There are a lot of reasons to consider earning a master’s degree in computer science, one of the highest-paying master’s degrees, including lucrative earning potential and plentiful job opportunities in a variety of industries. However, one reason prospective students may shy away from this field is its reputation for being a difficult subject. This reputation isn’t undeserved, since in many ways, computer science is difficult. That said, students who take the time to build up their related skills and have the discipline to learn the principles and practices of programming without getting discouraged are likely to find that the challenges of studying computer science are worth undertaking.

Why Computer Science Is a Hard Field to Learn

There are a few factors that make computer science a hard field of study to learn. For one thing, computer science is closely related to math. Many of the foundations of computer science are mathematical in nature. Since mathematics is widely considered one of the most difficult subjects, it stands to reason that this reputation for difficulty would extend to math-related fields like computer science.

Although you don’t necessarily need to be a math whiz at complex calculations to do well in computer science, you need to at least be average in your math skills and to work to cultivate skills in mathematical thinking. It’s this thinking that helps you learn one of the most challenging computer science skills, which is computer programming.

Like math, computer science is constructive, which means each new course and topic builds upon prior studies in the field. If you fail to master one aspect of coursework, it may hinder your ability to master the next computer science topic you encounter in your studies.

Learning Skills in Computer Science – Like All Subjects – Takes Time

Is Computer Science More Difficult Than Other Fields

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Don’t let the challenging nature of the field deter you from pursuing a career in computer science if that’s really what you want to do. There’s no question that most people find the theoretical underpinnings and the programming skills that are involved in computer science to be difficult. However, that’s true for the most complex aspects of just about any subject.

A huge part of succeeding in a computer science degree program is recognizing that it takes time to master these difficult skills and areas of knowledge. Programming isn’t a skill that comes naturally or easily to many people, so if you haven’t been exposed to it before, there’s a good chance that you will struggle to pick it up at first. If you’re worried about computer science being too difficult a program of study, consider testing the waters by taking an introductory programming course or two. You can also start to build your programming knowledge in less formal ways, such as reading introductory books on coding, watching video tutorials and playing educational games designed to teach the basics of programming.

You can also help yourself succeed by building up other relevant skill sets. Problem-solving is an integral skill for computer science professionals, and there are many ways you can develop these abilities outside the classroom, often through fun activities like escape rooms, puzzles, riddles and strategy games. Similarly, you can work on developing your analytical skills and your logical and rational thinking processes. Learning to program computer software and applications requires you to take a logical approach and follow the syntax rules that apply in the computer programming language you’re using.

Finally, go into your graduate education with realistic expectations. Realize that your coursework isn’t going to be easy, and plan to devote plenty of time to your studies. Understand that you’re not just memorizing information to pass a test but rather building a set of complex skills. Most challenging skills, from playing musical instruments to the practice of medicine, take time, patience, experience and discipline to learn. Computer science skills like programming are no exception, so don’t get discouraged if you struggle at first.

The longer you wait to recognize that you’re struggling in computer science studies, the harder it is to catch up again. Don’t be afraid to ask your instructor for assistance if you are falling behind or to find a tutor who will provide you with extra help on a regular basis.

Additional Resources

How Strong Do My Math Skills Need to Be So I Can Be Successful at Computer Science?

Does a Degree in Computer Science Matter More Than My Natural Ability to Code?

What Areas of School Should I Focus on in Order to Strengthen My Abilities in Computer Science?