Career Guide to JMU Majors: Computer Science
The Computer Science major is a department within the College of Integrated Science & Engineering.
Admission and Progression Standards:
Visit the Major Snapshots site to learn more about the admission and progression standards of this major.
Description of Major
Computer Science is offered as a major and minor at JMU. The Computer Science Program helps students prepare for careers writing and changing the computer programs that control so many devices in modern society and that are essential for running governments and businesses. Students study such topics as networks and the Internet, computer operating systems, database systems, artificial intelligence, and computer security. Students are exposed to and interact with the many computing technologies used by today's professionals and they learn how to use these technologies to solve real‑world problems. They develop the skills to analyze problems, to design solutions, to implement solutions using multiple computing technologies, to test and install those solutions, and to communicate those solutions to others in written and verbal presentations. The Computer Science Program also offers a minor in Telecommunications and has a certificate program in Information Security in cooperation with the National Security Agency.
Tell me more about this field of study
Computers now control almost every device in our homes and businesses, and virtually every organization relies on computers to store, retrieve, process, and distribute data and information. Software control computers. Hence the people who develop and maintain software play a central role in our society, ultimately controlling our world and affecting everyone in it. A degree in Computer Science is the ticket to a career in the field of software, where important work is done every day using technology that is always changing at a rapid pace. Computing professionals are in high demand and are well paid: Computer Science graduate starting salaries are consistently among the highest of all programs on campus. The curriculum consists of a first year focused on fundamental programming skills using the Java programming language, and basic mathematics. During the second year students learn about software design methodologies and development processes, the organization of computer hardware, and low-level software design techniques. During the last two years students learn about particular application areas, such as operating systems, networking systems, database systems, and programming languages and systems, as well exploring elective fields such as multimedia programming, web development, software engineering, computer forensics, and information security.
Tell me more about specializationComputer science is the study of computers and computational systems including their theory, design, development, and application. Principal areas within computer science include artificial intelligence, systems programming, computer security, database systems, numerical analysis, programming languages, software engineering, and theory of computing. Computer science incorporates concepts from mathematics, engineering, art and psychology. In artificial intelligence, specialized techniques are applied to particular problems, such as robot behavior or removing noise from camera images. In the field of systems programming, the focus is placed on writing programs to control the parts of a computer or connecting a variety of computers together in a network. Computer security is the study of ways to prevent computers from causing harm when under human control, and involves efforts to prevent intruders from taking over or crashing computers, and protecting data from unauthorized access or corruption. Database systems establish or maintain databases of information such as employee records, library catalogs, or satellite data, and develop code to retrieve and display the results. Numerical analysis focuses on scientific computing and applications programming, with an emphasis on processing scientific data rapidly and accurately. Programming languages is the study of the principles governing and the techniques for designing and implementing the artificial languages people use to control computers. Software engineering is the study of the way that large programs are created by teams of people who determine what the program should do, design, and code the software to do it, test the software, document it for users and other engineers, and ultimately deliver a high quality product to customers on time and within budget. Theory of computing investigates the nature and limitations of computers, the time and space (computer memory) needed to solve computational problems, and the formal properties of artificial languages.
Common majors or minors that complement this major
The most common combinations of majors and minors with Computer Science are Mathematics, Media Arts and Design (SMAD), Integrated Science and Technology (ISAT), Art, and Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication (WRTC). Other combinations are usually easily done because the Computer Science major does not require a very large number of credits.
Individuals successful in this field tend to be logical, creative thinkers willing to learn the technical aspects of computing. They possess analytical, organizational and problem solving skills. They are patient, persistent, and accurate, and adapt well to changing problems and situations.
Most graduates choose typical career paths associated with this major, usually beginning as entry-level programmers or customer support personnel, and subsequently moving into positions as requirements developers, software architects, software testers, and often development team managers. However, some graduates choose unrelated careers that utilize skills and experiences developed during their years in college. Keep in mind that some fields will require graduate study or further training. The listing below offers examples of possible career paths and is not meant to be comprehensive.
Who employs graduates?
Cable, Motion Picture & TV Studios, Colleges & Universities, Computer Companies, Federal, State, and Local Government Agencies, Gaming Companies, Engineering Firms, Financial Institutions, Insurance Companies, Internet Service Providers, Management Consulting Firms, Manufacturing Companies, Military Branches, Newspaper Publishers, Online Service Providers, Private Sector Companies, Private and Public Schools, Publishers, Research Institutions, Retail Chains, Software Companies, Software/Hardware Manufacturers, Special Effects Companies, or Web Design Companies.
The CS Internship Coordinator helps students develop a resume and identify internship opportunities. Most of these are summer employment situations and they can earn academic credit. Students can also gain experience and/or exposure to the computer science field by getting involved in the Student Chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery, the Computer Forensics Club, the Cyberdefense Club, or the Competitive Programming Team.
What are JMU graduates doing with this major?
Computer Electronic Product Manufacturing
Computer and Information Systems Managers
Computer and Information Research Scientists
Computer Security Analysis
Computer Support Specialists
Computer Systems Analysts
Information Security Analysts, Web Developers, and Computer Network Architects
Network and Computer Systems Administrators
Special Effects – Motion Picture and Videos Industries
What is Artificial Intelligence?
A broad range of resources on career fields, internships, and job search information is also available in the Career & Academic Planning Resource Center.
Make an appointment with a CAP career counselor to learn more about this major and your career options.
A few titles from our Resource Center related to this field include:
© Career & Academic Planning, James Madison University, 2013