Computer science

Computer science

Are you interested in becoming a computer programmer, web designer or network administrator? Central College offers a broad range of computer science courses where students gain experience working with programming languages such as Python, Java, C++ and PHP, to become well prepared for immediate employment or graduate programs. Past graduates have gone on to become application developers, network administrators, systems analysts, web programmers and software engineers.

of 2013 computer science grads accepted a job in their field prior to graduation
  • 100% of majors in the class of 2014 have had at least one internship in their field before senior year
  • The 2013-14 College Salary Report lists computer science as the No. 8 major for salary potential

The Real World


Successful Careers

  • Lead consultant, ThoughtWorks, Chicago, Ill.
  • Senior software engineer, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Managing director/Co-founder, Cascade Game Foundry, Seattle, Wash.
  • Principal, StartupCity Des Moines, Des Moines
  • Software engineer, TalentRiot, Denver, Colo.
  • CEO, Catchwind, Des Moines


The mathematics and computer science department regularly organizes social activities for its students. No matter what your interests are, Central has a student group for you! Learn how you can get involved with groups and organizations at Central.

Gavin Macdonald

Gavin Macdonald

Gavin MacDonald, a computer science major and art minor, plans to use both disciplines to design video games.

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Graduate Placement

82% of computer science students who apply to graduate school are admitted to a program of their choice.

  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • University of Iowa
  • Iowa State University


Internships in computer science are abundant for a variety of positions in a wide range of companies.

  • Principal Financial Group
  • Alliance Technology
  • Advanced Technology Group
  • Vermeer Corporation

Courses & Faculty

The computer science major is designed to be flexible, facilitating study abroad, internships and second majors or minors. Introductory courses in Python and Java lay the foundation for a software design course in the second year. After taking these courses, students are prepared for a variety of upper-level required courses and electives. The senior year culminates in a senior project of your choice.

Learn more about computer science in the course catalog.

Computer science photo
Meet the faculty:
  • Robert Franks, B.S., M.S., Ph.D., Kenneth J. Weller Distinguished Professorship of the Liberal Arts and Professor of Computer Science, interest areas include operating systems, user interface design, computer security, digital photography, literature and running
  • Stephen Fyfe, B.A., M.S., Ph.D., Professor of Computer Science, interest areas include object oriented software development, introductory computer science and computer science topics for non-majors
  • Mark Johnson, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., Ruth & Marvin Denekas Endowed Chair in Science and Humanities and Professor of Mathematics/Computer Science, interest areas include computer graphics, theory of computation and mathematical logic

Sample Schedule

First year
  • Introduction to Computer Science
  • Data Structures
  • Calculus I
Sophomore year
  • Discrete Structures
  • Software Design
  • Computer science elective courses
Junior year
  • Computer Organization and Architecture
  • Algorithms
  • Computer science elective courses
  • Mathematics elective
Senior year
  • Senior project
  • Computer science elective courses

The Central Difference

Entrepreneurial Spirit

Many computer science alumni have gone on to start their own companies, and with Des Moines’ recent growth in startups, students have direct access to these highly entrepreneurial environments for internships and job offers after graduation. Central offers an entrepreneurship minor for anyone interested in developing his or her own startup.

Research Opportunities

All students complete an independent project of their choice in the senior project course. Honors students are encouraged to expand their senior work into senior honors theses.

Technical Communication

Central has a long history of developing communication skills in its graduates. Central's computer science majors are known for their ability to write and speak clearly about technical material.

Alumni Connections

Central alumni stay in touch and are available to help current students find their career path through internships and jobs.


Central’s Vermeer Science Center was awarded the silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating from the United States Green Building Council, the first LEED-rated building in the state. Students have direct access to classrooms equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation and presentation technology.

Study Abroad

Students are encouraged to study abroad with one of Central’s international programs to enhance their development as global citizens, or with partner programs in Chicago, Washington, D.C. or New York City. Learn more about Central’s study abroad programs.


Living the Dream

Living the Dream

Greg Nichols ’02 works on movies for Disney as an expert in computer graphics technology.

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Modern Records
Modern Records

The Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) has relied on handwritten records for decades. Computer science graduate Blake Rozendaal created a new system.

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Fresh Findings
Fresh Findings

After months exploring topics like sports analytics, Parkinson’s Disease, prairie grasses and consumer behavior, 182 Central students presented their research May 5-6.

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Learn More

Want to find out more about computer science at Central? Contact us to learn more about this major and our other strong academic programs. Visit campus to observe classes and experience The Central Difference firsthand.