STEM careers - College of Engineering & Natural Sciences

STEM careers

Computer science: The best degree in tech

If you wrote an algorithm to find the best degree in tech, you’d need it to check a few big boxes.  

You’d want a degree that led to high job satisfaction. Opportunities pretty much everywhere you look. Top-of-the-charts pay. A degree with the chance to mix right-brain creativity with left-brain number-crunching and analytical skills. 

With those inputs, your program would likely say: “Get a computer science degree!” 

For years, the amount of computer science jobs have outnumbered eligible candidates. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, two-thirds of all new STEM jobs are in computing — but just 11% of STEM bachelor’s degrees are in computer science. 

close-up photo of a young man at a desk with two laptop computers and a pad of paper open in front of himCOVID-19 has only accelerated the need for skilled software programmers, web developers, network architects and other jobs you can pursue with a major in computer science. 

“Companies have accelerated the digitization of their customer and supply-chain interactions and of their internal operations by three to four years,” wrote the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. in a report published in October. “And the share of digital or digitally enabled products in their portfolios has accelerated by a shocking seven years.” 

Everything’s going digital, fast. And students with computer science degrees are in a prime position to benefit. 

Starting salaries for computer science grads are expected to rise this year by 7.1%, to $72,173. That’s the highest among all the majors surveyed, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.  

Nearly half of the employers surveyed in the study said they plan to hire newly minted computer science graduates this spring. And those jobs aren’t just in Silicon Valley. Organizations everywhere seek out the kind of skills computer science graduates bring to the table. 

“Computer science is an incredibly versatile degree,” said John Hale, chair of the Tandy School of Computer Science at The University of Tulsa. “Every business, every organization, relies on the skills that computer science graduates bring to the table. People tend to think of computer scientists simply as programmers, but it’s a much broader field than that.”  

In fact, you probably won’t find a lot of job postings for “computer scientist.” Instead, you’ll see job titles such as “data scientist” (average pay: $100,560), “network architect” (median pay: $112,690 a year), “information security analyst” (median pay: $99,730 a year), “network administrator” (median pay: $83,510 a year) and “web developer” (median pay: $73,760 a year).  

Here are just a few of the places where computer science skills are put to work: 

  • Data centers. Behind all the websites and apps we all rely on, big data centers power the Internet. How big, you ask? Amazon’s data operation, Amazon Web Services, pulled in more revenue last year than Coca-Cola. At The University of Tulsa, our expertise in web services, sensors, cloud computing and cybersecurity gives you a leg up in pursuing work on the Cloud of Things.  
  • Government. Cybersecurity is a growing threat — and to keep people safe, government agencies need more computer science experts than they can find. Some estimates hold that the U.S. needs to boost its workforce by more than 60% to fill available positions. 
  • Health care. Computers are reshaping medicine, from the laboratory to the patient bedside. Increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence help researchers turn piles of data into leads for new treatments. And as hospitals and other organizations put patient records online, skilled computer science experts are needed to not just build those networks but to also ensure they stay secure. 
  • Retail. Increasingly, “going shopping” means logging online. The National Retail Federation predicts that online sales will jump nearly 20% in 2021, accounting for a quarter of all retail revenue. But making sure customers can find what they want, when they want it, is a huge challenge. And it’s one that computer science grads can help solve, as they develop systems to predict demand and ensure the right products are in stock on store shelves and warehouses. 

Learn more about computer science at The University of Tulsa 

The Tandy School of Computer Science at TU has been preparing students for careers like these for many years. With majors and minors in computer science and computer simulation and gaming, as well as minors in bioinformatics, computational sciences, cybersecurity, data science and high-performance computing, you’ll build a foundation for any of these careers — and discover skills for ones that haven’t even been invented yet. In our advanced labs, specializing in Internet-connected consumer devices, critical infrastructure, network architecture and more, you have a chance to participate in meaningful research early on, even as an undergraduate. 

Biological science as a gateway to STEM

Why should I get a degree in biological science? 

Jobs in STEM—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—are hot. Of the 10 jobs expected to grow the fastest by 2029, all 10 are in STEM-related fields.  

A lot of majors will lead you to one of these careers, but biological science is the most versatile way to go. Here’s what a degree in biology can do for you. 

What will I study?  

As a student at The University of Tulsa, you’ll study the fundamental processes that govern all life — human, animal and plant. But you’ll also take courses in chemistry, genetics, math, ecology and evolution, and other topics that provide a gateway to a wide variety of STEM careers. 

woman looking through a microscope in a laboratoryYou can enroll in two basic types of biology degree at TU: a bachelor of arts (BA) or a bachelor of science (BS). A BA degree gives you more room to take classes in the arts and humanities, while a BS degree drills in deeply on science and math. 

Majoring in biology gives you an advantage when applying to medical or veterinary school. The biological science curriculum includes all the classes you’ll need to impress admission committees. As a student in the pre-med track, you’ll work closely with advisers to be sure your courses and grades are dialed in before applying. (You’re joining an elite group of students: In 2020, med schools accepted 85% of TU students who applied.) 

What career paths does a biological science degree lead to?  

  • Animal behavior. As an animal behaviorist, you’ll study the relationship of animals to their environment and other animals. Most animal behaviorists work in academia, but you might also work in a zoo to improve the health of the animals there. Some are employed by drug companies to study the effects of certain pharmaceuticals on behavior. Or you may work with pet owners to understand why their pets are acting a certain way. 
  • Development and evolution. How did life originate on Earth? What factors influenced it? By understanding how organisms and microorganisms developed, you’ll gain deeper insight into biology itself — and put those lessons to work as we study disease, protect species against climate change and more. 
  • Ecology. Ecologists study the complex relationships between organisms and their environment. Some ecologists work in universities, but others address environmental problems such as pollution and climate change while employed by state or federal agencies. If you want to become a conservationist to help protect habitats and biodiversity, ecology is a career you’ll want to consider. 
  • Population and reproductive genetics. As a geneticist, you may try to identify why certain populations are more or less susceptible to particular diseases. Or you may work with parents-to-be to help them understand hereditary risks their children may face. 
  • Microbiology. Bacteria, viruses, fungi, algae — these microorganisms are literally everywhere. Even though they can’t be seen by the naked eye, they influence the food we eat, our health and the environment. 
  • Virology. In the age of COVID-19, the importance of studying viruses is obvious. Viruses pose countless other threats to animals and plants alike, however, as HIV, Ebola, influenza and even the common cold are infectious pathogens that cause human suffering and death. 
  • Plant biology. To say “plant scientists study plants” doesn’t do justice to the far-reaching influence of their work. Some plant scientists study how plants can be used as medicine. Others study how climate change affects plant life. In agriculture, plant scientists identify crops that resist the effects of drought, disease and pests.  
  • Sensory biology/sensory ecology. Organisms rely on a mind-bending amount of information to respond to the world around them. Sharks, for example, can sense fluctuations in electrical fields. Other creatures can detect pain. By understanding these inputs, scientists can get deeper insight into animal behavior. And they can also develop conservation strategies that reduce the impact of certain human behavior may inadvertently cause. 

Study biological science at The University of Tulsa 

At The University of Tulsa, biological science courses will introduce you to a lot of these topics. And extensive research opportunities in field sites such as the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve, the Oklahoma Cross Timbers, the Ozark Mountains and La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica will give you experience to build on.