Technology degree programs of all types may enjoy booming enrollments these days, but which diplomas are the most useful for next year’s grads? While computer science is a perennial favorite (and always a good choice for students), other paths of inquiry are rapidly gaining in popularity among those who want lucrative and fulfilling careers once they graduate school.
These five top tech degrees for 2015 (and beyond) are shaped by changes in the global economy, industry and technology. They may also contain a couple of surprises.
“There’s been an American Renaissance in hardware and hardware design; you only need to take a look at Kickstarter or the popularity of Tesla to see it happening,” David Yang, placement coordinator and lead instructor at the Fullstack Academy of Code in New York said in an interview.
Yang’s assessment is borne out by enrollment statistics at universities across the U.S., most notably MIT, which saw more degrees awarded in their Electrical Engineering-Computer Science program than in any other division. It’s easy to see why: U.S. startups are experiencing a period of intense growth and need people capable of rapidly prototyping hardware designs, taking them into manufacturing, and scaling up production.
“In demand” would be an understatement for this degree, a relatively new offering that bridges the gap between engineering and medicine. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment projections for the field are up 27 percent through 2022, reflecting the massive, rapid changes in the healthcare technology industry.
Here’s an example of biomedical engineering’s popularity: at Arizona State University’s undergraduate School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering, enrollment for the biomedical engineering program is superseded only by that of the most popular computer science and mechanical engineering degrees. The rapidly expanding field encompasses several disciplines, including Big Data, biology and the research and development of diagnostic and therapeutic medical devices.
Ann McKenna, professor and director of The Polytechnic School at Arizona State University said the school’s information technology program is experiencing explosive growth: “We’re only in our second year of offering it… but we went from having no program to having hundreds of students enrolled this year.” IT degrees at ASU can be completed both online and in the classroom, with McKenna noting that their online enrollment is currently higher.
“This is a degree program that can satisfy a greater demographic,” she added. “The program fulfills a workforce need and there’s a lot of excitement from industry in regard to wanting to hire our graduates.”
The buzz around Big Data persists and remains steady. Fullstack Academy of Code’s David Yang has noticed that “Data Science is becoming a very in-demand career, companies are looking for people who can manipulate and understand the ever larger data sets that they’re handling.”
Not many schools are offering the degree yet, but Yang suggested that a combination of computer science, statistics and information systems is an excellent equivalent that “will put you on the right track.”
Graphic Information Technology
3D modeling, animation and multimedia are used with increasing frequency in industry, and employers not only need team members who can handle the technology of the creative elements, they also need those who can manage its use and distribution. Mckenna said her school’s GIT program, which has been around for several years, has been ramping up in enrollment.
“Both our online and face to face programs have been very successful,” she said, “and it’s becoming more and more recognized. We can place students in positions with any companies that need to develop collateral materials.”
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