Best Online Bachelor’s in Computer Programming Programs of 2021

May 24, 2021

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Breaking into the computer and IT services industry as a programmer or developer can seem daunting at first. If you have ever wondered where to get started or how to make yourself more appealing to employers, consider earning an online bachelor's in computer programming.

This guide covers what to expect from an online bachelor's in computer programming in terms of the curriculum, admission requirements, post-graduation job opportunities, and more.

What Are the Best Online Bachelor's in Computer Programming Programs of 2021? Here Are Our Top 5:

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#1 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS
#2 Baker College Owosso, MI
#3 Davenport University Grand Rapids, MI
#4 Limestone College Gaffney, SC
#5 Bellevue University Bellevue, NE

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Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

A bachelor's in computer programming can lead to several high-paying, dynamic careers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that computer programmers make an average annual wage of $84,280. Additionally, from 2018-2028, the BLS projects a 21% growth rate for software developer jobs. Earning an online bachelor's in computer programming increases your odds of securing employment in the steadily growing computer and IT services industry.

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.

2021 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Computer Programming Programs

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Fort Hays State University View School Profile Hays, KS

Located in Hays, Kansas, FHSU educates about 16,000 learners annually. In addition to its on-campus programs, the university offers dozens of degree and certificate programs to distance learners, including an online bachelor of science in computer science.

Computer science students complete 55 credits of general education requirements, as well as 65 credits dedicated to their major. Coursework covers topics like foundations of computing, front-end and back-end web development, and analytic geometry and calculus. Students also complete a seminar course towards the end of their program.

Graduates can pursue roles like system center operations manager, capacity analyst, and information systems security engineer. Students can transfer up to 90 credits into this program.

FHSU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Baker College View School Profile Owosso, MI

Located in Owosso, Michigan, Baker offers a bachelor of science in computer science with a concentration in computer programming.

In addition to general education requirements, students take courses such as emerging programming languages, computer architecture, computer operating systems and maintenance, and data structures and algorithms. Learners receive a comprehensive introduction to several different programming languages, and computer programming concentration courses cover in-demand topics such as IoT or artificial intelligence. Students also complete a year-long senior project and 150 hours of work experience with an approved company.

Applicants need a high school diploma or the equivalent to qualify for admission. However, students do not need to submit standardized test scores. Baker is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Davenport University View School Profile Grand Rapids, MI

Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Davenport offers an online bachelor of science in computer science. Students choose one of three concentrations: artificial intelligence, computer theory and algorithms, or gaming and simulation.

The program features general education courses as well as computer science foundation courses. Notable class requirements include object-oriented programming with C#, database design, data structures and algorithms, and software engineering. After completing foundational requirements, students take specific courses in their concentration and complete a computer science capstone experience to demonstrate skills mastery in key development areas.

Applicants need a high school diploma or the equivalent to qualify for admission, but they do not need to submit standardized test scores. Davenport is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Limestone College View School Profile Gaffney, SC

Located in Gaffney, South Carolina, Limestone offers an online bachelor of science in computer science with a concentration in programming. Students complete courses on an asynchronous schedule and focus on just two classes per eight-week term.

Course requirements cover basic concepts of the internet and the world wild web, information systems analysis and design, and internet programming. A capstone project allows students to plan, research, and execute a computer science project and produce a formal research paper.

Applicants must hold a high school diploma (or the equivalent) and submit SAT or ACT scores. The program does not require students to possess any previous training in computer science.

Limestone is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Bellevue University View School Profile Bellevue, NE

Based in eastern Nebraska, BU offers an online bachelor of science in software development. This program operates as a degree completion program. Participants join a cohort and prepare to earn CompTIA certification.

Required courses include the foundation of software development, database development and use, programming with Java, and interactive development with Javascript. Students also complete a capstone project in software development where they plan and execute a project that addresses a real-world challenge.

Applicants must transfer in an associate degree or at least 60 previously earned credits. BU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Online Bachelor's in Computer Programming Program Overview

Though curricula vary between schools, the typical online bachelor's in computer programming pathway covers several core topics, including programming languages, algorithms and data structures, and the basics of computer science. Graduates leave their bachelor's program with a strong foundation in commonly used coding languages, such as Java, C#, and C/C+.

To learn about managing and navigating computer and network systems, students take introductory courses in operating system management and computer architecture and organization. Other elective topics, such as cybersecurity and artificial intelligence, allow students to customize their degree according to their interests and pursue a specialized degree track.

Some learners treat an online bachelor's in computer programming as a terminal degree. However, others go on to pursue a graduate-level computer science degree to advance as a developer in a specialized field, such as artificial intelligence, or qualify for a career in research.

Common Bachelor's in Computer Programming Degree Courses

Computer Programming With Java

This course familiarizes students with JavaScript syntax and concepts, which they use in several software engineering and programming projects.

Algorithms and Data Structures

In this course, students learn the basics of the design and analysis of algorithms. Hands-on coursework shows students how to use algorithm implementation techniques when solving practical computational problems. Topics include algorithms for sorting, string processing, searching, and graphing. The course also covers the evaluation of divide-and-conquer, recursive backtracking, and algorithm efficiency.


This course covers core issues in information security. Topics include data encryption, digital forensics, and vulnerability assessment. The course may culminate in a collaborative or solo project, such as a penetration test of a system accompanied by a written report.

Cloud Computing

In this course, students investigate cloud computing and its influence on the IT industry. Topics include application programming interfaces used by cloud service providers, application development using a software-as-a-service model, and security testing for cloud applications. Students exit the course able to use the cloud as an infrastructure for different services.

Operating Systems Foundations

This course examines foundational concepts, techniques, and skills needed to manage operating systems. Some courses may work with an open-source operating system derived from UNIX/LINUX rather than a conventional operating system such as Windows. Concepts covered include user commands and utilities, graphical user interfaces, editors, and shells.

Online Bachelor's in Computer Programming Admission Requirements

Most schools require a minimum GPA — usually between 2.5 and 3.0. However, some programs may award probationary admission to students with a lower GPA if they have high SAT or ACT scores.

Many accredited schools require students to submit SAT or ACT scores for consideration for undergraduate programs. However, some programs may prefer placement assessments, such as the ALEKS online program.

Some schools may ask applicants to submit up to three letters of recommendation. Letter-writers should be teachers and/or mentors with whom you have a positive relationship.

You need to request transcripts from all previously attended schools. This usually entails filling out a transcript request application and paying a small fee. This process can take a few weeks.

Once you have gathered all relevant materials, fill out your application to the program. Generally, applicants need to submit a fee — usually $40-$80 — with their application.

Online Bachelor's in Computer Programming Career Paths

The following list of careers represents some entry-level offerings available to computer programming majors. In general, upward mobility in the computer and IT services industry does not necessarily require a graduate-level education. Some developers may wish to pursue a master's in order to specialize further in an emerging field or gain a foothold in research, but most employers hire bachelor's degree-holders to fill well-compensated jobs.

Licensure requirements for computer programmers are very uncommon. However, programmers can earn several professional certifications to improve their marketability, such as the C programming language certified associate credential from the C++ institute.

Related Careers

Frequently Asked Questions

What can you do with a degree in computer programming?

A degree in computer programming can qualify you for several entry-level positions in the field. In addition to working as programmers and software developers, graduates can pursue work as network architects, information system managers, and information security analysts.

How long does it take to get a bachelor's degree in computer programming?

It typically takes four years to earn an online bachelor's in computer programming. However, this timeline can vary depending on several factors, including whether you take courses part time or full time or whether you can transfer credit from previous college courses.

Do you need a degree in computer science to be a programmer?

Some employers looking for programmers and developers do not necessarily require a degree in computer science; in the computer and IT services industry, practical skills related to programming languages and information systems often count as much as a degree.

How much does it cost to get a degree in computer programming?

Learners can expect to pay anywhere from $40,000-$120,000 on a computer programming degree from an accredited school.

How much can you make with a bachelor's in computer programming?

Online bachelor's in computer programming graduates have the potential to make a very comfortable living after graduation. For example, the BLS reports that 90th percentile wages in computer programming are around $134,000 per year. Most professionals with jobs in computer and IT services make $60,000-$100,000 annually.

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