Most Affordable Online Computer Science Programs
Learn how an online bachelor's in computer science can set up graduates for success in the tech field.
Updated April 22, 2022
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An online bachelor's in computer science offers a great educational and professional pathway to students interested in how technology, data, and people interact with each other. Graduates go on to help individuals, businesses, and governments improve their systems and networks.
Those with a bachelor's in computer science may find work designing software apps or engineering new software.
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.
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Most bachelor's in computer science programs entail 120 credits and either four years of full-time study or six years of part-time study. Accelerated degrees may allow learners to graduate in only three years.
Students can look forward to a secure and robust job market, since so many companies rely on computer science professionals. Graduates tend to earn above-average salaries, often in the six figures.
Read on to learn about the top online schools for computer science, common classes, available career paths, and opportunities for financial assistance.
How Much Does an Online Bachelor's in Computer Science Cost?
The cost of a bachelor's in computer science depends on where a student decides to attend. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in-state public schools cost an average of $9,349 for tuition and fees in the 2019-20 academic year. Private schools, on the other hand, cost an average of $32,769.Out-of-state students typically pay higher tuition rates for public schools. However, in some cases, public schools may charge in-state tuition to all students regardless of where they live.
Before making any decisions, degree-seekers must make sure they understand the true program cost — including tuition, fees, and related costs.
What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Computer Science Program?
When considering an online bachelor's in computer science, students should think about whether they would like working in computer science jobs. Most individuals who choose this path enjoy learning about the latest technologies. They also enjoy troubleshooting issues and looking for ways to maximize efficiency.
Some computer science programs offer concentrations to help students focus their knowledge in particular areas of the discipline. Concentration offerings vary among programs. Common options include video game design and development, software engineering, cybersecurity, and cloud computing.
Most computer science students must participate in a semester-long internship. Internships provide opportunities for learners to network with professionals and gain hands-on skills.
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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 Science Program?
Introduction to Computer Programming
This course covers the design, implementation, testing, debugging, maintenance, and documentation of algorithms, programming concepts, and data types. Learners study concepts of object-oriented programming. They also learn about numerical and non-numerical problems.
In this course, students explore linear and nonlinear data structures such as lists, stacks, queues, trees, tables, and graphs. They learn about recursion, iteration over collections, sorting, searching, Big O notation, and hash tables.
Introduction to Computer Science
Typically taken in the first semester, this course lays the foundation for future study by introducing learners to programming languages, memory management, program control, and data abstraction.
Computer Science with Applications
With focus on how to keep systems and networkers secured from hackers, this course looks at the variety of defense systems available and how to handle sensitive and private data in a secure way.
Often provided as an elective, this course supports students looking to go into software development. It explores software architecture and testing, user access, and addressing bugs and security threats.
This course focuses on the development and design principles associated with computer hardware. These include multi-core designs, memory hierarchies, and instruction set architecture functions.
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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Bachelor's in Computer Science Program?
Admission requirements for bachelor's in computer science programs vary among schools. Still, most look somewhat similar. Schools usually maintain the same protocols for both online and campus-based students. In addition to teh components highlighted below, some programs may ask for a portfolio of computer science-related projects.
Applications are the first step in the undergraduate admissions process, providing the university with basic demographic information about candidates. Students can typically complete their applications online. They must provide details such as their full name, mailing address, basic educational information, date of birth, and citizenship status.
In recent years, many schools dropped their requirement for students to submit college entrance exam scores with their applications. However, many schools still recommend that applicants take the ACT or SAT. Review your prospective schools' recommendations and requirements before applying.
Letters of Recommendation
Letters of recommendation come from applicants' mentors, who recommend students based on their character, accomplishments, and preparedness for college. Current or former teachers, job/volunteer supervisors, or faith leaders may write letters of recommendation.
College application essays allow students to tell the admissions committee about a unique, character-forming experience in their life why they are a great candidate. Essays also provide the space for applicants to discuss why they want to study computer science and attend that particular college.
Official transcripts help admissions officers confirm a student's GPA and ensure they meet all high school prerequisite requirements. In the case of students transferring from community college to university, transcripts also help admissions officers calculate credit transfers.
What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's in Computer Science Degree?
Before committing to an online bachelor's in computer science, prospective students must do their research to understand whether the program aligns with their career goals. Students looking for secure, well-paying jobs often gravitate toward this path.
Nearly every individual, company, nonprofit, and even government agency relies on computer science professionals. For this reason, jobs in the field continue to expand. Many graduates hover just below or above the six-figure mark, while those with more experience can earn more.
Graduates may find themselves working in industries including software development, network architecture, cybersecurity, and hardware design.
See where a bachelor's in computer science degree can take you. Learn more about computer science careers.
Computer Network Architect
Computer network architects build and maintain local and wide area networks alongside intranets to meet their clients' needs. These professionals design systems, present their plans, and implement plans according to managerial approval.
Median Annual Salary: $116,780
Computer Systems Analyst
Also known as systems architects, these professionals analyze companies' computer and network systems and suggest ways to improve for greater efficiency and effectiveness. Computer systems analysts look for ways to boost functionality while managing costs. They keep their finger on the pulse of new technologies that can prove beneficial.
Median Annual Salary: $93,730
These professionals use data to understand and explain the phenomena occurring around them. Data scientists help their organizations make better business decisions.
Median Annual Salary (March 2022): $97,160
Information Security Analyst
These professionals keep their organizations' systems and networks safe. Information security analysts continually monitor for signs of security breaches while installing and updating firewalls and encryption software. They may also work with ethical hackers to find weak points of entry in the system.
Median Annual Salary: $103,590
Network and Computer Systems Administrator
Given networks' important role in nearly every business, network and computer systems administrators are critical to most companies. These professionals install new hardware and software based on company needs. They also optimize existing systems' performance, create accounts, and train new users on system functionality.
Median Annual Salary: $84,810
Software developers may work in house or in freelance or consulting roles. After understanding their clients' needs, these professionals design apps and other systems to meet those demands. They write code, test program functionality, and make ongoing tweaks and upgrades as needed.
Median Annual Salary: $110,140
Computer Science Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.
Graduates of an online bachelor's in computer science may return to school to upgrade their credentials and compete for more senior positions. Depending on their end goal, students can pursue a master's in computer science and/or a doctorate in computer science programs.
These programs vary in terms of length. Some schools offer specializations in areas such as human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, software engineering, and machine learning. Some positions, such as those for computer and information research scientists, require candidates to possess at least a master's degree.
How Do I Choose an Online Bachelor's in Computer Science Program?
The cost of an online bachelor's in computer science can vary based on school type. In-state public schools typically offer the cheapest tuition rates. Private schools cost much more. Students should make sure they understand the true cost of a program. They should also compare online and campus-based learning costs before enrolling.
Students considering an online bachelor's in computer science can typically choose whether to study in a synchronous or an asynchronous format. Those seeking flexibility usually go with the second option. Learners can also decide whether full-time or part-time learning meets their needs, and whether an accelerated program may work best.
When considering whether to attend college online or on campus, students must factor in location. Distance learners can study thousands of miles from their home. That said, some schools may require in-person components. In this case, learners may want to attend school within driving distance.
Understanding online college accreditation is important. Attending a non-accredited school can create problems with transferring credits, finding work, and applying to grad school. Learners should look for both regional and programmatic accreditation. Within computer science, ABET is the program-specific accreditor to know.
Finding a program with adequate student support services can turn a good college experience into a great one. Services to look for in a top program include internship assistance and mentorship opportunities. Online students can also ask about distance learning services.
How Do I Pay for an Online Bachelor's in Computer Science?
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
The FAFSA is administered by the U.S. Department of Education. This application determines whether students can receive federal grants, work-study funds, and/or loans. Many schools also require FAFSA documentation for institutional awards.
Many students turn to college loans to further aid their studies. The U.S. Department of Education offers fixed-rate loans to help bridge the gap and make college possible.
Grants are similar to scholarships in that recipients do not have to repay the funding, as long as they meet the reward's requirements. Some grants are based on academic merit. Others focus on financial need.
Students who qualify based on the FAFSA can apply to work-study jobs at their university. These jobs pay at least minimum wage. The types of jobs available vary among institutions. Students can work part time and use this pay to help cover education expenses.
Students should first exhaust their options in terms of scholarship aid, since scholarships don't require repayment. Scholarships are available through professional associations, nonprofit foundations, local and state governments, businesses and corporations, and colleges.
Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Computer Science Programs
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Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Computer Science Programs
Is a bachelor's in computer science worth it?
A bachelor's in computer science offers a great foundational education and can lead to a variety of entry-level positions. If considering whether an online degree is worth it, remember that computer science particularly suits distance learning, since the subject focuses so much on new technology.
Students who pursue computer science degrees often appreciate that they can work in a variety of fields and industries. Many companies rely on computer science professionals to keep their systems and networks running smoothly, so these experts will always be in demand.
What can I do with a bachelor's in computer science?
Bachelor's in computer science degrees offer versatile curricula that qualify graduates for a variety of roles. Some students may feel drawn to software engineering and development, while others prefer to work in cybersecurity and information security management.Regardless of graduates' chosen path, this degree signals to hiring managers that candidates have the foundational knowledge to perform well in entry-level positions. Over time, students can use their experience to move into more senior and/or managerial positions.
Are computer science majors in demand?
As discussed throughout this guide, pursuing a bachelor's in computer science makes sense for students who want in-demand professional skills that can lead to stable jobs. Demand can vary based on each student's path. All major roles are projected to grow from 2020-2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Jobs for software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers are projected to grow by an impressive 22% in the coming decade. This growth will create more than 400,000 roles.
How much money can I make with a bachelor's in computer science?
Computer science bachelor's graduates routinely earn around six figures, depending on where they work and how much experience they possess. Software developers, for instance, earned a median annual salary of $110,140 as of May 2020. Those in the top 10% of earners commanded salaries of more than $170,000Computer hardware engineers earned a median annual salary of $119,560 during that same time frame. The top 10% of these professionals made close to $200,000 annually.
What are the highest paying jobs with a bachelor's in computer science?
Most computer science positions pay substantially more than the national average wage for all occupations. Still, some roles offer higher salaries than others. Professionals working as computer and information systems managers earned a median annual salary of $151,150 as of May 2020. Those in the top 10% can expect to earn salaries in excess of $208,000.To compete for these types of jobs, professionals typically need field experience. For computer and information systems managers, for example, most employers seek candidates with at least five years of relevant experience.
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