Breaking into tech at graduate level

By David Tian

(Admissions Consultant at The Edge Learning Center)

Software and technology pervades nearly every aspect of modern life, from instant messaging services to navigation apps. Thus, not only are developers and software engineers extremely well compensated, but their work has the potential to scale. What that means is that, unlike many other services in which you are only able to help as many people as you have hours in a workday, software has the potential to reach millions of people who need a particular service, at any time of day, at any location. 

Perhaps you now hope to switch to the software field but have little to no background in computer science. Fear not – even if you didn’t major in computer science as an undergraduate student, it is not too late. Indeed, with the field of computer science growing as rapidly as it has the past decade or so, now is the perfect time to make the switch. There are countless opportunities for students to study computer science both online and in person, regardless of whether you have a background or not.

Though there are many options, including bootcamps and other training programs, in this post, I will speak primarily about academic programs at universities. 

Let’s get started! 

First and foremost, software development is a field that cares primarily about what your skills are and what you can do, rather than your credentials. Hence, when looking for a program, you should look beyond the name of the university and instead look closely at its curriculum and other features to ascertain whether it is the right program for you or not. Nevertheless, although your skills and knowledge are by far the number one priority, all others being equal, a well-known university program could help you stand out in an increasingly competitive field, particularly at the beginning. 

Although it would be nice to go back to your undergrad days and change your major, that is not possible, and it may not be feasible for you to go back to university and get an entirely new bachelor’s degree in computer science. Hence, here are some master’s programs that are specifically catered to those who do not currently have a background in computer science. 

Master of Computer and Information Technology (MCIT), University of Pennsylvania

This program has been around for quite some time now, and as of a few years ago, began offering an online version, which students can do on a part-time basis. The online version offers the same degree as the in-person one, but at a much lower cost. Being an Ivy League university, though, the program is extremely competitive in terms of admission, and you should expect to work extremely hard if you are fortunate enough to be admitted. Still, it is a very well-known program, and if you graduate from it, you will likely have little difficulty finding gainful employment in the field.

Master of Software Development (MSD), University of Utah 

University of Utah offers an MSD program that is catered toward those without a background in computing. It is only available in person, however. The University of Utah is a solid university with high research output, and a degree from there in software development will most definitely be taken seriously by potential employers.

Master of Science in Computer Science – Engineers and Scientists (MSCS), University of Southern California 

USC is a well-known university that has a solid national profile in the United States. It also offers an MSCS program for those looking to break into the field of software. However, one thing to keep in mind about this program is that it is specifically designed for those with a STEM background, i.e. people who majored in some sort of engineering or engineering-adjacent science field.

Masters Program in Computer Science (MPCS), University of Chicago

The University of Chicago is among the most prestigious universities in the entire world. If you want to switch to the computer science field, and you are up for a real challenge, then this program may just be the right one for you. Note as well that the University of Chicago operates on quarters, rather than semesters.

There are many more options available, both online and offline, but hopefully the four above give you an idea of the wide array of possibilities out there. 

For more guidance on how best to prepare for these programs, simply give us a ring or contact us today to book an initial meeting with David, and we will be happy to help you make this transition in your career. 

About The Edge

Established in 2008, The Edge Learning Center has grown into a premier one-stop provider of educational services for Grade 7 through Grade 12, targeting students who intend to pursue overseas education. Our three departments – Academic Tutoring, Test Preparation, and Admissions Consulting – offer a broad range of educational services spanning from SAT and IB Test Prep to colleges and boarding schools application counseling. The Edge Learning Center operates in multiple regions including Hong Kong, China, and Vietnam.