Which computer science major is the most suitable for a career as a product manager?

I’m currently pursuing a degree in computer science, but I must choose a major soon. I was hoping to obtain some fast advise and thoughts on what major to choose that will be most useful for a future as a project manager.

The list of majors I can choose from is as follows:

  • Business Information Systems Management
  • Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics
  • Enterprise Systems Development
  • Interaction Design
  • Networking and Cybersecurity
  • Mathematical Analysis
  • Operations Research
  • Statistics
  • Cybersecurity and Privacy

The business information systems major is where I’d like to concentrate my efforts, but I’m concerned that if I apply to APM programs with well-known technical rigor, like Google, my understanding won’t be technical enough.

Additionally, if you have any examples of courses you took in college that were helpful to you in your role as a project manager, please share them with me. I’ll check to see if there is an elective equivalent.


Study a subject that interests you. Don’t base everything you do in life on becoming a PM.


Fair point;@CathrynCui, in my opinion, they’re all equally fascinating. My math is relatively average for a computer science student, so that eliminates some of the more math-intensive majors, such as statistics, artificial intelligence, and operations research. I simply don’t know what to do next.


Finding a PM position is less on your academic background and more about your creations and improvements. An English major will be a more fascinating candidate than a CS major who knows data analytics but has never launched a product or interacted with customers. The English major’s simple web-based copywriting business will expand to several hundred clients as a result.

PM is not an entry-level position, either. When you really apply, you’ll have reached the point in your work that employers no longer inquire about your educational background.


Since you mentioned Google, I’d like to give out some facts about the FAANG:

Facebook has an RPM program… both industry (internal employees, designers, engineers, consultants, investment bankers, etc.) and new grads compete for it and go through the same recruitment process so can be very competitive

Apple - doesn’t hire PM out of college, they will hire EPM (engineering PM) out of college but you’ll likely require a technical background

Amazon - only hires MBA new grad PMs

Netflix - doesn’t hire new grads

Google - hires for APM, about ~50 per class, 25 coming from their intern class. Extremely competitive…

As for Uber, Twitter, Lyft, etc. their APM intern classes are about 5-8 new grads. Compared to the >200 new grad software engineers they hire each every year.

New grad APM recruiting is tough, honestly, there are a lot of very qualified students out there.

If you’re from Australia, Atlassian hires a lot of a new grad PMs. Microsoft hires a lot of PMs as well, but typically come from a technical background.

If I were you, I would focus more on completing personal projects and obtaining PM internships while in college and worry less about choosing the correct major. If you’ve completed actual PM internships, you’ll be 100 times more likely to get selected for an APM interview than if you majored in business as opposed to computer science.

My involvement in personal projects in college—such as leading teams of engineers and designers to develop an app used by thousands of students—was the reason I was able to secure every PM internship I ever applied for.

Start interacting with PMs in business to determine what abilities you should hone. While you’re still in school, launch a business that fills a need. Attend classes on business and product design (ui/ux).

My recommendation is to pursue a technical major while still making time for extracurricular activities (like starting your own thing and side projects). On the job training is available for business skills, agile, metrics, etc. Once you’re employed, you won’t have the time to advance your technical knowledge (take an algorithm class, understand data structures, etc.). Understanding the technical underpinnings of things will benefit you throughout your career as a PM and open additional options for you (e.g. at places like Google). If you are aware that technology isn’t your strong suit, I wouldn’t worry about it. I wouldn’t stress if you know that technology isn’t your strong suit, but I would focus more on gaining experience and honing your non-technical PM skills (i.e., it will be crucial that you understand product design, comprehend and create UX/UI, have completed your own personal projects, develop your product vision/intuition, etc.).

Make sure you aren’t doing PM because you believe you can’t design or that engineering is too difficult. I believe that a lot of it is occasionally imposter syndrome, and PM can be greatly exalted in the eyes of college students.

Before investing a significant amount of time in pursuing a career in PM, be sure you have a clear understanding of both its advantages and disadvantages. Discuss it with other professionals in the field (not just former interns) to find out what the drawbacks are and whether you’re alright with them.


EPM (engineering PM)

Just a note that EPM is engineering program/project manager, it’s much more of a scheduling/time/project management role than a product role. Actual product people tend to only really be in the IS&S (Internet Software and Services) org.

Rest of the info is pretty spot on…

Companies not mentioned that hire new grad PMs:

Linkedin, Dropbox, Square, Yelp

Indeed, Oath (Yahoo), Zynga, Salesforce, Asana, Intuit, Expedia, Skyscanner, KPCB Product Fellowship, TripAdvisor

Redfin, Cisco, NaturalMotion, IBM and Workday.


Wow! I’m so grateful you took the time to write that; it definitely allayed my anxieties. Since I’m still in my first year, I have some time to expand my skill set before I apply for internships or graduate positions. I’ve been attending weekly product networking events, and after doing some internet study and speaking with numerous PMs in person and on LinkedIn, it looks like this would be the perfect profession for me.

I’ll be working as an operations and sales intern at a fintech and an EduTech, respectively, starting the next week. Both founders have indicated that there is space to collaborate with the product team, so perhaps this will benefit me when I apply for APM positions in the future. The only organizations that offer APM grad roles locally are Canva and Atlassian, which is why I’m a little hesitant about doing so. It is substantially less technical than their FAANG counterparts, and career advancement and opportunities are also not as strong in comparison, according to some APM/PMs who work at these companies.

However, the issue is that despite searching LinkedIn for months in search of any examples of Australian graduates who had successfully relocated to the US for an APM grad post, I had only found one account, and I was unable to contact that person.

As a result, I’m in a bit of a predicament because I’m unsure whether relocation is even an option.

Do I submit an application for the Atlassian APM program, or do I hold off until I can obtain an L-1 Visa to work in the US?

Should I go on an exchange and apply to as many APM programs while I’m there in the hopes of getting a graduate position?

I suppose this all deserves its own conversation, but, yea, I’m currently a little confused.


As @MichaelYoffe said, APM programs are quite tough in general, and it is difficult to locate applicants who were accepted from any country, not only Australia. Think of Google’s 50th class. You might find that a sizeable portion (perhaps 20 or so) are internal hires or former interns, while competition for the remaining 30 positions comes from, say, 10,000 applications from around the world. A little bit of an assumption, but PM accommodates people from a wide variety of backgrounds. That’s a 0.3% hire rate.

Instead of focusing on APM, you ought to consider who has entered PM in general. Many people who love the PM job (as I’m sure you do) didn’t get there with a straight and narrow path, and even extremely good applicants face extraordinary odds.

APM programmes at both FAANG and Atlassian organisations tend to be less technical than those at other companies, with a greater emphasis on customer empathetics and business strategy than on the day-to-day operations of a product owner or building features.

Regarding career advancement, I have discovered that having general PM experience (even ones that aren’t quite “elite”) will almost always get you a foot in the door with FAANG in the future. It’s then up to your own abilities. The rat race to land a PM job actually only applies to your first one, and for APM in particular it’s worse because grad recruiting in general is a rat race in and of itself.

Aim high, but leave yourself with possibilities.

Particularly helpful courses for me were those on agile software development and requirements engineering. The rest of the time, PM skills were primarily acquired outside of the classroom (internships, founding startups).

In a PM application, your major isn’t necessarily the most crucial component. In fact, you ought to think of your preferred university as a more crucial factor (the US, especially in entry-level roles, is particularly narrow minded about university reputation).


It’s comforting to learn that FAANG still highly values any PM experience, regardless of employer, and thank you for the course choices; I’ll check to see if my university provides such. I’m grateful.


It sure seems a lot easier to lateral into product than to start out in it!

The only corollary I can think of is buyside finance… extremely rare to start off in buyside finance out of uni (much in the way it is for product) because most places aren’t willing to train you up. They’d rather grab someone experienced in some other area (that’s relevant) and usher them in.

Hopefully more Google like programs pop up for new grads.


If you have authorisation to work in the US, I’d strongly encourage searching for the google spreadsheet on this sub pertaining to all the internship/grad opportunities in PM. Google isn’t the only one!

The problem with scarce PM opportunities out of school definitely applies in other countries, and in general all entry-level opportunities are very competitive everywhere. Don’t discount yourself (definitely try if you can), but keep in mind that not getting in at this stage is OK.

  1. Do I submit an application for the Atlassian APM program or do I hold off until I can obtain an L-1 Visa to work in the US?

I believe it’s premature for you to ask this question as a first-year student. That is step D; first I would consider how I would get from step A to step B. (e.g., gaining lots of product experience in your current internship, starting a side project, applying for a product internship for next summer). If that’s your objective, you may network with Atlassian or Canva PMs and begin inquiring about PM internships there for the upcoming summer or a spring/fall term.

  1. Should I go on an exchange and apply to as many APM programs while I’m there in the hopes of getting a graduate position?

What would be different if you applied domestically versus abroad? If you can apply while abroad, I believe you can also do it while in Australia? They frequently inquire if a visa is necessary. The advantage I see is the potential for local networking.

As someone else already stated, I believe that you will be able to interview at larger organizations anyplace if you have gained between two and three years of product experience. I wouldn’t restrict you to just large corporations.

I can appreciate the stress you’re under, but I’d recommend focusing less on networking and gaming the system by hyper-optimizing it. The best approach to network is to excel at what you do and lend a hand to others. Get close to the product team while putting in hard hours. Study the successful practises of your team’s top PMs. Think about your work and how you could improve it for the future. To speak with more PMs at various firms, ask coworkers to make warm introductions for you.

Take additional actions that PMs take (like leading a team to launch something, product design challenges, entrepreneurship).

I believe that the best questions are crucial. Instead of asking, “How can I increase my chances for Google APM?” and more “how do I acquire abilities and turn into a superb PM?” The phrase “How do I acquire a job at Z major company” appears far too frequently and frequently translates to “How do I manipulate the hiring process so I can land a prestigious job.”

Keep an eye on networking and the future, but don’t overlook the crucial components, such as having a love for project management and honing those talents.


Agree with this.

Don’t aim to game the system, aim to be someone who is naturally brought into the system.


Ah ok, definitely will take that all onboard. I honestly appreciate the insight, can’t thank you enough!


I think you should decide on what industry you want to be in when you’re a PM. If it’s AI then major in AI. If it’s something else major in what’s more relevant to it.

I’m not that helpful I guess but that’s the deal


Just out of curiosity, How did you learn about PM so early in your academic career?

I recently graduated from university and was accepted into an APM program, but until the previous six months or so, I had no true understanding of what a PM did. Three years ago, if someone had described what a PM was to me, I would have answered, “That’s the perfect role for me.” I think it’s fortunate for me that I found PM because I almost didn’t.


@HeatherKurtz Despite the fact that I find programming to be fascinating, I didn’t enjoy the thought of becoming a software engineer and recognised that computer science was my logical degree choice. So I took some time over the summer from high school to research what jobs I could get with a cs degree. I came across the term “Product Manager” while browsing a r/cscareerquestions discussion on Reddit.com at some point. At the time, I had no idea what it meant, but it caught my attention. upon high school graduation. I had this hazy notion of the ideal work in my brain, and as I descended the PM rabbit hole, everything I had imagined seemed wrong. I had this hazy notion of the ideal work in my brain, and as I fell down the PM rabbit hole, everything I had imagined felt real. So, yes, there was a point when I thought, “This seems like the ideal job for me.”


All of these focuses are excellent to have, but I must concur with the earlier remarks.

Everything is based on the industry you wish to work in. If you’re considering Fang, they’ll either require a solid foundation or experience in analytics or backend programming.

You should search around on LinkedIn to see the qualifications of the current PMs in terms of education and work history. To obtain a better notion and comprehension of the roles, use your career centre and instructors to set up meetings with people who are currently performing them.

Also, unless you’re serious about that trajectory to move into a PM role, which is not unheard of but often more difficult, drop interaction design as that is primarily focused on UI/UX.

I wish you luck!


I appreciate your advice. My best option seems to be to apply for an E-3 visa for a FAANG role because Sydney APM posts are hard to come by. Given that, do you have any suggestions for the major that would best prepare me academically for applying for such positions?


You’re going to have a rude awakening when you go to apply for those APM roles. I’m not saying don’t apply, I’m just saying that you have no idea what you’re up against…

Those visas are a pain for companies to pursue and it’s something like a 25% chance to get awarded even after the company gives you an offer. Instead of working towards that, I recommend taking classes you find interesting, getting good grades, and working on side projects that interest you. Successfully iterating on a side project to the point that you build a following or customer base is easier to do than what you’re proposing and will make you a more attractive candidate in 6 years when you apply to a true PM role.

My $.02 as a Senior PM.