Master's in Computer Science for Non-CS Majors
If you want to break into the computer science industry but do not have a bachelor's degree in a related field, there are special master's degree programs that do not require prior experience in computer science.
Degree Information for Computer Science Master's (for non CS majors)
Graduate degrees in computer science can take around 2-3 years and for students who have no prior experience in programming, they will be required to take intensive introductory classes. After completing prerequisite courses in algorithms, basic coding and discrete math, students move on to more advanced work in various programming languages like Python, C, Java, and Swift.
Principles of Programming
Students begin the master's degree with an intensive introduction class the summer before regular classes begin. Oftentimes this course can be completed in-person or online. Students are introduced to programming basics and learn how to code in a simple beginner's programming language like Python.
Discrete math is the mathematics used in computer science, including mathematical proofs and problem solving, discrete probability, graphs, and basic number theory. This class prepares students with the mathematical and logical thinking skills necessary to immerse themselves in the world of coding, programming and computer software.
This class introduces students to the data structures that computer scientists use all of the time (arrays, stacks, queues, and lists). Students must become comfortable discussing data structures and the algorithms needed to manipulate them. The goal of this class is to prepare students for advanced work in computer science by helping them understand the fundamentals behind how programming languages operate.
Logic and Algorithms
In this class students learn how to set up algorithms and data representations. Students study a variety of algorithms including dive-and-conquer algorithms and graph traversal algorithms. They also have modules introducing various methods for representing data.
To be proficient programmers, students must understand the environment that they work within and manipulate. To that end, this class familiarizes students with the design, components, and internal operation of computer systems. The course includes modules on operating system components, computer construction techniques, I/O device management, device drivers, memory management, file system structures, and the user interface.
Problem-Solving in Python
Python is a great programming language for computer science beginners. In this class students learn the Python language and in the process grow increasingly familiar with basic programming concepts like variables, data types, iteration, flow of control, and functions. The class culminates with a final project wherein students use Python to solve create their own project.
Human Computer Interaction
To understand how human beings (users) interact with computers, students must first understand how humans process and learn information. After background modules in cognitive science, students apply what they have learned about the human processing system into principles for designing great user-interfaces. Students work on an original project in which they conduct research and user-testing to improve the ease and functionality of their own computer program.
Fundamentals of Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) is the study of machine intelligence, or how machines demonstrate cognitive skills associated with humans (like problem-solving and learning). Computer programmers learn the toolset to program intelligent machines and thus must have a basic understanding of the ethics and applications of AI. Students learn about AI concepts like machine learning, deep learning, and neural networks. They may also study real-world applications of AI and debate future consequences of designing computers that can learn on their own.
Bridge Program into Computer Science
Not all computer science master's degree programs accept students with a bachelor's degree in an unrelated discipline. If you are set on applying to a university that requires prior experience in computer science, you can complete a graduate bridge program before applying. Certain universities offer intense 6-week, online or summer courses that prepare students with the prerequisite credits and skills they need to apply to a wider range of master's degrees.
Getting into a Master's Degree in Computer Science with no Prior Computer Science Experience
To apply to this program students must provide their bachelor's degree transcripts, GRE test scores, statement of purpose and letters of recommendation. If you want your application into a master's degree in computer science to be competitive, you are going to have to make up for the lack of prior knowledge. One way to impress admissions officers is to demonstrate your academic success with a high GRE test score. It is also important to write a compelling statement of purpose that explains your potential for success in a computer science program.
Do not let a lack of previous experience hold you back from pursuing computer science as a career. There are great master's degree options for students with no prior experience in programming or computer science.