Friday, June 7, 2013

How much experience does a Computer Science Degree provide?

Many companies employment requirements include a computer science degree or "Equivalent Experience".  In reality, the "Equivalent Experience" of a college computer science degree is much lower than employers believe.

Most times companies quantify equivalent experience as an amount of time, which is 4 years.  Just because school normally lasts for 4 years, does that mean an individual gains 4 years worth of computer experience from a computer science degree.

  A core component of the US bachelor degree is a humanities education.  This comes in the form of required courses in art, english, history, philosophy, mathematics, social studies and often contain a physical education aspect.  The vast majority of 4 year programs require courses from the above disciplines, in hopes of creating "well rounded" students.  These courses are required even in technical programs.  

I looked at the requirements for a computer science degree at UMBC (major requirements).  70 computer science and math credits are required for a degree.  In my browsings, I have seen anywhere between 70-90 credits required in the field.  For calculation purposes I will assume 80 credits required.

80 credits total / 15 credits per semester (average) = 5.3 semesters of school 

A semester is roughly 3.5 months of school.

5 semester * 3.5 months per semester = 17.5 months 

Um. This is 1.5 years of 15 / per week instruction?

84 weeks (1.5 years) * 15 hours of instruction per week = 1260 hours of instruction

1260 hours is 31.5 40 hour weeks, significantly less than 1 full year.


  1. It's not about the hours its about the paper.

  2. You're not including the time the student spends outside of class on projects and whatnot, which is where the majority of the learning comes from (I assume--I'm taught myself programming after I realized that my English and Theater degrees were not the big moneymakers I had hoped for.)