Connecticut may be America's third-smallest state, but it has a prestigious and long-established history when it comes to education. The state held the first established municipal public library in the country. The first medical diploma was granted by Connecticut's Yale University. Additionally, Connecticut was home to the nation's first law school. All of this before the 1800s had even begun.
Education is important to the people of "the Constitution State." The U.S. Census Bureau reported that during the four-year period of 2009-2013, 36.5 percent of Connecticut's population aged 25 and over held a bachelor's degree or higher -- comparatively higher than the national average of 28.8 percent during the same period.
Connecticut's historical focus on quality education now includes computer science and other breaking hi-tech fields. The availability and quality of computer science education has in turn fed the growth of the state's hi-tech industry and related job markets. The Connecticut Technology Council, the state's premier association for technology-related businesses and interested corporate sponsors, consists of over two thousand companies which employ an estimated 200,000 Connecticut residents.
Computer Science Education in Connecticut
Connecticut has seventeen colleges, universities and technical schools offering computer science undergrad and graduate degree programs. Eleven of these schools are classed as private nonprofit, while six of them are public schools. Yale University in New Haven, certainly the highest profile school in the state, was ranked #5 in the ComputerTrainingSchools.com report on the 30 Best Computer Schools in the country.
Yale University is one of the most prestigious schools in North America. It is a private not-for-profit school, and it participates in Title IV financial aid programs. Yale boasts a graduation rate of 98 percent and a student retention rate of 99 percent, both exceptional achievements. The student-to-faculty ratio is 6:1, placing it ahead of many top schools.
The Department of Computer Science at Yale offers a variety of Bachelor's of Arts and Bachelor's of Science undergraduate programs, including three interdepartmental double major programs:
- Computer science and electrical engineering
- Computer science and mathematics
- Computer science and psychology
For students looking to achieve a graduate degree in computer science, Yale has both a master's degree and a Ph.D. doctoral program.
The starting point for computer science education in Connecticut is the Associate's degree. An Associate's degree is often the preferred choice for students looking for a shorter program (often 1-2 years in length), and one that is less expensive to complete. The University of New Haven offers a two-year associate program in computer science. Students can eventually choose to apply their associate program credits towards achieving a Bachelor's degree.
While an associate degree can serve to get a candidate into the job market, the preferred standard for tech industry companies is the four-year bachelor's degree in computer science. These degrees generally come in two flavors: the Bachelor's of Arts (BA) and the Bachelor's of Science (BS). Computer science BA programs tend to cover a broader slate of subjects, and are less focused on engineering and more complex mathematics -- subjects which are given higher priority in BS computer science degree programs.
The University of Connecticut, or UConn as it is popularly known, is a public school with a BS program for computer science on its own, and another BS program that combines computer science and engineering. Trinity College in Hartford is a private not-for-profit school which offers both BA and BS computer science degree programs.
Many schools offer students the ability to focus on certain technology specializations while taking their Bachelor's degree in computer science. Some of the common specializations available include:
- Wireless networking
- Software development and testing
- Database administration
- Security and risk analysis
- Auditing information systems
- Mobile applications
Students who are interested in entering the tech industry at a higher level may choose to attend graduate school and achieve a master's degree in computer science. Most Master's programs in computer science are master's of science (MS) degrees. In the school spotlight that follows, we describe one example of an M.S. computer science degree program.
Computer Science School Spotlight: Southern Connecticut State University
Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) is located in New Haven, CT. It's a public school with over ten thousand students, approximately 80 percent of them undergraduates. The student-to-faculty ratio is an impressive 14:1, and the school's student retention rate from first to second year is 75 percent.
In late 2015 the school had a ribbon cutting ceremony for its new Academic Science and Laboratory building. This new facility includes Connecticut's only center for nanotechnology, as well as high-performance computing labs. The graduate students enrolled in SCSU's master's of science (MS) in computer science will likely be spending a lot of time in this new building.
SCSU's M.S. in computer science program offers students two distinct concentrations to choose from: software development or network and information security.
Here are the core subjects taken in the M.S. in computer science program:
- Database Systems
- Web Programming
- Multithreaded Distributed Programming
- Computer Networks
Students who choose the software development concentration go on to take the following subjects:
- Software Engineering
- Advanced Database Systems
- Fundamentals of Mobile Application Development
- Software Quality
Students who select the network and information security track add these subjects:
- Principles of Information Security
- Network Security
- Ethical Hacking and Penetration Testing
- Secure Systems
M.S. in computer science students also have to complete a thesis, demonstrating their ability to do independent research.
Tech Industries and Careers in Connecticut
During the early days of the tech boom, professionals were leaving Connecticut to take jobs in Silicon Valley or other large industry hubs. However, the availability of careers in the state's own tech sector has increased in recent times.
According to the most recent Connecticut IT Job Trends report by SkillProof, statewide IT job openings increased 15 percent from 2013-2015. Here are some of the IT job categories listed in this report:
- IT Architects / Consultants
- Software Development
- Systems Engineering and Support
- IT Management
- Systems Administration
- Business Process Design
Metro Employment Centers
One computer science-related job role not listed above is computer programmer. With numbers provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, here is a list of the top five metro employment centers in Connecticut for computer programmers.
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford
"SkillProof IT Jobs Report," SkillProof, October 2015, http://www.ct.org/resources/skillproof-it-jobs-report/
"MS in Computer Science," SCSU Computer Science Department, https://www.southernct.edu/academics/schools/arts/departments/computerscience/graduate/
"Connecticut's Historical Facts," Connecticut Official State Website, October 26, 2015, http://portal.ct.gov/About/Historical-Information-and-Documents/
"State Facts -- Connecticut," U.S. Census Bureau, October 26, 2015, http://www.census.gov/statefacts/connecticut.html
Connecticut Technology Council, October 26, 2015, ct.org/about