Santa Clara University

Mathematics and Computer Science department

   Why Should You Major In Computer Science  
Why Should You Major In Computer Science?

Have you ever wondered what makes your iPod work right? Or your Wii? Or how the cash registers at the market or department store keep the inventory correct? Or how the TV meteorologists get their weather maps to predict tomorrow’s temperatures? The pervasive use of computers – whether to generate real-looking alien creatures or human-like animals in movies or to prevent computer viruses from destroying your hard drive – is a reality in the contemporary world.


Unlike the common perception after the “dot-com bust,” there are plenty of jobs in the U.S. for people trained in computer science, jobs that rank very high in “job satisfaction.” Experts are predicting an increase in the number of some computer-related jobs by about 30% between 2004 and 2014.  The number of projected jobs in computer science far exceeds the combined number of jobs projected for engineering, and physical and biological sciences, and there are fewer people studying computer science than the jobs projected.* Some companies have computer-related jobs that they cannot fill because of lack of applicants! CS graduates often have a starting salary that ranks above most other engineering majors and majors in business and just below that of Chemical or Electrical Engineers!


CS graduates don’t necessarily spend their lives in front of a terminal endlessly writing programs.  Programmers do that work. Computer scientiests, with their strong foundation in mathematics and theory, often get jobs focusing on research and development, rather than on implementation.  They deal with theory, problems, and issues that will not necessarily become outdated with new hardware or software.

All computer science majors learn about Data Structures (i.e., the ways data can be stored), Algorithms, and Operating Systems, and  can take elective courses in Automata and Formal Languages (i.e., abstract machines and languages), Numerical Analysis (i.e., the study of getting accurate answers to numerical problems efficiently), Cryptography, Graphics, and other areas. They can also study Graph Theory to learn how to use graphs to determine minimum paths for network connections!  At Santa Clara University, they can specialize in studying “cryptography and security.” They learn how to answer computer-related questions such as: Why does one sorting method work better than another? How does one get 100 digit accuracy when the hardware only gives 14 digits?  What can a programming language do or not do? What is the mathematics that enables one to transmit data securely? What is the mathematics I need to rotate a 3-dimensional image so that it looks “real” from any perspective? How do people use computation in various scientific fields (“computational science”)?

The Santa Clara Valley is home to computer-related companies such as Apple, HP, Google, Yahoo, IBM, eBay, Adobe (of “Abode Acrobat” fame), McAfee (of AntiVirus software fame), and Palm (of Palm Pilot fame). Numerous Santa Clara University students have gotten internships at various Silicon Valley companies and are now working at some of these companies.

If you want to study about computing while receiving a well-rounded education in Santa Clara's College of Arts and Sciences (with a program providing enough electives for a possible minor or courses in other fields), consider majoring a Computer Science.†   We hope you join us and learn about the foundations, as well as some of the many applications, of the fast-paced field of computing!

*See, and “Point/Counterpoint: Technology Curriculum for the Early 21st Century,” in Communications of the ACM, July 2008 [v 51, no 7], pp 27—32.
Students specifically interested in business applications of computers can study Information Science in the School of Business.  Those who want to focus on hardware or the engineering aspects of computing (and software) can study Computer Engineering in the School of Engineering. 
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