Computer science covers the mathematical and technological principles behind computing machinery. The field is neatly split into two subdivisions: theoretical computer science, which explores the theories behind concepts like coding and language programming, and applied computer science, which covers technical dimensions in the field, like engineering, cryptography, and network architecture.
In college, computer science students learn the fundamentals of computing hardware, software, and networks. Undergraduate programs typically require students to compile a portfolio of their best work and complete a capstone project prior to graduation, and many schools provide optional internship opportunities for interested students. Today, many students interested in computer science are choosing to earn their bachelor's degree online. Web-based programs follow the same rigorous curriculum as classroom-based curriculums, and the asynchronous format used by most schools is ideal for students who must balance school with other commitments, like childcare or a part-time job.
Read on to learn more about what you'll learn in a computer science program, and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to in the field upon graduation.
- ARE ONLINE COMPUTER SCIENCE DEGREES WORTH IT?
The BLS projects the computer and information technology industry to grow by 19% between 2016 and 2026, resulting in many new roles. A bachelor's degree in computer science can also help professionals obtain a higher salary. Read more here.
- HOW TO GET A COMPUTER SCIENCE DEGREE ONLINE?
Students must first be admitted, which usually requires them to submit SAT or ACT scores and meet a minimum GPA requirement. These programs usually require students to maintain a minimum GPA throughout all coursework and complete a capstone, among other requirements. For more accurate information, learners should check with their prospective school. Read more here.
- CAN I GET A COMPUTER SCIENCE DEGREE ONLINE?
Computer science is a popular program, and many schools offer completely online computer science degrees. Read more here.
- ARE ONLINE DEGREES IN COMPUTER SCIENCE USEFUL?
Professionals who hold a bachelor's in computer science have a low unemployment rate and obtain higher earnings than those who hold an associate degree. Read more here.
- HOW MANY CREDIT HOURS ARE IN ONLINE COMPUTER SCIENCE DEGREES?
Most bachelor's program require 120 credits of coursework, though this varies by program. For more accurate information, check with your prospective program. Read more here.
Choosing a Program
WILL AN ONLINE COMPUTER SCIENCE DEGREE PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?
Computer science bachelor's degree students develop a wealth of relevant skills and knowledge while they're in school. They learn how to manage databases, use object-oriented programming and design techniques, write code sequences, and maintain different computing systems. Many students also become fluent in at least one major programming language, such as Java or C++. Many online programs also allow students to earn degree concentrations in computer science subfields, like programming and software engineering. Distance learners can also develop valuable industry experience by participating in an internship during their undergraduate studies.
WILL AN ONLINE COMPUTER SCIENCE DEGREE PROGRAM WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?
Online bachelor's in computer science programs offer a flexible alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar education. Students can access lectures and other course materials, submit assignments, take exams, and communicate with faculty members on their own schedule. Current technology also allows them to study away from their home computer using a laptop, tablet, smartphone, or other device with Wi-Fi capabilities. For additional convenience, many of these programs are offered in an accelerated format, enabling students to graduate just two or three years.
WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY BACHELOR'S IN COMPUTER SCIENCE?
A bachelor's degree is sufficient for entry-level positions in most branches of computer science. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some of the most popular positions in computer science include computer programmers, computer systems analysts, database administrators, and software and web developers.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE COMPUTER SCIENCE DEGREE PROGRAMS?
Choosing a program is a very personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school's strengths match your educational needs and professional goals. Nonetheless, the following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online bachelor's in computer science programs in the United States. If you want to earn a bachelor's degree in computer science, and you value the flexibility inherent in distance education, be sure to take a look at these top colleges.
Accredited Online Computer Science Programs
University of Florida
|Gainesville, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 88%||
Established in 1853, the University of Florida stands as a public university located in Gainesville, Florida. Within UF's college of liberal arts and sciences, the bachelor of computer science program prepares students for employment in growing and lucrative fields, such as finance, insurance, healthcare, computer security, and beyond.
UF's computer science degree students complete 120 credits to graduate. In addition to general education classes, required coursework includes computer organization, data structures and algorithm, applications of discrete structures, and operating systems. Mandatory foundation courses include analytic geometry and calculus, physics, technical writing, and engineering logistics. Learners in this program also complete a mandatory internship and engineering-focused independent research course. This online computer science degree prepares learners for careers as business intelligence analysts, computer programmers, database administrators, and web developers.
Students must submit applications between August 1 and November 1, regardless of the term they wish to begin classes. Minimum qualifications for admission to UF's program include a 2.5 GPA or higher, 1280-1430 SAT scores, and a score of 28-32 on the ACT. Applicants also need a high school course background in English, math, natural sciences, social sciences, and two years of foreign language.
UF undergraduate students take advantage of various student services, including a career counseling center. Advisers at the center meet with UF learners in their first semester to ensure they maximize their college experience. On-campus student life includes a recreational sports facility, UF bookstore, healthcare center, the Florida Museum of Natural History, and the Harm Museum of Art.
Florida State University
|Tallahassee, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 80%||
Located in Tallahassee, Florida State University is a public research school that began in 1851. Designed to train lifetime computer professionals, FSU boasts one of the best online computer science degrees. Students in the program learn foundational computer science topics that position them for entry-level careers upon graduation. The online curriculum explores systems and networks, object orientation, basic software building, and the interdependence of design. Undergraduates examine essential program languages, including C, C++, Java, Perl, HTML, and Lisp.
FSU faculty deliver synchronous courses through the Canvas learning management system, which also provides students access to course syllabi, assignment outlines, exams, discussion boards, and other learning tools. Degree seekers take exams online or at an external site with a proctor.
Applications for the online computer science degree must include ACT or SAT scores, a 650-word essay, and transcripts showing a record of high school classes in English, natural science, social science, math, and a foreign language. For incoming and transfer students, up to 45 credits may transfer toward the online bachelor's degree in computer science. Credit from things like Advance Placement and the College Level Examination Program is also available.
Applicants must submit all application materials by November 1, March 1, or June 1 for the spring, summer, or fall semesters, respectively. Full-time students complete the online program in four years or less. Entering students who possess an associate degree with transferable credits can finish in two years or less. All FSU online learners pay the same tuition rates as on-campus students.
Johns Hopkins University
|Baltimore, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 93%||
Established in 1876 in Maryland, Johns Hopkins University offers one of the best online computer science degrees in the United States. This innovative program brings together interdisciplinary fields like speech and natural language processes, computational biology, algorithm design, information security, and robotics into one convenient computer science curriculum. Learners interested in studying traditional computer science topics, including theoretical computer science or operating systems, also flourish at Johns Hopkins.
Students choose from 10 different concentration areas that strongly dictate their coursework, including big data and cloud computing, bioinformatics, systems and knowledge management, human-computer interaction and visualization, and software engineering. Additionally, advanced bachelor's students may combine computer science with a master's program to create their own dual degree.
Johns Hopkins' part-time students focusing on computer science and engineering can complete their degrees as part-time learners with weekend and weeknight courses. This specialized track covers computer theory and analysis, design, and implementation of information systems. The computer science department also offers research opportunities, internships, summer programs, and undergraduate teaching assistantships. Graduates with this online computer science degree can move on to prestigious careers at Fortune 500 companies such as Intel, Apple, Google, and Microsoft.
Transfer and incoming students apply for admission by March 1 and January 2, respectively. Applications must include a recommendation from a school counselor, official transcripts, two teacher evaluations, an application fee, and SAT or ACT scores. Incoming students with 12 or more college credits may transfer up to 60 credits toward the computer science degree.
University of Illinois at Springfield
|Springfield, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 50%||
A liberal arts college established in 1969, the University of Illinois at Springfield offers a competitive online computer science degree. Learners take courses in data structures and algorithms, operating systems, programming languages, software engineering, and computer organization to keep up with frequent technological changes in the field. Computer science learners take an entrance exam to assess their skills upon starting the program. After coursework, students must pass a required exit exam.
Online computer science degree applicants need a minimum 2.0 GPA, college-level experience in java programming, calculus, discrete or finite math, and statistics. Accepted students without these prerequisites may enroll in remedial courses during their first year at UIS. Incoming transfer students must provide a record of coursework in programming concepts, discrete structures, applied statistics, and business calculus. For graduation, all students complete 120 credits. At least 30 credits must come from courses at UIS.
Students gain access to many amenities and educational services at UIS. The school offers an Engaged Citizenship Common Experience Speaker series that celebrates diversity and calls for social action. The school features small class sizes and a 15-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio to help online learners receive more individualized guidance. Computer science majors can take advantage of lab research and software development opportunities on campus.
Undergraduates locate summer semester and post-graduation research opportunities through the Center for State Policy and Leadership. UIS also specializes in placing students interested in science and conservation with professionals at the Nature Conservancy, which conducts the largest wetlands restorations in the world.
Oregon State University
|Corvallis, OR||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 65%||
Established in 1868, Oregon State now hosts over 30,000 students and serves as the largest school in the state. Oregon State also boasts three institutions in the country with sea-grant, space-grant, and sun-grant designations. As such, the school receives a substantial amount of research funding, including $441 million in 2017.
Online computer science majors take advantage of this special research-focused program through a 60-credit, post-baccalaureate track or a 180-credit BA or BS track. Those who already possess a BA or BS can enroll in the post-baccalaureate program to add to their existing skill set and increase job prospects. Students pursuing the bachelor's degree choose from concentrations in applied computer science, computer systems, or the computer science double degree.
Learners must possess advanced math skills, though no prior experience in computer science is necessary. Required courses for the undergraduate degree cover diverse topics, including web development, software engineering, computer networks, algorithms, mobile and cloud software development, and web security. This online computer science bachelor's degree prepares learners for research-intensive careers or further education. By emphasizing lab work, development, and research, many Oregon State degree holders move on to master's and doctoral programs.
Incoming students may transfer up to 45 credits, provided they earned a "C-" or higher in each course. To apply as a transfer student, applicants need at least 16 credits from a regionally accredited college or university. Upon completion of the program, Oregon State graduates who do not pursue further education seek out computer science positions as computer hardware engineers, database administrators, network and computer systems administrators, and database administrators.
|Denver, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 71%||
A private Catholic university established in 1877 in Denver, Colorado, Regis University offers an online computer science bachelor's degree, the only online program of its kind with accreditation from the Computing Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Required courses for the major include discrete mathematics, algorithms and complexity, principles of programming languages, mobile and enterprise computing, and web and enterprise computing. Regis also offers optional undergraduate certificates in information system security and eSecurity for computer science majors.
For graduation, computer science students complete 128-133 credit hours. Incoming students may receive credit for prior college credits, professional licenses, professional employment, or military credit. Incoming students may transfer up to 90 credits toward the bachelor's degree. Unlike many schools, prospective transfer credits never expire at Regis. Undergraduate applicants must possess a high school diploma, transferable credit from a regionally accredited college or university, and proof of past work experience. Applications include a personal essay, official transcripts, application fee, and online application forms.
Regis computer science graduates can move on to work in challenging and rewarding careers as application developers, specialized software builders, database administrators, security architects, and video game animators. Students and alumni take advantage of career counselors, online job boards, and an employer contacts database through the school's center for career and professional development. The center also organizes online chats with recruiters from local and national information technology and business organizations for distance learners.
Regis University holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Old Dominion University
|Norfolk, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
Old Dominion University is a public research university located in Norfolk, Virginia. With over 25,000 students, ODU remains one of the largest higher education institutions in the state. ODU's online bachelor of computer science degree comprises 120 credit hours. Located in the college of sciences, the department of computer science helps students explore the field and its relationship with engineering.
In addition to general education courses, computer science majors complete approximately 21 required courses, including software engineering, operating systems, computers in society, problem solving in programming, and computational software. Full-time degree seekers at ODU complete the bachelor's degree in four years or less. All students need a 2.0 cumulative GPA or higher to graduate.
Faculty deliver both asynchronous and synchronous courses through the ODUOnline program and Blackboard. Online learners meet one on one with professors during virtual office hours, work with classmates through web conferencing, and take most exams online. Some classes require distance learners to login at specific times to observe a live-streamed lecture. Some online computer science coursework requires on-campus obligations.
Incoming students may transfer up to 90 credits toward the computer science bachelor's degree. At least 30 credit hours must come from ODU classes. The university guarantees admission for prospective students transferring from schools in the Virginia Community College System. In this scenario, transfer students need at least 15 transferrable credits with a 2.5 GPA or higher. Those learners with a 3.5 GPA or higher receive automatic consideration for merit-based scholarships when they apply.
|Virginia Beach, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 61%||
Regent University is a private Christian institution located in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Established in 1977, this small research school hosts approximately 8,600 students. Regent offers an online computer science degree that helps students gain expert technology and programming knowledge in a Christian environment.
Required courses for computer science majors include New Testament studies, general biology, software engineering, microeconomics, and smart computing. Degree seekers can analyze and develop computer systems and networking infrastructures as they come to understand programming languages and database management.
Prospective students must submit an application fee, official transcripts, a completed admissions questionnaire, and a copy of a government-issued ID. Incoming students may transfer up to 90 credit hours to the computer science bachelor's degree at Regent. In addition to courses earned at schools in the Virginia Community College System and regionally accredited institutions, Regent may award credit for prior professional or military experience. Students with at least 15 college credits may apply for transfer student admission.
Regent students take advantage of various resources on campus and online to make the most of their college experience, including the office of career and talent management. At the center, learners receive career preparation training from professional counselors and learn about local, national, and international internships, career opportunities, and job fairs. Regent's Center for Student Happiness offers tutoring services, webinars, and other online and in-person resources to help students. Regent also offers many religious and prayer-focused groups and activities around campus and online for interested students.
Central Methodist University
|Fayette, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 53%||
Established in 1854, Central Methodist University is a liberal arts university located in Fayette, Missouri, with United Methodist Church affiliation. CMU's online computer science degree helps students build analytical, communication, and problem-solving skills. Classes focus on introductory concepts in database technology, programming languages, hardware, and software. CMU offers both a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of science in computer science.
Required courses for computer science majors at CMU include database systems, web programming, web page design, game programming, and discrete math. In total, students need 120 credits for graduation.
CMU expects incoming students to have taken high school coursework in English, science, math, social studies, and a foreign language -- all with a 2.5 GPA or higher. Competitive test scores for applicants include 21 or higher on the ACT or 1050 on the SAT. Accepted students with lower grades and scores follow provisionary conditions under the guidance of the Director of Admission and the Academic Standards and Admission Committee. Competitive applications for prospective transfer students reflect a 2.0 GPA and at least 12 college credits.
Learners take advantage of CMU's Digital U program in which undergraduates receive a free Apple iPad. Students use the device for both classes and recreation. Computer science majors also partake in job preparation and coaching at the career development center. Additional student services at CMU include a 24/7 technology helpdesk, writing center, academic counselors, remote library access, veteran services, and resources for student musicians. Students can also receive counseling and therapy services free of charge.
|Auburn, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 77%||
Established in 1856 in Alabama as a public research university, Auburn University now hosts over 29,000 students and serves as the second largest university in the state. The department of computer science and software engineering offers an online bachelor of computer science degree for students with at least 60 transferable college credits. The department boasts an award-winning faculty with accolades in human-computer interaction, computer networks, cybersecurity, and wireless engineering. Auburn also holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Auburn learners prepare for careers with theoretical computer science training and hands-on applications of essential skills. This program specializes in information technology, operating systems, database management, web and mobile applications development, network platforms, and computer network design. For graduation, students complete 18 required courses and two electives, including algorithms, software engineering, mobile applications, and web application development. Computer science majors also enjoy electives, such as system administration, formal languages, wireless networks, and computer architecture.
Upon admission to this accelerated computer science degree online, students gain access to a support network committed to their academic success. Both an admissions adviser and a student success coordinator keep in touch with students throughout schooling to ensure that they perform at the best of their abilities. Undergraduates take advantage of Auburn's entirely online program and complete the degree in as few as two years.
Prospective students need a 2.5 GPA or higher and credits that fulfill Auburn's general education prerequisites. Auburn requires prospective students to submit an online application, official transcripts, and an application fee.
Fort Hays State University
|Hays, KS||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 44%||
Located in Kansas, Fort Hays State University's computer science department offers an online computer science degree for distance learners. Students focus on enhancing computer software, improving networks, and interpreting data. Additional strengths of this curriculum include training in digital storage and retrieval, human-computer interaction, electronic media, information security, and digital design.
FHSU's extensive alumni network helps computer science majors locate jobs after school. Program graduates can procure employment at Fortune 500 corporations, research-intensive organizations, government agencies, and postsecondary institutions.
Applicants for the online bachelor's degree in computer science submit official transcripts, standardized test scores, and a completed online application. Prospective students under 21 must submit ACT or SAT scores. Incoming students may earn credit for approved military occupational specialties, advanced placement examinations, the College Level Examination Program (CLEP), and DANTES Subject Standardized Tests. Competitive applications reflect an ACT or SAT score higher than 21 or 1080, respectively. Applicants should also rank in the top third of their high school class with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Non-Kansas residents need to meet higher standards with at least a 2.5 GPA.
In total, computer science majors take 55 general education and 65 major credits. Required computer science classes include introduction to web development, front-end development, database design, and back-end web development. Additionally, learners obtain sufficient training in computer languages, computer graphics, and software engineering. FHSU also offers CLEP exams for both computer information systems and college algebra. For transfer students, up to 90 credits from accredited colleges or universities may transfer toward your computer science bachelor's degree. At least 30 credits of the total 120 need to come from FHSU classes.
University of Maryland-University College
|Adelphi, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 9%||
With over 90,000 students worldwide, the University of Maryland is one of the largest distance-learning schools in the world. UMUC offers an online bachelor's degree in computer science through its state university global campus. Students may complete this degree entirely online or elect to take hybrid courses when available.
The computer science curriculum focuses on programming, algorithms optimizations, mathematics and computing, and computer languages. UMUC majors learn to use Java, C++, MATLAB, OpenGL, and Octave. Required courses for UMUC degree seekers include introductory and intermediate programming, data structures and analysis, compiler theory, computer graphics, and object-oriented and concurrent programming.
In total, learners need 120 credits for the computer science bachelor's degree, including 15 credits of a minor concentration or related electives. Popular concentrations include cybersecurity or mathematics. Upon program completion, many UMUC graduates elect to take certification exams, such as the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) or Oracle Certified Java Programmer.
Computer science majors take advantage of various student resources and organizations, including the student-led computing club and Upsilon Pi Epsilon. Additionally, online learners benefit from cutting-edge online learning tools, including an interactive calendar, online assignments and testing, and audio feedback from professors. Active-duty military service members, selected reserves, national guard, and their spouses and children receive a reduced tuition rate.
The school features a 100% acceptance rate for undergraduate programs. Applicants do not need to submit SAT, ACT, GRE, or GMAT scores, provided they possess a U.S. high school diploma or GED.
California State University-Monterey Bay
|Seaside, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 60%||
California State University was established in 1994 and currently hosts over 7,500 students. The school of computing and design offers an online computer science degree that blends training in theoretical foundations and hands-on information technology practice. Students can also choose a software engineering specialization to further tailor their degree.
CSUMB's fully online computer science classes feature collaborative and interactive components through the iLearn learning management system. All eight-week courses feature a real-time video conference orientation with faculty, teaching assistants, and students. Faculty delivers classes synchronously with weekly instruction and assignments. Some courses require proctored exams that students must take on campus or at an approved facility.
Online students can complete this fully online program in as few as 24 months, and incoming students need at least 60 or more credits of transferable college courses with a "C" or better.
Prospective students often take English composition, speech, critical thinking, and college-level math classes before applying. Additional prerequisites that students must meet before admission to the online program include courses in problem-solving and programming, introduction to data structures, and precalculus. Applicants with a course history of operating systems, computer architecture, and discrete mathematics receive priority for admission. Applicants need a 2.0 GPA or higher for admission.
Popular careers for recent CSUMB computer science graduates include software engineers, mobile app developers, and technology project managers. CSUMB also prides itself on establishing a program that teaches transferable skills that graduates use beyond the computer science field.
CSUMB holds regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Thomas Edison State University
|Trenton, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 45%||
Thomas Edison State University is a public university in Trenton, New Jersey, offering an online computer science degree that positions graduates for career changes, advancement in their current position, and personal enrichment. Computer science majors engage with a curriculum steeped in liberal arts studies that also offers a foundation in essential computer science training.
Computer science students at TESU focus on various critical components, including the design and implementation of computer-based solutions and science theory. At the same time, students develop communication skills, learn the principles of software and hardware design, and keep up with changing technologies that impact working professionals in this area.
In addition to general education requirements, computer science majors engage with essential topics in courses such as data structures, introduction to programming, discrete math, operating systems, and computer architecture. In total, students need 120 credits for graduation, including a capstone project and at least 21 credits of electives. Most full-time students require four years to complete the program.
Incoming students from a regionally accredited community college may transfer up to 80 credits toward their bachelor's degree. Similarly, transfer students receive up to 117 credits for courses completed at four-year, regionally accredited institutions. Students may also garner credits through previous military experience, licenses and certifications, work experience resulting in an extensive portfolio of related content, and credit by exam. The Office for Assessment of Professional and Workplace Learning determines the eligibility of each student's proposed experience and transcripts on a case by case basis.
Thomas Edison State University holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
|Romeoville, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 67%||
Lewis University, a private Roman Catholic university located in Romeoville, Illinois, educates 6,800 students. The school offers an accelerated online computer science degree that prepares students for a highly competitive marketplace. Available specializations include computational theory, networking, software engineering, data science, digital forensics, and cybersecurity.
This fully online program uses a state-of-the-art cloud system and virtual machines, enabling students to enjoy 24/7 access from any location. Courses take eight weeks to complete, and faculty deliver them in asynchronous format. Computer science students may work at their own pace provided they meet the deadlines outlined in the syllabi.
Students need 128 credits to complete the program. In addition to general education classes, Lewis requires 46 credits in classes like algorithms and data structures, client-serving computing, programming languages, and programming fundamentals. The required curriculum also contains a capstone sequence comprised of six credits and at least 12 elective credits. Upon graduation, Lewis students pursue lucrative careers as software developers, web developers, service desk support agents, project managers, data scientists, mobile application developers, and more.
The Higher Learning Commission accredits Lewis University.
California University of Pennsylvania
|California, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 52%||
California University of Pennsylvania, a public university with approximately 7,300 students, was founded in 1852. Cal U offers an online bachelor's degree in computer science that features training for business-minded students interested in building a career around computer technologies.
Cal U computer science majors learn how to redesign and streamline various business processes with a fundamental understanding of information technology and basic business practices. Computer information systems majors close to campus can take advantage of the school's cutting-edge computer lab. Even students without access to campus can engage with Cal U's extensive learning technologies remotely.
Online students need 120 credits to graduate, and popular courses for computer science majors at Cal U include visual programming, systems project management, and web programming. Classes also address social, economic, and ethical issues in the business world, thus keeping with the department's agenda to produce business-minded computer science experts.
Upon graduation, Cal U alums often pursue leadership and management roles or hands-on careers as database administrators, network and computer systems administrators, information security analysts, and computer systems analysts. Cal U takes pride in preparing students for the competitive job market by helping them obtain internship opportunities in the field. These temporary positions give students hands-on experience and can serve as bridges to professional careers.
Cal U boasts accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and the online bachelor's in computer science program features accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.
City University of Seattle
|Seattle, WA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 49%||
City University of Seattle is a private nonprofit school based in Seattle, Washington. Established in 1973, the university serves approximately 7,000 students, and online students can take advantage of its hands-on bachelor's in applied computing degree.
Offering one of the best online computer science degrees, CityU's program emphasizes the fundamentals of network technologies and computing systems. Students practice research and lab techniques with the guidance of a seasoned faculty, and the curriculum offers relevant training for today's top careers, drawing its course content from the Cisco certified network associate certificate, Microsoft certified solutions expert certification, and certified information systems security professional programs.
Students need 180 credits to graduate, and required courses for applied computing majors include introduction to web design, fundamentals of computing, foundational statistics, and programming with Python. In addition to IT ethics, information security, and operating systems classes, online students need to complete a capstone project that demonstrates the level of knowledge and skill obtained throughout the program.
In most cases, full-time students need just over two years to finish degree requirements. Upon completion of CityU's online computer science degree, graduates often pursue work in networks and data systems that support the majority of modern businesses in virtually every industry. Previous students in the applied computing program secured employment as software developers, network engineers, database engineers, information security specialists, and systems integrators.
CityU offers online students valuable resources and ways to get involved with like-minded students. In addition to helpful counselors at the career center and extensive online library services, online students can take part in clubs and secure advantageous internship positions.
CityU holds accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
|Parkville, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 23%||
A private university founded in 1875, Park University offers a bachelor of science in management/computer information systems that educates students for careers across today's technology-heavy fields. The program caters to undergraduate students interested in combining business and computer science.
Online students develop the essential computing and critical-thinking skills to perform in technological careers and academic settings. This program also focuses on developing an understanding of business management tools, business analytics, and computer-related positions in business. Graduates of Park's management/computer information systems program often pursue careers as information technology specialists, business analysts, systems analysts, and business system designers.
Students need 120 credits to graduate, and since business is a secondary focus for this major, students complete 39 credits from the business core curriculum. Classes in this area include principles of financial accounting, principles of managerial accounting, financial management, international business perspectives, and basic concepts of statistics. Computer information systems requirements include classes in networking and security, project management, web programming, and managing information systems.
Undergraduate classes follow either an eight-week or traditional 16-week schedule with multiple starting dates throughout the year. Incoming students need a minimum 2.0 GPA, and applications must include the application fee and copies of high school and/or college transcripts. Transfer students who already possess an associate degree may apply up to 75 credits toward their bachelor's degree at Park. Incoming students may receive up to 75 credits for military experience. Military personnel, their family members, and spouses also receive a tuition discount.
Park University receives accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
|Troy, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 39%||
Located in Alabama and founded in 1887, Troy University serves approximately 18,100 students and offers over 70 fully online programs, including an online computer science degree. Its 120-credit bachelor of science in applied computer science requires no on-campus obligations, and full-time students typically complete the program in four years or less.
Online students at Troy can specialize in niche areas of the field, including cybersecurity and advanced programming. The faculty prides itself on offering training in real-world practical skills and expertise. Students develop professional critical thinking and problem-solving skills that transfer to careers in business and computer science. Online classes allow students in a cohort to participate in group projects that focus on projects such as game design, cell phone apps, and web applications.
The computer science department at Troy supports its students with a dedicated tutoring program, active student groups and organizations, and academic and networking events. The department also provides connections to prospective employers and internship opportunities. Many computer science majors increased their marketability by completing an internship immediately upon graduation.
Any applicants with less than 24 college credit hours must apply to Troy as a freshman. Troy gives unconditional admission to applicants with a 2.0 GPA or higher coupled with at least a 20 or 1030 on the ACT or SAT, respectively. Accepted students with lower scores receive conditional admission. In this scenario, first-year students need to complete 12-24 credits with a 2.0 GPA or higher to remain in their program. The same unconditional/conditional rules apply to incoming transfer students with at least 24 college credits.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges accredits Troy University.
Southern New Hampshire University
|Manchester, NH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 49%||
Established in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University serves approximately 91,000 students on campus and online. This private university in New Hampshire offers a self-paced online computer science degree, and students can choose from concentrations in information security or software engineering.
SNHU prepares students for careers in this fast-growing field through experiential and applied lessons. Students explore computer science essentials including programming languages such as Python, Java, and C++. They also take courses on operating environments, software development and testing platforms, and design.
Students in the information security track focus on how the design of computer software relates to security risks and privacy issues. They study network and system vulnerabilities and the various methods that computer science professionals employ to neutralize threats and safeguard computer systems. SNHU alums in this area become innovative problem-solvers and offer a highly valuable skill set for virtually any technology-driven company.
Students in the software engineering track learn systematic approaches to creating software on time within the confines of a budget. They learn to write code, test software, follow secure programming procedures, and work with mobile software technologies. Required courses in this area include secure coding, mobile architecture, emerging systems technologies, and software reverse engineering. SNHU software engineering alums often find employment as software engineers, software developers, program analysts, and applications developers.
For admission to the online school, applicants must submit a completed online application, transcript release form, and the electronic attestation form. Prospective students do not need to submit their ACT or SAT scores for consideration.
Southern New Hampshire University holds regional accreditation from the New England Association of School and Colleges.
Saint Leo University
|Saint Leo, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 48%||
Established in 1889 in Florida, Saint Leo is a private, nonprofit university with Roman Catholic affiliation. Online students interested in developing commercial and industrial programs or computer systems can take advantage of the online bachelor's degree in computer science.
Saint Leo computer science majors learn how to develop technology used in scientific and engineering research. Students in computer science also earn a required specialization in information assurance. With this training, they acquire specialized skills in computer forensics, network security, and penetration testing. Students can then seek employment with universities, research labs, the government, or individual companies. Graduates often go on to hold positions as application software developers, computer researchers, embedded systems developers, and support programmers for scientific and engineering research.
Full-time students usually need four years to complete this 120-credit program, and required courses include software engineering, introduction to internet applications, artificial intelligence, database concepts and programming, and system administration.
Saint Leo offers online students a variety of services, including online clubs and student associations such as the computer science association and computer gamers club. The school also offers student advising, career services, internship searches, and networking opportunities.
Prospective students need to submit an online application, application fee, and high school transcripts. Those with scores from standardized exams such as the College Level Examination Program or Advanced Placement should submit their records at that time. Incoming students may transfer credits toward their bachelor's degree; the registrar reviews transfer applications and transcripts on a case-by-case basis and only accepts credits from regionally accredited colleges and universities.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges accredits Saint Leo University.
Dakota State University
|Madison, SD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 36%||
Dakota State University is a public university in Madison, South Dakota. Founded in 1881, the school serves approximately 3,300 students. DSU offers an online computer science degree that delivers an integrative approach to learning technical, computer programming, and business skills, ultimately preparing graduates for the diverse and competitive job market.
This 120-credit computer science degree takes full-time students approximately four years to complete, not including summer semesters. The curriculum focuses on programming languages, data structures, algorithms, software engineering and development, and computer hardware and architecture. Students may choose several electives and general education classes to help tailor their degree to fit their academic needs.
By taking courses through DSU's Center of Excellence in Computer Information Systems, students become problem-solvers with highly transferable knowledge. DSU students learn to meet the needs of today's demanding business and technology worlds by presenting computer science-driven solutions in virtually any industry. DSU alums hold positions such as software engineer, software developer, tech startup entrepreneur, penetration tester, and programmer.
DSU also offers valuable student services and resources. Outside the classroom, computer science majors participate in student-led interest groups such as computer club and gaming club. The department also hosts social and networking events, programming contests, and undergraduate research opportunities.
Applicants for the online computer science bachelor's degree should submit ACT or SAT scores and transcripts. Competitive applicants rank in the upper 60% of their high school graduating class with a 2.6 GPA or higher and possess at least an 18 or 950 on the ACT or SAT, respectively.
Dakota State University holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Florida Institute of Technology
|Melbourne, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 60%||
Located in Melbourne, Florida Institute of Technology is a private, nonprofit school established in 1958. Florida Tech offers an online computer science degree that enables its students to learn and apply foundational technical, business, and computing knowledge to develop solutions for modern, complex systems.
Over the span of 124 credit hours, Florida Tech students explore essential computer science theories and practices including programming languages, database and software systems, network design, decision analysis, and web systems analysis and design. As an added feature, this program includes management training to further prepare alums for careers in leadership. In addition to general education classes, computer science majors take required courses such as business computing skills, network theory and design, programming in Java, and advanced visual basics. Students also choose several electives to shape the curriculum to fit their needs.
Faculty deliver courses asynchronously, allowing online learners maximum scheduling flexibility. Students can work at their own pace and do not need to log into their Florida Tech accounts at any particular times. Rather, students complete weekly assignments using lecture videos, interactive media, and chat rooms and discussion boards with other students.
Applicants for the online computer science degree should submit official transcripts, standardized test results, a personal essay, and a letter of recommendation. Transcripts should reflect four years of high school coursework in math and science. Florida Tech expects students to understand basic-to-intermediate trigonometry, analytical geometry, physics, and chemistry. The university also takes into account applicants' extracurricular involvement in clubs, teams, academic competitions, research projects, and volunteer work.
Florida Institute of Technology-Online holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
|Chicago, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 71%||
Students have the option to earn a BS in computer science at DePaul University. This entirely online program combines training in mathematics, engineering, and science to offer a diverse and practical computer science curriculum. Students can also choose a concentration in game systems or software development.
Computer science majors master basic algorithm vocabulary, systems programming, and foundational business skills in approximately four years. They focus on cutting-edge topics such as human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, and computational finance. Alongside general education courses, students take required classes such as Python for programmers, distributed systems, data analysis, software projects, concepts of programming, and introduction to design.
Students must complete two capstone classes during their sophomore and senior years for graduation. Second-year students use the applied computing lab to practice advanced concepts at an early stage with the help of a professor. The fourth-year software capstone provides students with collaborative projects they complete together.
Incoming students need at least a 2.0 GPA and may transfer up to 30 credit hours toward a bachelor's degree. DePaul expects transfer students to boast at least one semester of Java or C++ training.
DePaul features a variety of student resources that support computer science majors. The Computer Science Society gives students opportunities to collaborate on research projects, explore new topics in the field, network with their colleagues, and participate in friendly competitions. Undergraduates can also attend events hosted by Studio Chi, which includes free lectures and research presentations on computing and the humanities.
The Higher Learning Commission accredits DePaul University.
|Beaumont, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 30%||
Located in Beaumont, Texas, Lamar University was established in 1923 and is part of the Texas State University System. LU offers an online computer science degree that covers essential topics such as information systems, programming theory, computer languages, and data structures. The program requires several credits in mathematics and lab science for graduation, and all online computer science majors need to pass the Educational Testing Service computer science field exam during their last semester.
LU offers concentrations in general computer science, game development, and bioinformatics. All students, regardless of specialty, need 121 credits to graduate. Required courses for all majors include internet programming, network system administration, artificial intelligence, and electrical analysis. LU alums often move on to positions as computer systems analysts, IT managers, web developers, and software developers.
LU offers helpful resources that support both on-campus and online students. Computer science majors in their first or second year receive academic advising, and third- and fourth-year students meet with advisers in their department for more field-specific academic guidance. Online students can also take advantage of LU's writing center, tutoring services, undergraduate research center, and veterans office.
Applicants must submit their ACT or SAT scores and official high school transcripts. They should also rank in the top 25% of their graduating class. Incoming computer science majors may transfer up to 66 credits earned at regionally accredited institutions.
Lamar University holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Interview with Brian Gill
Brian Gill is a computer scientist, entrepreneur, and angel investor. In 2004, he started Gillware Data Recovery and is a co-founder of Gillware Data Services (acquired by StorageCraft in 2016), Phoenix Nuclear Labs, and SHINE Medical Technologies. Most recently, Brian co-founded Gillware Digital Forensics, a startup focused on digital forensics, digital security, and incident response services.
- Why did you choose to earn a degree in computer science? Was this a field you were always interested in?
My parents bought me an IBM PCjr when I was about 10 years old, around 1986. We were growing up in a small, rural farming town in southern Wisconsin. This was an incredibly insightful purchase -- a large investment in both mine and my younger sibling's futures. My mom stayed at home with us and my father was probably making less than $20,000 per year, and yet they decided to spend $1,500 on a personal computer. Neither my dad or mom ever touched it; somehow, they had the understanding that computers and computer programming were going to be powerful assets for their kids.
My mom bought me a monthly newsletter subscription to a service that would send BASIC programs to be coded in the postal mail. We'd code the game and then play it; I remember hangman being a particularly fun one that we coded multiple times. We didn't have any hard disk or any way to store the games, so whenever we eventually lost power or had to turn it off, we'd lose the program and have to write it again next time we wanted to play it.
It was a pretty obvious move for me to seek my computer science degree from the University of Wisconsin. [I'm] still trying to be half as good a parent as mine were.
- What are some of the most crucial skills you gained in your studies that apply to your job on a day-to-day basis?
I vividly remember those early days of C and Java programming. C in particular was frustrating, as programs would just kind of explode and trying to figure out where the bug was could be incredibly difficult, especially if that bug was in memory management. I remember many times thinking to myself that this compiler was broken or the computer itself must have some hardware problem if my program keeps exploding, because obviously my program was perfect.
The best class I ever took at UW-Madison was a class in compilers. In that class, we defined a new programming language from scratch. We wrote all the language processing and had to make a compiler from scratch as well, including all the error handling and error messages. We learned about lexical and semantic analysis, op-codes, and stacks, and it was both incredibly frustrating and incredibly rewarding when it was finished.
The reason it was the best class I ever had was I left understanding that none of this was magic. My program exploded because it had a legitimate bug. The compiler was complaining about a syntax problem and it was smarter than me. None of this is magic; every bug can be fixed. Also, it left me with a huge confidence that I could learn any programming language easily. I wrote one and made the compiler that turned it into executable code -- of course I can learn dozens of programming languages.
- What was the job search like after completing your degree? Did you feel fully prepared when making the transition from school to the workplace?
UW-Madison was a program that was heavy on theory at the time. I had classes in algorithms and compilers and operating systems and artificial intelligence. I also had about 30 credits of math. While there was a lot of mental gymnastics to overcome, and I had a lot more experience coding than most of my peers from my hobby projects, I was pretty surprised about how little I knew about programming at a company with a large team of developers.
I needed to learn to actually design my code and not just start typing. I needed to learn about source code control and tagging. I needed to learn how to thoroughly test my code, and write code to test my code, so my peers wouldn't be negatively impacted by a nasty bug I checked in. I needed to learn about regression testing and making sure my new code didn't blow up some old process.
I also needed to learn how to accept constructive criticism and learn that my code isn't my sacred baby. If it sucks, I needed to hear why it sucked and that I needed to scrap it and start over.
- What are some of the challenges you face in your work on a day-to-day basis?
The biggest challenge when I was a professional software architect was balance. I wanted to be designing and writing code, but some other project that I had nothing to do with may have been blowing up in production and the company needed some fresh minds to look into the bug. Someone needed to deal with vendors and perform price negotiations for a database platform. Someone needed to spec out some hardware to make sure this website was really going to perform during a holiday push. Someone needed to mentor a young programmer. Someone needed to work with a business unit and gather requirements on a project that was of massive importance to the business unit. Someone needed to go to campus and meet with dozens of young computer scientists and recruit the next wave.
If you are a well-rounded person and personable and have any leadership skills, you are going to get pulled away from what you think you love to do sometimes. It can be what is best for the company and best for your career. I'll always look back at this part of my career fondly, but I don't regret that my career has taken me in some different directions.
- Why did you decide to start your own business?
I've never been a big fan of authority. While I had bosses who I respected, and I'm sure it isn't true, as a young professional I was always pretty sure I was about 10 times as smart as my managers. I had a similar thought process in third grade and probably in the womb. Irrational confidence and desire for independence.
But I was also out-hustling my professional peers. I'd be working 60 hours a week and one of my hours would produce five times the production of a normal hour from my peers. And, as a result, I'd get my 8% raise annually when I worked for traditional, large companies. They just were not set up to reward someone like me. It takes four years to become a team leader and there's people in line in front of you -- that kind of thing.
So, I bought a one-way plane ticket and flew out to San Francisco during the first internet boom. While I had a small amount of success at the startups I participated in, I knew they made a lot of mistakes, and [I] had that irrational confidence that I could do better.
My younger brother Tyler was getting his computer science degree from UW-Madison [and] had an idea to start a hard drive repair business, and we went for it.
- How has mentoring other programmers/computer science professionals changed your perspective on the field and/or computer science curriculums?
When I got out of school and into a career, my first thought was, "I wish they had some classes about programming in the real world." I was embarrassed I didn't know about GUIs, requirements gathering, source code control, and build processes. When I was mentoring young programmers, I'd often think about the same things -- "jeez, they don't teach any of this real world stuff in schools." And, I think in general, a lot of programs have heard that feedback and adapted.
Ultimately, I think it is probably the wrong move! Looking back at the more theoretical University of Wisconsin program, where you really get pushed to understand the core concepts of building an operating system from scratch or building a programming language from scratch, learning about logic gates and doing some CPU design ... it really sets you up to help drive what comes next in the world of computing.
There're thousands of people who can go to a tech school and learn Java and become proficient in a handful of years -- good enough to work some corporate job at a bank. A curriculum that drives bigger-picture thinking and fundamentals, the stuff that isn't directly used in some of those real world jobs, is a better longer-term investment for people who want bigger things from their careers.
- What advice would you give to students who are considering a degree in computer science?
Learn to program first. Buy a book and become a Java certified developer before you take even CS 101. If you love it and have a mind for it, you'll be able to get through a self-guided curriculum and know that you'll have the enthusiasm to make it through all the academics. More than that, while your peers in those classes are taking 10 hours to knock out a program and stumbling around with trying to understand what a "null pointer" means, you'll rock out working code in two hours and be able to spend your time thinking more about the theoretical stuff.
And, you might have time to start thinking about more entrepreneurial ideas. Might have time to work on your hobby projects, which to a savvy interviewer are a lot more important than any academic project you may code.
You also might find you absolutely detest programming -- don't have the patience to sit in front of a computer having a compiler kick your teeth in for five hours at a stretch. So, that $50 book will have saved you from a ton of time and effort and money getting into a highly competitive CS program! Great programmers have a streak of independence and a willingness to be self-taught. If you require an instructor to be jamming assignments down your throat in order to be successful, you'll never actually be successful.
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Computer Science Program?
Computer science is a broad field that can lead to numerous career paths depending on the school and online programs offered. Computer science focuses on the mathematical and theoretical basis of using calculations, such as algorithms, to process information. Therefore, students pursuing an online computer science (CS) degree should be comfortable with advanced math concepts. Computer science students are exposed to all aspects of the computing pipeline from hardware and software applications to the network configurations that connect those elements together.
CONCENTRATIONS OFFERED FOR AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN COMPUTER SCIENCE
|Concentration||Description||Careers This Concentration Prepares For|
|Software Engineering||Courses in a software engineering specialization are heavy focused on programming and design. Students enroll in electives such as game design and artificial intelligence.||Software engineers work in a wide variety of fields and design, test, and deploy software. They create the apps that people use on their cell phones and the systems that help launch rockets into space.|
|Network and Security||The network and security concentration in many online computer science programs focuses on the technology that keeps computer systems operating smoothly and safe from hackers, viruses, and other threats. Students learn the fundamentals of network architecture, theory, and protocols.||Network and security experts can pursue roles at almost any type of business. They are particularly in demand at organizations that need to protect sensitive data, such as financial and research institutions.|
|Game Development||One of the more creative specializations available in some online computer science degree programs is game development. This concentration covers the algorithms and technologies needed to create video games, as well as the research, marketing, and business models behind creating a successful gaming product.||Careers for game developers can be found in the entertainment industry, as well as in the education, military, and consumer product fields.|
CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE COMPUTER SCIENCE DEGREE
Most computer science online degree programs offer a liberal arts education that provides students with an overview of the field with a wide range of courses, while others stress the mathematical side and require classes in probability theory, statistics, and linear algebra and calculus. While no two schools will have the same curriculum for an online bachelor's in computer science, the following are common courses that can be found in any program:
- Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI courses provide an overview of how machines can interact with people, solve problems, and reason similar to humans. AI is an important aspect of careers in the robotics and gaming industries as well as in search engine design and medical diagnostics.
- Cryptography: Cryptography classes cover the techniques used to keep data secure, such as encryption, digital signatures, authentication, and zero-knowledge protocols. Experts in cryptography often work in IT departments and in industries that manage sensitive information, such as government, retail, and banking.
- Data Mining: Data mining courses teach methods used for accessing both clearly defined and unstructured data, such as pattern recognition, clustering, and text mining. Data scientists use data mining to gather information that can be translated into actionable ideas for better performance, such as analyzing the online viewing habits of consumers to improve the design of a website. The healthcare, hospitality, technology, and consumer industries all use data scientists to improve their services.
- Health Informatics: Health informatics classes teach students how computing applies to all aspects of healthcare delivery, including the design, implementation, and evaluation of clinical information systems. Courses often involve applying learned knowledge to a real-world clinical challenge. Students specializing in health informatics typically find careers in the medical and healthcare fields, as well as the insurance industry.
- Machine Learning: Machine learning courses delve into the statistics, linear algebra, and other methods used to teach a computer how to identify patterns in data and then adapt its behavior without being reprogrammed. Machine learning is an important skill used by statistical analysts, software engineers, and architects in a variety of fields from aerospace to entertainment.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE COMPUTER SCIENCE BACHELOR'S DEGREE?
Computer science online programs typically require students to complete 120 credit hours of work to earn a bachelor's degree. Some online computer science bachelor degree programs may require more credit hours, and students who do not have a strong background in math could find they need to take extra time to get up to speed in linear algebra and calculus. In general, most programs will take four years to complete for freshman applicants with no prior college experience. Full-time students who have earned an associate degree can often complete programs in two years, with some schools even offering accelerated one-year programs to students who have already earned a BA or BS in another subject.
Accreditation for Online Bachelor's in Computer Science Degrees
When choosing the best online schools for computer science, it is important to consider each school's accreditation status. Accreditation shows that the institution and the program have met rigorous standards set by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Both the ED and CHEA are agencies that establish and implement educational policies and standards so that all schools meet the same criteria for excellence. Both of these agencies hold educational institutions accountable and advocate for quality education, ensuring that your degree is worth the time and money you've invested in it.
Schools can be either regionally or nationally accredited. Programs with national accreditation are often considerably less expensive and will accept transfer units from a wider selection of schools. However, the majority of U.S. colleges are regionally accredited, which tends to have stricter qualifying standards, making it the preferred type of accreditation by many licensing boards. Graduate programs often only recognize undergraduate degrees from regionally accredited schools, which is something to keep in mind if an advanced degree is a part of your plan.
When searching for the right computer science online degree programs, look for accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) and its four commissions, particularly the Computing Accreditation Commission. Institutional accreditation should be from an agency recognized by the ED or CHEA. A list of recognized agencies and all accredited schools can be found on both the DOE and CHEA websites.
Employment Outlook for Computer Science Graduates
The job outlook is strong for college graduates with a bachelor's degree in computer science, particularly those with relevant work experience. BLS reports that the unemployment rate for college grads is 2.1% -- two percentage points below the national unemployment rate for high school graduates. Below, you can see the unemployment prospects for computer science majors measured against experienced graduates with degrees in other computer-related fields.
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||81,090|
|Computer and Information Analysts||207,890|
|Software Developers and Programmers||551,070|
|Database and Systems Administrators and Network Architects||133,280|
|Computer Hardware Engineers||17,050|
The BLS also notes that the computer and information technology industry is projected to grow by nearly 550,000 jobs between 2016 and 2026. This rapid growth ensures that skilled computer science degree-holders will have a wealth of job opportunities available to them in the years to come.
Earning a Living
College graduates with a degree in computer science enjoy much higher earning potential than colleagues with less education. The following table highlights the median salaries for associate and bachelor's degree-holding computer scientists during two key career stages.
|Degree||Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years)|
|Associate Degree in Computer Science||$41,900||$73,700|
|Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science||$74,000||$120,100|
According to the data, bachelor's holders outearned those with an associate degree by 76.6% at the entry-level mark and 62.9% at mid-career. It's also important to note that the entry-level annual earnings for bachelor's graduates is slightly higher than the mid-career salary for associate degree-holders
Naturally, the exact salary for a given position in the field will vary based on a number of factors, including specific job title, employer size, and location. Using data from PayScale, the next table examines the overall salary growth for five of the most popular career pathways for computer science professionals.
|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)|
|Information Systems (IS) Manager||$62,000||$78,000||$89,000||$99,000|
|Information Technology Specialist||$42,000||$52,000||$62,000||$75,000|
Career and Further Education Opportunities
Students who graduate from college with a bachelor's in computer science will be qualified for dozens of entry-level positions, as well as select supervisory roles that are normally reserved for well-educated candidates. Below, we've profiled four of the most common career pathways for professionals with a computer science degree.
- Computer Systems Specialists
Systems analysts develop computing systems based on the needs of their organization. They must carefully research their client's organizational structure in order to create efficient, user-friendly systems that optimize productivity.
Median Annual Salary - $88,270
Projected Growth Rate - 9%
- Software Developers
Software developers create, test, and evaluate applications, games, and other software-based programs, along with the systems and controls that enable these programs to function properly. They may also design models, diagrams, and flowcharts that instruct programmers how to write proper code sequences.
Median Annual Salary - $103,560
Projected Growth Rate - 24%
- Computer Network Architects
Computer Network Architects: Network architects design and develop different types of telecommunication networks. Most of their work is concentrated on local area networks, usually designed for a small number of users in a single location, or wide area networks, which can include many users in multiple locations. Additionally, they are often called upon to perform hardware and software upgrades.
Median Annual Salary - $104,650
Projected Growth Rate - 6%
- Computer and Information Systems (CIS) Managers
Also known as IT managers, CIS managers are responsible for the tech-based operations at large companies and organizations. Day-to-day duties usually entail a combination of programming, software development, data analysis, and business administration. They may also be tasked with completing a variety of maintenance and administrative tasks, like recruiting, interviewing, screening and hiring new employees, and answering technical questions from non-CIS employees.
Median Annual Salary - $139,220
Projected Growth Rate - 12%
Making professional connections is crucial to your career development, and 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 science professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates.
Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Computer Science
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 Computer Science Degrees of 2018
Ranking School Location 1 University of Florida Gainesville, FL 2 Florida State University Tallahassee, FL 3 Oregon State University Corvallis, OR 4 Regis University Denver, CO 5 University of Illinois at Springfield Springfield, IL 6 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD 7 Thomas Edison State University Trenton, NJ 8 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS 9 National University La Jolla, CA 10 Concordia University-Saint Paul St. Paul, MN 11 Central Methodist University Fayette, MO 12 Florida Institute of Technology Melbourne, FL 13 California Baptist University Riverside, CA 14 California State University-Monterey Bay Seaside, CA 15 University of Maryland-University College Adelphi, MD 16 Troy University Troy, AL 17 Old Dominion University Norfolk, VA 18 Dakota State University Madison, SD 19 Saint Leo University Saint Leo, FL 20 DePaul University Chicago, IL 21 Auburn University Auburn, AL 22 University of the People Pasadena, CA 23 Eastern New Mexico University Portales, NM 24 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH 25 Lewis University Romeoville, IL
- Best Online Computer Science Degrees of 2017
Rank School Location 1 University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN 2 Colorado State University-Global Campus Greenwood Village, CO 3 Northeastern University Global Network Boston, MA 4 University of Massachusetts-Lowell Lowell, MA 5 University of Florida-Online Gainesville, FL 6 Brigham Young University-Idaho Rexburg, ID 7 University of Illinois at Springfield Springfield, IL 8 Pennsylvania State University-World Campus University Park, PA 9 Oregon State University Corvallis, OR 10 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS 11 Western Governors University Salt Lake City, UT 12 Kennesaw State University Kennesaw, GA 13 LeTourneau University Longview, TX 14 Champlain College Burlington, VT 15 Georgia Southern University Statesboro, GA 16 University of Maryland-University College Adelphi, MD 17 Excelsior College Albany, NY 18 Bellevue University Bellevue, NE 19 Old Dominion University Norfolk, VA 20 Regis University Denver, CO 21 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH 22 Saint Leo University Saint Leo, FL 23 Western Kentucky University Bowling Green, KY 24 Dakota State University Madison, SD 25 City University of Seattle Seattle, WA
- Best Online Computer Science Degrees of 2016
Rank School Location 1 University of Illinois at Springfield Springfield, IL 2 Regis University Denver, CO 3 Troy University Troy, AL 4 Old Dominion University Norfolk, VA 5 Oregon State University Corvallis, OR 6 Florida State University Tallahassee, FL 7 Mercy College Dobbs Ferry, NY 8 National University La Jolla, CA 9 Southern University and A&M College Baton Rouge, LA 10 Franklin University Columbus, OH