Can I work while studying for my certificate in computer science?
It is very common for students to work while pursuing a certificate in computer science, as many such certificate programs are designed for experienced computer science professionals who simply want to expand or update their skills.
There are advantages and disadvantages to working while pursuing a certificate in computer science. One obvious advantage is the ability for students to continue drawing a computer science salary while studying, which can greatly offset the costs of tuition and perhaps save you from having to take out student loans. A disadvantage of working while studying for your certificate is that your time for both studying and working will be limited, and you may become stressed out from a lack of free time. Being able to work part-time should leave you with enough time to study.
One of the best solutions is to obtain a computer science certificate from an online program rather than spend time on campus. Many traditional universities offer such certificate programs, and studying online means that you will be able to arrange your coursework around your job. Because most online certificate programs are designed with working professionals in mind, they are generally better able to accommodate your schedule and allow you to study in your free time.
Are there any brick-and-mortar colleges that offer an online computer science certificate program?
Students can receive a computer science certificate from several brick-and-mortar colleges that offer online certificate in computer science programs. An advantage to this is that brick-and-mortar colleges are more likely to be accredited.
One such program is the Computer Science Certificate Program offered by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Department of Computer Science. The program is aimed at computer science professionals seeking a graduate computer science certificate online and requires students to complete 3 courses for a total of 12 hours for a certificate in a specialized area.
Stanford University offers an online computer science certificate as well. The Foundations in Computer Science Graduate Certificate requires 4 courses, and you must earn a GPA of 3.0 or better in each course in order to receive the certificate. Students who earn this certificate will have a basic understanding of the mathematical foundations of computing as well as the most important aspects of computer programming and programming languages.
Finally, University of North Carolina offers an online Undergraduate Certificate in Computer Programming. This program is aimed at bachelors degree holders considering switching careers, preparing to pursue a masters degree in computer science or wanting to improve their basic knowledge in the subject.
What are common assumptions about students who choose to get a certificate in computer science?
One common assumption about students who earn a certificate in computer science is that they are not as qualified as students who earn a traditional or online associates degree in computer science or bachelors in computer science.
However, because most computer science certificate programs require students to already hold bachelors degrees or plan on pursuing a masters degree in computer science, students earning computer science certificates actually tend to be better qualified and have a wider breadth of knowledge than students with simply a BA or BS in computer science. They are also more likely to possess valuable work experience in addition to completed coursework.
Another common assumption about computer science certificate students is that they are young. This is actually not the case, as many students pursuing a certificate in computer science have already earned a previous degree and thus are usually several years older than students earning a bachelors or associates in computer science.
Finally, many people assume that computer science students spend all of their time in front of a computer. While earning a certificate in computer science does require significant computer interaction, there are specialties within the field, such as computer engineering or robotics, that are more hands-on.
What is the hardest part of the application to an on-campus or online computer science certificate program?
Whether you are applying to an on-campus or online computer science certificate program, you will have to prove basic qualifications and competencies in several subjects, which will probably include a focus on mathematics. If math is a weak subject for you, this might prove quite difficult. However, if you have already completed undergraduate coursework in mathematics or computer science, and especially if you have a degree in the field, the application process should be much easier for you.
Many certificate programs require you to have earned a B average or better for previous coursework, though some only look at your grades in subjects related to computer science. You may even be able to substitute internship credits for required course credits, depending on the program.
Online certificate programs usually have the same application requirements as on-campus programs with the exception that since they are often geared toward working professionals, you may find it easier to substitute career experience for prerequisites. Many online computer science certificate programs also require you to already have a bachelors or associates in computer science or a related field, with the certificate program serving as a further specialization in a given aspect of computer science.