Are you undecided about specialization to choose during your MS Computer Science program abroad, one that is both dynamic and lucrative? Look no further! In this post, we will look at the top computer science specializations to study at the Masters (MS) level abroad and how to choose the right specialization.
Top 9 MS Computer Science Specializations
By Sashti Priya Vadivelu
Computer Science includes a wide range of occupations, job titles, and responsibilities. Whether you belong to Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics background, CS can lead you to your dream career. With its application in almost every field, CS gives you the maximum options to land a job in any industry. As per the White House, by 2020, there would be around 1.4 million CS-related jobs for Computer Science majors.
My MS CS in USA Journey
I completed my Bachelor of Engineering (Computer Science) degree with a First Class distinction. Through a campus interview/placement, I bagged a job opportunity at Infosys.
However, my eventual dream was to pursue a Master’s (MS) in Computer Science in the United States. I pursued my master’s at the University of Bridgeport. My study in the US was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, where I gained ample confidence along with international exposure.
After completing my first semester, I managed to find an on-campus job in the health care department. With proper time management and professional outlook, I was able to score an overall GPA of 3.54/4 during the end of my course and landed with an internship in a New Jersey-based company.
Later, I developed a keen desire to share my study abroad experience/learnings to guide students aspiring to pursue their higher studies abroad. This passion led me to Study Abroad Counselling.
Top 9 Computer Science Specializations for MS Abroad
An MS degree is designed to make an expert out of you, concentrated in a specific area – a specialty. When you are opting for MS abroad, the choice of specialization needs to be a well-informed one.
There are around 20 specializations in computer science – AI, ML, Cognitive Science, Computer Graphics, Data Processing, Information Technology, Software Engineering, Theoretical Computer Science, Bioinformatics, and more. The availability of CS specializations also varies from university to university. Here are the best trending computer science specializations.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence (AI) is the most sought after specialization in Computer Science today because it enables computers to perform human tasks such as visual perception, voice recognition, cognitive decision making, pattern recognition et al. From autonomous self-driving vehicles to home and industrial automation; from intelligent control systems to cutting-edge medical equipment; from advanced game development to complex language processing, its scope is so vast that there are career opportunities for anyone and everyone.
Machine Learning (ML)
Machine Learning enables a group of trained algorithms to make predictions based on pattern recognition from a given dataset, which can be used for making informed decisions in any sphere, be it business, political, social, economic or healthcare. The role of a Machine Learning Engineer is suitable for those who hail from a background in applied research and data science.
Related Article: AI, ML, Big Data Analytics & IoT Job Market Trends 2020 – 2021
Every business or organization requires Data Scientists to give them insights from data that can maximize their profits and streamline their processes. Data Science is relevant to virtually all industries that matter right now; so, proficient and knowledgeable Data Science Master’s degree graduates will be invaluable assets to employers in any industry they want to work in. Talented Data Scientists are needed in finance, healthcare, technology, and every other industry. According to an IBM report, Data Science jobs would reach the estimated figure of 2,720,000 in 2020.
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Software engineers analyze and solve problems by applying their skills in computer applications, computer systems, or systems development and are responsible for designing, maintaining, and evaluating software products/programs. Be it social networking, digital conferencing, digital collaboration, digital workspace, simple office tools, or creating a complex software system for embedded products, there is always the need for skilled Software Engineers.
Human Computer Interaction (HCI)
HCI is the study of how people use complex technological artifacts that now pervade their lives. The HCI industry includes a) researchers from psychological and computer science backgrounds interested in evaluating their theories of human or system behavior, b) designers and engineers from industrial and commercial backgrounds who aspire to build faster and more economical products. HCI graduates being proficient in user experience and design will find opportunities in different sectors like manufacturing, finance, information technology, healthcare, and government.
Cybersecurity is becoming more and more popular as more and more businesses store sensitive data online, apart from carrying out transactions in the digital domain. Starting from e-commerce, m-commerce, banking & financial services to aerospace, defense, government institutions, telecommunications, etc., every single sector having a digital footprint requires a Cybersecurity professional to protect its systems and vital user-related data from cyber-attacks.
As large to medium businesses resort to storing vast quantities of data on internet warehouses, managed by big servers, commonly known as ‘Cloud’, the need to store, manage and use that data requires special skills, which is possessed by ‘Cloud Computing’ experts. Cloud Computing supports a vast number of services; that include consumer services like Gmail or the cloud back-up of the photos on your smartphone, to the services which allow large enterprises to host all their data and run all their applications in the cloud. The need for Cloud Computing experts is now universal, as more and more businesses, as well as retail users, use the internet to store and access data on the go.
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If you are not too much into coding but would like to stay in the technology sector, this could be an ideal specialization for you. This computer science specialization covers computer sciences and its business applications. Mainly, it places emphasis on the correlation and interaction between both components.
Key aspects are are the understanding and the design of vertical information processes, data structures, applications, and systems that meet business demands.
Digital / Interactive Media
Quite often a few students end up in undergraduate computer science programs due to craze. Later, they realize that they don’t like to stay in the technical domain and look for a transition.
If you want to get into the creative side and want to leverage your technical knowledge and CS degree, you can opt for Digital Media, Interactive Media, or related specializations.
The application areas covered by this specialization include computer games, educational software, mobile devices, marketing and advertising, and location-based services.
The digital media industry is rapidly expanding and now forms an important part of the information technology industry, and this specialization is a response to the needs of this important industry sector.
How to Choose the Right Computer Science Specialization for MS
To choose the right specialization in Computer Science:
- Find out your areas of interest/passion
- Align your interests with your positives like technical background, academic projects, internship, work experience
- Figure out your career goals, both short-term and long-term
- Find out the career prospects of your chosen area, via research and networking
If you are seeking a broad perspective/knowledge of computer science, then a general MS in CS is suitable; if you wish to specialize in a field, then your prospects could improve.
Tips for Choosing the Right Computer Science Specialization
- If you love coding, software programming is a great option for you as a fresher. If you have some work experience along with business acumen, you can opt for data science or data analytics.
- Apart from solid coding, if you have exceptional command over math and love statistics, you could consider AI or ML.
- If you like to analyze data, detect patterns, and gain insights that lead to more informed business decisions, you can choose anyone among artificial intelligence, data science, data analysis, or computer theory. Note that these roles also require presenting the outcome of data analysis to key stakeholders in clear language.
- If you have an eye for visual design and pay attention to detail, then consider a role as a programmer, game designer, computer graphics designer, or UX designer. These roles also require creativity and flexibility for meeting the requirements of internal and external stakeholders.
- If you have a background in technical training and back-end operations, consider a role as an engineer, system administrator, or network administrator.
- If you have the technical expertise as well as an ability to negotiate diplomatically, consider a role in information security. Another possible role is a DevOps—shorthand for “developer operations”—engineer, a role that helps organizations bridge the gap between speed and stability in the development lifecycle.
Sashti carries 9 years of extensive experience in the industry. Apart from pursuing her Master’s in the US, she also worked in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for one year. She has extensive knowledge of university shortlisting, and visas. She is a specialist in converting visa rejects into success stories.
Her placement record encompasses top universities including the Ivy League such as Columbia University, UCLA, University of Southern California, Carnegie Mellon University, UPenn, University of Michigan, Cornell University, Georgia Tech, University of Waterloo, and the University of Alberta.
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Key Reference: Northeastern University