Best Online Computer Programming Programs

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by Bethanny Parker

Published on March 4, 2022

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Breaking into the computer and IT services industry as a programmer or developer can seem daunting at first. If you have ever wondered where to get started or how to make yourself more appealing to employers, consider earning an online bachelor's in computer programming from a top online school.

A bachelor's in computer programming can lead to several high-paying, dynamic computer programming careers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that computer programmers made an average annual wage of $89,190 in May 2020. Additionally, between 2020 and 2030, the BLS projects a 22% growth rate for software developer jobs. Earning an online bachelor's in computer programming can increase your odds of securing employment in the steadily growing computer and IT services industry.

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?

This guide covers what to expect from an online bachelor's program in computer programming in terms of the curriculum, admission requirements, post-graduation job opportunities, and more.

What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Computer Programming Program?

According to Rasmussen University, successful computer programmers have a passion for computers, patience, and a knack for solving problems. They also like to put things in order, love learning, and try to program in an efficient manner — without a lot of repetition.

Traits like these can also help students succeed in an in-person or online bachelor's degree program in computer programming. A passion for computers can help you maintain excitement about the program, and patience will get you through hours of troubleshooting code that doesn't work exactly as expected.

Most bachelor's programs in computer programming consist of around 120 credit hours and take four years to complete. Some schools offer concentrations such as artificial intelligence, game design, and programming languages.

Computer programming degree programs focus on programming skills. Students typically learn at least three or four programming languages, such as C#, C++, Python, and Java. The actual languages students learn vary from one program to another.

Some programs may require labs, internships, or other requirements. For example, Limestone University requires a capstone project, and Baker College requires students to complete 150 hours of work experience during the program. Check with your admissions counselor to see if your school has any requirements in addition to the normal classes.

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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 Bachelor's in Computer Programming Program?

Though classes vary between schools, the typical online bachelor's in computer programming pathway covers several core topics, including programming languages, algorithms and data structures, and the basics of computer science. Graduates leave their bachelor's program with a strong foundation in commonly used coding languages, such as Java, C#, and C++.

To learn about managing and navigating computer and network systems, students take introductory courses in operating system management and computer architecture and organization. Other elective topics, such as cybersecurity and artificial intelligence, allow students to customize their degree according to their interests and pursue a specialized degree track.

Some learners treat an online bachelor's in computer programming as a terminal degree. However, others go on to pursue a graduate-level computer science degree to advance as a developer in a specialized field, such as artificial intelligence, or qualify for a career in research.

Computer Programming With JAVA

This course familiarizes students with Java syntax and concepts, which they use in several software engineering and programming projects.

Algorithms and Data Structures

In this course, students learn the basics of the design and analysis of algorithms. Hands-on coursework shows students how to use algorithm implementation techniques when solving practical computational problems. Topics include algorithms for sorting, string processing, searching, and graphing. The course also covers the evaluation of divide-and-conquer, recursive backtracking, and algorithm efficiency.

Cybersecurity

This course covers core issues in information security. Topics include data encryption, digital forensics, and vulnerability assessment. The course may culminate in a collaborative or solo project, such as a penetration test of a system accompanied by a written report.

Cloud Computing

In this course, students investigate cloud computing and its influence on the IT industry. Topics include application programming interfaces used by cloud service providers, application development using a software-as-a-service model, and security testing for cloud applications. Students exit the course able to use the cloud as an infrastructure for different services.

Operating Systems Foundations

This course examines foundational concepts, techniques, and skills needed to manage operating systems. Some courses may work with an open-source operating system derived from UNIX/LINUX rather than a conventional operating system such as Windows. Concepts covered include user commands and utilities, graphical user interfaces, editors, and shells.

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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Bachelor's in Computer Programming Program?

Minimum GPA

Most schools require a minimum GPA — usually between 2.5 and 3.0. However, some programs may award probationary admission to students with a lower GPA if they have high SAT or ACT scores.

Test Scores

Many accredited schools require students to submit SAT or ACT scores for consideration for undergraduate programs. However, some programs may prefer placement assessments, such as the ALEKS online program.

Letters of Recommendation

Some schools may ask applicants to submit up to three letters of recommendation. Letter-writers should be teachers and/or mentors with whom you have a positive relationship.

Transcripts

You need to request transcripts from all previously attended schools. This usually entails filling out a transcript request application and paying a small fee. This process can take a few weeks.

Application

Once you have gathered all relevant materials, fill out your application to the program. Generally, applicants need to submit a fee — usually $40-$80 — with their application

What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's in Computer Programming Degree?

Career Outlook

The career outlook for graduates with a bachelor's in computer programming varies based on the actual job title. The BLS projects a 10% decline in jobs for computer programmers between 2020 and 2030. The number of jobs available is expected to increase 5% for network and computer systems administrators, 7% for computer systems analysts, 13% for web developers and digital designers, and 22% for software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers during the same time period.

According to Payscale, the average base salary for someone with a BS in computer programming was $77,000 per year as of February 2022. This compares to $88,000 per year for those with a BS in computer science. The pay for professionals with a bachelor's in computer programming compares favorably with the wages workers who pursued other popular college majors earn. For example, the average base salary for someone with a business administration degree was $69,000 per year as of September 2021.

See where a bachelor's in computer programming can take you. Learn more about computer programming careers.

Career Paths

Computer Programmer

Computer programmers write the code that makes software programs function. Usually, the programs they write are based on designs created by software developers and software engineers. After writing the code, programmers test it to make sure it works correctly. They troubleshoot programs to find any errors and correct them.

Median Annual Salary: $89,190

Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Network and computer systems administrators are in charge of making sure that the computer networks they oversee function on a daily basis. They install and maintain wide area networks, local area networks, and intranets. Network and computer systems administrators determine what hardware and software are needed, install it, and train users.

Median Annual Salary: $84,810

Computer Systems Analysts

Computer systems analysts must have an understanding of how both business and technology work. They design information technology systems that help the business operate more efficiently. Their job includes consulting with managers to discuss the role IT should play in the company, testing to make sure systems work properly, and finding ways to add functionality to existing systems.

Median Annual Salary: $93,730

Web Developers

Web developers create and update websites. They perform maintenance to ensure that everything works the way it should. This includes testing and optimizing the website's speed and making sure it can handle the bandwidth needed. Web developers consult with management to determine the functionality required for the website before designing it.

Median Annual Salary: $77,200

Software Developers

Software developers analyze the needs of users and develop software that meets those needs. They create the design for the software, which is often handed off to a computer program for coding. Software developers plan how the parts of a software program will work together and recommend updates for existing programs. They document their designs to help facilitate future changes.

Median Annual Salary: $110,140

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

Continuing Education

Individuals with a bachelor's in computer programming may opt to continue their education to the master's level. The most common master's programs for computer programming graduates are computer science, computer engineering, and computer forensics.

How Do I Choose an Online Bachelor's in Computer Programming Program?

Cost

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of tuition and fees at a four-year institution was about $16,320 per year during the 2018-2019 academic year. Keep in mind that the actual program cost varies from one school to another. Usually, public schools are cheaper than private schools, and in-state rates are lower than out-of-state rates. Some online schools offer low rates to attract out-of-state students.

Program Format

Program format may play a role in deciding which program to choose. You may prefer a synchronous program or an asynchronous program. A synchronous program offers live content, requiring you to log in while the event is happening. With an asynchronous program, you have more flexibility to choose your own schedule.

Some schools offer part-time programs, which allow you to continue working while attending school, while others do not. Some schools may even offer accelerated programs that allow you to graduate more quickly.

Location

If you're enrolling in an online bachelor's in computer programming, location may not be important to you. However, it is a good idea to check with the school to make sure they don't require their online students to attend certain events — such as labs and practicums — in person. As long as there are no in-person requirements, you don't need to worry about location if you decide to attend college online.

Accreditation

Most schools will not accept transfer credits from a college or university that is not properly accredited. As a result, most institutions do have accreditation. However, it's always best to double-check before enrolling in an online bachelor's in computer programming.

Student Support

Student support services are another important thing to consider when choosing a school. Many schools offer both in-person and online support services. The services offered may include tutoring, academic advising, mentorship services, internship matching services, and alumni networking events.

Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Computer Programming Programs

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Best Online Bachelor's in Computer Programming Programs

  1. Fort Hays State University
    Location

    Hays, KS

    Tuition

    $12420

    Located in Hays, Kansas, FHSU educates about 16,000 learners annually. In addition to its on-campus programs, the university offers dozens of degree and certificate programs to distance learners, including an online bachelor of science in computer science.

    Computer science students complete 55 credits of general education requirements, as well as 65 credits dedicated to their major. Coursework covers topics like foundations of computing, front-end and back-end web development, and analytic geometry and calculus. Students also complete a seminar course towards the end of their program.

    Graduates can pursue roles like system center operations manager, capacity analyst, and information systems security engineer. Students can transfer up to 90 credits into this program.

    FHSU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  2. Baker College
    Location

    Owosso, MI

    Located in Owosso, Michigan, Baker offers a bachelor of science in computer science with a concentration in computer programming.

    In addition to general education requirements, students take courses such as emerging programming languages, computer architecture, computer operating systems and maintenance, and data structures and algorithms. Learners receive a comprehensive introduction to several different programming languages, and computer programming concentration courses cover in-demand topics such as IoT or artificial intelligence. Students also complete a year-long senior project and 150 hours of work experience with an approved company.

    Applicants need a high school diploma or the equivalent to qualify for admission. However, students do not need to submit standardized test scores. Baker is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  3. Davenport University
    Location

    Grand Rapids, MI

    Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Davenport offers an online bachelor of science in computer science. Students choose one of three concentrations: artificial intelligence, computer theory and algorithms, or gaming and simulation.

    The program features general education courses as well as computer science foundation courses. Notable class requirements include object-oriented programming with C#, database design, data structures and algorithms, and software engineering. After completing foundational requirements, students take specific courses in their concentration and complete a computer science capstone experience to demonstrate skills mastery in key development areas.

    Applicants need a high school diploma or the equivalent to qualify for admission, but they do not need to submit standardized test scores. Davenport is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  4. Limestone College
    Location

    Gaffney, SC

    Located in Gaffney, South Carolina, Limestone offers an online bachelor of science in computer science with a concentration in programming. Students complete courses on an asynchronous schedule and focus on just two classes per eight-week term.

    Course requirements cover basic concepts of the internet and the world wild web, information systems analysis and design, and internet programming. A capstone project allows students to plan, research, and execute a computer science project and produce a formal research paper.

    Applicants must hold a high school diploma (or the equivalent) and submit SAT or ACT scores. The program does not require students to possess any previous training in computer science.

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

  5. Bellevue University
    Location

    Bellevue, NE

    Based in eastern Nebraska, BU offers an online bachelor of science in software development. This program operates as a degree completion program. Participants join a cohort and prepare to earn CompTIA certification.

    Required courses include the foundation of software development, database development and use, programming with Java, and interactive development with Javascript. Students also complete a capstone project in software development where they plan and execute a project that addresses a real-world challenge.

    Applicants must transfer in an associate degree or at least 60 previously earned credits. BU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Computer Programming Programs

What can you do with a degree in computer programming?

A degree in computer programming can qualify you for several entry-level positions in the field. In addition to working as programmers and software developers, graduates can pursue work as network architects, information system managers, and information security analysts.

How long does it take to get a bachelor's degree in computer programming?

It typically takes four years to earn an online bachelor's degree in computer programming. However, this timeline can vary depending on several factors, including whether you take courses part time or full time or whether you can transfer credit from previous college courses.

Do you need a degree in computer science to be a programmer?

Some employers looking for programmers and developers do not necessarily require applicants to possess a degree in computer science; in the computer and IT services industry, practical skills related to programming languages and information systems often count as much as a degree.

How much does it cost to get a degree in computer programming?

Learners can expect to pay anywhere from $40,000-$120,000 on a computer programming degree from an accredited school.

How much can you make with a bachelor's in computer programming?

Online bachelor's in computer programming graduates have the potential to make a very comfortable living after graduation. For example, the BLS reports that the top 10% of computer programmers earned around $146,050 per year in May 2020. Most professionals with jobs in computer and IT services make $60,000-$150,000 annually.

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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