The Importance of Computer Science Program Accreditation

When a student is considering getting a computer science masters degree or bachelor degree either in the UK or in the USA, he or she should consider the degree requirements and make sure the school has computer science accreditation before attending. Employers only recognize the validity of a computer science degree, if the degree comes from a school with computer science accreditation.

What Is a Computing Science Degree?

There are undergraduate levels for a computer science degree, which students can take to achieve a Bachelor of Computer Science (BCS) or a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (BS CS). Top Universities notes that those with a computer science degree from a reputable school that has computer science accreditation can expect to find jobs with a good salary.

A computer science degree at the Bachelor level provides the foundation for studying information technology, computation capabilities, and software applications. Part of the study includes understanding algorithms, information protocols, and systems for information processing.

The main areas of study include information acquisition, data modelling, information processing, storage systems, communication protocols, and informational access. Network infrastructure and mechanical processes of information management are also part of computer science.

A degree in computer science may also be a degree in information technology (IT). The two terms are somewhat interchangeable. Some educational institutions make a distinction between the two areas of study. At some institutions, IT focuses more on software development and computer science covers equipment and hardware infrastructure as well as computer manufacturing design.

Is Computer Science a Good Degree?

Many jobs in industry and academia are available for those who learn computer science. Those students who get a computer science degree are able to work in areas of software development. They may write software for video games, Internet usage, and other applications. They might work as software analysts for businesses and focus on network systems and/or the application of technical skills. They may find a job in network security, work as a system administrator, or manage databases.

With a bachelor of science in computer science, a person enters the job market where there is a high demand for skilled workers. If a student goes on to earn a masters in computer science, even better job opportunities exist and the demand for those with a computer science degree is growing.

Entry Requirements for a Computer Science Degree

Undergraduate level degree candidates do not necessarily have to have any previous education in computer science. Nevertheless, it is helpful if they have a good grasp of mathematics and a bonus if they know something about physics. Those who have familiarity with one of the popular computer software languages have an advantage.

Some of the popular computer software languages include C++, Haskell, Java, Pascal, and Python. Many software programmers are self-taught. One way to get experience is to volunteer to work on an open source project and learn from other programmers.

Open Source Projects

Opensource.com lists the top ten open source projects for 2015 as the following:

  1. Apache Spark – This is a data processing software tool that handles gigantic datasets effectively. It was the software used to set a new world record for being able to process 100 terabytes of data in twenty-three minutes.
  2. Blender – Blender software creates 3D animation.
  3. D3 – This software uses Javascript to display information on the Internet in the form of charts, graphs, maps, and interactive web designs.
  4. Dolphin – This software is useful for managing files on a computer.
  5. Git – This software tool tracks file changes and manages new versions of software worked on by multiple parties.
  6. Mattermost – This software manages public and private chat rooms.
  7. Piwik – This is the open source version of Google Analytics that helps manage keywords and key phrases for Search Engine Optimization. It also integrates content management systems, e-commerce solutions, and online forums.
  8. R – This software is effective in large data management and chosen for its ability to perform statistical calculations with outstanding graphical output.
  9. SuiteCRM – This is customer relationship management software.
  10. Vagrant – This software is used to create virtual servers.

Any student that is new to computer science will benefit from getting some experience by volunteering to work on an open source project. Because the code is shared amongst the programmers and the version history is available, it is possible for students to see older versions of the code, and then understand how improvements and additions were made to the software.

Computer Science Accreditation for Schools

The accreditation process differs between countries and the types of degrees offered by the schools. A useful resource comes from Accreditation.org. They provide information about the global organizations that grant accreditation for computer science programs. They also give a list of accredited institutions.

According to the information provided about accreditation, the importance of this evaluation process leads to a public statement about whether an educational institution meets the educational standards to be able to offer a solid degree in a certain field of study.

The accrediting organization establishes educational standards that every institution must pass to receive a credential. When an organization successfully passes the accreditation process, the institution receives official credentials.

The accreditation process is rigorous and sets a high standard for the quality of education offered by those institutions that pass the processes required for becoming accredited.  Many things come under review during the process of accreditation including the following:

  • Facilities
  • Faculty
  • Recruiting Practices
  • Number and types of students
  • Budgets
  • Admission Requirements
  • Educational Programs
  • Course Content

The accreditation process may cover the entire institution or focus on a specific program.

The main stakeholders in the accreditation process are:

  • Academic institutions
  • Faculty and Staff
  • Students
  • Employers
  • Governmental Departments
  • Industry
  • Professional organizations and associations

Accreditation Process

Accreditation is helpful for students who are considering attending an educational institution in another country.  The U.S. Department of Education does not provide accreditation; however, it maintains an online database of accredited institutions in America.

Using the database, it is possible to get information about specific institutions and their accredited programs. In America, many of the institutions get accreditation from state agencies.

In the field of computer science, an example of an organization that offers accreditation for computer science programs at schools in the USA and other countries is ABET.

ABET is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation as an organization, which is qualified to offer accreditation in the fields of the applied sciences, computing, and engineering. ABET grants accreditation for specific educational programs, but does not give accreditation to institutions.

ABET offers accreditation for programs at institutions that are already recognized and given credentials by either national or regional accreditation agencies. ABET granted accreditation for about 3,600 programs at over 700 universities and colleges in 29 countries.

Summary

Students interested in the field of computer science benefit from taking two steps that help advance their careers. First, by volunteering to work on an open source code project, students get practical experience working with computer software code in an environment designed to share knowledge.

Second, by attending an accredited educational institution and getting a degree in computer science, a student achieves proof of having a quality educational background. This is a very desirable thing to have and makes a student with a degree in computer science, even one that just graduated from university, an attractive potential employee.

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