What Types of Computer Science Master’s Degrees are Available?

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There are many unique types of computer science master's degree available for students who want to specialize in a sub-discipline. Computer science degrees may be abstract and focus on complex theories, or they may be practical and focus on security or graphics. Some of the most notable specializations within computer science include artificial intelligence, software engineering, computer architecture, database systems and application development. Here are three sample academic choices for students who want to pursue a graduate degree in computer science.


As criminals and hackers become more tech savvy, the demand for qualified cybersecurity professionals is on the rise. These degree programs instill in students a foundational background in information assurance. Students learn about personal privacy, consumer expectations, business security and standard enterprise security protocols and requirements. Students also learn how to identify and minimize threats to information technology systems through controlling access and closing systems.

Risk management tools are examined to enable graduates to meet government and industry standard regarding data integrity and confidentiality. Classes in cryptology provide introductions to contemporary topics like hash functions, digital signatures, authentication protocols and public key cryptosystems. Data visualization coursework teaches practical concepts to create visual representations of large amounts of security data. Other class titles include web security, intrusion detection, reverse engineering and embedded vulnerabilities.

Cloud Computing

Consumers and businesses expect better online technologies that offer enhanced security, accessibility and convenience. Cloud-based programs and services are quickly becoming the standard in many industries, according to PC Magazine. Students who specialize in this degree start out learning the basic principles of cloud computing, which helps organizations increase efficiencies and cost savings, while modernizing and expanding their IT functions. This computer science degree includes classes in graph, mobile and social media analytics.

Students learn how scalable cloud-based systems are converting enterprises around the world to using popular platforms such as Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Cloud computing goes hand in hand with the emerging field of data science. Classes on data science cover core concepts related to model building, exploratory analysis, data summarization, multisource data sets. Other topics covered include APIs, summary statistics, experimental designs and data flow visualizations.

Software Engineering

Software engineers concentrate on either mobile, web-based or traditional software engineering. They study the fundamental software engineering techniques used during software development projects. This includes life cycle models topics such as program design, testing, implementation and maintenance. Software engineering programs emphasize the need for structured and object-oriented design techniques, data models and systematic debugging. Classes in software design prepare graduates to successfully create protected software systems by addressing critical and common security vulnerabilities that appear throughout the entire software development life cycle.

These programs teach students practical skills for creating secure software through hands-on labs and exercises. Common security mistakes are highlighted, examined and presented with the techniques eliminating vulnerabilities. Other mandatory classes include software project management, development methods and programming languages. The last classes may present up to a dozen programming languages, but only a few will be studied, such as C#, Perl and Python. Other class topics include object-oriented analysis, service-oriented architecture and software project management.

Related Resource: Top 10 Best Online Masters in Computer Science Degrees

Other types of computer science master's degree available include web computing, enterprise system design and the very popular mobile application development degree.