Executive Education

Designed For Career Change: Pivot Into Computer Science With the University of Pennsylvania’s Online MCIT Degree

Upenn MCIT

Computer science is a dynamic and highly-paid field. According to Indeed, all of the best-paid computer science careers earn a national average of over $70,000. For instance, systems analysts, which “maintain an up-to-date computer system for a company or organization” earn an average of nearly $80,000 annually.

If you didn’t pursue an undergraduate computer science degree, you may think you can’t pivot to this field. Alternately, you could believe that your career history in another sector may not transfer, leaving you at square one in the computer science field. Or you could be staying in your current position because you don’t want to go back to school full time.

No matter your stumbling block with a career shift, the online Master of Computer and Information Technology (MCIT) at the University of Pennsylvania can help you transition your skills to a new field in 2021. Here, we’ll answer common questions about the MCIT that potential students might have.

Who is the MCIT for?

If you didn’t major in computer science in college, Penn’s MCIT is designed for you. The program is only for students who don’t have experience or education backgrounds in this field already. Students in the program have backgrounds in many different areas, including business, history, chemistry, and medicine.

What’s more, the program has a commitment to enrolling diverse classes.  Students come from 32 different countries, and 38% of students are women.

How are the courses designed?

The MCIT offers real-world learning with Penn’s Ivy League-quality education. Here’s how Penn describes the impact of the program:

online computer science degree“Equipped with a competitive computer science degree, MCIT Online graduates will be uniquely positioned to fill roles in finance, healthcare, education, and government, as well as in the core software development industry. Exposure to real-world projects throughout the program will prepare students to utilize skills that positively impact society.”

Every student needs to take six core courses that prepare you for your career pivot. These are:

  • Introduction to Software Development
  • Mathematical Foundations of Computer Science
  • Introduction to Computer Systems
  • Data Structures & Software Design
  • Computer Systems Programming
  • Algorithms & Computation

Students also need to take four electives to complete their degrees. Some of these electives include:

  • Fundamentals of Linear Algebra & Optimization
  • Wireless Communications for Mobile Networks and Internet of Things
  • Computer Vision & Computational Photography
  • Statistics for Data Science: An Applied Machine Learning Course

This is the only program of its kind in the Ivy League that admits students without computer science backgrounds. Further, students complete the coursework fully online, without any residency requirements. Notably, the degree you earn won’t specify whether it was completed online or in person, meaning that in-person and online requirements are equally rigorous.

How long does the degree take to complete?

The degree is self-paced, and you can take as many or as few of the 10 required courses per semester as fits your lifestyle. The program is designed for you to finish in between 16 and 40 months.

How much does the program cost?

Students who complete the degree completely online pay less than students who complete it in person. Each course costs $2,636, and students take a total of 10 courses.

What do graduates of the MCIT do?

38 percent of graduates pivoted to a new field after completing courses in the MCIT degree. The coursework prepares you to use the experience you already have in a new way. Graduates have gone on to work at Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle, and Bloomberg.

Penn’s alumni network and career services offer you advice for the specific subfield within computer science you might want to pursue, as well as connecting you with companies after you’ve finished your degree.

How do I know if Penn’s MCIT is the right career move for me?

If you’re not sure if you’re ready to commit to the program, you can try the Computational Thinking for Problem Solving, one of the core courses in the MCIT, for $49. This class assesses your ability to think like a computer scientist and gives you more insight if this is the new career for you before you commit to a 10-course sequence.

When it comes to preparing for a career shift, there is no time like the present. As we know, technological developments are creating new positions that didn’t exist even five years ago, and if you want to join this dynamic field, Penn’s MCIT can offer you a new direction in computer science.

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