Many students are interested in pursuing studies in Computer Science in college. We on the computer science faculty are often asked the following questions, and we hope this document will help to answer them.
What computing majors are available?
We offer two majors in the Department: Computer Science and Information Technology. Although both involve the field of computing, there are significant differences between them.
Computer Science majors learn how computers work and study a number of fields in computer science. As part of your studies, you learn how to build several different types of software, including server, desktop, mobile, and web applications. Read more about the Computer Science major, and view a flyer.
Graduates of both majors are equipped to build computing solutions. One way to think about the difference is that IT majors learn to create solutions using the software built by CS majors.
Which computing major is right for me?
If you are interested in learning about how computers work, you want to know how to write software, and you don't run screaming when the word "math class" is mentioned, the Computer Science major is probably for you. By its very nature, this is a highly technical study that demands a strong mathematical aptitude. If you major in Computer Science, you will study subjects like assembly language, digital electronics, microprocessor architecture, programming languages, and operating system design -- you become intimately acquainted with "what makes a computer tick." This major gives you the understanding you need to successfully tackle demanding problems in many different fields of computing.
If you aren't interested in learning to create software, consider the Information Technology major. Many students want to learn how to create solutions using computer technology without necessarily dealing with the nitty-gritty details of writing software or tackling the required math classes. If math is definitely not your thing, this is probably the option you should consider.
What are my career options?
Our computer science graduates usually find employment as software developers. Some have become researchers, systems administrators, and computer security specialists.
Our information technology graduates work as network engineers, server administrators, IT technicians, and network administrators.
What are the advantages of studying CS or IT at BJU?
We have a strong "hands-on" philosophy in our courses; we expect our students not only to learn computer science concepts, but to be able to apply those concepts on real computers to solve real problems. This means our students graduate with the skills needed to build solutions for their employers from day one on the job. The employers in our area know this, and our graduates are in considerable demand. Many of our students work for businesses in the community while they are in school because employers are eager to grab them before they graduate!
Many of our graduates are also actively involved in helping meet the computing needs of churches, Christian schools, and missionaries around the world. The same skills that make them employable in industry enable them to assist pastors and Christian workers with their information needs.
Ok, you've convinced me I need training. What benefits will I reap from a 4-year degree that I wouldn't get from a technical school?
Technical schools teach you to use today's technology so you can get a job now. Period. That's their purpose.
Unfortunately, today's technology is tomorrow's trash! When you choose a career in the field of computers, you make a commitment to lifelong learning. That means you have to do more than learn how to build software systems using today's tools: you have to learn how to adapt, so that you can continue to be an effective computing professional in twenty years. A liberal arts degree in computer science or information technology will give you the perspective and foundation you need to be able to react to changes in technology, analyze trends, and determine what tools you should invest the time and effort to learn to construct good solutions both now and in the future.
"Today's Technology: Tomorrow's Trash?" I know that, but I would still feel more comfortable if you taught current technology!
Don't worry, we do.
- Computer Science majors learn to write GUI and web applications using Object-Oriented techniques in languages like Java, C#, and Python. You'll develop applications for both the Windows and Linux operating systems; interact with MySQL databases; and use professional development tools like Visual Studio and Eclipse.
- Information Technology majors learn the basics of GUI programming in Visual Basic.NET; work with scripting languages such as VBA and bash to automate Microsoft Office and perform system administration; learn to setup and configure the Windows and Linux operating systems; design and interact with databases using Microsoft Access and SQL; etc.
What should I be doing now (in high school) to help prepare me for college studies?
If you are considering majoring in Computer Science, take all the math you can. In order to enroll in our first computer science class, you must demonstrate a certain level of mathematical proficiency. Students with weak math backgrounds must make up math deficiencies before they can enroll in their first computer science course. And we tend to find that students who have not taken their math studies seriously in high school simply haven't developed their logical thought processes to the point where they are capable of successfully completing even the introductory programming class.
You also should take every opportunity you can to become proficient at using computers. Remember: Computer Science is not the study of using a computer, it's the study of teaching a computer to solve problems! We assume that students coming in to the major are comfortable using computers to do basic tasks like word processing, managing files, and so on.
Finally, if you can, take an introductory course in computer programming while in high school. More than anything else, this will help you to know if Computer Science is something you want to invest four years of your life studying.
I'm coming this fall! What computer equipment and software should I bring?
Students in the Department of Computer Science are expected to own a personal laptop. See the current requirements.
The software you need for your classes is, in most cases, free or comes with your textbook. We have agreements with Microsoft that allow us to distribute all editions of Windows to CS/IT majors, and all BJU students have access to download and install Microsoft Office.
Does your department have ABET Accreditation?
The Department does not have any plans to pursue ABET accreditation at present. In our most recent program review, performed during the Spring 2018 semester, we compared our curriculum to the ACM/IEEE and ABET curriculum guides, as well as programs at other schools (some of which are ABET accredited). Our program meets the recommendations in those guides.
We feel that the ABET guidelines are helpful, but the actual annual costs and the costs for reviews are an unnecessary expense. This opinion was also expressed in a conversation held this past spring on the CS Christianity forum where the question of the value of ABET accreditation was posed.
Who can I contact if I have other questions?
Feel free to write, call, or email any of the Computer Science faculty. We are happy to hear from prospective students and to answer your questions.