Are you a career changer looking to break into tech? Did you know a specialized Computer Science Bridge program can teach you exactly what you need to transition to tech and get into an advanced degree program? Take a look at our collection of top Computer Science Bridge programs and start working on your dream career today!
What is a Computer Science Bridge program?
A Computer Science Bridge program is usually a non-degree program or preparatory coursework that provides undergraduate-level foundation in computer science to students with no prior technical background.
Computer Science Bridge programs usually take 3 to 12 months to complete and are offered by nationally-accredited universities.
Why should you attend a Computer Science Bridge program?
CS Bridge program lets you obtain foundational knowledge of computer programming, languages, and relevant math coursework as someone who has no previous education in computer science. It serves as a bridge to starting a career in CS and a chance for career changers to compensate for the lack of technical knowledge.
Commonly, CS Bridge programs are designed to allow you to pursue an advanced (Master’s degree) program that will help you gain a superior competitive edge in the hiring market. As such, depending on the program and the institution, you may wish to attend the bridge program to gain basic background in programming or to enter a graduate CS degree program.
What will I learn in a Computer Science Bridge program?
Computer Science Bridge programs offer the most fundamental coursework one would need to gain literacy in programming languages, math, and computer systems.
The typical coursework includes:
- Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming (OOP)
- Data Structures
- Software Engineering
- Math (Calculus, Linear Algebra, and/or Discrete Mathematics)
While courses vary depending on the institution, you should expect to see some form of the above classes taught in the Bridge program of your choice. We recommend reviewing the curriculum of each institution by examining the list of programs below.
Choosing a Computer Science Bridge program
1. [email protected] MS Bridge Program at Columbia University
The [email protected] MS Bridge Program in Computer Science is an on-campus program that offers students from non-computer science backgrounds the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to build careers in technology. The program is designed as a year of rigorous “bridge” coursework composed of introductory computer science courses. Successful completion of the Bridge program guarantees seamless transition to Columbia University’s traditional Master’s program in Computer Science.
2. NYU Tandon Bridge at New York University
The NYU Tandon Bridge is a 100% online Certificate program that aims to prepare students without a technical background to become eligible to apply to a Master’s degree program in Computer Science. The duration of the program is 17 or 24 weeks, which is offered several times in any given academic year.
Completion of the NYU Tandon Bridge courses or earning a certificate of completion does not guarantee admission to a Master’s degree following the Bridge. However, it renders an applicant eligible to apply to one of several NYU Tandon’s partner programs, as well as to NYU Tandon MS programs themselves.
3. IS Bridge at Northeastern University
The Information Systems Bridge (IS Bridge) program at Northeastern University is an introductory program for students who wish to pursue a career in computer science. The program is composed of two introductory courses, Application Modeling and Design and Introduction to Python for Information Systems. Upon successful completion of the courses, the student is automatically admitted to NEU’s Master of Science in Information Systems (MS IS) program.
This is an exciting opportunity for students with absolutely no previous background in math or programming that leads to a Master’s degree in Information Systems.
4. Preparatory Program at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
This online program consists of 4 courses that can be completed in a duration of one year. It is intended for students whose undergraduate degree did not involve computer science or a related discipline who are looking to join a graduate program in CS. Upon completion of the program, students may apply to UMass Dartmouth’s CIS MS or another post-graduate program.
5. Bridge Coursework at Rochester Institute of Technology
Bridge Coursework at RIT is a set of 3 preparatory courses that are offered for incoming MSCS students who do not possess an undergraduate degree in computer science. In order to enroll in the bridge courses, you need to be admitted to the RIT’s MSCS program.
6. Bridge courses at Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Online Master of Computer Science program at WPI offer built-in bridge courses for those students who have not had exposure to CS coursework as undergraduate students. Admission to the online MCS program is required to enroll in the bridge courses and is thus part of the Master’s program.
7. Bridge program at University of San Francisco
University of San Francisco offers a three-year MSCS Bridge program for motivated students with no formal computer science background. The program is part of the Master’s degree program in CS. This opportunity requires that the applying students have understanding of basic programming concepts, such as variables, control structures, structured data types, and functions.
8. [email protected] Bridge at Colorado School of Mines
Colorado School of Mines offers a Bridge program for students with an undergraduate degree other than computer science. [email protected] is a bridge program of introductory CS courses that can be completed in 2 semesters and leads to CS Master’s degree continuation.
9. Bridge program at Grand Canyon University
Grand Canyon University’s Bridge program is designed to be an accelerated pathway into GCU’s Master of Science in Computer Science degree program for those interested in engineering, information technology, and computer science. A bachelor’s degree, which can be in an unrelated field, is required for admission. The course consist of 7 foundational courses and is conducted online.
10. Fast Track to Computing program at New Jersey Institute of Technology
Consisting of four courses, NJIT’s Fast Track to Computing is a bridge program for students with non-CS undergraduate degrees who desire to complete a Master’s degree in one of NJIT’s Master’s programs. Upon completion of the program, the students may directly transition to the desired MS program.
11. Pathway to Computing at University of South Florida
The online Pathway to Computing Graduate Certificate program offered by USF’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering is an opportunity for non-computing majors to get the background in CS needed for transitioning into the MSCS program.
The Pathway program consists of 8 fully online courses (8 weeks each), which can be completed in 2 semesters. Students who successfully finish the program are guaranteed admission to USF’s MSCS program.
12. Bridge Program at DePaul University
Bridge program at DePaul University allows students with no computer science background who were admitted to the MSCS program to compensate for the required pre-requisite courses. The coursework may include undergraduate-level courses as well as two specialized bridge courses in Intensive Programming and Mathematics for Computer Science.
13. PLACE Bridge Program at Colorado State University
PLACE at Colorado State University offers students with various background an opportunity to pass introductory courses to transition to one of the Master’s degrees offer by the university. Students usually study the bridge courses as non-degree students before continuing to their graduate program of choice as degree students.
14. Computer Science Fundamentals at Seattle University
Computer Science Fundamentals is a Certificate program offered by Seattle University for career changers transitioning to a new career in tech. Upon graduation from the program, students may choose to transition to the university’s MSCS program and continue to earn a graduate degree. Application to Master’s degree waives GRE and personal statement requirements for students transitioning from the Certificate bridge program.
15. Bridge Program at Hampton University
Bridge program at Hampton University allows students from non-programming backgrounds to enter the Master’s program in Computer Science. The coursework includes fundamental classes in programming and math, after which the student continues to the formal MSCS program.
16. Bridge Coursework at University of Texas at San Antonio
University of Texas at San Antonio offers a 2-course bridge coursework program for students with STEM backgrounds who wish to join the university’s MSCS program. The program includes one Foundation of Software Course and one Foundation of Systems course, which students have to complete prior to registering for other graduate courses. Students are expected to hold a STEM degree and knowledge of C/C++ to join the bridge program.
Other options for CS education
Attending a Computer Science Bridge program is an excellent way to acquire fundamental knowledge in computer science and transition to a Master’s degree in CS if you already possess a Bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field. However, it is certainly not the only way to get into the industry and kickstart your CS career. You may also wish to consider other options for education to help you break into computer science. These include:
- On-campus MSCS programs for non-CS majors
- Online MSCS programs for non-CS majors
- Post-baccalaureate programs
- Second Bachelor’s degree
- Coding Bootcamp
Each of these options has different advantages, which we review in 5 Proven Ways To Switch Careers To Computer Science. Also, for those who are interested in tech entrepreneurship, management positions in tech, and business & software development in general, I also recommend you to check out the joint MBA/MSCS programs. They are an excellent opportunity to get education in both the business part and development part of software engineering and increase your salary severalfold!
Getting a Master’s degree in computer science is one of the best routes for those who wish to obtain formal education in CS. However, most programs require a Bachelor’s degree in a computing field to qualify for admissions.
Computer Science Bridge program allows you to quickly acquire basic knowledge in programming and enter a Master’s degree program even if your undergraduate field of study was in an unrelated discipline.
CS Bridge coursework usually takes several months to a year to complete, after which a Master’s in CS would require another 1-2 years for graduation. If you believe obtaining a Master’s degree is what you need to feel comfortable with your path to CS, we recommend looking into the best Computer Science Bridge programs outlined above in the article.
If you have a Bachelor’s degree in a non-computing discipline and want to apply to Master’s programs directly (without completing a Bridge program first), we recommend you to read our articles about on-campus and online Master’s degree programs designed specifically for non-CS majors.
If you enjoyed this article, feel free to bookmark it for later, comment with feedback and questions, and share with other interested students and professionals. We wish you good luck in your career transformation!
Elmar Mammadov is a software developer, tech startup founder, and computer science career specialist. He is the founder of CS Careerline and a true career changer who has previously pursued careers in medicine and neuroscience.
Due to his interest in programming and years of past personal experience in coding, he decided to break into the tech industry by attending a Master’s in Computer Science for career changers at University of Pennsylvania. Elmar passionately writes and coaches about breaking into the tech industry and computer science in general.