Bachelors Degree - What Major to pursue?

So I know its very controversial if people who are studying coding online and through various programs and or bootcamps actually need a traditional bachelors degree. But assuming that I want to get a traditional bachelors degree as well as teaching myself coding through places like here, what degree should I look at?

I am still very new to playing around with coding, so its hard for me to say what kind of job I would want to get, I really dont know very much about the different positions, other than the obvious front-end or back-end. But I do know that I really like learning the different languages. I feel pretty comfortable with the basic website design, html/css, I have a design and art background, so I dont necesarily want a degree that will focus too much on that. I almost feel like I want to learn more of the theoretical functioning of websites and data interchanges… But I dont know if that is a smart direction to go.

So any input and guidance is much appreciated


This is probably pretty regional, but in the US you would want “Computer Science” if you’re interested in programming and “Computer Engineering” if you’re interested in hardware. There’s a lot of overlap and one doesn’t exclude you from the other, but that’s generally the distinction.

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Hey Nao,

While its probably true that many people don’t believe a bachelor’s degree isn’t a necessary requirement to get a programming job, but I doubt very many people will advise against it.

I’m currently studying CS, and I know that my experience and learning in the classroom has advanced my programming knowledge way more than learning online has. Its ultimately up to you to decide what type of degree you want to get, but I want to point out that web development is just a small portion of the jobs you could be interested in. So far, almost all of my CS classes have focused on things like algorithms, data structures, things like that, rather than more web design-y topics like HTML and CSS.

My advice would be to get a CS degree if you want to become a better all-around programmer, and choose something like Data Science or Information if you want to just focus on web technologies.

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Computer Science may seem like the obvious choice for a degree to most people, but it’s not really the one that I would recommend even if you’re interested in programming. And due to the recent trends in MOOCs, a lot of the topics that are foundational to computer science are rapidly becoming available online for free or at low cost, which would leave you with the commonly higher-level computer science courses to pursue for a degree such as operating systems, programming languages, artificial intelligence, computational theory, numerical computation, computer graphics, networking, database theory, compiler theory, etc.

Now if you are interested in any of those topics, especially more than a few of them, then sure I’d recommend pursuing a CS degree. But if your reason for getting a CS degree is merely for the foundational courses (intro to programming, data structures, & algorithms), then you shouldn’t waste your time and money on that when those can be learned for much lower cost.

It’s because of the commercialization of computer science content that I would recommend against a computer science degree today if you’d be only in it to learn the basics. A minor in CS and a major in another area would get you much further not only in terms of breadth of knowledge but also in terms of your potential career. If you combined a minor in CS with a major in Electrical Engineering, for example, that would give you the background necessary to work in embedded systems for the companies that produce computational hardware (CPUs, phones, robots, etc). Or alternately you could combine a minor in CS with a major in Business or Finance if you’re interested in the business side of things, especially if you think you might ever form your own business or be an executive-level partner in a small company.

So basically my advice is to not pay for the things that you can learn for free online. If you’re going to go to college, then study something that will make sense to pay for (i.e., something you can’t easily learn from MOOCs on the Internet).

Also, another thing about college that’s not mentioned nearly enough is to think about what you want to get out of it and your future in general, i.e. the “intangibles”. Don’t forget that college is the single largest dating pool you’ll get in life, and you could very well meet lifelong friends in college too, so what kind of people would you prefer to be surrounded by most of the time—the intellectual & brainy people that tend to go into CS? Or artsy & creative people? Or the Type-A personalities that tend to go into business/finance? So don’t just pick a major based only on what you want to learn, but keep in mind the kind of people that will be your peers.