How useful is a CS degree?

ElGato127ElGato127 Posts: 130Member ■■■□□□□□□□
I am currently working on a CS degree to learn more about computers and IT.

Currently the Java courses are killing me.

My question is, is a CS degree really needed to work in security?

Goal - Information security
Already have MS in Biology, multiple certs

Does a CS degree give enough of a boost to be worth it for security?


  • ThePawofRizzoThePawofRizzo SSCP, A+, N+, Sec+, CySA+, Cloud+, CWTS Posts: 389Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Yes, an IT or CS degree will be very helpful in your career. I'm actually back in school working on an IT degree, not a CS (usually more attributed for software development), and had to knock out a couple difficult Java classes myself even though the degree is chiefly regarding IT infrastructure. Keep pushing through. Java is tough if you aren't a programmer, however it will help you learn skills that can help both with software development as well as scripting, both useful for a career in IT security. Taking coursework will expose you at least somewhat to topics, like Java, that you or I may not bother getting exposed to on our own.....information that could be helpful for a career in the future.
  • ElGato127ElGato127 Posts: 130Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    How important is GPA?
  • Basic85Basic85 Senior Member Posts: 176Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    ElGato127 wrote: »
    How important is GPA?

    It's always good to get the highest GPA possible if not straight A's. Some employers won't even ask or even care about GPA.
  • shodownshodown Posts: 2,271Member
    Of coures it will help give you a good theory of computing but offer little in terms of practicability. When I interview people with IT degree's they have a hudge wealth of knowledge about all the popular IT systems(Cisco, SQL, M$) and so on. Computer Science people I interview tend to have more abstract skills which are good for thinking about problems. I still believe get a comp sci degree if u want to work on building the nex gen technology and IT degree if you want to implement the current tech. The Comp Sci Degree holds more weight due to the challenge of the course load.
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  • IIIMasterIIIMaster Senior Member Posts: 238Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    A CS degree is the best IT degree to have hands down. A GPA doesn't really matter unless you trying to intern with certain companies. Do the best you can do but know really no one is checking your GPA once done. I'm trying to finish up with a MS in CS. Got a BA in something IT related.
  • TechGuru80TechGuru80 Posts: 1,539Member ■■■■■□□□□□
    It all depends on which aspect of Information Security you get into...not everything has to deal with CS. CS will help most if you get into areas specifically like reverse engineering, exploit development, or DevOps. On the flip side, if you are configuring firewalls for example...CS won't probably make your life any easier or harder since most vendors create products that make scaling easier instead of you having to create your own software...although scripting helps (but you probably aren't going to learn much bash or powershell in your courses). Another area that is growing in demand is auditing and compliance because regulations keep growing. Although it could help to know how to script some stuff, you will rely a lot on commercially developed tools to get useful artifacts.

    Is the degree a bachelor or masters? Honestly there are a lot of people with unrelated degrees but it could help you break in at a higher salary than with your current degree. How much is the degree going to cost? If you are in the ballpark of $30-40k, you might consider changing to a SANS Masters degree, specifically because those certifications hold a lot of weight and probably would do a lot more for you especially right now. The one caveat I would add to that is you need to be in a Security or Security related job though to help you learn and reinforce the material.
  • N7ValiantN7Valiant Senior Member Posts: 360Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    ElGato127 wrote: »
    How important is GPA?

    I think I was asked about it once in an application, but it never comes up in interviews and I was never asked to provide transcripts.

    That being said, you DO need skills, and if you're going to pay for the classes, you might as well get your money's worth. If you've having issues juggling college with work or something, I'd suggest prioritizing your CS courses over say, Arts and Humanities.

    I know I see Computer Science degrees showing up more in Bachelor's Degree requirements over IT. Plus one of our clients did have a fella who was a recent graduate with a CS degree. Does a lot of Python, but apparently doesn't know how to find the sticker with a Service Tag number on the front of the company's Toshiba printer.

    I suppose that says the degree will get you further than common sense.icon_cheers.gif
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  • ElGato127ElGato127 Posts: 130Member ■■■□□□□□□□

    I'm starting to like your idea. I think I might change over to WGU, do their Network/Security track, use those certs to break into security, then do SANS.

    Does anybody think this is a good plan or just nuts?

  • scaredoftestsscaredoftests Security +, ITIL Foundation, MPT, EPO, ACAS, HTL behind youPosts: 2,716Mod Mod
    it is your plan, not anyone else's. If you feel in your gut to go for it
    Never let your fear decide your fate....
  • ElGato127ElGato127 Posts: 130Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    I mostly wanted to get an idea how much difference CS vs IT would make in employability. It sounds like the practical side of IT might be a better fit, but I wanted to check whether I would be shooting myself in the foot.
  • DatabaseHeadDatabaseHead CSM, ITIL x3, Teradata Assc, MS SQL Server, Project +, Server +, A+, N+, MS Project, CAPM, RMP Posts: 2,476Member ■■■■■■■■■□
    It's hard to say since you already have a BS and MS, in Biology.

    If it's a masters degree in CS I would think it would be EXTREMELY helpful.....
  • N7ValiantN7Valiant Senior Member Posts: 360Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    ElGato127 wrote: »
    I mostly wanted to get an idea how much difference CS vs IT would make in employability. It sounds like the practical side of IT might be a better fit, but I wanted to check whether I would be shooting myself in the foot.
    They sound a bit like two different fields IMO.

    The more hands-on physical work like datacenter technician or even SysAdmin would be IT, although I believe even networking is on the IT side. You also might have an easier time getting your foot in the door since Help Desk is firmly in the IT side.

    It may also depend on your area and where you want to end up. If you want to be a programmer or web designer, that CS degree might help more. Not sure if the CS degree would help more in Security, as people say the best Security folks are people who have a solid background in working with Systems and/or Networks.

    But if Java is killing you, you might not have an aptitude in programming in general.
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  • dontstopdontstop Posts: 578Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    College or experience if put to the right use can a valuable and viable option. You've got to stop trying to find the one "perfect" path and just choose one and commit to it.
  • LeBrokeLeBroke Posts: 490Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    I would skip the degree simply because you already have one, including a Masters.

    But then, CS material is very hard to learn on your own. I'm talking about the more abstract stuff like data structures, algos, and design patterns. Coding stuff is easy if you put in the work. A biology analogy would be like having a biochemistry degree when your day job is doing pretty menial labour like mixing solutions, cleaning beakers, and making sure cultures don't die on ice.
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