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Computer science is often used as an umbrella term to cover everything spanning from artificial intelligence and data science to robotics, game development, and cybersecurity. Generally, computer science is the study of computers and how they work, including software, hardware, and algorithms. 

Computer scientist is one of the many career paths an individual with a computer science degree can pursue. Professionals in this role create solutions that combine technology and analytics and use common programming languages to build programs, applications, and platforms that help businesses of all sizes prepare for the future. Computer engineers, on the other hand, combine electrical engineering and computer science to develop new technology and work to design, build, and maintain hardware in modern computers.  

Because computers are so important in today’s society, computer science is a constantly growing and evolving field where students can learn a wide range of skills to prepare them for a dynamic job market. 

Computer Programming

One area of computer science is programming. Computer programming involves the process of giving machines a set of instructions that describe how a program should be carried out. Programmers devote their careers to learning a variety of programming languages and tools to effectively build computer programs. 

The common categories of programming languages to help students become inspired to start coding include:

  • Procedural programming languages: Follow a sequence of statements or commands to achieve a desired output. Common examples of procedural languages include C and C++, Java, Pascal, and BASIC. 
  • Functional programming languages: Focus on the output of mathematical functions and evaluations. Some popular functional programming languages include Scala, Erlang, Haskell, Elixir, and F#. 
  • Object-oriented programming languages: This type of language treats a program as a group of objects composed of data and program elements known as attributes and methods. Common object-oriented programming (OOP) languages include Java, Python, PHP, C++, and Ruby. 
  • Scripting languages: Used to automate repetitive tasks, scripting languages manage dynamic web content, or support processes in larger applications. Common scripting languages include PHP, Ruby, Python, bash, Perl, and Node.js. 
  • Logic programming language: Expresses a series of facts and rules to instruct the computer on how to make decisions. Examples of logic languages include Prolog, Absys, Datalog, and Alma-0. 

Computer Organization

Students learning computer organization learn the ways computers move information from place to place, while examining the central process unit, primary and secondary memory, accessories and peripheral devices, and the circuitry that conducts operations. 

The three types of computer organization include: 

  • Single accumulator organization: Names one of the general-purpose registers as the accumulator and uses it to necessarily store one of the operands.
  • General register organization: Uses two or three address fields in a computer’s instruction format, with each address field specifying a general register or a memory word.
  • Stack organization: Also known as the Last In First Out (LIFO) list, it is the most important feature in the CPU and saves data such that the element stored last is retrieved first. 

Calculus and Discrete Math

Students pursuing a career in computer science will generally take rigorous coursework, including discrete mathematics and calculus, which play an important part in understanding the various programming languages and data structures used in the field. 

Success in computer science requires critical thought, abstract reasoning, and logic rooted in mathematical ways of thinking. Many students find discrete math more challenging than calculus. What carries over from one study to the other, however, is an understanding of logic and proofs. One of the topics in discrete mathematics is an introduction to logic, which may help as a precursor to learning calculus.  


Software is a set of instructions, data, or programs used to operate computers and execute specific tasks, and is a generic term that references the applications, scripts, and programs that run a device. 

The two main categories of software are application software and system software. System software is designed to run a computer's hardware and provides a platform for applications to run on top of. An application is software that fulfills a specific need or performs tasks.

Other types of software include programming software, which provides the programming tools software developers need; middleware, which sits between system software and applications; and driver software, which operates computer devices and peripherals.

Data Management

Data management is the practice of collecting, organizing, protecting, and storing an organization’s data in order to be analyzed for business decisions. Effective data management is important in the deployment of IT systems used to run business applications and provide analytical information to drive operational decision-making by an organization’s stakeholders. As organizations create and use data at increased rates, data management solutions are vital for making sense of the vast volume of information. 

Web Development

The creation, building, and maintenance of websites is referred to as web development. It includes aspects such as web design, web publishing, web programming, and database management. It involves the development of an application that works over the internet, including websites and social network services. 

The three types of web development include: 

  • Front-end web development: Known as client-side web development, front-end is a procedure of designing the user interface of the website with front-end technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The aim of developing the front-end of the website is to allow website visitors to read web content effortlessly. 
  • Back-end web development: The role of back-end developers is writing code and building the logical parts of the entire website. It focuses primarily on back-end logic, databases, servers, and APIs.  
  • Full-stack web development: The development of the front-end and back-end is known as full-stack web development. The full-stack web developer generally has a working knowledge of web design, web development, database, and website debugging.

Computer Science Skills

Because computer science is such an in-demand career, gaining the right skills is important for individuals wanting to showcase their talent in today’s competitive job market.  Key skills employers look for are:

  • Programming languages  
  • Data analysis  
  • Technical writing  
  • Software development  
  • Cloud skills 
  • Time management 
  • Attention to detail 

Whether you want to start a career in computer science or you’re a professional looking to assume more advanced roles in the field, the bachelor’s degree in computer science at WGU can help you develop the skills and knowledge needed to succeed. WGU’s degree program prepares you to design, develop, and optimize systems that meet industry needs, and offers the opportunity to earn multiple industry-recognized certifications. 

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