What Can You do with a Computer Science Major?

By: Kirsi (double major in Computer Science & Electrical Engineering)


There is so much you can do with a Computer Science (CS) major that I did not know where to start! As a result I turned to a community of over 3,000 computing students on Facebook for their thoughts. I am a part of the NCWIT Aspirations In Computing Community comprising of women from across the US who study computing related to majors. I asked “what are unique things that you can do with a CS major?” Some responses include programming for deep space exploration technologies; wearable tech; engineering an bionic pancreas; and programming a robotic octopus arm to tighten jar lids, lift the jars into boxes and load pallets for Smuckers Company. The possibilities are endless with a CS major alone or even paired with another discipline. In 2012 Forbes listed Computer Science at number 3 college major in their “Top 15 Most Valuable College Majors” article, for “hirability” and salary. A CS major can also prepare you for medical, business, or graduate school. I will share what University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) alumni are doing with their degree, what CS majors across the US are doing with their degree, and future applications of computer science.

CS Major

Photo source: Unsplash | Sai Kiran Anagani

Careers of UMD CS Alumni

UMD has been collecting statistics of alumni employment about the computer science major since 1981 (when CS became its own major after splitting from Math). The CS program has grown in the number of graduates and employed graduates. 93% of CS graduates from 2013-14 are employed while 7% are pursuing post secondary degrees (this is with a 94% response rate for our graduate follow-up survey). Of the 93% employed, 84% have indicated they are in a position related to their major. Occupations held by these graduates include Programmer, Analyst, Automation Engineer, Software Developer, and Web Designer. Data on our 2014-15 grads will be released in the next few months.

Diving further into UMD Alumni statistics, LinkedIn offers of a view of where CS graduates work in industry since the beginning of the CS program. If you log into your LinkedIn account you can see the analysis for yourself. Top five employers for UMD CS Alumni in order include UMD, United Health Group, Target, Thomson Reuters, and Medtronic. These professionals perform engineering, information technology, operations, and research related work.


Testing Fishnetstockings interactive art instillation by UMD’s Joellyn Rock, Alison Aune, and Pete Willemsen

UMD is involved in a number of cutting edge CS research opportunities and projects. One group that stands out is SIVE Lab (Simulation and Interaction in Virtual Environments) lead by professor Pete Willemsen. SIVE Lab uses position tracking and virtual reality to illustrate data in a new way. Combining arts and computing SIVE Lab and UMD’s Art and Design department installed interactive artwork at Lydgalleriet art gallery in Bergan, Norway. This interactive installation is called Fishnetstockings and is composed of multimedia elements. A user can enter Fishnetstockings casting a shadow like a mermaid, make virtual waves, and display words from a Twitter stream. Other projects SIVE Lab works on include an iPad app that records/analyzes motion for bio-mechanics, energy/budget measurement station, and simulating urban environments to maximize sustainable structures.


Capturing illustrations from Fishnetstockings interactive art instillation by UMD’s Joellyn Rock, Alison Aune, and Pete Willemsen

CS Careers of CS Majors Across the US

Looking back at LinkedIn’s search tools you can search for all positions open with the keyword “Computer Science”. There are currently over 100,000 positions posted on LinkedIn related to computer science. The highest number of positions open are at Technosoft (8,833) and Amazon (3,795). The most popular locations for these computer science positions include San Francisco Bay Area, Washington DC, New York City, and Boston. Top positions being offered include Information Technology, Computer Software, and Recruiting. Hot topics of computer science include artificial intelligence, bio-medical engineering, and robotics according to Forbes “13 of 2015’s Hottest Topics In Computer Science Research“.


Working with LabVIEW sofware at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. [Photo source: Kirsi]

Future of CS Careers

A unique aspect about computer science is that you can have a CS career in any discipline or industry. New CS careers are being made daily, inspired by new applications of computing. Essentially, the CS major creates the future. While interning at NASA Johnson I learned how a deep space habitat’s life support systems communicate their statuses with an interface for astronauts, a critical application of CS. Code drives automation of the International Space Station’s life support system. Data analysis tools alert flight controllers of the Space Station’s well being. An autonomous program recently landed SpaceX’s reusable rocket on a barge out at sea! If you want to be at the forefront of the future in any industry, CS is the career for you.

Want to try out some programming? Try some of these projects which can be completed in less than an hour!

Read Kirsi’s other posts

3 thoughts on “What Can You do with a Computer Science Major?

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