From crafting the technologies that keep our cell phones and iPods working to developing large scale software that powers business and industry, computer scientists use their technical and creative skills to improve people’s lives in almost every area imaginable. The complex software and hardware systems created by computer scientists impact all aspects of society and influence or transform work done in areas as diverse as medicine, education, music, travel and business.
Computer scientists work most often on the hardware and software aspects of system design. They develop new theories of computation and algorithms, design new hardware and sensors, develop large software systems, evaluate the utility and usability of software systems, and study the impacts of computing technology on society. As a computer scientist, you could develop video games or software used in business or improve health care through the development of electronic medical records that reduce costs and increase communication between medical providers. You might produce animation for the movie industry, invent a new hand-held device, or develop software to manage an air traffic control tower. Many computer science students found their own tech start-up companies and chart their own path after graduation.
Curious about the classes you'll take as a computer science major? Have a look at the sample undergraduate curriculum.
At CU-Boulder, undergraduate computer science students develop a wide array of skills that prepare them for a large variety of high-paying jobs. The Department of Computer Science is interdisciplinary and collaborative, giving students the opportunity to explore applications in fields ranging from science to architecture to medicine and to work with faculty in a variety of disciplines. Students tackle problems hands-on, including completing year-long software design projects for industry clients. Students also can gain professional exposure through the student chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery on campus.
The department’s specialized tracks allow students to tailor their degree to their own interests. In addition to a general computing track, curricular options allow students to specialize in such areas as computational biology, computational science and engineering, human-centered computing, networked devices and systems, software engineering, and low-level operating systems.
CU-Boulder is surrounded by a thriving, high-tech industry. From well-known companies such as Oracle, Microsoft and Google, to the national laboratories (NIST, NOAA, NCAR, and NREL) and robust technology start-up culture, the opportunities for internships and jobs for computer science students in Boulder is virtually unlimited.
In addition to the excellent internship and employment opportunities, computer science undergraduates can gain valuable experience through research with expert faculty both in and outside of the department. Project EPIC studies how social media technology is used during times of mass emergencies and supports this with research in software engineering, human-centered computing, natural language processing and low-level systems. The Center for Computational Language and Education Research (CLEAR)) performs research related to human language technology and its application to personal learning. The programming languages group conducts research on a wide variety of topics related to the reliability and efficiency of software systems (learn more). The systems group is active in the new research area of cyber-physical systems. And this is just a small sampling of the research conducted in our department which also includes work on health informatics, cognitive modeling, data mining, computer vision, and computer science education. Motivated undergraduates are bound to find a research group working on cutting-edge topics that they are interested in.
Computer science graduates have excellent job prospects and are in demand from companies based in many industries including traditional software/hardware companies (IBM, National Instruments, HP, Sun Microsystems, Apple, and Google), as well as technology start-up companies, data processing firms, government agencies, financial institutions, insurance companies, research labs, and universities.
About 20 percent of CU-Boulder engineering bachelor’s graduates (college-wide) continue onto graduate school, gaining admittance to top schools such as MIT, Princeton, Harvard, Cornell, Stanford, University of California Berkeley, and the University of Texas at Austin.
Computer scientists are expected to have a much faster than average growth rate with employment projected to increase 24 percent through 2018. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
The average salary nationally for a computer science graduate with a bachelor’s degree in 2010 was $57,630; CU-Boulder graduates reported an average starting offer of $63,791.