prove that you have a solid understanding of a key area of computer science by conducting your own research. Then, present your findings as a research paper or video to add to your portfolio.

4. Earn a Certification

A computer science certification could enhance your master’s degree application while developing must-have industry skills. Consider one designed for entry-level professionals, like Microsoft Certified: Fundamentals or AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner.

5. Showcase Your Best Projects

Have you built a website, designed a mobile app, or managed a project at your current job? Be sure to highlight these projects when you apply for a master’s program, many of which prioritize real-world experience when selecting applicants.

6. Create a Strong Resume

Even if your master’s program doesn’t require a resume, consider submitting one anyway if you’ve had relevant work or internship experience. Include any pertinent skills, education, and project experience that could improve your success in a computer science program.

Frequently Asked Questions About Computer Science

Can I get a master's in CS without a CS major?

Yes, several schools offer a master's in computer science for non-CS majors designed to help students switch to a new career path. These programs cover the theoretical and practical skills computer science professionals need for various roles, like computer and information research scientists or health information technologists.

A master's in computer science is likely worth the time and cost commitment if you're interested in changing career paths to a computer science role, or want to advance your current position. These degrees can lead to several in-demand and high-paying careers, some of which pay an average of more than $100,000 per year.

Yes, you can pursue a master's degree in computer science with a CS minor. Depending on your undergraduate background, you may need to complete a few prerequisite courses before beginning the program to ensure that you're on track with basic skills in areas like programming, database management, and mathematics.

Page last reviewed December 4, 2023.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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