The MCS Degree

Computer science is an incredibly diverse and complex field. All students that learn computer science learn to program, but it is naïve to assume that anyone who can program is a computer scientist or that all computer scientists are the same. UVU graduates work on problems as varied as fighter jets, e-commerce, and computer games to medical software and more. To be successful at these respective companies, alumni must rely upon different skill sets to develop these very different products.

The MCS is designed to be flexible to support this need for different skill sets among students. UVU's undergraduate program does an excellent job of preparing students to enter the workforce and be highly productive with the skills and confidence to learn new technologies and apply them on novel problems. Even so, the undergraduate program still does not afford students the time or course material to tackle the large and complex problems they can face in today's diverse and complex industries. Strategies that might work fine on a small program will fail miserably on a system that is measured in thousands or tens of thousands of lines of code, because the strategies do not scale to larger systems.

To support workforce development, the MCS curriculum is rigorous, relevant, and practical. Any advanced degree needs and wants a certain amount of theoretical material, the focus of this degree is to help you enter the high-tech workforce as a leader and innovator. This focus is directly inline with UVU's mission statement of preparing "professionally competent people of integrity who, as lifelong learners and leaders, serve as stewards of a globally interdependent community."

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a Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS) degree is most often associated with a theoretical or research-based thesis--it develops research skills. A Master of Computer Science (MCS) degree is considered a professional degree--graduate students complete a graduate project rather than a research-focused thesis.  The UVU Computer Science (CS) Department offers an MCS degree becuase the department's focus is on preparing students to enter the local, national, and global workforce as leaders and innovators rather than focusing on preparing students to conduct basic research.

The focus of the degree does not mean you cannot explore exciting, cutting-edge new technologies: your focus will be on developing a working project rather than fundamental research and publishing papers.  The MCS does value writing and presenting presentations--to be a workforce leader and innovator, you must be able to express highly technical and complex topics concisely and clearly. Developing your technical communication skills will always be a part of the MCS, but it is not the main product.

The UVU Computer Science Department has chosen this approach to our master's degree because:

  • UVU focuses on applied and practical learning.
  • The CS faculty is confident and experienced in this mission.
  • Labor market reports for the Provo-Orem metropolitan area indicate more skilled computer science professionals are needed at the master’s level.
  • Other universities within the state currently offer MSCS degrees.

MCS Career Opportunities

The United States Department of Labor, the Utah Department of Workforce Services, the Economic Development and Employer Planning System organization, and Burning Glass Technologies all indicate computer science is one of the highest growth areas in the high-tech sector, and a significant number of the jobs in this sector will require advanced degrees beyond the undergraduate level. Employment projections from the United States Department of Labor indicate computer occupations will grow by 12.5% from 2014 to 2024 with 1,156,800 new jobs in that same time period. This is six percent higher than the growth projected for all jobs in the US. The report "Should I get a master's degree?" from the United States Department of Labor indicates professionals in computer science-related fields with a master's degree earn $16,000 more than those with only a bachelor's degree.

The Brookings Institution, "America’s Advanced Industries What They Are, Where They Are, and Why They Matter", and The New Yorker magazine, "How Utah Became the Next Silicon Valley" have identified Utah Valley as one of the hubs of this nation's high-tech industry. Utah Department of Workforce Services Occupational Projections for 2012 through 2022 indicate 1,180 new jobs in the "Computer and Mathematical" sector annually, with another 610 open jobs from replacement jobs, giving 1,790 total open jobs annually. By 2022 projections are for Utah to have 48,170 jobs in this same sector. Of this total, 45,670 are expected to be computer science or computer science-related jobs. The Provo-Orem Metropolitan Area is predicted to need 11,050 of these total jobs.

A survey commissioned by the Utah Technology Council indicated that 28% of engineering positions will be at the MS level. This means that of the projected 11,050 computer science-related jobs in the Provo-Orem Metropolitan Area in 2022, roughly 3,000 could be MS-level software positions with another 9,000 being needed across the state.

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