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How Associate’s Degrees Compare with Bachelor’s Degrees in Computer Science

Higher Education Articles January 29, 2014

It is important to know the difference between an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree when looking into a computer science program. Coursework and degree requirements are primary differences, as well as long-term salary and career possibilities.

Associate’s Degrees Compared to Bachelor’s Degrees in Computer Science

An associate’s degree differs from a bachelor’s degree in computer science in a couple of key ways. First of all, it takes about two years to complete an associate degree, while it generally takes four years to complete a bachelor’s. The additional time spent on earning a bachelor’s degree implies additional coursework which in turn implies a more well-rounded education that imparts in-depth knowledge to students.

The median salary graduates can expect to be paid and the positions they can aspire for are other major points of difference between associate and bachelor’s degrees in computer science. Those holding a bachelor’s degree can expect to find better paying jobs at a higher level than those with mere associate degrees.

Degree Prerequisites

It takes about 64 semester hours of coursework to earn most associate degrees. Coursework includes general education prerequisites including science, English, math, arts and humanities, and social science. Coursework related to the major area of concentration includes topic areas like database management systems, applied calculus, discrete mathematics, computer architecture, data structures and algorithms, and object-oriented programming.

It takes approximately 128 semester hours of coursework to earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science though this can vary from school to school. Bachelor’s degree programs have similar requirements as associate programs in relation to major courses and general education; however there are some additional requirements related to courses pertinent to major areas of concentration.

Additional coursework in a bachelor’s program includes a computer science practicum to augment additional subject areas such as software design, computer languages, operating systems, computer networks, human computer interaction, and application server programming.

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  • Students will gain advanced knowledge in critical areas, such as Security and Assurance, Artificial Intelligence, and Computer Architecture, and Advanced Programming.
  • Founded in 1901, the school has maintained its reputation as a leader in the field, offering a curriculum built on theory, fundamentals, and application
  • Designated by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security as a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education (CAEIAE) since 2001
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  • The curriculum is truly interdisciplinary, bringing together subjects that data scientists use in the field every day.
  • Coursework is pulled from three SMU schools: Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Lyle School of Engineering and Meadows School of the Arts.
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  • Renowned faculty: The program is designed by many of the same School of Information (I School) faculty and data science professionals who teach our on-campus programs.
  • Multidisciplinary curriculum: Course work is designed with a project-based approach, encouraging the application of tools and methods to solve problems.
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