Bharti M Borah, 10 Feb 2014

Best Schools TIFR, C-DAC, ISI, Chennai Mathematical Institute, Pondicherry University, Pune University Eligibility Bachelor’s degree, some institutions require a background in mathematics. Our advice Look at the curriculum closely and opt for the sub-field of your choice Career Avenues Primary avenue is R&D. Various government-sponsored organisations and private ones look for people in this field.

computerYou have surely heard of the field of computer science, but may be unclear about what the domain entails. It involves an in-depth study of the theoretical foundations that combine information and computation, and its application and implementation in computer systems. It involves algorithmic processes that allow description and transformation of information. Computer Science has evolved to include many sub-fields. There is  computer graphics which focuses on computation of specific results, computational complexity theory which studies properties of computational problems and programming language theory which studies the approaches to describe computations. There is also computer programming which is concerned with specific programming languages used to solve specific computational problems and human-computer interaction which deals with evolving the usability of computers and computations and making it accessible to people.

Computer science is often confused with information technology or computer applications or operational research.  To put it simply, computer science focuses on understanding the properties involved in programmes used to implement games and web-browser softwares. The knowledge so acquired is then used to improve existing programmes and also to create new programmes.

How did it all begin?
How computer science evolved as a discipline and the origin of modern digital computer makes an interesting study.  The first mechanical calculator was invented by Wilhelm Schickard in the year 1623 and around 1900, punch card machines were introduced. However, the problem was that all the existent machines performed only a single task or at best only a part of the tasks required.  Computer science found its identity in the 1950s and early 1960s when the first computer science departments were established and degree programmes were introduced.
The introduction of International Business Machines  (IBM) was an epoch-making event. So we had the first IBM 704 and IBM 709 computers.  However, at that time, even misplacing one letter in one instruction would result in the whole programme crashing and you would have to restart the process from scratch.

The discipline of Computer Science today comprises a range of topics such as theoretical study of algorithms and the limitations of computation in terms of implementation of computing systems in hardware and software.




Tata Institute of Fundamental Research

Indian Statistical Institute

Amity University

Chennai Mathematical Institute

SRM University

Pondicherry University

Prist University

Pune University

University of Pune

University of Delhi

College of Applied Science, Palakkad

Loyola College, Chennai

Madurai Kamaraj University

Mangalore University

Pondicherry University

School of Computer Science, Indore

University of Mumbai

College of Engineering, Guindy  

Want to enter the field of
Computer Science?
You can choose from a large spectrum of disciplines — from the theoretical aspects of computer science to the more practical engineering aspects. Operating systems, computer networks, computer graphics, computer vision, databases, computer security, artificial intelligence, robotics, human-computer interaction and ubiquitous computing are among the choices available to you.  Remember that computer science does not represent the study of computers per se. This fear has led some departments to use the term ‘computing science’ instead.  Peter Naur, a Danish scientist introduced yet another term — ‘datalogy’. The first institution to use this nomenclature was the University of Copenhagen which started the Department of Datalogy in 1969.

Computer scientist Edsger Dijkstra  stated, “Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes.”  If you are interested in studying computer hardware, you will be a part of the world of computer engineering. Instead, if you have an inclination towards computer systems, you will have to be part of information technology or information systems.  There is also an essential interdisciplinary character as computer science research has entered other disciplines like cognitive science, economics, mathematics, physics and linguistics to name only a few.

If you wish to explore options for study overseas, the Computer Sciences Accreditation Board (CSAB) is the body to access for advice. CSAB has representatives from the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Computer Society and the Association for Information Systems.

How do you choose the
right course?
According to Professor Jai Kumar Radhakrishnan at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, computer science shares a very close relationship with the field of mathematics. It goes almost hand in hand. Some computer science departments devise a curriculum which emphasises the mathematical component, whereas others have engineering as the area of emphasis. Make sure you are aware where the emphasis lies when you choose to opt for a specific course. Zero in on the course that is suitable to your requirements.







University of Alabama




Computer  and Information Sciences

MSc in Computer Science


University of Alaska


Computer Science

MSc in Computer Science

University of Arizona


Computer Science

MSc in Computer Science

University of California




Electrical Engineering and
Computer Sciences

MSc in Computer Science


Carnegie Mellon University


School of Computer Science

Variety of specialisations on offer

University of Chicago




Computer Science


Computer Science Professional Programs


Columbia University

New York

Computer Science

MSc in Computer Science

University of Connecticut




Computer Science and Engineering

MS in Computer Science and


Dartmouth College


Computer Science

MS in Computer Science

Duke University


Computer Science

MS in Computer Science

Harvard University




Computer Science


MS in Computer Science

University of Ilinois




Computer Science


MS in Computer Science, MCS
(non thesis/online)


Iowa State University




Computer Science


MS with major in Computer Science


Kent State University


Computer Science

MS and MA in Computer Science

Massachusetts Institute of Technology



Electrical Engineering and
Computer Sciences

Variety of specialisations on offer


Michigan State University


East Lansing

Computer Science and Engineering

MS in Computer Science and Engineering


Stanford University

Palo Alto

Computer Science

Masters in Computer Science

Tufts University


Computer Science

MS in Computer Science

Information Technology is a field that is constantly growing and being upgraded. Though computers are at the core of all, each specialisation is distinct in character. An MSc in Computer Science is quite different from a Master’s degree in Computer Applications or an MSc in Operations Research. We are here dealing with Computer Science — a discipline that prepares a person for a career in computing and its applications in the real world of computers. 


Study of computer science comprises

Theory of computation, algorithms and data structures

Programming methodology and languages

Computer elements and software engineering

Artificial intelligence

Computer networking and communication

Database systems

Parallel computation

Distributed computation

Computer-human interaction

Computer graphics

Operating applications

No prior knowledge of computing is required to enter this field. Students of natural sciences, engineering and even arts, humanities and social sciences can enrol.  One can also opt for an integrated MSc degree in Computer Science and Technology such as the one offered by the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru or Mysore University. A background in Mathematics is considered necessary in many ways when opting for an MS in Computer Science, along with a good academic record. St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata offers a 4-semester, 2-year MSc in Computer Science. This course offers papers that are in tune with the current IT scenario.

The  Group in  Mathematics and theoretical computer science in TIFR is one of the most premier institutions in the country for research in the field of mathematics, computer science and information technology. C-DAC specialises in application oriented super computing.

How do I use what I learn?
One option that can be available is a place like Centre for Advanced Study (CSA), which is recognised by the UGC and has recently received a FIST (Fund for Infrastructure in Science and Technology) grant from the Department of Science and Technology. Work at the CSA as a researcher will give you the space to get involved in various aspects of computer science and engage in the field of interdisciplinary projects. The major fields of computer science comprise the curriculum taught in various departments and can provide a scope for understanding this field better.  Many who pass out from SOMAAS are absorbed in institutions like DRDO, IBM and HCL.

Prof. Pasricha, Dept of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Colorado State University, says that “There are lots of opportunities after an MS (even more after a Ph.D). It’s a career investment.  Just having a 4-year Bachelor of Engg degree can only take you so far.”   

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