Best Online Associate in Computer Programming Programs

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Badge (Online) with 2-Line TitleAssociatein Computer Programming2017
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Programming code is a building block of modern technology. Unique code sequences are used to create games, applications and other software programs, and they also play a role in web design. Hundreds of programming languages exist; the most commonly used languages include Java, SQL, C++, Python and Ruby on Rails. The professionals who study these programming languages and write code sequences are known as computer programmers.

A computer programming associate degree program introduces students to the foundational concepts and skills that drive this cutting-edge industry. Coursework will include studies in multiple programming languages, as well as topics like basic computer science, operating systems, software development, web design and database management. The curriculum will also include algebra, calculus and other math subjects. Many of today’s students are choosing to earn their associate degree in computer programming online. Web-based students follow the same rigorous curriculum as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, leading to the same number of job opportunities after graduation. The asynchronous (or self-paced) schedule and study-from-home format are also ideal for students with part-time jobs, childcare duties and other responsibilities that could possibly interfere with campus-based learning.

Learn more about what you can do with an online associate in computer programming and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.


Students who graduate with an associate in computer programming will leave school prepared for most entry-level positions in their field. The best online computer programming associate programs will teach fluency in several leading computer languages, and also equip students with the skill-set to learn new languages as they advance in their careers. Some programs enable students to focus their studies on a particular industry, such as healthcare or business, which can bolster their standing in the job market even further.


Associate online degrees in computer programming offer a flexible alternative to traditional college education. Students can download course lectures and readings, participate in virtual discussions with other students, submit written assignments, take exams and communicate with their professors ― all with the click of a mouse. Current educational technology also allows them to study away home using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other Wi-Fi-compatible devices.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that most computer programmers working today have earned at least a bachelor’s, but a growing number of employers are hiring candidates with associate degrees. Other popular roles for computer programming degree recipients include web designers, computer systems and support specialists, software developers and network architects.


Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school’s strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online associate in computer programming programs in the United States. If you are considering an online associate in computer programming, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific requirements and offerings.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College 74.03 60% Shell Lake, WI

Graduates from WITC's information technology program will be able to develop software applications and systems, integrate database technologies, and develop technical documentation. This associate program, offered entirely online, includes classes on object-oriented programming languages like Java, as well web design and database concepts. Courses teach students to develop software applications and provide distance learners with a well-rounded background in programmatic concepts. Game design is not a part of the curriculum. Courses are delivered through Blackboard, and students must have high-speed internet access and a Windows PC-based system. The school provides Microsoft Office 365 access for students. In addition to its online programs, the college has four physical campuses in Wisconsin. As a two-year school in Wisconsin, WITC maintains agreements with public four-year schools in the state, allowing distance learners to easily transfer their credits if they want to pursue a bachelor's degree.

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2 Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion 72.00 80% Marion, IN

Indiana Wesleyan University was founded in 1920 as Marion College. An evangelical Christian university, Indiana Wesleyan offers courses that contain a focus on ethical decision-making from a Christian worldview. The school is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. The university's associates of science (AS) in computer information technology is offered either entirely online or at its campus in Marion, Indiana. Courses include an introduction to programming concepts and hardware and software troubleshooting, as well as college writing and new testament survey to integrate the school's focus on a Biblical framework for studies. Classes for this computer programming associate degree online start four times a year, and students take classes in a cohort. Distance learners can expect to graduate in approximately two years. As part of the curriculum, they may also work on a "bridge to a bachelor's" degree track.

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3 Central Georgia Technical College 71.25 41% Warner Robins, GA

The computer programming associate of applied technology degree from Central Georgia Tech will teach students the basic concepts and skills needed to write software programs. It's offered at three local campuses in Georgia or entirely online. Online computer programming associate degree students take a variety of core electives in math, humanities, and business, as well as 20 hours of programming languages, including C#, PHP, C++, and Java. They must also take classes in web development, structured query language, and computer concepts. CGTC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Distance learners can begin taking courses in any semester, and they must complete 65 credits to graduate.

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4 Champlain College 70.60 71% Burlington, VT

Students who are interested in completing a two-year degree in computer science have two options at Champlain College. These include the AS in software development and the AS in web design & development. Both are offered entirely online through Canvas. Classes are accessible 24/7 and are taught asynchronously, with deadlines and specifications set by professors. Students can also pursue professional certificates offered through Champlain College. Most classes are offered in seven-week terms, and there are two such terms per semester; occasionally, distance learners will be required to complete a 15-week-long course that runs the length of the semester. In the AS in software development program, certificates include C++ programming, java programming, software development, and visual c#. In the web design program, certificates include web programming and PHP programming.

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5 Limestone College 65.60 52% Gaffney, SC

Limestone College offers three computer science associate degrees through its online program, including degrees in computer science programming, computer science web development & database, and computer science information technology. Regardless of which degree you choose, all CS students will take an introductory course to computer science. Students in any of these three online computer programming associate degree programs can choose to continue their studies by applying their coursework toward a bachelor's degree. (Note that in any such program, students should verify requirements before assuming that their courses will apply for a bachelor's.) Distance learners take two classes at a time, for eight weeks at a time. Each class is offered entirely online and at Limestone's sites across South Carolina. Online classes are taught asynchronously; students must log in once a week for assignments, but can choose when to do so.

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6 St Petersburg College 63.80 44% Clearwater, FL

St. Petersburg College offers several online associate degrees, including a computer information technology AS degree, a computer networking AS degree, and a computer programming and analysis AS degree. Each program offers a slightly different introduction to its respective dimension of computer science. All programs include an internship component, giving students a chance to apply their new skills in a professional context. Students can take classes online or on-campus. Distance learners must earn at least a "C" in each class to receive credit. Some online associate degree in computer programming courses require proctored exams; students who live outside the county can take their exams at a local college. All online courses are taught asynchronously and can be accessed through the college's website. St. Petersburg College provides a sample online class for enrolled students who want to get a feel for the program before they decide to apply.

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8 University of Toledo 58.80 56% Toledo, OH

The University of Toledo's associate degree in programming and software development is offered entirely online. Students who live outside of Ohio should check to see if their state participates in the National Council of State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (see this map to learn which states currently participate). Once receiving their online associate degree in computer programming and software development, students can either apply it towards a bachelor's degree or pursue entry-level roles in software development, data management, and computer programming. The program covers programming languages, web applications, and how they apply to business. The University of Toledo also offers an evaluation for students who are thinking of transferring into the school's bachelor's program. Applicants, whether from another college or out of high school, must have a GPA exceeding 2.0 to be admitted.

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9 Southeast Technical Institute 55.50 51% Sioux Falls, SD

Southeast Tech, located in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, offers a variety of associate of applied science degrees, including a computer programming associate degree online. The curriculum focuses on programming languages like Java and C#, as well as web-based applications, operating systems, and networking. Courses are taught asynchronously, and all classes are available entirely online. In some classes, your professor will require you to take exams under a proctor's supervision; Southeast Tech can help you arrange to take your test at an appropriate facility. Courses are taught in a structured sequence; distance learners are usually required to take two classes at a time. Southeast Tech's dedicated computer programming professors have been specially trained to teach online. Classes are taught using a variety of interactive web tools and platforms, including Aplia, SAM, MindTap, and WebAssign.

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10 Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical 54.70 40% Winona, MN

MSC Southeast maintains two campuses and also offers some degree programs entirely online, including an online associate degree in computer programming and web development. The curriculum includes everything from object-oriented programming languages like Java to web animation, as well as a capstone project on computer careers. Students will also learn C++ and C#. Core courses include object oriented analysis and design, web server scripting, and database applications programming. The school uses D2L Brightspace learning management system. Prospective students can take a self-guided tour to learn more about the system. Students should have a Windows-compatible computer and a high-speed internet connection. The school provides each student with Microsoft Office 365, free of charge. Distance learners must complete a total of 60 credits to graduate.

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11 Metropolitan Community College Area 52.00 37% Omaha, NE

Omaha-based MCC offers online classes to students in Nebraska and most other states, through the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement. The college provides seven online associate degrees in IT-related disciplines, including an AAS in information technology -- programming for database/web and an AAS in information technology -- web development. Metropolitan's programming offering is a 104-credit program that requires students to pass 32 core credits and 45 electives in the discipline. As part of the program, distance learners must learn to programming languages: options include C#, C++, Java, and Visual Basic. Courses in structured query language (SQL) and XML are also required. All of MCC's programs are administered through Blackboard. Distance learners are not required to complete the curriculum in a structured sequence, though the school does offer a recommended schedule.

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12 Vincennes University 51.60 40% Vincennes, IN

VU, based in Vincennes, Indiana, was founded in 1801 by William Henry Harrison. It was Indiana's first college, and it remains one of the oldest colleges or universities in the United States. Today, the school provides a variety of online programs, including several online-only associate and bachelor's degrees. The online associate degree in computer programming technology can be completed entirely online and prepares students for entry-level jobs as computer programmers. Classes include web page design, web application development, and object-oriented programming, as well as core requirements in English, math, and communications. Courses are taught in a recommended sequence, where distance learners are scheduled to take fifteen credits per semester and to graduate within two years. The curriculum's programming-specific material culminates with classes that introduce students to databases and Java programming. Vincennes is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

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13 Central Texas College 51.10 23% Killeen, TX

CTC, based in Killeen, Texas, offers four online associate degrees in computer science, including a programmer analyst AAS degree. Courses are available through Blackboard, and cover programming languages like C++ and programming logic, as well as English composition and college-level algebra courses. Online computer programming associate degree students analyze application programs similar to what they'd run into on the job, and receive further vocational training through an internship in their last semester. To see a sample course in the Blackboard environment, you can go to this page and follow the instructions. Students need at least a dial-up internet connection, but broadband is recommended. Prospective students can see the full list of technical specs here.

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14 Community College of Allegheny County 48.10 33% Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh-based CCAC offers a variety of degrees that can be completed mostly online and 14 degrees and certificates that can be completed entirely online. These programs include an AS in computer information systems and an AS in software development. The AS in computer information systems is geared toward students who plan to transfer to a bachelor's program upon completion. The AS in software development prepares students for entry-level programming jobs, and includes instruction on creating technical documentation and using troubleshooting techniques to identify and correct problems. The computer information systems program covers an expansive variety of subjects, including object-oriented programming and web development; students in this program will learn how to use C, C++, and Java. Elective opportunities in the software development module include mobile apps programming and office productivity applications. All online classes are delivered through Blackboard.

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15 Guilford Technical Community College 47.70 38% Jamestown, NC

GTCC, which has its main campus in Jamestown, North Carolina, offers several online-only degree programs, including an information technology -- web development track and an information technology -- computer programming track. While the web development track covers programming language, its focus is on preparing graduates for a wide variety of careers, including positions as web designers or developers, social media managers, and internet marketing professionals. Those who want to work as programmers or analysts would be better suited for the computer programming track. In the computer programming track, students will be introduced to C++ and Java; to graduate, distance learners will also have to complete a capstone project. Out-of-state students should also note that GTCC is not authorized to serve students in every state; for a list of eligible states, see the college's website.

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18 months to 2 years
Program Costs
$6,000 to $20,000 in annual tuition
Computer Science, Information Technology (IT), Computer Information Systems (CIS), Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Systems Engineering, Information Security, Web Design, Computer Networking Systems, Network Administration, Software or Hardware Engineering, Software Architecture, Software Quality Assurance
What is an AACSB Accredited Online MBA Program?
There is no formally recognized accreditor for associate degree programs in this field. Please defer to an individual school’s regional or national accreditation status.

Job Placement: Associate in Computer Programming

Computing and information technology is one of the most stable employment sectors in the country. According to the BLS, roughly 3.9 million Americans are currently employed in tech-related occupations. Strong job growth is also projected in this sector; the BLS predicts that nearly 500,000 new computing and IT jobs will be created between 2014 and 2024, resulting in a 12% increase over that 10-year period.

However, computer programming jobs are expected to dip by 8% between 2014 and 2024. Outsourcing is a primary reason for this dip; since programming work can usually be done from home, many companies rely on overseas personnel who accept lower salaries. However, the programming industry is still quite sizable: roughly 328,600 employees currently working in the U.S.

U.S. News & World Report notes that the current unemployment rate for computer programmers is 2.5%. How does this stack up against job placement for other tech professions? The following table compares the unemployment rates of eight other popular roles in computing and IT. All nine entries appeared on the ‘Best Technology Jobs‘ ranking published by U.S. News & World Report in 2016

Profession Unemployment Rate
Information Security Analyst 1.4%
Information Technology Manager 1.8%
Computer Systems Administrator 2.0%
Database Administrator 2.0%
Computer Programmer 2.5%
Software Developer 2.5%
Computer Systems Analyst 2.6%
Computer Support Specialist 3.3%
Web Developer 3.4%

Source: ‘Best Technology Jobs’ by U.S. News & World Report

As the table indicates, the unemployment rate for programmers is fairly middle-of-the-road compared to other tech fields. This figure is also much lower than the national unemployment rate for all occupations, which currently sits at 4.7%.

Earning a Living

According to the 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report, students who graduate with an associate degree in computer programming earn a median annual salary of $42,900 during their first five years on the job and $68,800 after a decade in the workforce. This amounts to a 60% earnings increase after the first 10 years of their career.

Using data from the report, the table below looks at 10-year salary projections for computer programming and six other related academic fields.

Associate Degree Field of Study Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years)
Computer Engineering $41,000 $77,300
Computer Programming $42,900 $68,800
Computer Science $40,400 $67,300
Computer Information Systems $40,100 $60,500
Computer and Network Administration $40,200 $58,500
Computer Technology $38,900 $54,800

Source: 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report

However, degree field of study is not the only predictor for earning potential. Salary expectations for computer programming associate degree-holders will also depend on their specific job title. The next table features salary growth estimates for five of the most popular career paths in computer programming.

Occupation Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years) Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years) Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ Years)
Computer Programmer $51,422 $65,169 $72,883 $76,986
Software Developer $62,448 $76,168 $86,399 $90,105
Web Developer $51,067 $61,591 $69,435 $78,925
Programmer Analyst $57,420 $69,096 $73,783 $78,390
Network Administrator $49,466 $56,158 $61,904 $65,313

All five careers reported career salary growth of at least 32%. Web developers reported the highest rate of salary growth: a 54.6% increase between the entry-level and late-career stages. Computer programmers placed second with a 49.7% growth rate after 20 years in the workforce, followed by software developers with 44.3% growth.

Career Opportunities

Students who graduate with an associate in computer programming will be qualified for dozens of entry-level positions, although individual eligibility will depend on additional factors like experience level, employer size and city/state of employment. The computer programming profession, as well as three related career paths, are highlighted in the next section.

Computer Programmers: Computer programmers essentially translate software and web designs into unique code sequences, which are then used to create a wide range of programs and applications. They also test their programs for glitches, and may be tasked with correcting mistakes made by other programmers.

Software Developers: Software developers create the designs and blueprints for software programs and applications; these directions are then used by programmers to write code sequences. Today’s software developers often utilize models and diagrams, as well as computer-based tools.

Computer Systems Specialists: Computer systems specialists are responsible for improving and optimizing the computing systems used by their company or organization. Their work often entails cost-benefit analyses to ensure these projects are financially feasible, and they are also expected to run tests on new systems before they can be approved.

Computer Support Specialists: Computer support specialists (also known as network support specialists) offer IT-related assistance and advice to various personnel at their company or organization. They also run network tests and perform maintenance checks to ensure their systems are secure and properly functioning.

Profession Median Annual Salary
Computer Programmers $79,530
Software Developers $100,690
Computer Systems Specialists $85,800
Computer Support Specialists $51,470

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Professional Organizations

Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to computer programming is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you’ll find three of the country’s most prominent organizations established for computer programmers and other related tech professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates. Resources like these often prove invaluable as you complete your degree requirements and prepare to enter the job market.

  • International Association of Computer Science and Information Technology: IACSIT is a scholarly organization for scientific research in computer science and IT. Members are invited to submit and review academic papers, host workshops, and attend conferences around the world.
  • Association of Software Professionals: The ASP is a trade organization dedicated to software developers and engineers who design programs, apps, and networks. The website features an extensive calendar of upcoming conferences and events, along with full issues of the ASPects monthly newsletter.
  • Association of Information Technology Professionals: Founded in 1951, the AITP is considered one of the largest global organizations for IT managers and personnel. The association hosts 55 U.S. chapters across nine regions of the country, and also sponsors college chapters at postsecondary institutions in 36 different states.

Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.


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