OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

New degree concept opens computer science career opportunities

04/10/2012

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University is beginning one of the only programs of its type in the nation, an online bachelor’s degree in computer science that will allow a student who already has any type of accredited bachelor’s degree to gain a second, more highly sought degree in only 12 months.

The program, to be offered as an extended education degree through OSU’s Ecampus, is meant to address a pressing need for more computer science software experts in Oregon and around the world – jobs which are readily available and usually pay $60,000 or more as a starting salary.

Conceptually, the degree will also allow students to build on their existing degree and previous career interests – whether those are in the sciences, liberal arts or other fields – and pair them with an undergraduate computer science degree to create graduates who have specialized abilities of particular value in a competitive job market.

“The need for expertise in computer science has now become so pervasive that these skills can be paired with almost any type of other college degree to create something more valued than either one would be separately,” said Terri Fiez, head of the OSU School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “Industry experts we’re working with are thrilled with this idea. We call it ‘one plus one equals three’.”

The course of study will be demanding, Fiez said, in part because the computer science training being offered is equivalent to that found in a normal, four-year undergraduate degree. But no existing computer science background is required and it can be completed in just 12 months – or stretched out if necessary – and done through online education by students anywhere in the world.

The degree program will begin June 25. More details on the coursework, registration and costs are available online, at http://bit.ly/HqYWcH

The focus of the degree is software engineering and web programming, OSU officials say. Courses will be taught by the university’s leading computer science educators.

“There’s a misconception that all of our computer science jobs are being outsourced to foreign countries,” Fiez said. “That simply isn’t true. What employers are looking for are people with special computer training in a variety of fields, and that’s what getting this degree will offer graduates.”

An existing undergraduate degree in art could be paired with a new computer science degree to get a job, for example, in scientific imaging or multi-media systems. Finance and computer science could merge to create a financial information systems specialist. Similar opportunities are available in almost any science, business, engineering or liberal arts field, educators say.

OSU officials hope the program will be of particular help to Oregon, which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation but many job openings in computer science.

Nationally, according to data from the Pew Fiscal Analysis Initiative, there are almost two million people in the U.S. who have either undergraduate or graduate degrees and are unemployed.