• BA (through College of Arts & Sciences)
  • BS (through College of Engineering)
  • Minor (through College of Engineering)*
  • MS/ME
  • PhD

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From creating smartphone apps 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 systems created by computer scientists impact all aspects of society and influence or transform work done in medicine, education, music, travel and business.

As a computer scientist, you could develop video games or improve health care through the development of electronic medical equipment. 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.

The Bachelor of Science degree and minor in Computer Science are offered through the College of Engineering and Applied Science. The undergraduate Bachelor of Arts degree in Computer Science is offered through the College of Arts and Sciences. Note: Students who pursue a BA in computer science cannot also pursue a minor in computer science.

Computer science is concerned with how computers are constructed, how they store and process data, how they are used in problem solving, and how the quality of those solutions is assessed. Computer science goes well beyond the machine to the study of how people interact with the technologies around them, with applications of computer science reaching far and wide. At it's essence, it is the science of creating software for a variety of users, and understanding how that software interacts with the hardware on which it is run.

At CU Boulder, the Department of Computer Science is interdisciplinary and collaborative, giving students the opportunity to explore applications in fields ranging from science to architecture. Students tackle problems hands-on, including completing a year-long software design project for an industry client or to jumpstart their own startup. Students also can gain professional exposure through the student chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery on campus.

And the Department of Computer Science at CU Boulder is one of the top 50 programs in the nation, according to the most recent US News and World Report rankings. This is thanks in part to the surrounding, thriving high-tech industry in the city. From well-known companies such as Oracle, Microsoft and Google, to 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.

The Department of Computer Science is nationally recognized in several areas of research, including, but not limited to, Artificial Intelligence, Computational Biology, Human-Centered Computing, Numerical and Scientific Computing, Programming Languages and Software Engineering, Systems and Networking and the Theory of Computing. 

For the undergraduate students pursuing a BA degree in computer science, there are a number of research opportunities beyond just class work available:

  • The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) offers students a chance to work alongside a faculty sponsor on original research. Learn to write proposals, conduct research, pursue creative work, analyze data and present the results. For more information, visit the UROP website.

  • Computer Science majors can graduate with departmental or general honors through the Honors Program. For more information on honors, visit the Honors Program website.

  • As a computer science student, you should not overlook the opportunity to study abroad during your undergraduate years. The university offers more than 100 programs around the world. Students may spend from a few weeks to a full academic year abroad, depending on the program selected. On these programs students may earn credit as if you had taken the courses here, sometimes fulfilling major or core requirements. Language study is a prerequisite for participation in many programs, so early planning for study abroad is essential. Further information about study abroad is available from Education Abroad, 303-492-7741 or on the education abroad website.

  • Computer science undergraduates can also 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.

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) and technology start-up companies. They produce the software and systems that touch lives every day in fields ranging from communications to finance to publishing. They are, of course, software developers, but also have become teachers, writers, doctors, lawyers, scientists, military leaders and entrepreneurs. They work at some of the largest, most influential companies in the world, at research institutions, non-profits, and at the smallest start-ups of every type imaginable. And many lead highly successful companies that they themselves have founded.

For the 2015 graduates from the Department of Computer Science:

  • 81% participated in an internship, co-op or field experience
  • 93% were employed with 6 months of graduation
  • 76% were in a position directly related to their major

Many graduates of the program also go onto pursue graduate studies, gaining admittance to top schools such as MIT, Princeton, Harvard, Cornell, Stanford, University of California Berkeley, and the University of Texas at Austin.

According to PayScale Human Capital:

  • Median 2019 pay for computer and information research scientists was $86,000.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects:

  • That 2016-2026 job growth for computer and information research scientists will be 19 percent, “much faster” than the average for all jobs.

Computer Science Payscale

The estimated median salaries, as reported on Tableau, for Computer Science graduates for 1 to 5, 6 to 10, and over 11 years out from school.

At CU Boulder, Computer Science graduates with a B.A. earn less than the nationwide average of comparable majors as reported by PayScale. CU Boulder alumni in this discipline earn an estimated annual salary of $75,184 based on a pool of 89 alumni who graduated between 2014 and 2018. This amount is also lower than the average for all CU Boulder graduates with a bachelor's degree, according to a survey by Esmi Alumni Insight of 25,000 alumni who graduated between 1989 and 2018.

Career Services offers free services for all CU Boulder degree-seeking students, and alumni up to one year after graduation, to help students discover who they are, what they want to do, and how to get there. They are the bridge between academics and the world of work by discussing major and career exploration, internship or job searching, and graduate school preparation.