Education in Computer Science and Information Technology
Education in Computer Science and Information Technology prepares students for careers in a wide variety of jobs related to computing, programming, and data manipulation. Studying CS and IT is prestigious because these are among the fastest growing scientific fields. Graduate programmers and IT specialists tend to find jobs with ease, as computers have become an integral part of all sectors of the economy. When choosing a country of study and educational institution, it is worth paying special attention to the development of information technologies in the state, as well as to the success of graduates and the reputation of universities.
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IT refers to the use of computers for any kind of manipulating information, managing networks, telecommunications, information systems, and databases. Computer science, in turn, is closely related to mathematics, computation theory, programming, computer engineering, electronics, robotics and other engineering electives. These are in many ways similar, but basically IT is considered to be a more general field, while CS turns to more specific concepts. Another difference is that CS deals with developing applications, whereas IT focuses on using those apps for solving problems, mostly business ones.
A programmer is one of the job options which is commonly used for both IT and CS professionals. That is a specialist who creates software and applications. Although IT specialists usually have basic programming knowledge, programmers actually belong to the Computer Science field.
Representatives of IT and CS have a wide range of specializations: data analytics, cybersecurity, software development, application development, video games development, web development, etc. Web developers work with computing and coding in programming languages and platforms including SQL, Python, Perl, Ruby, XML, PHP, HTML, C, C#, C++, and Java.
Both computer scientists and IT professionals play an important role in the development of computer technology.
Computer Science and IT education in different countries
Computer Science and IT programs in US universities are offered on all three education cycles: bachelor's, master's, and PhD. For admission, you must pass the SAT / ACT for bachelor’s or GRE / GMAT for master’s. Additionally, international students will have to provide a language certificate (IELTS / TOEFL).
Education in the United States is quite expensive. Tuition costs an average of 30,000-40,000 USD per year, and that is without living expenses. However, the abundance of the US universities in the top rankings (5 out of the 10 best universities in the world for Computer Science & Information Systems are American), the demand for programmers who graduated from US universities, and the rapid development of this field in the country (the world IT center Silicon Valley is located here) prove that it's not without a reason.
UK universities offer programs in the following areas: computer science, information networks, software engineering, artificial intelligence, medical (health) informatics. The programs offer bachelor's, master's (standard and integrated — MSci), and PhD degrees. Integrated Master's degree is a combination of bachelor's and master's degrees. It usually lasts for four years, three of which are devoted to the bachelor's degree and the last year to the master's degree. The advantages of MSci are a practical approach to the study of the subject and preparation for research activities in doctoral studies.
For admission a student usually needs to pass at least two A-Level tests and exams in certain subjects (eg, mathematics) with perfect scores as well as confirm the knowledge of English (TOEFL / IELTS). As a rule, theoretical programs require an excellent grade for A-Level mathematics, and business IT may not have specific grade requirements. The exact information should be checked on the websites of universities.
The main languages of instruction in Swiss universities are French, German, and English. There are more than 46 bachelor’s programs in Computer Science. Often, Swiss universities offer internships in large international companies, and EPFL, for example, has Facebook, Google and Microsoft recruiting future employees right on campus. For admission to a bachelor's degree in Switzerland, in addition to a certificate of secondary educationusually with grade requirements, it is necessary to:
Pass university entrance exams (for example, EPFL, ETHZ) or
Study 2 years at the university in a home country, have an IB / A-Level diploma or take ECUSadditional examination at Swiss higher education institutions.
Co-op: combining study with paid work in local or international organizations. Typically, students receive up to 2 years of work experience upon graduation;
Honors: an intensive study of a specialization in one area.
Admission requirements to Canadian CS and IT programs are usually as follows:
For bachelor’s — the equivalent of 12 years of school education (except for Ontario and Quebec). It is necessary to clarify the requirements directly from universities: many accept a certificate of complete secondary from countries with 11-year secondary education system (sometimes with excellent final grades);
Special attention in the certificate/diploma is paid to scores in English and mathematics/mathematical analysis.
Education in China will open up many opportunities for further employment. At least they have Shenzhen. That is a city in southern China which is called the country's IT hub — the center of startups and technological advances. Moreover, the state itself took the initiative to create the Greater Bay Area — an analogue of the Silicon Valley, as well as an integrated center of business and economy of Hong Kong, Macau, Shenzhen and eight other cities.
Chinese education in programming is recognized worldwide. According to QS ranking, 11 Chinese universitiesincluding the ones from Hong Kong entered the top 100 Computer Science & Information Systems universities in 2020. In order to enroll in a local university, a foreigner needs to know Chinese. However, some universities offer training in English, for example, Peking University has a master's degree in programming (IELTS 6.5 / TOEFL 100 is required). If you go to Hong Kong, you don't need to know Chinese. In addition, after graduation, you can stay to find work here. The city is a business center of Asia and the world.
CS and IT education in Russia can be obtained at colleges and universities. Colleges offer different programs: network and system administration, information systems and programming, information security, etc. For admission, a certificate and sometimes entrance exams are required. Upon completion of their studies, college graduates can get a job, but for low positions (intern / junior level). Employers often look specifically for candidates with higher education.
Studying in universities is more difficult, but it also provides better knowledge. The deepest and most scientific base, as a rule, is provided by programs in the following areas:
Informatics and computer technology;
Fundamental informatics and information technology;
Mathematical support and administration of information systems.
Most of the remaining programs train specialists in a specific field with programming skills: applied computer science, software engineering, computational mathematics and cybernetics, business informatics, mechatronics and robotics, infocommunication technologies and communication systems, etc.
Sometimes you can find programs of a programming specialist (for example, at MSTU). They last longer (from 5 years) and prepare future specialists both theoretically and practically.
Admission requirements to CS and IT programs
The criteria for admission depend on the university and the country. It is necessary to check the requirements on the official websites of universities. An approximate package of documents looks like this:
Secondary education certificate (for bachelor's programs), bachelor's/master's degree (for master's / PhD). Some countries, such as the UK, have grade requirements for certain subjects (such as maths);
The charts contain only general information. To learn the exact information regarding prices, please, contact the universities directly.
Types of CS and IT programs
Popular programs in CS and IT
The science of information using computer technology, the most flexible and versatile program in the whole CS field. Computer science is an umbrella field of study, which has various directions: artificial intelligence, computer systems and networks, security, database systems, human-computer interaction, programming languages, software engineering, bioinformatics, theory of computation, etc.
Interdisciplinary industry, which uses scientific methods, processes, algorithms and systems to extract information and knowledge from structured and unstructured data. Deals with mathematics, analytics and statistics way more than many other branches of computer science.
Application of engineering approaches to software development. Focused on learning programming languages for various applications. Also touches upon the security of software, databases and computer systems. If Computer Science, as a rule, deals with more abstract matters, then Software Engineering often implies a more direct work with hardware, for example, developing applications, programming a robot vacuum cleaner or an industrial machine.
Promising CS and IT programs
Despite the popularity of the above programs, the development of technology creates its own rules and new popular areas, such as information security and artificial intelligence:
Possible position / job
Protection of operating systems, networks and data against cyber attacks. System control, mitigation and prevention of threats and cyber attacks, elimination of vulnerabilities.
Information security specialist, forensic computer analyst, cyber analyst, information security architect, IT security engineer.
Building and training machines that find solutions to problems that typically require human intelligence. Sample courses during studies: Computer Vision, Natural Language Processing, Speech Recognition, Software Engineering Principles, Autonomous Systems, Machine Learning, Image Analysis, Signal and Sound Processing, Ethics and Social Implications of Artificial Intelligence, etc.
Artificial Intelligencespecialist working on applications, systems and machines; AI researcher, machine learning engineer, computational linguist, robotics engineer. For example, such programmers create algorithms that offer people suggestions for various services (YouTube, Netflix), design, test and improve self-driving cars and create digital personal assistants.
Other promising areas of Computer Science are Machine Learning, Robotics, Human-Computer Interaction, Information Science & Management Information Systems, Cloud Computing, Theoretical Computer Science.
In addition, there are scholarships from Microsoft (Microsoft Scholarship Program) for students in the 4-year bachelor's degree in computer science (and other related STEM fields) in US high schools, Canada and Mexico. Priority is given to representatives of those social groups that have historically been under-represented in the technology industry. The main criterion for receiving a scholarship is high academic performance. GPA should be 3.0 out of 4.0 or 4.0 out of 5.0.
A separate list is the scholarships for women in IT:
Internships at Amazon invite bachelor’s, master’s and PhD students all year round. Most of them take place in summer and last from 12 to 16 weeks. The company recruits interns directly on university campuses. The site also contains open vacancies.
Google internships are designed for both students and working adults. The areas of internships vary from Software Engineering to UXuser experience. Internships take place in different parts of the Earth and have their own selection criteria. To prepare for submitting documents, Google advises to look into the Tech Dev Guide and pay special attention to resume writing. Internships usually last 12-14 weeks.
Internships at LinkedIn imply work of students in pairs with mentors who provide feedback and guide the newcomers. Interns receive paid weekends, benefits on relocation, free food and drinks in the office, gym memberships, and more. To diversify their work activities, companies often organize professional and social events. Current perks can be viewed on the website.
The IT labor market is teeming with vacancies and offers in almost any country. Upon completion of their CS or IT studies, graduates can work as programmers, web developers, network and computer system administrators, network engineers, computer systems analysts, computer support specialists, network architects, etc. Additionally, young professionals have the opportunity to engage in research and teaching.
Talented IT specialists and computer scientists can try to apply to large companies abroad, for example, in the USA, Canada and Australia. As a rule, foreign employers are looking for smart graduates all over the world: they arrange internships for them and, if successful, may even sponsor their move and work visa. A dream work location for many CS or IT professionals is Silicon Valley, California, USA.
Computer Science began to emerge as an independent academic discipline in the 1950s and early 1960s. The world's first computer science program at a university appeared at the University of Cambridge in 1953. In the United States, the first computer science department was opened at Purdue University in 1962.
Until recently, CS was taught mainly only at the university level, with a few exceptions (for example, in Israel and Poland). In some countries, computer science was an optional subject starting from the ages 14-16. Later, other countries began to gradually introduce computer science into the school curriculum. For example, England did it in 2014, and already in primary school from the age of 5.
9 out of 10 parents in the US want their child to study computer science. This popularity is due to the fact that more than half of the prospective jobs in STEM are various CS and IT specialties. Plus, a computer programmer is one of the highest paying jobs in the US, especially for entry-level positions. At the same time, only 1 out of 4 American universities teaches programming, only 3% of all college students graduate with a computer science degree, and only 8% of STEM graduates work in CS.