Diploma vs. Associate Degree vs. Bachelor Degree in Computer Science – What’s the Difference?

You know you want to study computer science. You love computers, the field intrigues you, and the salary will make your life easier. But what’s the best type of program to choose, if you want to make smart financial decisions for both the present and the future?


Diploma in Computer Science

What you’ll learn: Usually, you learn a specific programming language. The diplomas are designed to ensure you can program in at least one programming language. Optional diplomas are Java, Android, Front-end (web-programming), back end and more.


Positions you can get right after graduation: You can apply for a programming position, or start with a QA or any other IT position. This depends on the type of diploma program you choose, your success in the course, previous experience, your marketing abilities, connections and the market demands.


Why choose this path: A diploma program usually costs a lot less than a degree and takes less time to complete, which means it gets you to the professional market faster. Also, there are some programming languages that don’t get enough focus in college, like JavaScript, so it might be a good option if you want to start working as a web programmer right away.


Why not: While you can get a job with a diploma in computer science, your options and the salary you can earn will be limited. In a world where you can get tuition-free associate’s and bachelor’s degrees, it might be worth it to put in the extra time now, so you can get more interesting and better-paying positions in the long run. This will also give you a much better chance to move up the ranks in the workplace than if you only get a certificate.



Associate of Science in Computer Science

What you’ll learn: Methods, tools, scientific and mathematical principles, critical thinking and other strategies to ground you in the techniques of computing, and equip you to expand your degree toward a bachelor’s degree.


Positions you can get right after graduation: An Associate Degree in Computer Science opens multiple doors for you, including jobs as a computer programmer, software engineer, network and system administrator, database administrator, and information technology specialist.


Why choose this path: An Associate’s Degree in Computer Science takes much less time to complete than a bachelor’s degree. You’ll get an associate’s degree within only two years, versus the four years it takes to complete a bachelor’s degree. That means it also costs around half the price. Of course, you can always continue to a bachelor’s degree after you graduate from an associate’s degree. The difference is you’ll already have a degree that can get you a job in the marketplace, so you can start gaining valuable work experience. Plus, it’s well known that if you split a big task, like a degree, to two smaller ones, chances of completing it increase.


The advantages of an associate’s degree compared to a diploma are that it gives you a broader education than just learning a programming language, and that it’s more respected than a diploma. It is also easier to complete a bachelor’s degree if you want to go back to school later on. That means it will also be easier for an employer to potentially help you out financially down the line to get your BA.


Why not: If you want to get into the computer science industry, the only reason not to get an associate’s degree is because you prefer the advantages that comes with a bachelor’s degree (see below), and you’re willing to invest the necessary time and money for that. But if you’re not ready for a bachelor’s degree, an associate’s degree is your best choice to move forward.



Bachelor of Science in Computer Science


What you’ll learn: A Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science goes beyond one or two programming languages. Out of all the options available, this gives you the broadest education and deepest understanding of computer science. You’ll learn about development, design, testing, database management, and you’ll know how to use multiple programming languages and operating systems.


Positions you can get right after graduation: A Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science is your getaway to the best positions in the industry, including developer, software engineer and web developement. 


Why choose this path: Out of all available alternatives, a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science will give you the broadest education you can get in computer science. If you want to understand how these fields work – getting a bachelor’s degree can be a good option for you.


Also, employers know that a graduate of a bachelor’s degree has more in-depth knowledge and understanding of anything from theory to a greater variety of programming languages and skills. To you as the graduate, that means you have more options to choose from – even if you don’t have any experience in the industry.


Plus, some companies only promote people who have bachelor’s and master’s degrees. If you have a BA, it’ll obviously be easier for you to get an MA, and open up even more, opportunities to move up the ranks.


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