What is Computer Science?

Students assisting each other in an active learning classroom.

What is it?

Computer Science is the study of computers and computational systems, so it covers most interactions involving computers.

What does a computer scientist do?

Computer scientists are concerned in part with computing hardware — hardware organization and architecture — but they are distinguished from computer or electrical engineers by their focus on software as a medium for controlling computer hardware.

Computer scientists study the formal programming languages used to describe software, but computer science is more than just computer programming. The entire life cycle of software, including its specification, design, coding, testing, and evolution, is considered by computer scientists through software engineering.

Computer scientists are concerned with software at the core of computing systems through the study of operating systems, networks, architecture, and graphics. They also use software to facilitate the interaction of systems with human beings as in information retrieval and natural language processing. Increasingly, computer scientists strive to create software that can run autonomously and solve problems using artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Computer scientists have an obligation to understand the social and ethical impacts of what they create. As society evolves to produce and process increasing amounts of data and computer scientists must ensure its security and integrity. The rapid pace of change in computing technology also introduces new issues in online culture, privacy, and intellectual property that computer scientists must constantly address.

How do I know if Computer Science is right for me?

The field of computer science is ideal for people that want to put both sides of their brain to work. Classes we offer can teach you how to be more analytical and logical, but at the same time you also need to learn to embrace creativity and innovation. Does this sound like something you'd be interested in?

If yes, you should also think about the following:

  • Do you enjoy solving puzzles?
  • Do you love technology?
  • Would you enjoy trying to come up with ways to make computers and mobile devices better?
  • Are you willing to invest energy into improving your math skills?
  • Are you interested in learning computer languages?

Computer science can lead to exciting and lucrative careers and is ideal for people that enjoy continually learning and adapting to new technology.

Career Opportunities

A bachelor's degree in computer science positions students for careers in:

  • Software development
  • Software engineering
  • Software architecture
  • Systems analysis
  • Network administration
  • Database management systems
  • And many more fields . . .

UMD graduates in computer science are currently working for a diverse array of organizations, from small software engineering companies in Duluth and high-tech corporations in the Twin Cities to international leaders such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft.

UMD's most recent graduate follow-up report for Computer Science and Computer Information Systems majors shows that we have a nearly 100% placement rate for our graduates. That means that almost everyone finishing our programs either finds a career or is enrolled in graduate school soon after graduation.