Specializations in Computer Science

The areas for specialization within computer science are extremely wide and fast evolving and new specializations continue to evolve. New advancements in computer hardware and software have helped in expanding the scope of applications to areas and users not earlier planned for. This has opened up and continues to open more and more areas where there is a need for such technologically competent people. While new specializations keep evolving we have presented some popular areas of computer science offered by many U.S. universities. These specializations may be offered as degree programs at some universities or as areas of concentration within graduate computer science departments.


ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI)

AI is a complex, highly interdisciplinary branch of computer science that attempts to incorporate the principles of human intelligence and reasoning into computing systems. AI research is concerned with modeling all facets of human intelligence. It involves creating computer systems that have the ability to plan (automated deduction), adapt to different situations (machine learning), acquire human-like senses (machine vision and natural-language processing), and effect changes to the environment (robotics).
Most AI graduates find a job relevant to their degree. They can find work in a range of professions, both managerial and technical. Sectors that employ people who have graduated from this stream are information technology, data mining, speech and language technology, intelligent systems, diagnosis and quality control, fraud detection and biometric systems. You will also be qualified to work in banking or provide support for the process industry, biomedicine and bioinformatics, robotics and traffic systems.
Many students armed with Master’s degree in Artificial Intelligence also take on the path of further research work as a PhD.
This course is widely available in US universities and students with average profiles can also get admission.

COMPUTER GRAPHICS

This specialization brings together the logical mind of a computer graduate with the creative bent of an artist to create precision visuals.  It relates to using graphic design and the visual arts in combination with video and computer technologies to produce multi dimensional graphic images. The content and emphasis of computer graphics programs vary greatly depending on the level of study and the department through which the program is offered. The Masters programs focuses on more theoretical, complex areas needed to use the skill professionally in industry.
Computer graphics technology professionals use their knowledge and technical skills in graphic design and animation to design and create layouts, Web pages and multimedia productions. They can get roles like computer game designers, computer animators, Graphics designers and production artists. Industries that regularly hire professionals with this background are advertising, printing, publishing film making or design firm. IT companies that provide support and build applications for government agencies, military training departments and private companies are also major recruiters.

This Specialization is available in some good universities in USA only therefore academic requirement is slightly higher and students require 65% in bachelors and 298 in GRE.

COMPUTER ENGINEERING

Computer Engineering is a broad discipline that incorporates the fields of computer science and electrical engineering. Computer engineering emphasizes the theory, design, and development of computers and computer-related technology including both hardware and software. Graduate programs provide opportunities for advanced study in computer engineering. Computer engineers are responsible for designing, developing, implementing and testing computer-based hardware and software, including the components that are found inside computer equipment, as well as the actual devices that contain the computers and the software that runs on those machines. They may also design networks that connect computer systems, and work on integrating software programs with computer hardware.
Other than the IT industry computer engineers can find roles in telecommunications, manufacturing, transportation, product development for multiple industries like healthcare, energy, automobile, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, defense establishments and precision machinery. In many cases the role of computer engineers is not visible particularly when they work with other engineers to develop automation systems for other industries. This course is widely available in US universities and very popular among Indian students. Only students with GRE of 300 and academic of 65%+ can get admission.

COGNITIVE SCIENCE

Cognitive science is a branch of computer science that is concerned with understanding, simulating, and enhancing both natural and artificial intelligence. It is a highly interdisciplinary stream and draws from research in artificial intelligence, psychology, anthropology, linguistics, philosophy, neuroscience, and engineering. It is usually offered as specialization at the graduate level only to those who have some background to any of the relevant streams. This field explores the brain and the mechanisms and activities that affect thinking, information processing and learning. Thus it integrates research with applications and focuses on development and optimization of language acquisition, mathematical comprehension and behavior formation.
A major in cognitive science offers opportunities both managerial and technical for individuals to work in different industries, such as information systems, government agencies, Software development companies, clinical research institutes, publishing and telecommunications. It also has a big role and application in the education industry using human factor design, linguistic analysis and applied human-computer interaction to help create interactive educational solutions, instructional computer games, courseware and Web-based learning applications.
The Cognitive Science specialization might lead to a career in human factor design or applied human-computer interaction.
This Specialization is available in some good universities in USA only. Therefore academic requirement is slightly higher and students require 65%+ in bachelors and 298+ in GRE.

COMPUTER NETWORKS

This is study of the principles of communication between computers. It emphasizes on the design of networks between computers like local area networks (LANs), which connect computers within a small geographical area, and wide area networks (WANs), which use telephone lines or radio waves to connect computers thousands of miles apart. However with the advancement of technology it now also includes networks connecting various devices like hand held devices, mobile phones and other equipment being used as devices for interaction with the computer systems.
Almost all large and medium size organizations in addition to IT and telecom companies hire network specialists to manage their internal networks. The role is particularly critical in industries where network security and uptime are critical to business. Some of the roles taken up by network professionals are Network Administrators, Network Designer, Network Engineer or Analyst, Network Trainer, Information Systems Manager, Network Scientist, Project Managers, Computer Networking Support Specialists, and Network Security Specialist.
This is the most commonly available course among Comp Sc specializations in USA. Most students can find appropriate universities that suit their profile.

ROBOTICS

Robotics is a branch of computer science that applies artificial intelligence and engineering concepts to create and program mechanical devices (robots) that are able to perform a variety of tasks including some previously performed by humans. There are several specialties to choose from within the field of robotics. Some of these include machine automation, medical robotics, cybernetics, quantum mechanical systems, air traffic management and a variety of other areas that utilize robots to make work processes easier for humans.
There is an increasing need for engineers who can design, build, and maintain complex, automated, and intelligent systems of today and of the future. Graduates in Robotics  can conduct research and develop new and advanced technologies like unmanned vehicles, automated construction machinery, mining equipment, process control in factories, computer vision related products, simulation software, advanced sensor systems, and wearable systems.
Robotics graduates can find roles in various industries including electronics, automotive, agriculture, manufacturing and machine automation, quantum mechanical systems, air traffic management and transportation, surgery and medical robotics, weaponry, safety and cybernetics, research and the mass production of consumer goods.
A Master degree in Robotics opens up doors for PhD studies and an academic career in robotics.
This is a niche program offered by few universities in USA. Admission is highly competitive and students without backlogs, high grades and high GRE scores are only likely to get admission.

SOFTWARE ENGINEERING

A Masters in Software Engineering is designed for individuals who wish to expand their career within this field. It provides students with the skill sets and in-depth knowledge related to computer science, computer technology, management, and engineering economics. It seeks to build cost- effective development and modification of computer software components. This program is meant for those who want to progress in their career in this field only. 
Since this is a fast growing field and the scope is continuously expanding a graduate can find openings in not only the software industry but in other industries which employ professionals to build and manage their requirements internally. Industries that are currently hiring software engineers are, aerospace, defense, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, consumer products, biomedical, intelligence, nonprofit, government, finance, insurance, health care, automobile, telecom, defense and gaming. it also opens up doors for consulting opportunities as technology evolves and gets more ingrained into our everyday life. This course is fairly widely available in US universities. This course is also very common among Indian students studying at US universities. Entry requirements vary based on university and some universities also accept students without GRE scores.

COMPUTER PROGRAMMING

Computer programming  is the process of designing, writing, testingdebugging, and maintaining the source code of computer programs. This source code is written in one or more programming languages. It is one of the most open-ended and commonly pursued specializations. This kind of study also involves testing computer programs for problems ("debugging" them). This stream is sometimes used interchangeably with software engineering however the two streams are different. Software engineering is more about finding solutions to business problems and computer programming is about implementing the solutions.
Since these are so interlinked computer engineers and software engineers work with each other and sometimes also step into each others’ roles. Therefore all the industries and opportunities mentioned above (see software engineering) are also applicable for computer programming. Some of the work roles taken up by computer programmers are Coding, Compilation, Debugging, Documentation, Integration, Maintenance, Requirements analysis, Software architecture, Software testing, This course is fairly widely available in US universities. This course is also very common among Indian students studying at US universities. Entry requirements vary based on university and some universities also accept students without GRE scores.

DATABASE SYSTEMS

Database involves the study of systems, known as databases, which can efficiently store, process, and retrieve substantial quantities of information. At the masters level an advanced study of analysis and design of relational, network, and hierarchical databases is generally covered. Since data is key to any organization for its business the role of the database specialist is crucial while determining the requirements and its use and maintenance.  Database system specialists thus play the following roles. They participate in Data Definition (Defining new data structures, removing and modifying the structure of existing data), Data Maintenance (Inserting, updating and deleting data),  extracting data and Data Control (monitoring and restricting access).
This course is fairly widely available in US universities. This course is also very common among Indian students studying at US universities. Entry requirements vary based on university and some universities also accept students without GRE scores.

COMPUTER SERVICING TECHNOLOGY

Computer Service Technology program basically provides technical support to computer users in a work environment. This instructional program prepares individuals to install, operate, upgrade, maintain hardware and software, test, service, create maintenance schedule and diagnose operational problems in computer systems arising from mechanical or electrical malfunctions in computer units or systems.
Specialists in computer servicing can find openings in any large organization that has a large network of computers for quick response on maintenance. Typical industries include financial organizations, the government, healthcare, educational institutions, call centres, IT companies and manufacturing set ups.
Also opportunities are available with IT service support organizations who take up the role of managing the systems for their clients.
This course is not very common and only a few universities offer this specialization. Entry requirements vary based on university however students need overall 60%+ in Bachelors with few backlogs.GRE is not compulsory for admission in this course.

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