Best Online Bachelor’s in Computer Science Programs

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Computer science covers the mathematical and technological principles behind computing machinery. The field is neatly split into two subdivisions: theoretical computer science, which explores the theories behind concepts like coding and language programming, and applied computer science, which covers technical dimensions in the field, like engineering, cryptography, and network architecture.

In college, computer science students learn the fundamentals of computing hardware, software, and networks. Undergraduate programs typically require students to compile a portfolio of their best work and complete a capstone project prior to graduation, and many schools provide optional internship opportunities for interested students. Today, many students interested in computer science are choosing to earn their bachelor’s degree online. Web-based programs follow the same rigorous curriculum as classroom-based curriculums, and the asynchronous format used by most schools is ideal for students who must balance school with other commitments, like childcare or a part-time job.

Read on to learn more about what you’ll learn in a computer science program, and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to in the field upon graduation.

WILL AN ONLINE BACHELOR’S IN COMPUTER SCIENCE PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?

Computer science bachelor’s degree students develop a wealth of relevant skills and knowledge while they’re in school. They learn how to manage databases, use object-oriented programming and design techniques, write code sequences, and maintain different computing systems. Many students also become fluent in at least one major programming language, such as Java or C++. Many online programs also allow students to earn degree concentrations in computer science subfields, like programming and software engineering. Distance learners can also develop valuable industry experience by participating in an internship during their undergraduate studies.

WILL AN ONLINE BACHELOR’S IN COMPUTER SCIENCE WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?

Online bachelor’s in computer science programs offer a flexible alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar education. Students can access lectures and other course materials, submit assignments, take exams, and communicate with faculty members on their own schedule. Current technology also allows them to study away from their home computer using a laptop, tablet, smartphone, or other device with Wi-Fi capabilities. For additional convenience, many of these programs are offered in an accelerated format, enabling students to graduate just two or three years.

WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY BACHELOR’S IN COMPUTER SCIENCE?

A bachelor’s degree is sufficient for entry-level positions in most branches of computer science. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some of the most popular positions in computer science include computer programmers, computer systems analysts, database administrators, and software and web developers.

WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE BACHELOR’S IN COMPUTER SCIENCE PROGRAMS?

Choosing a program is a very personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school’s strengths match your educational needs and professional goals. Nonetheless, the following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online bachelor’s in computer science programs in the United States. Our ranking is based on the courses schools offer, available specializations, student outcomes, career support services, and other criteria used to determine academic excellence. If you want to earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science, and you value the flexibility inherent in distance education, be sure to take a look at these top colleges.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1

University of Illinois at Springfield

 2/548.68%Springfield, IL

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The online bachelor's degree offered through the Department of Computer Science at UIS prepares students for careers in the ever-changing technology fields; they are also given the base knowledge needed to pursue higher degrees upon graduation. Upon acceptance into the program, students work closely with advisors to create a degree plan that will help them reach their goals. In their first term, students are required to take an entrance exam which assesses what they already know in regards to writing, reading, critical thinking and computer sciences. An exit exam is taken during the last semester to measure the knowledge students have gained over the course of study.

All online courses are delivered through the Blackboard learning management system. This LMS is used for most classes at UIS, online or on-campus, to enhance course materials with multimedia components and discussion boards. Once logged in to the system, students can access their grades, email and a number of tools to complete assignments and tests for their courses.

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2

Regis University

 5/559.05%Denver, CO

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Regis University offers a Bachelor's of Science in Computer Science degree on campus or fully online; students who have already earned some college credits may enroll in the accelerated program to complete their degree. In order to graduate, students must complete between 128 and 133 credit hours of coursework, 65 of which are earned in the major. The BSCS program places an emphasis on mathematics and problem-solving, and students who complete this degree are prepared for jobs where they are required to analyze problems and keep pace with changing algorithms, theories and technology.

Online courses at Regis are delivered through WorldClass learning management system. Through this interface, students submit assignments using DropBox; communicate through emails and forums; and have online access to the library, bookstore, academic advisors and career services.

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3

Troy University

 2/534.98%Troy, AL

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At Troy University, students can enroll in an online Bachelor of Science, Applied Computer Science degree. This program focuses on the practical application of programming, systems analysis, design and database management. The major requirements for the degree total 36 credit hours of coursework in addition to completing general education courses.

Courses offered through eTROY, the online campus of Troy University, are accessed through the Blackboard learning management system. Prospective students can explore Blackboard's interface prior to enrollment to familiarize themselves with how course materials are delivered; how to communicate with classmates and professors; and how to complete assignments, exams and assessments.

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4

Old Dominion University

 2/551.58%Norfolk, VA

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The online Bachelor of Science in Computer Science at ODU is a degree completion program designed for students who either hold an associates degree or have fulfilled all lower-division general education requirements. Students gain a firm understanding of the theory of computer science, and they are given opportunities to use the theoretical knowledge for practical applications. Students currently working in a computer science field, or those who take internships, may be able to use that experience to fulfill six credit hours.

Online courses at ODU are delivered through the Blackboard LMS. Prospective students have access to a guest preview that allows them to familiarize themselves with the system. From the My Blackboard landing page, students can view their course materials and access a number of resources, including tutoring, career services and IT help.

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5

Oregon State University

 1/563.07%Corvallis, OR

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The post-baccalaureate program is designed for students who have an undergraduate degree in a field other than computer science, contributing to the school’s broader goal of opening up the field to those from a variety of academic backgrounds. Eligible students must have a bachelor's degree, but don’t need previous professional or academic experience in the field to earn an online bachelor’s in computer science from Oregon State. Distance learners can join the program in all four terms (OSU uses the quarter system.)

Students are not required to take general education courses, and can pursue one of several track plans, from one-year to four-year degree options. Classes are available through the Canvas learning system. Although flexible, this online computer science bachelor degree is rigorous and students need strong time management skills and self discipline to succeed. The program’s content is career-oriented and includes real-world projects, networking opportunities, and access to a database of videos from industry representatives with experience in the field. Twice a year, online students are also offered the opportunity to attend a career showcase and meet with industry recruiters.

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6

Florida State University

 2/579.13%Tallahassee, FL

Students who wish to pursue an online computer science degree at FSU may choose between a BA and a BS. Both bachelor's degrees require 120 credits to graduate, 30 of which must be taken at FSU in the terms before graduation. The bachelor's of arts is based in the humanities; students of this degree program are must select a minor concentration, which can come from any field. The BA requires fewer mathematics and science courses for graduation than the BS. The bachelor's of science degree requires students to minor in a physical science or math field.

FSU uses Blackboard to power its student portal. Upon login, students have access to all of their online courses and materials. Online students benefit from the same support services they would find online. The school offers many tools and resources designed to help students succeed including: test proctoring, tutoring and advising services and a virtual computer lab.

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7

Mercy College

 3/528.8%Dobbs Ferry, NY

The Bachelor's of Science in Computer Science degree at Mercy College prepares students to analyze the working components of computers and design programs to enhance performance and experience. This 120-credit program is completed online. BSCS students are required to complete 15 credits of their required major courses at level 200 or higher at Mercy; they cannot be transferred to the school.

Online students have 24/7 access to their online courses through Mercy Connect and Blackboard Learn. This LMS allows users to view class assignments, discussion boards and communicate with instructors and classmates. Students benefit from many online resources, tools and services including: tutoring, academic advising and career services. MC's technical support provides tutorials and tips for navigating the Blackboard interface.

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8

National University

 3/540%La Jolla, CA

Through their online Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree, National University strives to prepare students for careers working with all aspects of computer science, including: operating systems, programming languages, computer architecture and software engineering. Courses in 180-quarter unit BSCS program are based in mathematics and can be completed within four years if taken full-time.

Online courses at National University are accessed through Blackboard and the student portal SOAR. With a single login, students and instructors can view assignments, assessments, course schedules and online resources.

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9

Southern University and A&M College

 2/532.11%Baton Rouge, LA

Southern University and A&M College offers an entirely online Bachelor's of Science in Computer Science to students from all educational backgrounds. Students pursuing this degree complete assignments, participate in group discussions and access their classes when it fits their schedules. Upon completing the BSCS, graduates are prepared to work with a number of information, management and operating systems in the private, public or government sectors.

All online courses are delivered through Blackboard. This learning management system gives students access to SafeAssign and Respondus, two tools that ensure academic honesty when submitting assignments and taking exams and quizzes. There are a number of tutorials available for students and instructors to familiarize themselves with the LMS interface and tools.

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10

Franklin University

 3/513.64%Columbus, OH

Franklin’s online computer science bachelor degree emphasizes software development, and is designed so that students can work together to learn core fundamentals in the discipline. Students pursuing a computer science degree online learn several coding languages and eventually build software through Java. In addition to software development, courses also cover object-oriented design, coding & testing, computer architecture, and more. Students also have the opportunity to network with professionals through Franklin’s chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

Online courses are asynchronous and delivered through the myFranklin portal. Coursework is project-oriented and hands-on, and classes are delivered in a planned sequence. Students work on practical projects, creating database-driven web applications with interactive AJAX components.

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Timeline
2 to 4 years
Program Costs
$25,000 to $40,000 for full tuition
Concentrations
Software Engineering, Information Technology (IT), Computer Information Technology (CIS), Computer Programming, Information Security, Industrial Technology, Computer Networking Systems, Web Design
What is an AACSB Accredited Online MBA Program?
There is no programmatic accreditation for this major field of study. Students should defer to the regional/national accreditation of their four-year college or university.

The job outlook is strong for college graduates with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, particularly those with relevant work experience. A 2014 survey by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce found that experienced college graduates have a 4.0% unemployment rate ― a full percentage point below the national unemployment rate across all industries. Below, you can see the unemployment prospects for computer science majors measured against experienced graduates with degrees in other computer-related fields.

Job Placement

Undergraduate Degree Field Unemployment Rate for Experienced Bachelor’s Degree-Holders
Computer Science 4.0%
Computer and Information Systems 4.3%
Information Sciences 4.3%
Computer Engineering 3.7%
Miscellaneous Computer 6.0%

Source: From Hard Times to Better Times’ by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

The BLS also notes that the computer and information technology industry is projected to grow by nearly 500,000 jobs between 2014 and 2024. This rapid growth ensures that skilled computer science degree-holders will have a wealth of job opportunities available to them in the years to come.

Earning a Living

College graduates with a degree in computer science enjoy much higher earning potential than colleagues with less education. The following table highlights the median salaries for associate and bachelor’s degree-holding computer scientists during two key career stages.

Degree Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years)
Associate Degree in Computer Science $40,400 $67,300
Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science $65,300 $107,000

Source: 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report

According to the data, bachelor’s holders outearned those with an associate degree by 61.6% at the entry-level mark and 59.0% at mid-career. It’s also important to note that the entry-level annual earnings for bachelor’s graduates is only $2,000 lower than the mid-career salary for associate degree-holders.

Naturally, the exact salary for a given position in the field will vary based on a number of factors, including specific job title, employer size, and location. Using data from PayScale, the next table examines the overall salary growth for five of the most popular career pathways for computer science professionals.

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
Network Architect $86,246 $100,535 $117,277 $120,178
Information Systems (IS) Manager $61,379 $70,545 $83,945 $89,078
Network Administrator $49,466 $56,158 $61,904 $65,313

Source: PayScale

Career and Further Education Opportunities

Students who graduate from college with a bachelor’s in computer science will be qualified for dozens of entry-level positions, as well as select supervisory roles that are normally reserved for well-educated candidates. Below, we’ve profiled four of the most common career pathways for professionals with a computer science degree.

Computer Systems Specialists: Systems analysts develop computing systems based on the needs of their organization. They must carefully research their client’s organizational structure in order to create efficient, user-friendly systems that optimize productivity.

Software Developers: Software developers create, test, and evaluate applications, games, and other software-based programs, along with the systems and controls that enable these programs to function properly. They may also design models, diagrams, and flowcharts that instruct programmers how to write proper code sequences.

Computer Network Architects: Network architects design and develop different types of telecommunication networks. Most of their work is concentrated on local area networks, usually designed for a small number of users in a single location, or wide area networks, which can include many users in multiple locations. Additionally, they are often called upon to perform hardware and software upgrades.

Computer and Information Systems (CIS) Managers: Also known as IT managers, CIS managers are responsible for the tech-based operations at large companies and organizations. Day-to-day duties usually entail a combination of programming, software development, data analysis, and business administration. They may also be tasked with completing a variety of maintenance and administrative tasks, like recruiting, interviewing, screening and hiring new employees, and answering technical questions from non-CIS employees.

Occupation Median Annual Salary Projected Industry Growth (2014-24)
Computer Systems Specialists $85,800 21% (118,600 jobs)
Software Developers $100,690 17% (186,600 jobs)
Computer Network Architects $100,240 9% (12,700 jobs)
Computer and Information Systems (CIS) Managers $131,600 15% (53,700 jobs)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Professional Organizations

Making professional connections is crucial to your career development, and 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 science professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates.

  • 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.
  • Network Professional Association:
    The NPA supports computer networking personnel through advocacy, professional development, and networking events. The association’s website features information about the CNP certification credential, as well as an online career center, an electronic journal and an events calendar.

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.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE COLLEGE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR WOMEN

Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We’ve curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.