Best Online Associate in Computer Science Programs

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by Bethanny Parker

Updated April 26, 2022

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If you want to learn programming languages and understand how computers work, an online associate in computer science may be right for you.

Earn this degree at a top online school or community college to prepare for an exciting career. Career options include web developer and computer support specialist.

www.bestcolleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to start your journey?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), web developers earned a median annual salary of $77,200 as of May 2020. This is far higher than the national median annual salary of $41,950. The web developer career offers a high earning potential considering the position often requires only an associate degree.

This guide on associate in computer science degrees explores available programs, how to apply, and what to expect while pursuing your degree.

What Can I Expect From an Online Associate in Computer Science Program?

Analytical, creative people who are passionate about the latest technology trends may enjoy a career in computer science. Programs vary, but most computer science associate degrees take approximately two years for full-time students complete.

These programs typically require 60 credits of coursework. Some online programs provide accelerated coursework for those seeking shorter-term, intensive programs.

Prospective students interested in computer science may choose from several educational pathways.

Associate of Science (AS)

An associate of science provides a solid foundation in core computer science skills, such as software development. This degree prepares students to enter the job market or to continue on to pursue a bachelor's degree.

Associate of Applied Science (AAS)

Students who are looking to enter the workforce directly after graduation may prefer an AAS degree. Classes focus on computer science to prepare graduates for direct immersion in the field.

Associate of Applied Business (AAB)

This less common degree best suits business-focused computer science professionals.

Associate of Arts (AA)

This associate degree serves individuals who plan to continue their education. An AA degree offers well-rounded classes, including humanities, that transfer to four-year institutions.

Specialized concentrations enable learners to focus on an area of interest. Specialization options include the following.

Common concentrations include the following:

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Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Associate in Computer Science Program?

Coursework for an online associate in computer science focuses on fundamentals of the subject. These include networking, programming, and database design. Coursework varies among schools and concentrations. The following list describes common courses in an online associate in computer science program.

Computer Networks

This course introduces students to common network technology and the main types of computer networks, including local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs). Upon completion, participants should understand the design, functionality, installation process, and configuration of network devices like hubs, bridges, switches, routers, and gateways.

Programming

This course examines common coding languages and how to use them in program development. Covered languages may include HTML, JavaScript, Python, CSS, and C++. Students come away understanding these languages' basic construction, including semantics and syntax, and how to design interactive web pages using these languages.

Database Management

Participants build on a solid foundation with concepts like common data encodings and the theory of data science. Students build data structures and learn SQL to analyze data. Coursework also covers various design methods and how to model complex data sets.

Introduction to Computer Science

This course teaches the fundamentals required for a successful career in computer science. Students in this course gain a broad understanding of programming and algorithms. Covered concepts include data structures, security, encapsulation, and software engineering.

Web Development

Students create a feature-rich website using common programming languages and software such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Lessons focus on interactive graphics and techniques for writing and running scripts. Students learn about front-end and back-end web development and applications.

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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Associate in Computer Science Program?

Most college applications call for an application fee. Beyond that, requirements vary among institutions. Some schools require college entrance exams, for example, while others do not. Many four-year colleges are even embracing test-optional entrance policies.

To qualify for admission, candidates must have a high school diploma or GED certificate. They must also submit high school transcripts or proof of passing the GED test. Applicants do not typically need work experience to enroll in an associate in computer science program.

You may need to write a college application essay or get letters of recommendation from former teachers or employers. If you have been working in the computer science field, you may be able to earn college credit for your work experience.

What Can I Do With an Online Associate in Computer Science Degree?

Career Outlook

An online associate degree in computer science can lead to a variety of career opportunities. Graduates can pursue positions as web developers, computer support specialists, and computer programmers.

According to the BLS, the median annual salary for a computer support specialist, a common position for associate graduates, was $55,510 as of 2020. The median annual salary for all professionals working in computer and mathematical occupations was $96,770.

From 2020-2030, the BLS projects a 9% growth in employment for computer support specialists.

Read on to learn where an associate in computer science degree can take you, or learn more about computer science careers.

Career Paths

Web Developer

These creative individuals demonstrate an understanding of both graphic design and programming. Most companies, including large corporations and small businesses, need web developers to create and design their websites and troubleshoot issues. Back-end web developers focus on technical construction. Front-end developers integrate graphics and applications and create the site's basic layout. Full-stack developers work on both aspects.

Median Annual Salary: $77,200

Computer Support Specialist

Computer support specialists provide support for computer users and organizations. These professionals may provide technical assistance or test, maintain, and troubleshoot computer network systems. The latter duties require an understanding of LANs, WANs, and the internet.

Median Annual Salary: $55,510

Software Developer

Designing computer programs and applications can be a well-paying profession. The median annual salary for software developers was $110,140 as of 2020, more than double the national median salary for all occupations. The BLS also projects a faster-than-average 22% growth for software developers from 2020-2030. These workers design, develop, and test software programs. Some developers also write code, while others turn this task over to programmers.

Most of these jobs require a bachelor's degree. Associate degree-holders who have a strong professional portfolio may qualify.

Median Annual Salary: $110,140

Computer Programmer

Programmers write and test computer code for programs and applications. Their daily tasks include debugging and troubleshooting software and systems. These professionals should have knowledge and skills in a variety of computer languages, such as Python, C, C++, and Java.

Median Annual Salary: $89,190

Systems Analyst

This technical position involves designing, developing, deploying, and monitoring computer systems and applications. The role entails analyzing and conducting hardware and systems checks, along with recommending upgrades and new technologies.

Median Annual Salary: $93,730

A bachelor's degree is a common requirement for this role, so associate degree-holders may need to return to school to qualify.

Computer Science Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Continuing Education

An associate in computer science is an entry-level degree. Many employers look for candidates with a bachelor's degree or higher. An associate degree is enough to get you started in the field, but you may not be able to move up the career ladder without earning a bachelor's.

Individuals with an associate degree in computer science may choose to pursue bachelor's degrees in computer science, computer programming, computer forensics, or a related subject.

Computer science deals with the theories behind how computers work. Computer programming focuses on the actual programming. Learners who study computer forensics understand how to use computers as tools to help solve crimes.

Bachelor's graduates who want to pursue further education may opt for a master's degree in computer science, computer forensics, or computer engineering.

How Do I Choose an Online Associate in Computer Science Program?

Cost

Before selecting a school, you should find out the true cost of the program. This includes tuition, fees, room and board, and lost wages. When comparing the cost of an online program vs. an on-campus program, you may find online programs cost less because they do not entail housing or moving costs.

The cost of attending a two-year college in 2018-19 was $3,621 per year for tuition and fees. Including room and board, that number increased to $11,391.

Program Format

Another thing to consider when choosing an online associate in computer science is whether the classes are synchronous or asynchronous. Synchronous courses require students to log in at a specific time. Some programs allow students to attend part time so they can continue working while attending school.

Full-time programs permit students to graduate more quickly. Accelerated programs speed up this process even more.

Location

Location is usually more important if you're attending school on campus rather than online. However, some online programs do have on-campus requirements such as labs. If you live far from the school, check to make sure there are no on-campus requirements.

Accreditation

Third-party accrediting agencies make sure a school or its programs meet certain educational standards. Regional accreditation is more prestigious than national accreditation because credits from regionally accredited institutions often transfer more easily among schools.

Student Support

When choosing which school to attend, consider whether you will need any student services. Many schools offer online student services including mentorship, academic advising, tutoring, and help with internship placements.

Best Accredited Online Associate in Computer Science Programs

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Best Online Associate in Computer Science Programs

  1. Montgomery County Community College
    Location

    Blue Bell, PA

    Tuition

    $8525

    A public community college located in Bluebell, Pennsylvania, Montco offers an online associate of science in computer science program that prepares graduates to apply algorithm design to solve problems and communicate with others in a technical work environment.

    The 61-credit program includes 26 credits of general education requirements, 32 credits of major courses, and an elective. Topics covered in the major include database management systems/SQL, probability and statistics, and computer architecture and organization.

    Montco is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

    Program Snapshot

    Program Name: Associate of Science in Computer Science
    School Status: Public
    Tuition: $144 per credit (in-state); $432 per credit (out-of-state)
    Credit Requirements: 61 credits
    Program Length: 2 years
    Format: Online

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: No minimum requirement
    Standardized Tests: Not required

    Contact the School

    Request more information about this program.

  2. Lincoln Land Community College
    Location

    Springfield, IL

    Tuition

    $6012

    A public college in Springfield, Illinois, LLCC offers an associate of arts in computer science that can be completed online. Graduates can pursue entry-level positions in various computer science and business settings, although many students transfer to a four-year school and earn their bachelor's degree.

    In addition to general education courses in subjects like introductory statistics and public speaking fundamentals, students cover major-related topics like computer applications and concepts, discrete structures, computer programming concepts, and computer science.

    LLCC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

    Program Snapshot

    Program Name: Associate of Arts in Computer Science
    School Status: Public
    Tuition: $135 per credit (in-state); $404 per credit (out-of-state)
    Credit Requirements: 60-67 credits
    Program Length: 2 years
    Format: Online

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: No minimum requirement
    Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT required

    Contact the School

    Request more information about this program.

  3. Lake Superior State University
    Location

    Sault Ste Marie, MI

    Tuition

    $11272

    Seminole State — based in Sanford, Florida — offers an associate of arts degree in computer science in both hybrid and online formats. The degree is set up to be easily transferable to an upper-division public college or university in the state of Florida.

    Students can complete the 60-credit program in two years. Course topics include principles of computer programming, programming in Java, web applications programming, and data-driven websites. The program also requires students to dedicate four credits to an internship.

    Seminole State is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    Program Snapshot

    Program Name: Associate of Arts in Computer Science
    School Status: Public
    Tuition: $80 per credit (in-state); $317 (out-of-state)
    Credit Requirements: 60 credits
    Program Length: 2 years
    Format: Online

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: No minimum requirement
    Standardized Tests: ACT, SAT or ACCUPLACER required

    Contact the School

    Request more information about this program.

  4. Seminole State College of Florida
    Location

    Sanford, FL

    Tuition

    $8392

    A public school in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, NHCC offers an online associate of science in computer science. This degree is designed to be transferable to a state university in Minnesota.

    The 60-credit program features a 23-credit core, which covers topics like SQL, computer architecture, database modeling and design, and object-oriented programming. Students also complete seven credits of technical electives, choosing from classes like programming in Python and introduction to mobile programming.

    NHCC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

    Program Snapshot

    Program Name: Associate of Science in Computer Science - Transfer Pathway
    School Status: Public
    Tuition: $197 per credit
    Credit Requirements: 60 credits
    Program Length: 2 years
    Format: Online

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: No minimum requirement
    Standardized Tests: ACT, SAT, or ACCUPLACER required

    Contact the School

    Request more information about this program.

  5. North Hennepin Community College
    Location

    Brooklyn Park, MN

    Tuition

    $10189

    A public college located in McAllen, Texas, South Texas College oversees an associate program in computer science that teaches students the skills and knowledge needed to pursue advanced study in the field of computer science.

    Students who follow the suggested course sequence take four courses each fall and spring semester, as well as two classes during the summer term. Major-related classes go over topics like programming fundamentals, computer organization, introduction to logic, and C programming.

    South Texas College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    Program Snapshot

    Program Name: Associate Degree in Computer Science
    School Status: Public
    Tuition: $77 per credit (in-district, in-state); $87 pe credit (out-of-district, in-state) $200 per credit (out-of-state)
    Credit Requirements: 60 credits
    Program Length: 2 years
    Format: Online

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: No minimum requirement
    Standardized Tests: Not required

    Contact the School

    Request more information about this program.

Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Computer Science Programs

Is an online computer science degree worth it?

Yes. Few degrees are better suited for online learning than a computer science degree, in which your learning portal and subject matter are one and the same. Whether your interest lies in programming, web development, or software programs, an online computer science degree can lead to a variety of good job opportunities.

Is a degree in computer science hard?

It can be. In some ways, computer science is like learning a new language. While hard at first, once you learn the fundamental concepts, the subject becomes easier to understand.

What can I do with a computer science associate degree?

Graduates with an associate in computer science often go on to become web developers, computer support specialists, and computer programmers.

How much money can I make as a computer scientist with an associate degree?

Annual salaries for computer scientists with associate degrees vary depending on experience, location, and industry. According to Payscale data from February 2022, the average salary for a professional with an AS in computer science is $67,000.

What are the highest-paying jobs in computer science?

Computer and information systems managers enjoy one of the highest-paying jobs in computer science. As of 2020, their median annual salary was $151,150. To qualify for this position, computer science professionals generally need a bachelor's or master's degree and extensive experience.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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