If you have a strong desire to understand the inner workings of computers and are fearless in the face of programming languages and rapidly changing technology, earning an online associate in computer science can prepare you for an exciting career. A few of the many career options available to you include web developer and computer support specialist.
According to Business Insider, web developers boast one of the highest-paying jobs for those with an associate degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that, in 2019, web developers earned a median yearly salary of $73,760 — far above the median annual wage of $38,640 for all workers in the U.S.
Our associate in computer science program guide offers a comprehensive look into available programs, how to apply, and what to expect while pursuing your degree.
What Are the Best Online Associate in Computer Science Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top 10:
Is your school on this list? Get the BestColleges ranking seal.
|1||South Texas College||McAllen, TX|
|2||Trinity Valley Community College||Athens, TX|
|3||Ocean County College||Toms River, NJ|
|4||Bucks County Community College||Newtown, PA|
|5||Weber State University||Ogden, UT|
|6||Thomas Edison State University||Trenton, NJ|
|7||Montgomery College||Rockville, MD|
|8||Park University||Parkville, MO|
|9||Montgomery County Community College||Blue Bell, PA|
|10||Ulster County Community College||Stone Ridge, NY|
- How We Rank Schools
At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students. Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.
2020 Best Accredited Online Associate in Computer Science Programs
Is your school on this list? Get the BestColleges ranking seal.
South Texas College
|McAllen, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 22%||
Alongside more than 120 certificate programs and associate degrees, South Texas College is the only community college in the Lone Star State to offer five bachelor's degrees. Together, the school's virtual campus and physical campuses in Hidalgo County and Starr County serve approximately 32,000 students each year.
The college's online associate degree in computer science requires 60 credits, including courses in computer systems organization and fundamental programming concepts. The program delivers all coursework asynchronously and eliminates in-person requirements.
High school graduates and applicants with a GED are eligible for admission. The college also accepts students at least 18 years of age who complete a Texas Success Initiative Assessment placement exam.
Trinity Valley Community College
|Athens, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 76%||
Trinity Valley Community College operates a main campus in Athens, Texas, and satellite locations in Kaufman, Palestine, and Terrell. More than 1,600 students enroll in online programs at TVCC each year, pursuing certificates and associate degrees in the arts, science, business, and health.
The 60-credit online associate in computer science provides a solid foundation for students interested in a bachelor's degree in the field. Courses cover general education requirements, fundamental concepts in programming, and principles of microeconomics and macroeconomics. Some courses may require proctored exams at the TVCC testing center.
TVCC practices an open-door admissions policy. New students must submit a high school transcript or GED. Placement testing or standardized test scores are required for degree-seeking students.
Ocean County College
|Toms River, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 34%||
Headquartered in Toms River, New Jersey, Ocean County College has served the educational needs of area residents for more than 40 years. Nearly 25% of OCC's 13,000 students enroll in online learning. OCC's online associate degree in computer science prepares students for transfer to a bachelor's program in computer information systems.
The 60-credit curriculum features courses in programming, computer architecture, data structures, and systems analysis. Students can also pursue an optional cyber-information security concentration. OCC provides distance learners with resources, such as virtual tutoring, writing, and library services.
As an open-door institution, OCC accepts all high school graduates, GED recipients, and applicants who are 18 years old. Official transcripts and placement testing are required.
Bucks County Community College
|Newtown, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 20%||
Bucks County Community College is a two-year, public institution with more than 90 programs of study available at three Pennsylvania campuses and online. More than 9,000 students enroll each year. Bucks delivers all coursework asynchronously, with course material available 24/7.
To graduate with an associate in computer science, Bucks students must complete 62 credits of courses in areas of database design and application development, basic programming, and calculus. The major prepares students to take upper-division coursework in a bachelor's program.
Open admission guarantees acceptance to all prospective students with a high school education. Prospective students can complete the online application at no cost. The college does not require ACT or SAT scores.
Weber State University
|Ogden, UT||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 34%||
Weber State University is a four-year, public institution headquartered in Ogden, Utah. To better serve the needs of working professionals, the university offers several flexible learning options, including multiple locations, evening classes, and online learning. Approximately 79% of WSU's 28,000 students have a job, and 59% attend class part time.
Students working toward an online associate degree in computer science at WSU learn fundamental skills in computing, programming, object-oriented programming, and computational structures. WSU delivers coursework asynchronously for maximum convenience. The 63-credit applied science program prepares graduates to enter the workforce.
Incoming freshmen must supply official high school transcripts or GED documentation. ACT or SAT scores are optional. However, students may need to complete placement testing in math and English.
Thomas Edison State University
|Trenton, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
Thomas Edison State University is a primarily online university serving adults seeking professional advancement and personal fulfillment. Students at TESU can earn credit toward their degree through prior learning assessment, credit transfer, and credit-bearing exams.
TESU's 60-credit online associate in computer science provides a strong liberal arts background designed to prepare graduates for transfer to a bachelor's program. The 16-credit major consists solely of computer science electives, allowing students to customize their studies according to individual interests. The program delivers all coursework asynchronously.
To qualify for admission, prospective students must be at least 20 years of age, or at least 18 years of age and an active duty member of the U.S. military. A high school diploma, GED, or equivalent is required.
|Rockville, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 22%||
Among the top community colleges in Maryland, Montgomery College serves more than 20,000 students each year. Nearly 30% of MC students take at least one online course. MC offers five online associate degrees in business, computer science, criminal justice, general studies, and early childhood education.
The 60-credit online associate in computer science primarily serves students who plan to transfer to a four-year program. Graduates demonstrate proficiency in a high-level programming language, object-oriented design, and computer algorithms.
As an open admissions college, MC welcomes all high school graduates. Placement testing is required of most new students, with exemptions available based on prior academic and/or examination performance.
|Parkville, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 33%||
Park University enrolls more than 16,000 students at its two campuses in Parkville, Missouri; Gilbert, Arizona; at its 41 regional centers; and online. The four-year institution offers more than 50 online minors, certificates, undergraduate, and graduate degrees.
To graduate with an associate in computer and information science, distance learners must earn 60 credits. Core courses cover Python programming, data management, and information systems management. Park encourages students to participate in internships as part of their curriculum.
Admission requires evidence of high school graduation or a GED. Math and English placement assessments are required prior to enrollment.
Montgomery County Community College
|Blue Bell, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 22%||
Boasting a comprehensive catalog of more than 100 certificates and associate degrees, Montgomery County Community College has served the educational needs of Pennsylvania residents since 1964. In addition to a central campus, west campus, and culinary arts institute, MCCC operates a virtual campus for distance learners.
The school's primarily online associate degree in computer science requires 61 credits. Course topics include data structures and algorithms, programming concepts, and database management systems. Seamless university transfer options are available within the Pennsylvania state system.
MCCC accepts applications throughout the year. Documentation of high school graduation or a GED is required. New students may need to take placement tests in reading, writing, and math.
Ulster County Community College
|Stone Ridge, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
SUNY Ulster is a two-year, public college supported by the State University of New York. Approximately 3,500 students enroll each year. While most students take classes on campus in Stone Ridge, New York, SUNY Ulster offers several online courses and programs.
One of these flexible options -- an online associate in computer science -- prepares graduates for careers or transfer into a bachelor's program. Required courses in the 62-credit curriculum include information literacy, theory and practice of object-oriented programming, and discrete mathematics.
Admission requirements include a high school diploma or equivalent, placement testing, and completion of a college-level algebra and trigonometry course.
What Can I Expect From an Online Associate in Computer Science Program?
Creative people who possess an analytical nature and have a passion for the latest technology trends may be well-suited for a career in computer science. While programs vary, most computer science associate degrees take approximately two years of full-time attendance to complete and require about 60 credits of coursework. Some online programs provide accelerated coursework for those seeking shorter-term, intensive programs.
Prospective students interested in computer science may choose from several educational pathways.
Associate of Science (AS)
An associate of science degree provides a solid foundation in core computer science skills, such as software development. It prepares students to enter the job market or to continue their education and pursue a bachelor's degree.
Associate of Applied Science (AAS)
If you are looking to enter the workforce directly after graduation, an AAS degree may be your best option. Classes focusing on computer science and concentrations in specific areas ready graduates for direct immersion into the field.
Associate of Applied Business (AAB)
This degree is less common and is suitable for the business-focused computer science professional.
Associate of Arts (AA)
This associate degree is best suited for individuals planning on continuing their education. An AA degree offers well-rounded classes, including humanities, that transfer to four-year institutions.
In addition to choosing the type of associate degree that matches your career goals, specialized concentrations within a program can enable you to focus on an area of interest. A few of these specialized areas include the following:
|Computer Programming||This concentration places a focus on the rapidly changing landscape of the computer languages used to write programs and applications.|
|Artificial Intelligence (AI)||Also known as machine learning, this rapidly expanding segment of computer science covers fundamental algorithm design, which is the basis of AI.|
|Web Development||A concentration in this field involves hands-on experience creating interactive web designs. Students may cover content creation, programming, and web hosting.|
|Video Game Design||Are you a gamer dying to tell a story while immersing yourself in advanced graphics, artificial worlds, and artificial intelligence? These topics are covered in a video game design concentration.|
Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Degree Programs.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Associate in Computer Science Program?
You can expect to encounter coursework that focuses on the fundamentals of computer science, including networking, programming, and database design. While coursework varies between schools and concentrations, the following list describes courses often found in an online associate in computer science program.
- Computer Networks
This course introduces students to common network technology and the main types of computer networks, including local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs). Upon completion, participants should understand the design, functionality, installation process, and configuration of network devices like hubs, bridges, switches, routers, and gateways.
- Database Management
Participants build upon a solid foundation with concepts that include common data encodings and the theory of data science. Students build data structures and learn SQL so they can analyze data. Coursework also covers various design methods and how to model complex data sets.
- Introduction to Computer Science
This course teaches the fundamentals required for a successful career in computer science and leads to a broad understanding of programming and algorithms. Covered concepts include data structures, security, encapsulation, and software engineering.
- Web Development
Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree
- Scholarships for Computer Science Majors
- The Student Guide to College Planning
- Your Guide to the FAFSA
What Can I Do With an Online Associate in Computer Science Degree?
An online associate degree in computer science can lead to a variety of lucrative career opportunities. Graduates can pursue positions as web developers, computer support specialists, and computer programmers.
According to the BLS, the median annual pay for a computer support specialist in 2019 was $54,760; this is a common position for associate degree-holders. Additionally, the median salary for all professionals working in computer and mathematical occupations was $88,340. From 2019-2029, the BLS projects web developers and computer support specialists to see 8% growth in employment, which is twice as fast as the average projected growth rate for all occupations.
Read our guide to see where an associate in computer science degree can take you, and learn more about computer science careers.
- Web Developer
These creative individuals demonstrate an understanding of both graphic design and programming. Most companies, from large corporations to small businesses, need web developers to create and design their websites and troubleshoot issues that arise. Back-end web developers focus on the technical construction while front-end developers integrate graphics/applications and create the site's basic layout. Full-stack developers work on both aspects.
- Computer Support Specialist
As the name implies, computer support specialists provide support for computer users and organizations. They may provide technical assistance or test, maintain, and troubleshoot computer network systems. The latter duties require an understanding of LANs, WANs, and the internet.
- Software Developer
Designing computer programs and applications can be a lucrative profession. The median pay for software developers in 2019 was $107,510, and the BLS projects 22% growth in this field from 2019-2029. Software developers design, develop, and test software programs. Some developers also write code, while others turn this task over to programmers.
Most of these jobs require a bachelor's degree, although associate degree-holders who have a strong professional portfolio may qualify.
- Computer Programmer
Programmers write and test computer code for programs and applications. Their daily tasks include debugging and troubleshooting software and systems. They require solid knowledge and skills in a variety of computer languages, such as Java, HTML, CSS, and C++. In 2019, computer programmers earned a median pay of $86,550.
- Systems Analyst
This technical position involves designing, developing, deploying, and monitoring computer systems and applications. The role includes analyzing and conducting hardware and systems checks, as well as recommending upgrades and new technologies. According to U.S. News & World Report, computer systems analyst is the sixth best technology job, and the BLS reported that these workers earned a median salary of $90,920 in 2019.
A bachelor's degree is a common requirement for this role, so associate degree-holders may need to return to school to qualify.
Computer Science Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.
Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Computer Science Programs
- Is an online computer science degree worth it?
Few degrees are better suited for online learning than a computer science degree. Afterall, your learning portal and subject matter are one and the same. Whether your interest lies in programming, web development, or software programs, an online computer science degree can lead to a variety of lucrative job opportunities.
- Is a degree in computer science hard?
Do you have an analytical nature? Are you interested in how computers work? In some ways, computer science is like learning a new language. While hard at first, once the basic fundamentals are learned, the concepts usually become easier to grasp.
- What can I do with a computer science associate degree?
Graduates with an associate in computer science often go on to become web developers, computer support specialists, and computer programmers.
- How much money can I make as a computer scientist with an associate degree?
The annual salaries for computer scientists with an associate degree vary dramatically depending on a worker's experience, location, and industry. However, according to PayScale, the average salary for a professional with an AS in computer science is $65,360.
- What are the highest-paying jobs in computer science?
Computer and information systems managers enjoy one of the highest-paying jobs in computer science. These managers work in numerous fields, including systems analysis and computer programming. They are responsible for coordinating and planning computer-related activities. In 2019, their median annual wage was $146,360, with top performers making more than $208,000 a year. To qualify for this position, computer science professionals generally need a bachelor's or master's degree and ample experience.