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.
Choosing a Program
WILL AN ONLINE ASSOCIATE IN COMPUTER PROGRAMMING PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?
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.
WILL AN ONLINE ASSOCIATE IN COMPUTER PROGRAMMING WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?
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.
WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY ASSOCIATE IN COMPUTER PROGRAMMING?
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.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE COMPUTER PROGRAMMING ASSOCIATE PROGRAMS?
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.
Accredited Online Associate in Computer Programming Programs
St Petersburg College
|Clearwater, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
Located on the scenic Gulf Coast of Florida with both Clearwater and Tarpon Springs locations, St. Petersburg College (SPC) offers learners over 100 degree and certificate options. SPC opened as Florida's first two-year college in 1927 and has since grown to serve a student body of over 46,000 degree- and non-degree-seeking students. Academic programs at SPC emphasize career-centered curricula aimed at empowering learners with the necessary training to meet their career goals. Around 20,000 students take classes online at SPC, with 560 online course offerings and 52 fully online programs.
SPC offers an online computer science associate degree, which students can complete in about two years. SPC's computer science associate program requires a minimum of 60 credit hours, which include general education courses in areas like the humanities, behavioral science, and ethics. Major courses focus on multiple programming platforms and languages, including Java and C++.
Applicants to SPC must provide high school or GED transcripts; they may also need to take a college placement test. Applicants meet with an academic adviser prior to admission to map out their academic and career goals. St. Petersburg College holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College
|Shell Lake, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
Founded in 1912 as the state's first technical school, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (WITC) offers courses and training programs in over 60 career areas. Students may attend classes at one of WITC's four campuses or three outreach centers around the state, including the college's original home campus in Superior, Wisconsin. They can also take courses in the evenings or online to accommodate their careers and lifestyles.
WITC also provides a special scholarship for eligible-area high school graduates to attend the college tuition free. WITC aims to evolve and grow with the demands of various industries in the state, providing students with the education they need to contribute to the workforce.
Students interested in information technology can earn their online associate in computer science at WITC in around two years. The 62-credit program includes major courses and general studies requirements in topics like composition, economics, mathematics, and psychology. The major curriculum emphasizes programming languages and platforms, including courses in Java, SQL, and .NET programming.
Students also learn about developing applications for mobile platforms and designing software systems. Basic courses in HTML and web design provide students with a working understanding of web development. Program applicants must submit a formal application and meet with an admissions counselor. Some students may qualify to earn credit for prior work experiences with approval from the academic department and proper documentation. Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Seminole State College of Florida
|Sanford, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 37%||
Seminole State College of Florida opened its doors in 1966 as Seminole Junior College, serving an incoming class of 750 students. Today, Seminole State serves a student body of over 29,000 students in more than 200 academic programs. Students take courses at one of Seminole State's four central Florida campuses and online through Seminole State's expansive distance learning options. About half of the enrolled students at Seminole State take courses online.
Seminole State offers an online computer science associate degree that full-time students typically complete in 4-5 semesters. Students complete 60 required credit hours in the program, including general education courses in the social sciences, humanities, and mathematics. The major curriculum emphasizes training in basic computer technology, programming, application development, and programming. Students can pursue elective specializations in programming, simulation, and web development.
Requirements include courses in computer applications, networking concepts, Java programming, and system analysis. Students may also pursue certificates in areas such as computer programming and information technology analysis. Learners can go on to earn their bachelor's in computer science at Seminole State after completing this degree.
Applicants must hold a high school diploma, a GED, or a Florida certificate of completion. Depending on this prior academic experience, students may take a placement test before enrolling. Students in the online computer science associate degree program must meet with an academic adviser to monitor academic progress after completing 30-45 credits. Seminole State College of Florida holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Minnesota State Community and Technical College
|Fergus Falls, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 36%||
Formed by a merger of two technical and community colleges in 2003, Minnesota State Community and Technical College (M State) now serves a student body of over 8,000 students across 70 academic programs. Students at M State take courses at one of four campuses in Minnesota or online. M State aims to provide students with quality, affordable education, keeping tuition rates low compared to other state institutions. More than 51% of students to attend tuition free.
Students in online programs at M State can access an online library, online tutoring, advising, and counseling services over phone or email. Nearly half of students in online courses at M State also take on-campus courses. M State offers 300 classes and 25 programs online.
Learners who take an interest in computer technology can earn their associate in computer science online at M State. The 60-credit program offers students the opportunity to learn at least one programming language, at least one computer operating system, and one database management system. Students gain the skills required to work in computer programming professions, including researching for problem-solving, working in teams, and time management.
The curriculum also emphasizes business skills and fundamentals, such as the analysis of business problems and best practices for digital- and computer-based solutions. Mandatory courses include Java programming, computer science, and web engineering, plus general education requirements in areas like English and mathematics. Students in the program must have a personal laptop. Minnesota State Community and Technical College holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
|Burlington, Burlington||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 60%||
Originally established in 1878, Champlain College now offers more than 80 academic programs and serves thousands of students. In addition to a home campus overlooking Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vermont, Champlain offers an extensive list of fully online degrees and programs in an ongoing effort to meet learners' academic needs through online learning.
Despite substantial growth since its opening, Champlain keeps classes small, allowing students both on-campus and online opportunities for personal interactions with faculty members. Working professionals can pursue their associate, bachelor's, or graduate degrees online at Champlain, receiving the same quality education as on-campus students.
Champlain offers two unique associate degree options for students interested in computer science: an associate in software development and an associate in web design and development. Students can complete both degrees entirely online. Both programs require at least 60 credit hours of study, including general education requirements. The software development program emphasizes C++ programming, networking fundamentals, and database structures and algorithms.
Students pursuing the web design degree take courses in website design, operating systems, and web architecture. General education courses for these associate degrees include expository writing, statistics, and economics.
Students at Champlain can transfer up to 45 prior credits of learning experience, including college coursework, qualifying work-life experience, and any professional training. Students complete most online coursework at Champlain asynchronously. Each semester comprises two, seven-week terms. Champlain College holds regional accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Atlanta Technical College
|Atlanta, GA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 44%||
Atlanta Technical College (ATC) originally opened its doors as Smith-Hughes Vocational School in 1945, providing post-war education in a number of trades and vocations. Since then, the college has grown to serve over 4,000 students earning associate degrees, professional certificates, and diplomas. ATC offers opportunities for tuition-free learning to students enrolled in programs that align with high-need industries in Atlanta.
Students take courses in web development, computer concepts, and computer literacy, plus required general education classes. Online and on-campus students enjoy access to state-of-the-art computer laboratories at the Atlanta campus.
The computer programming and C++ programming technical certificates offered at ATC qualify for the tuition-free HOPE Career Grant, as do other high-demand information technology areas. Applicants to the associate program must hold a high school diploma or its equivalent. They must also earn satisfactory program admission scores in reading, math, and English. Atlanta Technical College holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Saint Johns River State College
|Palatka, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 35%||
Since opening in 1958, Saint Johns River State College (SJR State) has provided paths to higher education for learners across northeast Florida. SJR State offers over 30 associate degree options, and it began offering bachelor's degrees in 2011. Now, more than 10,000 students attend SJR State each academic year, taking classes at three campuses and online. The college emphasizes high-quality education and training for careers, providing students with cultural opportunities and experiences to enrich learning.
At SJR State, over 23% of students take courses exclusively through distance education. Learners can earn their associate in computer science online at SJR State. The 60-credit program includes 15 credits of general education courses. Students can select one of three unique track options: robotics, software development, or database concepts. They take the required courses in their track option upon completing major course requirements in computer concepts, programming, information systems, and web programming languages.
Learners may earn additional academic credit for holding current industry certifications in certain approved areas. The online computer science program at SJR State provides students with an abundance of special resources and benefits, including a designated adviser to assist in financial aid, scheduling courses, preparing for job interviews, and career services.
An online computer science associate degree from SJR State prepares students for entry-level careers in computer programming and for further undergraduate study in the field. SJR State also offers a variety of transfer options at local state universities and colleges. Saint Johns River State College holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Daytona State College
|Daytona Beach, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 36%||
In 1965, Daytona Beach Junior College merged with Volusia County Community College, creating Daytona State College (DSC). Today, over 28,000 students attend DSC each year, pursuing over 100 academic programs at seven campus locations and online. DSC emphasizes affordability, and the U.S. Department of Education named the college one of the top 50 most affordable institutions for full-time students. DSC aims to offer accessible, flexible education for working professionals and contribute to the development of the local workforce.
Students can pursue an associate in computer science online at DSC in their computer science department. The department houses more than 12 unique, transferable programs, allowing students to both explore a variety of specializations and potentially go on to pursue a higher degree. The associate of science in computer programming and analysis at DSC prepares students to work in business settings designing and developing computer programs to analyze business models.
The program emphasizes coding languages, offering students the opportunity to use these languages to write and maintain computer programs. Of the required 60 credits, general education courses make up 15, and core major requirements and electives account for the remaining credits. Students can choose from elective courses in subjects like network security, web design, and data organization.
Most full-time students complete the program in about two years. Upon earning an associate degree from DSC, students can move directly into either the available bachelor of science programs or onto one of DSC's four-year partner universities. Daytona State College holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
University of Toledo
|Toledo, OH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 41%||
Established in 1872 as one of the 14 state universities in Ohio, The University of Toledo (UToledo) serves a student body of over 20,000 students pursuing more than 300 academic programs at all degree levels. In addition to the university's main campus in Toledo and satellite campuses around the area, UToledo also offers several fully online programs. UToledo's online programs hold special recognition and approval from Quality Matters, an external, peer-review process for academic programs.
For learners seeking a computer science associate degree online, UToledo offers an associate degree in programming and software development. The program prepares students to work as programmers, data managers, and software developers, and to pursue a bachelor's degree.
The program curriculum emphasizes learning programming and coding languages. Students take core courses in areas like application programming, network technologies, computer concepts, and business fundamentals. The degree requires at least 60 credit hours, including general education courses.
Online students at UToledo may access valuable resources such as e-tutoring, an e-library, and an IT Help Desk. UToledo utilizes Blackboard as its online learning platform. The university welcomes transfer students as well, offering resources to make the transition as simple as possible. Program applicants must demonstrate a minimum 2.0 GPA for high school and transfer credits from other higher education institutions. The University of Toledo holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Minnesota State College - Southeast Technical
|Winona, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 34%||
Originally founded in 1949 as the state's second public vocational school, Minnesota State College Southeast (MSC Southeast) now offers 40 associate degree and certificate programs to a student body of over 2,500. The college features two campuses in Winona and Red Wing, both with recently updated and renovated labs, classrooms, and facilities. In a commitment to career development and learning, MSC Southeast also offers online and hybrid options for students to earn their degrees off campus.
MSC Southeast's distance learning offerings include an associate in software and web development. This 60-credit program emphasizes the intersection of business and technology, with coursework exploring business fundamentals and computer programming. Required courses cover skills in C++, Java, web application development, HTML, and CSS.
Students also complete a required computer careers capstone project, which requires learners to work in teams to design and develop business applications, utilizing skills in a variety of technologies. Learners also take required general education courses, including a seminar in job-seeking skills to assist in job placement upon graduation.
All applicants to MSC Southeast must take a placement test after submitting the initial application. Some online courses may require a first-day, on-campus meeting, and some instructors may ask distance learners to take proctored exams. MSC Southeast utilizes the Brightspace by Desire2Learn online platform. All online programs feature a designated academic adviser who students may contact for assistance. Moreover, all online students enjoy access to IT support. Minnesota State College Southeast holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Cincinnati State Technical and Community College
|Cincinnati, OH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 15%||
Established in 1966 as a two-year technical school for recent high school graduates, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College (CState) now offers over 100 associate and certificate programs, serving more than 8,000 students. Students take courses online or at one of CState's four campuses or auxiliary locations around Ohio. CState offers over 200 fully online courses, allowing students to complete certain degrees without visiting campus.
The online computer science associate degree at CState emphasizes computer programming and database management. Learners focus on designing software programs and solutions for businesses across a variety of industries. The curriculum includes courses in system analysis and design, programming, web application development, and Java. Students also complete a capstone in computer programming and database management that requires group work to complete a project.
CState offers students the opportunity to participate in cooperative education programs, working hands-on in their field to gain valuable career experience. Students also take general education courses in areas like English and business communication.
Delivered asynchronously, online courses at CState do not require students to log on at specific times, allowing for more flexibility. CState offers new online students a free online orientation workshop, which helps prepare students for online study. Online students may also access a readiness test for online education. CState allows transfer students to transfer courses in which they earned a "C" grade or better. Cincinnati State Technical and Community College holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Joliet Junior College
|Joliet, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 16%||
In 1901, Joliet Junior College opened in Illinois as the country's first community college, serving six students. Today, JJC serves over 38,000 students each year across more than 180 academic programs. Students can pursue associate and pre-baccalaureate programs to prepare for their chosen careers. They may also take advantage of JJC's adult education programs, workforce development and student support services, and occupational education. Students can attend classes at four campuses around the state or through online learning.
These elective courses supplement the core courses, providing students with business foundations and preparing them to begin entry-level careers in a variety of industries. Program graduates commonly go on to work as computer software engineers, computer systems analysts, and applications programmers.
JJC allows transfer students who have earned at least 12 college credits; however, these students must still take placement tests in math and English. All online students at JJC pay in-district tuition rates, regardless of where they live. Students may also apply for scholarships offered through the Joliet Junior College Foundation. Joliet Junior College holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Community College of Allegheny County
|Pittsburgh, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 14%||
The Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) originally opened in 1966, serving just over 1,500 students in southwest Pennsylvania. Now, students can pursue around 160 programs, including associate degrees, certificates, and diplomas. CCAC has grown significantly since its opening, now serving over 26,000 students in for-credit programs at four campuses, at four satellite centers, and online. Of CCAC's growing student body, 20% of students take courses online.
CCAC offers two unique computer science associate degrees online: one in computer information systems and one in software development. Both programs typically take full-time students about two years to complete, and both require students to take general education courses in areas like the humanities, composition, and mathematics. The computer information systems degree requires 60-63 credits, including courses in data structures and programming, database systems, and foundations in programming.
The software development program curriculum emphasizes programming and coding languages, web and mobile application development, and fundamentals in information technology. Online students at CCAC may access online resources, such as a digital library, tutoring services, and an online service desk.
All applicants complete an online or on-campus orientation and placement tests prior to enrollment. CCAC offers a variety of scholarship, grant, and tuition-waiver programs; it also partners with four-year universities and colleges around the state. These partnerships allow students who complete CCAC associate programs to seamlessly transfer into bachelor's programs. The Community College of Allegheny County holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Southeast Technical Institute
|Sioux Falls, SD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 46%||
Based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Southeast Technical Institute offers a fully online associate of applied science in computer programming degree. The program emphasizes a diverse skill set covering multiple common programming, markup, and query database languages. This 68-69 credit hour program delivers detailed instruction in C#, Java, HTML, XML, XHTML, and SQL, helping students build readily applicable professional proficiencies in high demand among employers.
At the program design level, this online computer science associate degree offers several advantageous features. Southeast Tech maintains specialized advisory committees of local professionals. These committees conduct comprehensive annual reviews of the program’s material to guarantee its continued value and relevance. Faculty members have advanced training in distance education methods and technologies, helping them better engage learners and support positive student outcomes.
Admission requirements include: an ACT score of at least 15 or an SAT score in the 830 to 870 range; or an ACT math score of at least 16 or an SAT math score of 430; or a minimum cumulative high school GPA of 2.0, including an average grade of “C” in all English classes; or a GED score of at least 450; or a cumulative college GPA of at least 2.0 across a minimum of 12 courses; or ACCUPLACER scores of at least 35 (reading), 55 (sentence skills), and 30 (math). The school also retains professional discretion, allowing it to admit candidates who do not meet these requirements but otherwise show strong potential.
|Gaffney, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 43%||
Founded in 1845, Limestone College bases its operations in Gaffney, South Carolina and maintains campuses throughout the Palmetto State. The school offers a well-rounded associate of science in computer science with a concentration in programming through its Computer Science and Information Technology Department.
Students in this asynchronous, 100% online program learn to apply creativity and innovation to programming problems commonly faced by businesses. In addition to entry-level job opportunities in many different roles related to programming, software and application development, and project management, graduates earn the academic credentials needed to continue into bachelor’s programs with advanced standing.
Required courses cover C# programming language, internet-based programming, imperative programming, computer networking, and operating systems. Learners supplement these core requirements by pursuing areas of individual interest, including other widely used programming languages and advanced computing topics. The 62-credit degree path also requires one course in either algebra or business economics and mathematics.
Candidates who prefer to integrate traditional in-class learning with their online studies have the option of completing any number of courses on Limestone’s campus network. The school offers campus-based learning opportunities in eight South Carolina cities, and students can choose from both day and evening classes. Military students enjoy further benefits, including a 50% discount on tuition for service members on active duty or reserve status and those currently enlisted with the National Guard.
Stark State College
|North Canton, OH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 15%||
Based in North Canton, Ohio, State Stark College holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Focused on practical, career-oriented training programs, SSC ranks as the fourth-largest of the 23 two-year public institutions in Ohio’s university system. As of the 2018-2019 academic year, SSC offers a flat, affordable tuition rate of $170 per credit hour, making its online computer science associate degree one of the most affordable in the Midwest region.
Online learners can enroll in the school’s associate degree in computer programming and database, a specialized area of computer science focused on optimizing data organization and storage through the integrated deployment of software technology and database management systems. Graduates from SSC’s program emerge with job-ready skills in three critical areas: user requirement identification, database design, and database systems management. This specialized computer science discipline has significant overlap with multiple cybersecurity, programming, and database science topics, preparing learners to deploy skills on the job or in future educational pursuits.
Learners have multiple pathways to degree completion, including a certificate program. The database systems certificate option requires only 31 credit hours of coursework. Students can then proceed straight into the associate degree path and complete a further 30 credit hours to reach the required minimum of 61 credits. Associate students can also choose part-time or full-time study. All options feature 100% online delivery.
Atlantic Cape Community College
|Mays Landing, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 18%||
Atlantic Cape Community College is New Jersey’s second-oldest community college. Established in 1964, the school currently features an enrollment of more than 8,000 students.
The institution’s associate of applied science in computer programming emphasizes widely used programming languages and techniques. Graduates emerge with a professional working knowledge of C++, Visual Basic, Java, and Oracle SQL. They also develop information systems management proficiencies through an intensive core program featuring 33 credit hours of coursework. Program-related electives cover a further seven credits, with 20 credits of general studies electives comprising the remainder of the 60-credit program.
This online associate in computer science offers two available Concentrations: computer programming or database design and development. Learners unsure of which concentration better suits their interests should speak to a faculty adviser who can guide students based on their capabilities and career goals.
In the programming concentration, learners study operating systems, basic and intermediate programming techniques, project management, technical writing, and multiple programming languages. The database design and development track builds skills in microcomputer applications, relational databases, systems analysis, SQL programming, and database design. This concentration also includes a capstone portfolio requirement.
Atlantic Cape holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The school has also earned an A rating from the American Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers, guaranteeing that graduates enjoy opportunities to pursue additional academic credentials should they so choose.
Guilford Technical Community College
|Jamestown, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 19%||
Based in historic Jamestown, North Carolina, Guilford Technical Community College delivers a 100% online associate degree in information technology with an emphasis in computer programming. Courses build programming language skills in C++, Java, Visual Basic, C, and Python. Students must also master Oracle’s SQL database query language.
Additional student outcomes include: database management skills, technical proficiencies in web connectivity, a strong knowledge base in key cybersecurity and information security principles, object-oriented programming capabilities, user-oriented coding skills, relational database management skills, and thorough familiarity with the industry-standard software development life cycle.
This asynchronous online computer science associate degree provides students with introductory instruction in emerging programming methodologies and computing technologies. These study components create a sound knowledge base for ongoing professional development and further academic inquiry.
GTCC prepares students for success through a required seminar introducing the school’s e-learning platform. The seminar also provides coaching in distance-based study techniques that foster high levels of academic achievement. The institution holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), with student achievement data from 2018 indicating a strong recent history of student success.
Lone Star College System
|Woodlands, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 12%||
Lone Star College System’s online computer programming specialist associate of applied science degree offers a flexible, accessible, and affordable option, particularly for students local to the institution’s multiple Texas campuses. The school maintains an open admissions policy and offers deeply discounted tuition to in-district students. In-state, out-of-state, and international students also enjoy comparatively very low tuition fees.
The online computer science associate degree program features a unique structure built around an intensive core curriculum covering logic, programming structure, programming languages, and ethical considerations.
Two certificate modules supplement the core. Also available as a standalone certificate program, level I courses cover foundational topics in information technology, operating systems, project management, and programming. Similarly offered as a certificate course, level II explores foundational topics in greater detail and introduces new subjects, including database querying, operating system configuration, and programming languages.
Students may complete the certificate modules independently or apply them toward the AAS degree. Most of the AAS program’s technical courses can transfer to other institutions, enabling graduates to proceed into bachelor’s programs with advanced standing. LSC holds regional accreditation from SACSCOC.
Lake Superior College
|Duluth, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 31%||
Located in Duluth, Minnesota, Lake Superior College offers affordable tuition rates and gives online students full access to its extensive network of support and academic advising resources. All learners in the school’s associate of applied science in computer and web programming pay the same low tuition rate regardless of residency.
Delivered over an intensive, 72-credit structure that explores current topics in computer science, the program introduces students to computer information systems, computer and web programming, principles of website design, mobile application programming, and microcomputer databases. Technical electives offer further study in areas such as UNIX and SQL network administration, object-oriented programming, and advanced topics in computer information science. Learners may also pursue internship opportunities.
Emerging with a dynamic, job-ready skill set, graduates can design, publish, and host graphics-intensive web pages and program web-based applications. Graduates can also create custom computer programs for business applications and design interfaces linking websites or computer applications to databases.
Students also have the option of completing core and elective requirements as certificate or diploma programs. The 30-credit certificate covers programming essentials, while the 57-credit diploma explores programming concepts while introducing technical electives from the AAS path.
Admission requirements include: basic keyboarding skills, an ACCUPLACER reading comprehension score of at least 78, and an ACCUPLACER elementary algebra skills score of at least 71. LSC holds accreditation from the HLC.
Mesa Community College
|Mesa, AR||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 16%||
Mesa Community College delivers a 100% online, asynchronous associate in applied science in computer programming that provides students with strong object-oriented programming skills. Students engage with a variety of widely used programming languages and explore multiple applications in system design, development, testing, and documentation.
Delivered over four academic terms, the program requires 61-63 credit hours for graduation. The first term sharpens students’ foundational skills and builds a knowledge base in web development and computer information systems.
Specific topics covered in the program’s middle and late terms include: SQL database querying; operating systems (Linux and Windows); programming languages (Visual Basic, C#, C++, Java); web scripting and hypertext processing; and Microsoft, Cisco, and local area networking.
MCC designed the program for easy transferability, allowing students to earn advanced standing in four-year programs if they continue their studies. The degree also leads to job opportunities in many different industries, due to the generalized nature of the program.
Based in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa, Arizona, MCC was founded in 1963 and has been at the forefront of technical education in the state ever since. The institution holds accreditation from the HLC and was one of a select few institutions invited by the commission in 2010 to help design and refine a new, more rigorous accreditation process.
|Vincennes, IN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 23%||
For students pursuing a career in video games, Vincennes University offers one of the best online computer science associate degree options. The school’s distance-based associate of science in information technology features a programming and game development concentration. This in-depth, two-year program prepares students for computer programming careers and employment opportunities in the gaming and digital entertainment industries.
The program’s intensive core consists of 30 credit hours in topics covering fundamental concepts in computer configuration, programming logic, database management, object-oriented programming, systems development, and the Java programming language. These generalized topics provide a knowledge base for the program’s game development components, which explore game design, game modeling, animation, game programming, and introductory concepts in artificial intelligence.
Students must accrue 60 credit hours to qualify for graduation, with the balance of coursework comprised of science and humanities electives. Learners complete all requirements online through asynchronous courses with intuitive and user-friendly platforms.
VU specializes in providing short-term educational opportunities that lead to valuable technical skills in demand among employers. Founded in 1801 by future U.S. President William Henry Harrison, VU is Indiana’s oldest institution of higher learning. The school holds accreditation from the HLC through the organization’s standard pathway system.
Pitt Community College
|Winterville, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 12%||
Founded in 1961 as a technical education institution in Winterville, North Carolina, Pitt Community College has evolved into a leading regional community college with a learning community of more than 11,000 students. The school’s associate of applied science in computer programming and development takes a strong focus on software applications and systems that enhance computer functionality.
Students can take advantage of three specialized degree options: a C++ programming certificate concentration leading to advanced proficiency in the C++ language; a Java programming certificate concentration that emphasizes skills development in widely used Java technologies; or a Python programming certificate concentration that develops student skills in this programming language’s object-oriented, procedural, imperative, and functional paradigms.
Each of the concentrations deliver 16 credit hours of focused and specialized course content. The AAS degree path requires 70 credit hours for graduation, with a structure ensuring students receive a thorough introduction to topics in all three certificate specializations, regardless of concentration choice. Students can complete all coursework 100% online, with asynchronous delivery methods that support self-directed study schedules.
PCC holds state authorization from the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, allowing it to offer distance learning opportunities to students in any U.S. state. Students emerge from the program with the credentials to qualify for advanced standing in four-year computer science programs or obtain gainful entry-level employment. The institution recently received an unconditional 10-year extension on its SACSCOC accreditation.
Metropolitan Community College Area
|Omaha, NE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 16%||
Students interested in earning a computer science associate degree online enjoy multiple options through Omaha’s Metropolitan Community College. The school’s information technology department offers asynchronous, two-year distance learning degrees in database and web programming and front end web development. Both study paths emphasize crucial technical skills in technologies that power internet-based systems and business applications. Each requires a minimum of 104 credit hours, reflecting atypically high levels of program depth.
The database and web programming option leads to marketable proficiencies in web design, web programming, database management and processing, and multiple programming languages. Some specific areas of instruction include C#, Ruby, PHP, Visual Basic, Java, XML, and SQL. This study path concludes with a capstone requirement that pushes students to apply the skills developed over the course of the program.
The front end web development stream focuses on technologies, strategies, and platforms used to create, manage, publish, and administer web content. Through a detailed exploration of internet technology, learners acquire the skills needed to generate professional websites meeting specific business objectives. A supplementary family of electives gives students the option to build skills with programs like Photoshop, Wordpress, and Dreamweaver. Additionally, students can advance their technical acumen with mobile applications, internet scripting, and cybersecurity.
MCC was first accredited in 1979. The institution currently holds regional accreditation from the HLC, and its information technology programs benefit from a dedicated recognition team that implements best practices for continuously relevant learning.
Iowa Western Community College
|Council Bluffs, IA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 21%||
Based in the city of Council Bluffs, Iowa Western Community College enjoys a strong reputation for innovation and creative thinking. Founded in 1967, IWCC offers an online associate of applied science in computers with an emphasis in application and web programming. As of the 2018-2019 academic year, program graduates enjoy a 100% employment rate, signifying this degree path’s strong relevance and desirability among employers.
Over an intensive study schedule comprising 72 credit hours of coursework, learners in this online associate in computer science develop foundational skills in web programming and information technology. The program explore techniques and technologies including the Java programming language, web design, operating systems, networking, computer and server side programming, and cybersecurity. Students also engage with database management and the SQL database query language. Graduates emerge with multiple career options, including potential positions in database, web, and general computer programming.
IWCC holds multiple accreditations, including regional institutional accreditation from the HLC and an endorsement from the Iowa Department of Education. In 2005, the institution opted to pursue membership in the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP), a novel initiative that guides schools to more rigorous standards of academic value over eight-year cycles. Thanks to its AQIP membership, IWCC has taken dramatic steps forward and earned a reputation as one of the region’s leading providers of career-focused technical education.
What Else Can I Expect from an Online Computer Programming Associate Program?
|Timeline||18 months to 2 years|
|Program Costs||$6,000 to $20,000 in annual tuition|
|Concentrations||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.|
Employment Outlook for Associate in Computer Programming Graduates
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
|Information Security Analyst||1.4%|
|Information Technology Manager||1.8%|
|Computer Systems Administrator||2.0%|
|Computer Systems Analyst||2.6%|
|Computer Support Specialist||3.3%|
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 Information Systems||$40,100||$60,500|
|Computer and Network Administration||$40,200||$58,500|
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)|
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.
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 Systems Specialists||$85,800|
|Computer Support Specialists||$51,470|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
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.
Financing Your Online Associate in Computer Programming Program
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
- Best Online Associate in Computer Programming Programs of 2018
Ranking School Location 1 Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion Marion, IN 2 Southeast Technical Institute Sioux Falls, SD 3 Daytona State College Daytona Beach, FL 4 Champlain College Burlington, VT 5 Seminole State College of Florida Sanford, FL 6 Saint Johns River State College Palatka, FL 7 University of Toledo Toledo, OH 8 Minnesota State Community and Technical College Fergus Falls, MN 9 Mesa Community College Mesa, AR 10 Vincennes University Vincennes, IN 11 Metropolitan Community College Area Omaha, NE 12 Joliet Junior College Joliet, IL 13 Community College of Allegheny County Pittsburgh, PA 14 Lone Star College System Woodlands, TX 15 St Petersburg College Clearwater, FL 16 Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College Shell Lake, WI 17 Atlantic Cape Community College Mays Landing, NJ 18 Central Texas College Killeen, TX 19 Minnesota State College Southeast Winona, MN 20 Pitt Community College Winterville, NC 21 Lake Superior College Duluth, MN 22 Limestone College Gaffney, SC 23 Iowa Western Community College Council Bluffs, IA 24 Cincinnati State Technical and Community College Cincinnati, OH 25 Guilford Technical Community College Jamestown, NC
- Best Online Associate in Computer Programming Programs of 2017
Rank School Location 1 Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College Shell Lake WI 2 Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion Marion IN 3 Central Georgia Technical College Warner Robins GA 4 Champlain College Burlington VT 5 Limestone College Gaffney SC 6 St Petersburg College Clearwater FL 8 University of Toledo Toledo OH 9 Southeast Technical Institute Sioux Falls SD 10 Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical Winona MN 11 Metropolitan Community College Area Omaha NE 12 Vincennes University Vincennes IN 13 Central Texas College Killeen TX 14 Community College of Allegheny County Pittsburgh PA 15 Guilford Technical Community College Jamestown NC