Do I Need a Computer Science Degree to Be a Software Engineer?

There are four common ways of becoming a software engineer in Singapore. Obtaining a university degree in Computer Science is perhaps the most traditional, though time-consuming, route to becoming a software engineer. We outline key considerations to help you decide if this course of study is right for you.

Last updated
January 6, 2023

1. Sound theoretical understanding, though time-consuming 

Computer Science graduates have the longest study duration, though courses typically offer a good theoretical foundation. Many Computer Science graduates also perform well at work in the long-term because of their foundations in theoretical computer science. This helps them solve more complex problems as more senior software engineers.

2. Less practical exposure

Courses usually include two to three software-related internships for practical exposure. This practical exposure is often less than that of bootcamp graduates and self-learners, whose focus is on learning practical skills.  

3. Appealing qualification for entry-level jobs

Computer Science graduates are the most in-demand for entry-level roles. Recruiting departments of bigger tech companies tend to screen explicitly for Computer Science university degrees, because that applicant pool tends to be more competitive with stronger candidates overall. 

4. Institution reputation matters

A Computer Science graduate from a less reputable university may not perform as well as a bootcamp graduate with a non-Computer Science degree from a top university. Outcomes across all methods of learning software engineering discussed in this article are generally closely correlated with past performance, even though they may be some outliers.

5. Less practical for career switchers

If you’re looking to transition industries, undertaking a four-year university degree may be a costly and time-consuming endeavour. Many career switchers instead choose to learn basic coding or programming through coding bootcamps.

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