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What are possible curriculum designs suitable for people changing fields into Computer Science.

Assume that a person holds an undergraduate degree in some field other than CS, perhaps not even a technical field (art, music, ...). What sorts of curricula are available to such people if they want to become CS professionals.

  • Note (caveat). I would ask this question primarily so that I can answer it. I have a few different designs but others may have more.

Possible Answers

  1. A residential program at an established college or university. The program could be at an undergraduate or (preferably) a post-graduate level.

    This is an expensive option, of course and it requires your presence, but it has the following benefits: You study with a group of scholars including faculty and other students. You have immediate access to a research library. You get an established credential upon completion.

  2. A partial face-to-face and partial online program with an established institution. A typical program might require your presence on-site for one or two days a month.

    This option might be somewhat lower cost, though travel and lodging must be considered. It has most of the advantages of a full residential program but permits you to have a life elsewhere, though a busy one. However, don't consider such a program to be "part time." It can be very intensive, requiring daily communication (via the internet) with classmates and faculty. There are programs that require face-to-face interactions for longer periods (say in the summer) but less frequently, though these are probably less likely to be suitable for someone who must maintain employment while studying.

  3. Something like a full on-line program. This could be run by a university or a profit-making institution.

    This gives you the most freedom of location and has (probably) the lowest cost, but you may not end up with a suitable credential, depending on the sponsor. It also gives you almost no access to the "community of scholars" that many consider important in learning. It is surprising how important a "coffee room" is to an academic department. Without the community of scholars you need to be completely self motivated as you get little support from colleagues within the process.

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