Graduate programs in computer science can serve as a continuation of the academic knowledge you earned as an undergrad in computer science or a related major, a means to perform research in the field, or as a way to gain exposure to the field.
Most graduate programs offer master's degrees in computer science, doctoral degrees in computer science, which is the terminal degree in the field, or both. With either degree you can seek employment as a professional or in academia. You should pick the institution that offers the type of degree you want to pursue. However, do not necessarily limit yourself to only one type.
Even if you have no intention to earn a Ph.D. in computer science and only want to study for an additional 2 or so years to earn a master's degree, choosing a school that offers doctoral degrees could still be beneficial. Such institutions typically have extensive research departments and funding, and if you decide to change your mind about the Ph.D., you can continue on at the same campus.
That's not to say that only large programs are the optimal choice for all graduate students. You may find that you really do want a small program that caters to computer science theory over practice and research. Whatever you choose, make sure you pick a program that accurately reflects your needs and career goals.
Specializations and Student-faculty Research Collaborations
What are you interested in studying? Computer science is a vast subject area that branches into many sub-sets. Graduate programs will most likely reflect the needs, current trends, and standards of the industry.
Most graduate programs offer courses and research opportunities that are driven not only by important theoretical aspects of computer science, but by faculty interest or student-faculty collaborations. Examples include:
- Algorithms and analysis
- Artificial intelligence
- Computer architecture
- Database systems
- Human-computer interaction
- Software engineering
- Systems security