As new technologies continue emerging, the field of computer programming continues to develop. Careers in software development and computer systems analysis are projected to grow on par with the national average, and median salaries for popular computer science occupations range from $70,000 to over $100,000. A computer programming degree allows students to turn their hobbies into a career. Avid gamers, for example, might pursue careers designing video games, and those who enjoy programming languages may become expert software developers. The IT field offers numerous opportunities for professional advancement and leadership roles, and program concentrations allow students to pursue their specific career interests. The best online computer programming degrees appear below, along with key information about obtaining such a degree.

WILL THIS PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?

A degree in computer programming online provides you with cutting-edge skills required by the IT industry. Graduates of the best colleges for computer programming pursue licensure and certification in areas specific to computer science. They may also enter the IT workforce or pursue a graduate degree.

DO I NEED PREVIOUS WORK EXPERIENCE TO GET IN?

Some programs recommend previous programming experience, but bachelor's programs do not require it. Rather, they accept students of varying experience levels, whether they come in as returning students or just graduated from high school. General education requirements equip students with a broad liberal arts foundation, and major core courses prepare them for career success in the computer science field.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES TO EARNING MY BACHELOR'S IN COMPUTER PROGRAMMING ONLINE?

In addition to providing the opportunity to pursue your degree from home, the best computer programming schools give you 24/7 access to course materials and IT services. Online students can easily contact their professors and peers through discussion forums and online drop boxes. Many degrees at the best online programming schools allow students to complete their courses independently, at their own pace.

Rank School Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1 Western Governors University Salt Lake City, UT Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 26%

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.

2 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 37%

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.

3 Champlain College Burlington, VT Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 62%

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.

4 Bellevue University Bellevue, NE Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 13%

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.

5 Hodges University Naples, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 25%

Based in Naples, Florida, Hodges’ school of technology offers a BS in software development that can be completed on-campus or completely online. 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.

6 Davenport University Grand Rapids, MI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 41%

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.

7 Husson University Bangor, ME Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 53%

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.

8 Southwestern College Winfield, KS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 38%

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.

9 Limestone College Gaffney, SC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 33%

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.

10 Baker College Flint, MI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 15%

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.

The best online computer programming programs prepare students for a variety of careers in the field of computer science, often allowing them to specialize their degrees. Details may vary depending on the school and program.

Admission Requirements for an Online Bachelor's in Computer Programming

Individuals hoping to enroll in one of the best computer programming schools must meet a number of academic requirements. Applicants pursuing a bachelor's in computer programming must possess either a high school diploma or GED. Most schools also set minimum GPA requirements for previous coursework, often mandating GPAs of 2.5 or higher. The best online programming schools also request standardized test scores from either the ACT or SAT, and most pay particular attention to scores related to science, math, and reasoning. Bachelor's programs do not typically mandate prior professional experience, since many undergraduate students come directly from high school. Advanced degrees, however, may require relevant work experience.

CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN COMPUTER PROGRAMMING

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

  • Computer Architecture: This course examines the structures of computer systems by familiarizing students with trends in computer architecture. Students gain skills in performance measurement, memory hierarchies, computer arithmetic, and data path design and control. Students also 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 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 use these skills.

CONCENTRATIONS OFFERED FOR AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN COMPUTER PROGRAMMING

Concentration Description Careers This Concentration Prepares For
Data Science Students in this concentration gain knowledge of the data models, 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. Data scientists, scientific researchers.
Software Engineering This concentration prepares students to work with complex operational systems and data analysis programs. With an emphasis on contemporary IT trends, students learn how to navigate the latest software technology. Courses include topics in data mining, machine learning, and software assurance. Software engineer, systems analyst
Video Game Design and Development With a focus on human-to-computer interactions and graphics, this concentration serves students with an interest in video games and entertainment technology. Game design students gain skills in technology communication and become familiar with compiler design and object-oriented programming. Game design manager, game programmer, Software engineer

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN COMPUTER PROGRAMMING?

Most online bachelor's in computer programming programs comprise 120 credits, which full-time students can complete in four years. Typical program curricula include both general education coursework and major requirements. Factors influencing program length may include whether students enroll full time or part time, how many credits the degree requires, and whether the program implements internship or capstone project requirements. Most programs accept transfer credits, which may shorten program length.

Students earn their online bachelor's in computer programming either at an individual pace or as part of a cohort. Both learning formats promote supportive online learning environments. Individually paced programs often admit students throughout the year, and these learners pursue their degrees at their convenience. The cohort-learning model admits students at the beginning of select terms, such as fall or spring, and these students form a supportive learning community that follows a cohesive study plan.

Skills and Competencies Gained in an Online Bachelor's Program in Computer Programming

Each program offers a unique skill set to its students, and these skills may vary depending on each student's chosen courses and specialization. However, most computer programming degrees entail at least a few common skills to propel students into the computer science field. For more precise information, speak with department representatives from your prospective school.

  • Coding Language Fluency: Whether they learn Python, JavaScript, C++, HTML, Ruby on Rails, or any of the other programming languages, graduates benefit from knowledge and fluency in one or more coding languages.
  • Attention to Detail: Coding is a laborious, tedious process, requiring intense, sustained focus. Computer programming students learn the value of paying attention to details early in the coding process, thus avoiding major mistakes later on.
  • Patience: Programming typically requires many long hours of work. Students learn to practice patience and focus when programming.
  • Communication: Computer programmers often work with designers, marketers, and other administrative staff to understand their vision and create the program, app, or other deliverable accordingly. Communication plays a key role in this process.
  • Flexibility: You and your client may start out with a specific vision for your final product, but this vision is likely to evolve and change over time. The best programmers know how to roll with changes, using their creativity to produce a satisfactory product.

Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in Computer Programming Prepares For

  • Professional Engineer Licensure: Computer and software engineering students may choose 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 can work to advance your engineering career.
  • Computer Programming Languages Certification: Students interested in working as computer programmers, software developers, or database managers can boost their programming expertise through additional courses offered by accredited certification programs. These courses teach programming in popular software platforms, including Java, Visual Basic, and Microsoft Access. Before enrolling in a certification program, contact your state's licensing board to see about additional requirements.

The best online computer programming degrees come from accredited universities, which participate in peer review processes to ensure academic accountability. Universities can obtain either regional or national accreditation, both of which exist across the country. Public nonprofit universities usually hold regional accreditation, while private, for-profit universities -- along with vocational and distance learning programs -- often seek national accreditation. Credits from regionally accredited universities tend to transfer more easily, and some regionally accredited schools only accept credits from other regionally accredited institutions.

The Distance Education Accrediting Commission (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 the Accreditation Board for Engineering (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 overseen by the Department of Education (ED) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), both of which promote student success by setting education standards. This standardization process requires accrediting bodies to participate in ongoing self studies and peer reviews. You can review a program's accreditation through the extensive databases available on either the CHEA website and the ED website, which include all accredited schools in the country.

JOB PLACEMENT

An online bachelor's in computer programming prepares students to choose from a variety of career paths in the information technology (IT) field. Each occupation imposes a unique set of tasks, but all require strong analytical, communication, and organizational skills. Computer network architects and software developers rely on creativity to meet organizations' networking and software needs. They often work 40 hours or more each week and must travel frequently 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: $104,650
Projected Growth Rate: 6%

Computer Systems Analyst

Computer systems analysts work with organizations to evaluate their current IT systems and develop new, more efficient ones. They research new technologies, install new systems, and train system users. Systems analysts often specialize in computer systems specific to their organization, such as financial computer systems.

Median Annual Salary: $88,270
Projected Growth Rate: 9%

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: $87,020
Projected Growth Rate: 11%

Software Developer

Software developers design software to meet user needs. They recommend software updates and provide maintenance for existing programs. These 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 to supervise software development projects.

Median Annual Salary: $103,560
Projected Growth Rate: 24%

Web Developer

Web developers work both in-house for individual companies and in freelance capacities to design and build websites. They collaborate with their employers to understand the needs and aesthetic desires for the prospective site. They then write code, integrate graphics and media, and commission content to fill each page.

Median Annual Salary: $67,990
Projected Growth Rate: 15%

SALARIES OF MAJOR COMPUTER PROGRAMMING OCCUPATIONS BY EXPERIENCE LEVEL
Job Title Overall Median Salary Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees Median Salary for Late-Career Employees
Computer Network Architect $85,000 $103,500 $120,500 $127,000
Computer Systems Analyst $58,500 $70,000 $76,500 $84,000
Database Administrator $61,000 $78,000 $89,000 $92,000
Software Developer $65,000 $79,000 $89,000 $95,000
Web Developer $54,500 $64,500 $70,000 $77,500

Graduates from computer programming degree colleges can expect vastly different earning potentials, depending on their chosen careers. Computer network architects enjoy the highest starting income and pay throughout their careers, while web developers and computer system analysts earn the smallest salaries. Professionals looking for the highest wage increase over time may consider software developer roles. Computer programming graduates should consider their prospective industry and location, as well, both of which may significantly influence income.

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Joining a professional organization provides you with opportunities for career and academic advancement. Members gain access to valuable resources, including professional networks, job postings, and the latest in IT research. Many professional organizations offer continuing education programs, including conferences, webinars, and online certification training. Members may access scholarly publications and digital libraries, and 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 policies impacting the profession.

  • IEEE Computer Society: With more than 60,000 members globally, the IEEE Computer Society publishes 17 scholarly journals and 13 magazines focusing on the latest trends in technology. Its members enjoy 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 higher education careers.
  • 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.

Computer programming students may choose from several financial aid options, starting with assistance from the federal government. Students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (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 may include scholarships for enrollment in the upcoming term, military and public service discounts, and interest-free monthly payment plans. Professional organizations also offer scholarships for computer science students.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately 66% of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but plenty of overlooked financing options are available to reduce students' financial burdens.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the FAFSA marks a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown of the process, plus answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you can find for campus-based learning. Learn about the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR WOMEN

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.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs create a flexible, affordable alternative for single parents interested in earning their 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.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

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