Best Online Bachelor's in Computer Programming

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The field of computer programming continues to evolve as new technologies emerge. Careers in software development and computer systems analysis are projected to grow much faster than the national average, with BLS data indicating as much as 21% over the next several years. The average salaries for popular computer science occupations range from $80,000 to over $100,000. This degree allows you to turn your hobbies into a career. If you are an avid gamer, take your passion to the next by level designing video games. Enjoy dabbling in programming languages? Refine your skills and become an expert software developer. The IT field has numerous opportunities for professional advancement and leadership roles, and program concentrations allow you to pursue specific career interests. The best online computer programming degrees are highlighted below along with key information about obtaining your degree.


A degree in computer programming online will provide you with the skills needed to advance your career in several ways. With this degree, you gain cutting-edge skills required in the IT industry, like data administration. Graduates are prepared to pursue licensure and certification in areas specific to computer science. They are also ready to enter the IT workforce or pursue a graduate degree.


While some programs recommend previous programming experience, it is not a requirement for pursuing a bachelor's. Whether you're returning to college or a recent high school graduate, a bachelor's program is designed to teach students of different experience levels. General education requirements equip you with a broad liberal arts foundation, and major core courses prepare you for career success in the field of computer science.


In addition to being able to pursue your degree from home, you have 24/7 access to course materials and IT services. Support from professors and peers is easily initiated through discussion forums and online drop boxes. Many online programs are completed independently, allowing students to learn at their own pace.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Location Description
1 Western Governors University RANKING SCORE 72.75 COST Graduation Rate 26% LOCATION Salt Lake City, UT

Western Governors is renowned for its teacher licensure and business programs. The school’s bachelor’s in software development program is one of the best online computer science degree programs in the nation. Students typically graduate with several industry-recognized certificates in areas like advanced HTML5 and CSS. The program is intended for working professionals. In order to apply, students must have prior experience in information technology, whether from the classroom or the field.

WGU’s BS in software development program usually takes between two and three years to complete; students have the option to progress at a faster rate. All of WGU’s programs center around Competency Units (CUs) instead of credit hours. Instead of having to spend a required amount of time in a classroom, students gain CUs by completing self-scheduled assessments. Tuition is charged as a flat rate every six-months. The BS in software development program requires a total of 122 CUs. Transfer credits are reviewed individually. The program includes general education courses (English, critical thinking), key subject areas (IT fundamentals), and ends with a capstone project.

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2 Fort Hays State University RANKING SCORE 65.00 COST Graduation Rate 37% LOCATION Hays, KS

Located in the college town of Hays in northwest Kansas, Fort Hays State’s BS in computer science program is a staple among the country’s best online computer science degrees. Students must complete 120 credits in three areas: general education, major courses, and emphasis track. Learners can choose between a business emphasis or a networking emphasis.

FHSU’s online courses use Blackboard and provide synchronous and asynchronous options through CDs, DVDs, and the Internet. Courses also make use of discussion boards, articles, videos, and online tests. These tests occasionally require the student to find a proctor, who must be approved through an official form. Students in FHSU’s Virtual College must apply and gain acceptance to FHSU. Distance learners must submit prior transcripts and submit an SAT or ACT score, unless they’re over 21. Tuition for FHSU’s Virtual College costs slightly more than in-state tuition, but less than non-resident tuition.

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3 Champlain College RANKING SCORE 61.50 COST Graduation Rate 62% LOCATION Burlington, VT

Champlain, located in Burlington, Vermont, offers a completely online BS in software development that focuses on providing a transfer-friendly online computer programming degree. Transfer students are allowed to apply up to 90 credits towards the program. Students can earn certificates in C++, Java, software development, and Visual C#.

Courses are taught asynchronously, with 24/7 access to the course materials, assignments, and instruction. Students must complete 120 credit hours, which cost $641 each in tuition. There are three semesters per year, each consisting of two, seven-week terms. Required credits are divided into two categories: professional and general education. Students take 63 credits of professional courses which are directly related to the software development major and and 57 credits of general education courses. Due to Champlain’s transfer policy, completion times vary, as many students come in with a lot of credits. There are six different entry points for students each year, and all applicants must have at least a 2.5 GPA.

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4 Bellevue University RANKING SCORE 61.00 COST Graduation Rate 13% LOCATION Bellevue, NE

BU, founded in 1966 as a college for working adults in Bellevue, Nebraska, is now one of the largest private universities in the state. Bellevue’s software development program provides a normal and accelerated curriculum for working computer programmers who need an online computer programming degree to advance their careers. Students must complete a total of 127 credits, divided into four categories: general education (36), elective (46), major (36), and the Kirkpatrick Signature Series (9). The Kirkpatrick Series is a Bellevue core program that focuses on active citizenship and successful American institutions.

BU’s software development degree is offered online and on-campus. Tuition is the same for both, at $410 per credit hour. Bellevue’s accelerated cohort program places students with fellow computer programmers, and they can earn 49 credits in 79 weeks. In order to gain acceptance to the cohort program, students must have an associate degree of 60 credit hours with a passing grade (at least a C-) from an accredited institution of higher learning.

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5 Hodges University RANKING SCORE 57.25 COST Graduation Rate 25% LOCATION Naples, FL

Based in Naples, Florida, Hodges’ school of technology offers a BS in software development that can be completed on-campus or completely online. Courses in the program are taught asynchronously and are structured as competency-based through Hodges’ UPOWER system, meaning students can move through the curriculum completely self-paced. Students can earn industry recognized certificates, such as A+, MOS, and ICCP C++.

In an optimum sequence, students take 12 credit hours (3 courses) per term, which allows them to complete this online degree in computer programming in about four years. Learners must complete courses in three core areas: computer information technology (20 hours), software development (40 hours), and business (12 hours). This includes liberal arts, electives, and software specialty area courses. Classes are delivered through Blackboard, and proctored final exams are required, often through ProctorU. Tuition for the program is $550 per credit hour.

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6 Davenport University RANKING SCORE 52.25 COST Graduation Rate 41% LOCATION Grand Rapids, MI

Davenport’s BS in database systems and programming prepares students for careers in corporate IT and data management. The school is located in downtown Grand Rapids and across the state of Michigan. Davenport’s database systems and programming courses can be taken on-campus during the evenings or online.

Students are provided with a recommended sequence of courses, and 120 credits are required to graduate. Full-time students at Davenport who enter as freshmen often take four years to finish. Davenport offer a flexible transfer policy that accepts college, community college, and some high school courses. Student learn Java, C++, and C# languages and must complete 42 credits in the major. Major courses include data mining, data warehousing, artificial intelligence, and inferential statistics. Eighteen credits must be completed in Foundations of Database Systems and programming, where students learn to design databases. The remaining required credits are in general education. In addition to earning a computer programming degree online, students can also obtain a number of CompTIA and Cisco professional certificates.

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7 Husson University RANKING SCORE 52.00 COST Graduation Rate 53% LOCATION Bangor, ME

With a central campus in Bangor and satellite campuses in Presque Isle and Westbrook, Husson’s influence reaches across the state of Maine. The school’s online bachelor’s in software development program is offered as an online degree in computer programming to the entire country.

Husson’s BS in software development takes between 12 and 24 months to complete, comprising a total of 121-122 credit hours. The program divides those credit hours into four categories: general education (49-50 hours); software and business (36 hours); software, business-related, and open electives (30 hours); and skill-based courses such as logic, problem solving, probability, and statistics (6 hours). The program focuses on business and programming, requiring students to take courses in microeconomics and project management. In order to apply, students must submit all transcripts from previous institutions in addition to SAT/ACT scores. Transfer students are allowed to apply up to 90 credits toward their bachelor’s degree program.

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8 Southwestern College RANKING SCORE 51.25 COST Graduation Rate 38% LOCATION Winfield, KS

Southwestern is located in Wichita, Kansas. Admittance to the BS in computer programming program requires students to have earned a minimum GPA of 2.0 while completing at least 6 college credits after high school. Learners must maintain a 2.0 GPA and complete at least 124 credit hours (at least 60 must come from the bachelor’s program). Students complete courses in three categories: foundations (general education courses), disciplinary perspective (distribution requirements), and core major. In computer programming core major classes, Southwestern offers six-week courses in languages like Java and HTML and database training with Microsoft Access. Southwestern teaches students through hands-on training, making it one of the best online computer science degree. Students must complete a capstone project and complete a project where they design their own web application. Courses include SQL fundamentals, programming essentials, and professional communication.

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9 Limestone College RANKING SCORE 45.50 COST Graduation Rate 33% LOCATION Gaffney, SC

Limestone, located in Gaffney, South Carolina, has an online BS in computer science degree, which includes a concentration in programming. Students must complete 123 credit hours to earn their bachelor’s degree, and most complete about 36 credit hours a year. Learners take two courses every eight-weeks and pay $420 per credit hour. Students may test out of up to 25% of required credits by completing national or Limestone-developed exams. Transfer students can apply up to 66 credits from two-year colleges and up to 92 credits from four-year colleges. Courses in the program are taught asynchronously. All students must complete a capstone project in programming at the end of their studies. Courses in this online computer programming degree include imperative programming, internet programming, project management, and introduction to computer science. Students are required to take one math course in algebra or mathematics for business and economics.

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10 Baker College RANKING SCORE 37.75 COST Graduation Rate 15% LOCATION Flint, MI

Baker, located in Flint, Michigan, offers an online bachelor of computer science program. Credit hours are often measured in quarters (10-12 week classes) instead of semesters (15-16 weeks). The major requires the completion of 195 quarter hours, spread out across general education (64 hours) and major courses (127 hours) in mathematics, information systems, and computer science. Students must also complete a course in group dynamics or professional speaking. A real-world work experience in a computer science field or a work experience project is required.

At the beginning of the program, all students must complete College Success Online, a three-week, online orientation course that acclimatizes students to Baker’s online classroom. Tuition for the program is cheap, at $250 per credit hour, a relatively accessible price for an online degree in computer programming. Baker handles transfer credits on a case-by-case basis, determining each course’s’ relevance to the student’s new major and the student’s grade-point-average.

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The best online computer programming degrees prepare students for a variety of careers in the field of computer science. Students gain numerous skills, and programs often allow them to choose a specialization. While details may vary depending on the school and program, the following concentrations are commonly offered by online bachelor's in computer programming programs.


Concentration Description Careers This Concentration Prepares For
Data Science Students in this concentration gain knowledge of data models and methods and tools used in data analysis. Data science students acquire skills in programming languages, computer architecture, and mobile computing. Concentration courses range from data warehousing to streaming data analytics. This concentration prepares students for careers as data scientists or scientific researchers.
Software Engineering This concentration prepares students to work with complex operational systems and data analysis programs. With an emphasis in contemporary IT trends, students learn how to navigate the latest software technology. Courses include topics in data mining, machine learning, and software assurance. This versatile concentration prepares students for careers in cybersecurity, healthcare, business, and education.
Video Game Design and Development With a focus on human-computer interactions and graphics, this concentration is ideal for students with an interest in video games and entertainment technology. In addition to gaining skills in technology communication, the game design concentration familiarizes students with compiler design and object oriented programming. This concentration prepares students for careers in video game development, special effects, and computer modeling.


While courses may vary depending on program requirements, most online bachelor's in computer programming programs include the following courses in their core curriculum.

  • Computer Architecture: This course examines the structures of computer systems and familiarizes students with trends in computer architecture. Students gain skills in performance measurement, memory hierarchies, computer arithmetic, and data path design and control. Students learn how to write assembly language code. These skills prepare students for careers as software engineers and systems administrators.
  • Computer Graphics: Students learn 2D and 3D concepts and algorithms used in shader-based programming. Course topics include animation, material simulation, and interactive user interfaces. The course familiarizes students with software architecture used to implement coloring effects and textures. These skills allow students to pursue careers in computer graphic design, web development, and animation.
  • Programming Languages: This course introduces students to programming languages and equips them with skills needed to write secure computer programs. Coursework familiarizes students with the syntax and semantics of programming languages, and students learn how to design programs using imperative, functional, and declarative languages. Computer programmers, computer science modelers, and software developers rely on these skills.


Most online bachelor's in computer programming programs consist of 120 credits, and full-time students complete their degree in four years. The curriculum of a typical program includes general education coursework and major requirements. Factors that influence the length of time it takes to earn your degree include full-time or part-time enrollment, number of required credits, and internship or capstone project requirements. Completing an internship may add a semester to your program. Most programs accept transfer credits, which shortens the time required to earn your degree.

Students earn their online bachelor's in computer programming at an individual pace or as part of a cohort. Both forms of learning promote supportive online learning environments. Individually-paced programs often admit students throughout the year, and they pursue their degree at their convenience. The cohort learning model admits students at the beginning of select terms, such as fall or spring, and students form a supportive community of learners who follow a similar or identical plan of study.


  • Professional Engineer Licensure: Students who concentrate in a computer or software engineering program have the opportunity to pursue PE licensure. Recent graduates complete four steps: the fundamentals of engineering exam, four years of supervised engineering work, state licensure requirements, and the principles of engineering exam. PE licensure is a great way to advance your engineering career.
  • Computer Programming Languages Certification: Students interested in careers as computer programmers, software developers, and database managers can boost their expertise in programming by taking additional courses offered by accredited certification programs. Courses focus on programming in popular software platforms, including Java, Visual Basic, and Microsoft Access. Prior to enrolling in a certification program, contact your state's licensing board to determine if additional requirements exist.

Accreditation is an important feature to look for when choosing a degree. The best online computer programming degrees are found at accredited universities, which participate in peer review processes to ensure academic accountability. Universities are either regionally or nationally accredited. Both types of accreditation are found across the country. Public nonprofit universities are usually regionally accredited, while private for-profit universities are often nationally accredited. National accreditation is popular among vocational and distance learning programs, and these schools typically offer lower tuition rates. Credits from regionally accredited universities are more easily transferred, and some regionally accredited schools do not accept credit from other accrediting bodies. The DEAC is an accrediting body that specializes in distance learning. It sets standards and policies that online programs accredited by the DEAC follow. Program-specific accrediting bodies, such as ABET, ensure that programs adhere to the standards of their profession. ABET accredits applied science, computing, and engineering programs, and its educational standards are developed by technical professionals.

Accreditation organizations are recognized by the Department of Education (DOE) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). These entities promote student success by setting the standards for education preparation. The standardization process requires accrediting bodies to participate in ongoing self studies and peer reviews. You can see a program's accreditation by checking extensive databases provided by CHEA and DOE that include all accredited schools in the country.

An online bachelor's in computer programming prepares students for a variety of career paths in the field of information technology. Graduates often pursue the following occupations. While each occupation has its unique tasks, they all require strong analytical, communication, and organizational skills. Computer network architects and software developers rely on creativity to meet the networking and software needs of organizations. They often work 40 or more hours per week and are frequently required to travel to complete projects.

Computer Network Architect

Computer network architects develop data communication networks ranging from small in-office connections to cloud infrastructure. They rely heavily on the organization's business plan to design appropriate networks. Other job tasks include researching emerging network technologies, upgrading hardware, and implementing security patches.

Median Annual Salary: $101,210
Projected Growth Rate: 9%

Computer Systems Analyst

Computer systems analysts work with organizations to evaluate their current IT systems and develop new ones to increase efficiency. They research new technologies, install new systems, and train system users. Systems analysts often specialize in computer systems of the organization they work for, such as financial computer systems.

Median Annual Salary: $87,220
Projected Growth Rate: 21%

Database Administrator

Database administrators (DBAs) secure organizational data, create administrator databases, and restore data to prevent loss. They ensure optimal system performance and accessibility for data analysts. DBAs conduct general tasks, such as assessing the data needs of a company.

Median Annual Salary: $84,950
Projected Growth Rate: 11%

Software Developer

Software developers design software to meet the needs of users. They recommend software updates and provide maintenance for existing programs. Software developers design every component of a system and create diagrams for programmers to follow when writing software codes. They often work with other computer specialists and supervise software development projects.

Median Annual Salary: $102,280
Projected Growth Rate: 17%


The following table uses data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to demonstrate how different fields of employment can influence the median salaries of a computer network architect. The following employer types include the top paying industries for this occupation. Computer network architects earn approximately $100,000 per year, with the highest 10% earning more than $150,000 annually.

Median Annual Salary for Computer Network Architects by Employer Type

Computer Network Architect Employer Type Median Salary
Finance and Insurance $110,680
Wired Telecommunications Carriers $107,830
Management of Companies and Enterprises $103,890
Computer Systems Design and Related Services $103,020
Government $73,400

Source: Payscale


Joining a professional organization provides you with opportunities for career and academic advancement. As a member, you gain access to valuable resources, including professional networks, job postings, and the latest in IT research. Many professional organizations offer continuing education programs, such as conferences, webinars, and online certification training. Members have access to scholarly publications and digital libraries. Student members benefit from scholarship opportunities, career advice, resume writing, and job and internship alerts. Students who become members of professional organizations learn how to advocate for the IT industry and become familiar with the policies that impact the profession.

  • IEEE Computer Society: With more than 60,000 members globally, the IEEE Computer Society publishes 17 scholarly journals and 13 magazines that focus on the latest trends in technology. Its members have access to training and development programs, conferences, and webinars.
  • Association for Computing Machinery (ACM): ACM provides numerous networking opportunities for students and professionals, including 37 special interest groups in the areas of artificial intelligence and hardware design.
  • Computing Research Association (CRA): CRA offers a variety of professional resources, including workforce reports, best practice memos, and scholarly publications. It hosts a biennial career mentoring workshop for IT professionals interested in careers in higher education.
  • CompTIA: CompTIA, an association for IT professionals and students, offers insight and tools in the areas of IT research, mobility, security, and finance. Student members benefit from webinars and training events, including cloud computing and data recovery.

You have several options to help reduce the cost of tuition. The federal government provides numerous types of financial assistance, and students can complete the FAFSA to determine their loan eligibility. Online bachelor's in computer programming programs often provide students with alternatives to paying for their education out of pocket. Program-specific financial aid includes scholarships for enrollment in the upcoming term, military and public service discounts, and interest-free monthly payment plans. Professional organizations offer scholarships to computer science students.


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 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.

Rankings Archive

Best Online Bachelor's in Computer Programming Degrees of 2017
Rank School Location
1 Western Governors University Salt Lake City, UT
2 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS
3 Bellevue University Bellevue, NE
4 Champlain College Burlington, VT
5 Southwestern College Winfield, KS
6 Davenport University Grand Rapids, MI
7 Husson University Bangor, ME
8 Hodges University Naples, FL
9 Limestone College Gaffney, SC
10 Baker College Flint, MI