We've ranked the best online bachelor's degrees and best online master's degrees in computer science, based on tuition and alumni salary data provided by PayScale. An online computer science degree can give graduates the theoretical, mathematical, and analytical foundation necessary to succeed in various careers with high salary expectations in rapidly growing industries. Because these jobs are so popular, they are also highly competitive. Graduates of online computer science degree programs likely possess a powerful combination of education, skills and experience that will impress recruiters and give these candidates a signficant advantage over self-educated applicants.
2020 Best Online Colleges Offering Bachelor's in Computer Science Degrees
The following 23 schools offer the best online bachelor's in computer science degrees, based on their low tuition rates and high mid-career salary potentials. Graduates of the #1-ranked school, Weber State University, earn a median salary of $113,100 after earning their Bachelor of Integrated Studies - Computer Science. Fort Hays State University, ranked #2, offers the lowest annual tuition at only $6,560.
Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.
The Bachelor of Integrated Studies degree at Weber State University is an online, customizable program that offers an interdisciplinary approach in which students choose three areas of academic emphasis to create a curriculum that suits their personal and professional goals. Emphases are available in child and family studies, computer science, health administrative services, health promotion, health sciences, nutrition, and professional sales; each focus area requires a minimum of 18 credit hours. The computer science emphasis requires a total of 28 credit hours, including four required courses (16 hours) and three electives (12 hours). The curriculum explores the basics of computing, programming, and algorithms and data structures. To graduate, students must finish a capstone project that combines the three areas of academic concentration. Weber's faculty maintains close ties with industry leaders, who advise on curriculum standards. Students must maintain a minimum 2.7 GPA to stay in the program, with a grade of C or higher in each class. The program, which is offered through Canvas, has multiple start dates so that students can begin at their convenience. Computer science graduates from Weber have gone on to work at high-profile companies in the public and private sectors. Online students at Weber have access to an academic coach for support. Prospective students apply online and must submit transcripts from all previously attended schools and an application fee. While test scores are not required, they will be used in consideration for math and English class placement.
#2 Fort Hays State University
Annual Tuition: $6,560
Median Salary: $109,500
Locations: Hays (KS)
The Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree at Fort Hays State University is offered on campus as well as entirely online for students looking for a flexible way to earn their degree. This program provides students the opportunity to learn the skills they need for careers in software development, networking, database management, design, cybersecurity, and more. The curriculum is divided into three sections: general education cognates, required networking cognates, and major courses. The general education cognate includes fundamentals in mathematics such as algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and statistics. The networking cognates cover web development, database design, and programming. Major courses include a variety of programming language courses. The coursework is facilitated through the Blackboard online learning platform. Online students have access to Smarthinking, a web-based resource offering tutoring and career support services. Applicants must complete the Kansas Qualified Admissions Pre-College Curriculum with a minimum GPA of 2.0 (2.5 for out-of-state students). Prospective students must also submit ACT or SAT scores, although this requirement may be waived if they graduate in the top third of their class. Transfer students must possess a 2.0 or higher GPA in college coursework. Those with fewer than 24 completed credits must also complete the requirements for freshman admission.
#3 University of Maryland Global Campus
Annual Tuition: $14,970
Median Salary: $110,700
Locations: Adelphi (MD)
The Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree at the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) offers a highly flexible way for students to earn their degree remotely. This program is best suited for students who already have experience in computer programming, whether professionally or through personal training. This online computer science degree program provides students with the skills needed for career opportunities in software engineering or architecture, application design, systems analysis, programming, and engineering. Graduates have gone on to explore career opportunities in both the corporate and government sectors of the technology industry. In addition to a strong liberal arts curriculum, students will study programming, algorithms, data structure and analysis, and computer and operating systems. UMGC students have access to a variety of online services and resources, including academic advising, career planning, tutoring, and research databases. The Effective Writing Center is available for assistance with research and writing. Prospective students should apply online and submit transcripts from all previously attended schools. There is no SAT or ACT requirement. Military and federal applicants have a separate application process that requires confirmation of employment or current enlistment status. Advisors from the University of Maryland Global Campus will connect with all applicants if additional credentials are required to complete the admissions process.
#4 Florida International University
Annual Tuition: $10,376
Median Salary: $105,800
Locations: Miami (FL)
Accreditation: SACS COC
The Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science degree at Florida International University equips students with the skills needed for jobs in the technology field. This online computer science program is appropriate for students looking to pursue career opportunities in digital information systems, database management, and computer programming. It offers a skills-based computer and technology education that does not require as many math and science courses as a Bachelor of Science degree. In addition to the flexibility offered as a remote program, the curriculum permits students to combine their technical skills with another degree emphasis. Students can combine their computer science focus with classes in economics, business, digital media, and other areas to obtain an interdisciplinary education that may increase their career opportunities after graduation. Classes are facilitated through Canvas. Students have access to a variety of online resources, including academic advising, tutoring, writing support, career planning, disability services, and counseling. Students may begin their program in the spring, fall, or summer. First-year applicants can submit an online application and must provide SAT/ACT scores, official transcripts, and residency documentation. Transfer students must submit any transcripts from previously attended colleges. For those transferring with fewer than 60 credits, a high school transcript and test scores are also required. Admissions advisors are available to help throughout the application process.
#5 Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus
Annual Tuition: $7,492
Median Salary: $103,600
Locations: Portales (NM)
The Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree program at Eastern New Mexico State University is well suited for students with a strong math background and an interest in problem-solving. This program aims to equip students with the technology skills needed to pursue professional opportunities in software engineering, systems analysis, computer programming, and database management. Graduates of this program have found employment in a variety of industries, such as business, government, and technology. The online bachelor's computer science degree can be completed through fully online, asynchronous coursework. Students can watch recorded lectures at their convenience through Blackboard and Mediasite, where they can also upload assignments and receive feedback from professors. The classes in this program are kept small to facilitate a close-knit learning community and include plenty of interaction between faculty and students. Eastern New Mexico State University offers a variety of resources for online students, including the Online Writing Center (a tutoring resource), online library databases, and a librarian dedicated to the needs of remote students. Career Services offers career development and job placement support for those seeking professional opportunities in the computer science field after graduation. Prospective students should fill out an online application form. Students enrolling directly from high school must provide transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. Applicants over the age of 25 should apply through the adult learner admissions process. Transfer students must submit transcripts from all previously attended schools.
#6 Mercy College
Annual Tuition: $18,934
Median Salary: $105,500
Locations: Dobbs Ferry (NY)
Mercy College hosts an online Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. The degree requires 120 credit hours, which taken full-time, can be completed in four years. Online courses at Mercy College use Blackboard learning management software; students may attend workshops to understand how to use online tools. Students may also seek technical assistance through Mercy's IT Help Desk. Class sizes in the BS in Computer Science program are kept small, and students will get hands-on practice in several programming languages, including C++ and Java. Students will take a mix of foundation courses, major courses, and may select from dozens of unique electives. Seniors will complete a software engineering capstone project. Mercy College has been recognized as a Military Friendly School and a Hispanic Serving Institution. Students may transfer up to 75 credits from a two-year institution, and 90 credits from a four-year institution. To apply, interested students should submit an application and provide official transcripts.
#7 Franklin University
Annual Tuition: $12,338
Median Salary: $99,700
Locations: Columbus (OH)
Computer science majors at Franklin University have an entirely online degree option. The Bachelor of Science in Computer Science is a 124-credit program with a curriculum that includes general education courses, major courses, a professional core, and electives. Students engage in team-based simulation experiences over the course of three different capstone requirements. Online classes employ an asynchronous format, but students are expected to schedule virtual meetings for group projects. Many of the capstone tasks are extremely complicated, requiring a high level of planning and coordination. Distance learning resources include free tutoring and writing support, a personal academic advisor, and access to library databases. A one-hour new student orientation program is offered online. Individuals with prior college credit may transfer up to 94 credits to their undergraduate degree at Franklin. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, and students may work with an admissions advisor for assistance in the process. To apply for an online bachelor's degree, students must submit official transcripts from high school and prior college attendance (if applicable).
#8 Florida Atlantic University
Annual Tuition: $21,595
Median Salary: $102,300
Locations: Boca Raton (FL)
Accreditation: SACS COC
The Bachelor of Science in Computer Science at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) is available entirely online for working professionals and busy adults. The upper-division coursework is available online and requires two years to complete. Online students at FAU receive many of the same benefits as on-campus students, including access to the FAU Library's resources, career services, academic advising, tutoring (virtual), and the Center for Learning and Student Success. FAU also offers a number of programs approved by the VA for military students. The BS in Computer Science is hosted by the College of Engineering and Computer Science. The curriculum includes a broad selection of topics in the field, such as mobile system development, social networks, video game design, artificial intelligence, and programming languages. The online platform for course content is facilitated through Canvas learning management. Class delivery combines asynchronous tools and synchronous, real-time classes using WebEx conferencing software. Individuals interested in the online BS in Computer Science should have at least a 2.5 GPA from previous coursework. All lower-division requirements should already be completed, either through an associate degree at a Florida community college or another institution. Many, though not all, lower-division courses are available online as well. 120 total credit hours are required to graduate from FAU. Applicants should submit a completed application (with fee), official transcripts, and ACT or SAT scores.
#9 Western Governors University
Annual Tuition: $6,750
Median Salary: $96,300
Locations: Multiple Locations
Western Governors University (WGU) has two online degree options for future information computer science professions: a 38-course Bachelor of Science in Cloud Computing and a 34-course Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. Both programs include courses in IT fundamentals, web development, network and security, business, programming, communication, data management, information assurance, and software. The BS in Cloud Computing includes additional coursework in cloud technologies and virtualization; this program requires a final written capstone project. The BS in Computer Science includes additional coursework in data manipulation and computer science. WGU only provides online programs and follows a competency-based education model, allowing students to progress through the program at their own pace. As such, individuals can skip ahead if they complete a course early. Competency is measured through the completion of tests, papers, projects, and different kinds of assessments. Online students work with a program mentor for help in degree planning. Students can receive one-on-one support from faculty if needed. To apply, students can work with an enrollment counselor to navigate the admissions process. Interested candidates complete an application (with fee), submit official transcripts, and schedule an intake interview.
#10 National University
Annual Tuition: $16,650
Median Salary: $93,200
Locations: La Jolla (CA)
National University hosts an online Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. Courses through National University provide content asynchronously, using web-based tools including discussion boards, recorded lectures, and assigned readings. Faculty members may be contacted through instant messaging and email. National University is a designated Yellow Ribbon school, providing additional accommodations for military students. The BS in Computer Science follows a four-week class schedule and covers topics in programming, data structures, operating systems, software engineering, and computer architecture. A Computer Science Transition Program is available for students interested in combining their bachelor's degree with a Master of Science. The full program requires 180 quarter credits and includes two classes designated toward a final senior project. All online students attend a virtual orientation and have access to tutoring, career services, and an academic advisor. Individuals may also use virtual materials from the library and work with an online reference assistant. To apply, incoming first-year students should have a minimum 2.0 high school GPA. Candidates should submit a completed application and official transcripts.
#11 University of Colorado Boulder
Annual Tuition: $24,750
Median Salary: $96,300
Locations: Boulder (CO)
The University of Colorado's Boulder campus (UC Boulder) offers prospective computer science students an online Bachelor of Science in Applied Computer Science. Available through the College of Engineering and Applied Science, the program is designed for professionals who already have a bachelor's degree. The BS in Applied Computer Science is for individuals seeking a career change and prepares them to enter the computer science professional field. The program requires 45 credit hours to complete and shares the same faculty as the on-campus computer science classes. Online students follow a flexible schedule, with additional support from academic advisors and course assistants. Content is asynchronous, using tools like articles, case studies, online discussion forums, and videos. But classes are not self-paced and require weekly study and assignments. Students with prior college-level computer science credit may transfer up to 15 credits toward the program. There are three start dates each year, in spring, summer, or fall. To be considered for admission, individuals must have a completed bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA. The application packet includes an application form (with fee), a personal statement, two letters of recommendation, and official transcripts.
#12 Troy University
Annual Tuition: $10,140
Median Salary: $90,400
Locations: Troy (AL)
Accreditation: SACS COC
Computer Science majors at Troy University may consider the online Bachelor of Science in Applied Computer Science. This is a four-year, 120-credit hour program with five sessions each year. Students typically take two classes at a time. Areas covered include data structures, programming, networking, security, and software development. Elective credits include an internship opportunity and even a study abroad option should students wish to take computer science classes from another country. Troy's online platform, eTroy, provides its students resources through the John W. Schmidt Center for Student Success. Online learners may utilize academic advisors, career counselors, and get writing and research assistance. Students may also use resources from Troy's library system, include a live chat tool to speak with a librarian directly. eTroy content is asynchronous, relying on discussion boards and posted videos via the Canvas learning management system. To apply, incoming freshmen should submit a completed application, an official high school transcript (with a 2.0 GPA requirement), and official ACT or SAT scores. Students over the age of 25 are exempt from submitting test scores. Students with at least 24 credits of prior college experience may apply as transfer students.
#13 Southern New Hampshire University Online
Annual Tuition: $9,600
Median Salary: $88,700
Locations: Manchester (NH)
Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) Online has three degree programs for computer science majors seeking an online bachelor's degree: a 120-credit Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (with concentrations in Information Security, Software Engineering, and Data Analysis), a 120-credit Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity (with concentrations in Data Analytics and Project Management), and a 120-credit Bachelor of Science in Information Technologies (with concentrations in Data Analytics and Software Development). The BS in Computer Science and BS in Information Technologies include a 150-hour internship component to gain field experience. The latter also includes an option to become a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM). Individuals in an online program at SNHU receive access to the Online Writing Center, career services, tutoring, academic advising, and 24/7 technical assistance. Programs are delivered asynchronously, with 24/7 access to course materials. Applicants with prior college credit may transfer up to 90 credits toward the online computer science degrees. Students may apply for four start dates each year, and the application is free. SNHU will request transcripts directly from institutions on behalf of students.
#14 Wayland Baptist University
Annual Tuition: $12,834
Median Salary: $89,000
Locations: Plainview (TX)
Accreditation: SACS COC
Wayland Baptist University Online (WBU Online) has a Bachelor of Applied Science in Computer Science. WBU Online's content is delivered asynchronously, allowing students to study and complete assignments around their own schedules. The BAS program is designed for individuals with technical certifications or occupational training from either military schools or professional experience. This is a 124-credit program, which includes a 12-credit professional development block and 44 credits of general education requirements. A senior seminar is also required before graduating. Classes are hosted by Blackboard's learning management system and operate in four, 11-week terms each year. Students accepted into an online program at WBU have access to an academic advisor, counseling services, virtual tutoring, and career services. Interested candidates can preview an online class for free. Applicants may be awarded credit for prior experience. The application process requires a completed form (with fee) and official, applicable transcripts.
#15 Saint Leo University Online
Annual Tuition: $11,100
Median Salary: $86,900
Locations: St. Leo (FL)
Accreditation: SACS COC
Saint Leo University Online hosts a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, a 120-credit program that includes a required concentration in Information Assurance. Students develop their programming skills with classes in Python, Java, and C++. They'll also study fundamentals in artificial intelligence, database concepts, computer forensics, and network security. Classes provide simulated environments in which students develop real-world fixes. A computer science capstone is required and an internship is optional. Course content is facilitated through D2L's Brightspace learning management system. Saint Leo's online students have access to support services including career services, peer advisors, and resources through the Daniel A. Cannon Memorial Library. Computer science majors may join Upsilon Pi Epsilon, an honor society for students in the field. Undergraduate courses have six start dates throughout the year. To apply, individuals should submit a completed application, official transcripts, standardized examination scores, and any documentation from professional training or certifications. Graduates are welcome to attend their graduation ceremonies on campus.
#16 Park University
Annual Tuition: $12,450
Median Salary: $83,400
Locations: Parkville (MO)
Park University offers prospective computer science majors an entirely online Bachelor of Science in Information and Computer Sciences. Park University's online courses are facilitated through Canvas learning management software and recognized by Quality Matters. Individuals may customize their degree with one of five concentrations: Computer Science, Data Management, Information Technology, Networking and Security (which includes preparation for the Cisco Certified Network Associate exam), and Software Development. Online classes operate in five, eight-week terms. The full degree requires 120 credit hours and encourages students to seek internship placements to practice in the field. Park University has 41 campus centers across the U.S., and online students are welcome to enroll in an on-campus class for a more traditional experience. But even fully online students have access to virtual tutoring, career services, IT assistance, and disability accommodations. Additional services are available for active duty and veteran students. To apply, candidates should submit a completed application (with fee) and official transcripts.
#17 Old Dominion University
Annual Tuition: $12,210
Median Salary: $81,500
Locations: Norfolk (VA)
Accreditation: SACS COC
Old Dominion University (OSU) offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science through its distance learning platform, ODU Online. The BS in Computer Science is available as a degree completion program or a full bachelor's degree. The degree completion program requires that students complete at least 30 credits from ODU. The full BS in Computer Science is a 120-credit program. Departmental required areas of study include software engineering, programming languages, data structures, discrete structures, and professional development. While most coursework is asynchronous, students are still expected to complete assignments and meet due dates. Some instructors do schedule live, online meeting times. Most classes utilize web-based discussion boards and recorded lectures; content is housed via the Blackboard learning management platform. Instructors have virtual office hours for students to engage and ask questions. Students with technical issues have 24/7 IT support. Additionally, online learners may access academic advising and virtual tutoring. Transfer students can receive a free credit evaluation to determine what credits may be awarded toward the degree. To apply, candidates should submit a completed application and official transcripts. ODU Online has enrollment counselors ready to help with the process.
#18 Dakota State University
Annual Tuition: $13,825
Median Salary: $81,700
Locations: Madison (SD)
Dakota State University (DSU) has an online Bachelor of Science in Computer Science offered through the Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences. The degree requires at least 120 credit hours and has two available concentrations in Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning and Software Engineering. Subject areas include parallel computing, programming languages, algorithms, and data structures. Individuals interested in an accelerated master's option may be eligible for a 4+1 BS/MS program. Online courses have no scheduled classes, so students may complete assignments on their own time. Content is managed through D2L learning management software. Students pursuing an online degree from DSU may use resources from the Karl Mundt Library, including a live chat feature. There are also additional resources for veterans. To apply, interested individuals should submit a completed online application (with fee). Additional enrollment support is available through the Office of Online Education. Students may apply for sessions in the spring, summer, or fall.
#19 Liberty University
Annual Tuition: $12,090
Median Salary: $78,300
Locations: Lynchburg (VA)
Accreditation: SACS COC
Computer Science majors seeking an online degree at Liberty University may select the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, with a concentration in Cybersecurity. This is a 121-credit program delivered over 3.5 years. Classes run in eight-week sessions and are entirely online. Course subjects emphasize mathematics, programming languages, software development, and network security. Individuals also receive special training in modern cryptography and database management. Liberty University is designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education by both the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security. Liberty is also recognized as a Military Friendly institution. Online students have access to Liberty's IT Help Desk, an online writing center, free e-tutoring, free Adobe software products, and resources from the Jerry Falwell Library. Online learning is hosted through Blackboard's learning management software and employs asynchronous methods, such as discussion boards and pre-recorded materials. Students complete work at their own pace. To apply, individuals need only submit a completed application and official, applicable transcripts.
#20 DePaul University
Annual Tuition: $32,095
Median Salary: $85,900
Locations: Chicago (IL)
The online Bachelor of Computer Science at DePaul University is a degree completion program designed for transfer students who have completed at least 30 completed semester hours of college credit and at least one semester of Java or C++. The degree is housed in the College of Computing and Digital Media. DePaul University's online classes mirror the on-campus versions, sharing the same faculty members and support resources. The BS in Computer Science is a 33-credit hour program delivered over three years. Areas of study include data structures, LSP learning domain, technical writing, and Python. Seniors are expected to complete a capstone requirement and an experiential learning activity. The capstone is a 10-week, team-based software project. Students are assigned an academic advisor, use digital resources from the library, and have access to technical assistance, virtual tutoring, and career services. Courses are hosted through D2L's learning management system, in which students engage on discussion boards, access readings, and take quizzes and exams. Interested candidates must have a minimum 2.0 GPA and be in good standing with their previous institution. Students should submit a completed application and official transcripts. Applications are accepted for fall, winter, spring, and summer terms.
#21 Thomas Edison State University
Annual Tuition: $9,856
Median Salary: $72,900
Locations: Trenton (NJ)
Thomas Edison State University offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science. This curriculum blends a liberal arts core with fundamental computer science classes. Areas of study include computer architecture, data structures, programming, and operating systems. There is also a broad range of unique elective topics for degree customization. The full BA in Computer Science includes 60 credits of general education courses, 39 credits of major study, 18 credits of computer science electives, and 21 credits of general electives. Along with a three-credit liberal arts capstone requirement, graduates must meet at least 120 credit hours. Online classes run in 12-week sessions with delivery method options to accommodate different learning styles. Students may participate in more virtual classroom interaction or practice more independent study. Online learners have access to disability accommodations, academic advising, and an IT Help Desk. Additional resources are available for active military and veteran students. Individuals with prior college credit, military training, or professional licensure may be awarded transfer credit. To apply, individuals should complete an online application and submit official transcripts and a portfolio of professional experience.
#22 Florida State University
Annual Tuition: $20,581
Median Salary: $76,300
Locations: Tallahassee (FL)
Accreditation: SACS COC
Florida State University offers two online computer science majors, either the Bachelor of Arts of the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. The online platform, Distance@FSU, uses Canvas learning management software for its content. Both programs are available through the College of Arts and Sciences and require 120 credit hours. The curriculum covers programming languages, database structure, computer organization, and operating systems. Students will be exposed to several programming languages, including C++, Java, HTML, and Lisp. Students in the BS program will receive a minor in mathematics. The BA program requires an additional nine credits of history or humanities courses and an additional discrete mathematics course. BA students also complete a minor of their choosing. Interested candidates must have already earned an Associate of Arts, as the Office of Distance Learning's online-only coursework is upper-level. Transfer students should already have accomplished the lower-level liberal arts requirements. Online students work with program mentors to help them navigate time management and study techniques. Participants in the Distance@FSU programs may also work with an academic advisor and receive support through the Career Center. Interested applicants must have a 2.65 GPA for prior college credit. To apply, prospective students should send in a completed application form, official high school and college transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, additional standardized test scores if applicable, and a personal statement. Florida State University is a designated Yellow Ribbon School.
#23 Davenport University
Annual Tuition: $15,570
Median Salary: $67,500
Locations: Grand Rapids (MI)
The online Bachelor of Science program from Davenport University has three available concentrations: Artificial Intelligence, Computer Theory and Algorithms, and Gaming and Simulation. The 120-credit curriculum instructs in database design, programming, discrete structures, and network security. Seniors are required to complete a computer science capstone project. There is also an optional minor in Mathematics. While most courses are delivered asynchronously, some courses are available in a real-time format, with a scheduled class time. Virtual classrooms use a tool called Real Time Online. Content is managed through Blackboard's platform, which houses all assignments, quizzes, and threaded discussions. Online students receive support from an academic advisor, career services, resources through the Davenport University libraries (including a live chat feature), and virtual tutoring. There are additional support services specifically for active military students and veterans. To apply, incoming freshmen should submit a completed application, official high school transcripts, and ACT or SAT scores. Transfer and adult students may take the Accuplacer exam in lieu of standardized test scores.
Meet Online Grad Jeffrey Richley
Jeffrey Richley is a former online college graduate working as a Chief Data Scientist. Jeff began his undergraduate education in the 90s, finished his bachelor's degree in computer science at Liberty University in 2018, and is currently pursuing his master's in computer science at Georgia Tech with a specialization in computational perception and robotics.
To learn more about the best online computer science programs, check out our 2020 rankings. Otherwise, continue reading for advice from online student Jeffrey Richley!
Can you tell us a bit about how you decided on an online program versus an on-campus program?
Frankly with me, it was the only option that I had found. I had stopped school back in '94, and I had attempted quite a few times at different locations to start back up. Everywhere I talked to said "You have to start from scratch." That wasn't going to work. It wasn't financially or time feasible.
Liberty's online program was really the only place that had offered something that was actually feasible to do. That's why I chose that for my bachelor's. For my master's I had a friend going through the Georgia Tech program and I was helping him with a lot of his classes. That got me interested.
What kinds of advice or caution would you offer to a prospective online student who wanted to study computer science?
Make sure that you're doing it because you really are interested in the subject and not because you've heard that you can make tons of money with it. Computer science, and just programming in general, is super easy for the people that it comes naturally to. For the people that struggle with it, it is going to be a struggle and grind forever. If anyone ever asked me about getting into the computer science world, I always ask them "Why?"
What personality traits do you think a student should have in order to be successful in an online computer science program?
To start with the online part, they've got to be a self starter. They've got to be organized. This is not a world where someone needs to make sure you're in class. A lot of times the lectures are taped, they give you a syllabus, tell you when things are due, and let you go. It's not for somebody that needs to be coddled. That kind of person would struggle greatly.
The other thing is curiosity. You could go through the classes and just do what they say. You can get a good grade. But you need to be curious about what's really going on, and dig further, and understand why, as opposed to what.
How did your online degree impact your career goals? What was the motivation behind going back for a master's degree?
I'm in civil service. I quickly advanced up through the ranks, and then just hit a stopping point where there was no more progression. I found out that people weren't even wanting to give me interviews because I didn't have a bachelor's degree. I've even been told, "Hey, you were the best on paper, but you didn't have the degree. So our policy is we don't interview you." In order for me to really even get a lateral position, I had to get the bachelor's degree.
Do you think computer science is a subject that can be successfully studied online?
Absolutely. It's probably one of the easier ones to do online.
Online Computer Science Degree Overview & Career Information
With computer science degrees in high demand, online degrees are a flexible, affordable, accessible, and high-quality choice for those in or entering the technology field. There are many online degree options, and students can find a program to suit nearly any budget. It's important to keep in mind that the most expensive programs can offer the most financial aid.
Online associate degrees and certificates in computer science will help prepare graduates for entry-level technical positions and further education. Students will learn the basics and fundamentals of computer science such as programming languages and computer architectures. However, in order to advance into a higher-level computer science career, candidates should complete a bachelor’s degree.
An online bachelor's degree is often sufficient for most computer science careers. Students will learn how to develop, design, and test computer software, hardware, and networks through hands-on programming projects. These undergraduate degrees will help equip students with the training they need for a wide range of technical roles.
An online master's can help open opportunities for research, development, and a PhD program, making graduates more competitive in the job market. This is a great option for students who have a strong interest in the theories and languages associated with computer science as well as students who want a deeper understanding of a computer science specialization.
To earn a doctoral degree in computer science, students must commit several years and participate in original research studies to keep them on the cutting edge of computer science. A PhD in computer science can help lead to careers in teaching and research at four-year colleges and universities as well as high-level computer science jobs and management positions.
Online Bachelor's Degrees in Computer Science
An online bachelor’s degree in computer science helps train students in the fundamental concepts underlying today’s information technology and software engineering. A computer science degree helps prepare students with skills necessary to learn other computer languages easily and keep up with rapidly changing technologies. Upon graduation, students should be able to apply knowledge and theory to real-world problems in the workforce.
Applicants typically must have a high school diploma or the equivalent and standardized college entrance exam scores to qualify for an online bachelor's program. To graduate, students should expect to complete around 120 semester credit hours over the course of 4 years. The tuition for online bachelor's programs varies widely, with schools charging anywhere from $6,000 to $47,000 per year.
Students pursuing online bachelor’s degrees should expect to understand the theory and organization of computer systems. Most computer science programs include core classes that cover computer programming, operating systems, web design, data structures, algorithms, and logic & computation. Some schools may place an additional emphasis on mathematics and require classes such as statistics, probability, discrete math, and calculus. Besides the foundational courses, students also complete advanced courses and possibly a computer science specialization. Advanced courses discuss topics like computer networking, data networks, computer architecture, and machine learning. Specializations require a focused set of courses in computer science, such as software engineering, networking, or database administration.
A bachelor’s degree in computer science can help open up a number of entry-level positions, such as computer programmer, systems analyst, data scientist, systems or network administrator, web developer, computer support specialist, software developer, and database administrator. Graduates who participate in an internship during the degree can narrow down their skill set to prepare for a particular type of position upon graduation.
Accreditation for Online Computer Science Degrees
Prospective computer science students are encouraged to select an online degree program that has received accreditation from a national or regional accrediting organization. Accreditation is a comprehensive evaluation process that schools and programs may choose to go through to let the public know that they meet established standards of excellence. Programs are evaluated based on their curricula, faculty members, research programs, and student resources, among other things.
Programmatic accreditation is not required for computer science degrees, but this credential can be a useful sign of a high-quality program. While accreditation is not required for computer scientists, the designation may help boost your resume when applying for jobs. Students can also consider programs offered by schools that are nationally or regionally accredited. Legitimate accrediting agencies should always be recognized by the US Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
Accreditation may also be beneficial if you plan to transfer credits to another accredited school or apply for federal financial aid. Most schools and financial assistance programs require applicants to attend an accredited school. To learn more about accreditation, please visit our comprehensive accreditation hub.
Do I Need a Computer Science Certification?
Earning a professional certification in the computer science field has the potential to help recent graduates as well as seasoned professionals in the field. For a recent graduate, certification may provide a foundation for a career path. For experienced computer scientists, certification verifies proficiency in a specialization and strengthens professional credentials.
For those in the computer science field, especially software developers, there are two main types of certification: CSDA (Certified Software Development Associate) and CSDP (Certified Software Development Professional).
The CSDA is for individuals who are newer to the field. Earning a CSDA as an entry-level employee signals to potential employers that the certificate recipient has a comprehensive understanding of the concepts, principles, and techniques of software development and design.
The CSDP, in contrast, is for those who have already completed at least two years of professional experience. This certification indicates that recipients are proficient in software engineering requirements, software engineering design, software engineering construction, and software engineering testing. The CSDP requires a final examination that takes place online, and contains 160 questions.
Both of these certifications are offered through the IEEE Computer Society and require that applicants take an exam to demonstrate their proficiency.
Microsoft also offers over 230 computer software and systems operations certification. Certification types include fundamentals, role-based, specialty, and Microsoft-specific certs such as:
Microsoft Certified Educator (MCE)
Microsoft Solutions Associate (MCSA)
Microsoft Solutions Developer (MCSD)
Microsoft Solutions Expert (MCSE)
Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS)
Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA)
For answers to frequently asked questions and to learn more about the different types of certification offered, visit the Microsoft Learning site.
What is the Best Specialization in Computer Science?
Computer science is a rapidly growing field with with a number of sub-fields to specialize in. Read on to learn about some of the most popular computer science specializations and examples of related coursework within each field.
Students studying computer science can specialize in artificial intelligence, or AI. Through this course of study, students develop an understanding of machine-learning techniques that can be applied to independent computing systems. Subjects such as robotics, statistical programming, and natural language processing are covered in the coursework.
A specialization in artificial intelligence allows computer scientists to work professionally on every day systems like home security systems, energy grid control systems, and automated lighting or thermal control systems, as well as more cutting-edge systems.
Cybersecurity is an example of a specialization within the field of computer science. It requires a thorough understanding of best practices in security management, as well as the principles pertaining to ethical hacking. Cybersecurity specialists work to address potential breaches in the protective measures in place to secure data and confidential information.
Students who choose to specialize in cybersecurity learn how to implement multi-layered security architecture for the protection of data and networks, as well as a comprehensive understanding of cryptography, risk management, and security authentication and authorization.
Computer Networking and Telecommunications
Computer networking and telecommunications is an area of specialization that computer science students can pursue through certain degree programs. This field covers the design, application, and management of linking systems between one or more computers and associated software.
Students learn about network architecture and data communications, as well as advanced routing, and local area network (LAN) switching. Computer networking and telecommunications specialists are also concerned with security, and must be familiar with protective measures of information systems.
Software Design and Development
Certain computer science programs offer students the opportunity to specialize in software design and development. Intended for students who plan to pursue a career in software engineering. Students learn about specific software operating systems, both prototypes and current versions, and take classes in large-scale distributed systems for resource sharing, parallel programming, and embedded systems software.
Software engineering specialization also prepares students for research of issues such as human-computer collaborative systems, model and component-based development, and software reliability, verification, and security.
What Can You Do With a Computer Science Degree?
Computer science deals with the process of using computer systems to solve problems that range from software design to scientific questions about the computing process. The definition of a computer scientist is broad, mainly because specialists help fill a variety of different roles in the industry, from designing software to using programming knowledge to eliminating issues. Students looking for a job immediately after graduation will likely have several options open to them, including:
Computer Engineer: Computer engineers can be found designing microprocessors, personal computers, circuits, and supercomputers. Computer engineers also often write software and firmware and design analog sensors, operating systems, and circuit boards.
Computer Network Architect: Computer network architects design, build, research, and upgrade small and large data communication networks, including intranets, wide area networks (WANs), and local area networks LANs).
Computer Programmer: Computer programmers write, test, debug, update, and expand the code that allows software programs and computer applications to function properly. Programmers work closely with non-technical team members, such as project designers and project stakeholders. They also work with software developers and can even share the same duties, so programmers may also design programs.
Computer Support Specialist: Also called help desk technicians, customer support specialists are certified specialists who guide individuals through the process of manually fixing a computer. A technician will also study the company’s products and manuals to discover ways of fixing faulty equipment and software.
Database Administrator: Database administrators, also known as DBAs, store and organize data using specialized software and ensure the data is secure, backed up and restored. DBAs make sure the data is easily accessible to data analysts and serves the needs of the organization.
Data Scientist: Data scientists analyze existing data, predict data patterns, and create programs, plans, and products using information gleaned from data analysis.
Information Security Analyst: Information security analysts plan and implement security measures to protect sensitive information as well as computer networks and systems. They stay up to date on information technology security trends to recommend security enhancements and to develop the best practices and security standards.
Information Technology (IT) Manager: Information technology managers determine an organization's information technology goals and oversee the implementation of computer systems to achieve these goals. They typically supervise other computer related positions, such as computer systems analysts, computer support specialists, software developers, and information security analysts.
Network and Computer Systems Administrator: Network administrators tend to work on short and long-term projects involving network modeling and analysis and the coordination and planning of hardware and software communications. Typical tasks of a network administrator include planning, coordinating, and carrying out security measures to safeguard against viruses, designing and configuring hardware and software, performing data backups, and configuring email applications.
Software Developer: Software developers are the creative brains who make the theoretical designs for the applications that people use on their computers and develop the underlying systems that control devices or networks. Developers oversee the entire development process of software through understanding user needs and designing, testing, and recommending software to meet these needs.
Software Engineer: Software engineers design and create computer programs. Similar to software developers, they evaluate a client’s software needs, upgrade existing programs, and collaborate with programmers and other engineers to develop large projects. Unlike software developers, engineers utilize engineering concepts to develop software and focus on computer and program architecture.
Systems Analyst: Systems analysts examine requirements and procedures to improve the current way a system operates. Most will review the capabilities of a system, its work flow, and its limitations to make significant or moderate adjustments. Systems analysts will also test and maintain programs and systems to ensure that no bugs or viruses enter them.
Web Developer: Web developers design and create websites. They also manage the basic planning and layout of a new website, the programming of links and other network connections, and the maintenance of new features required to keep a website on the cutting edge.
How Much Can You Make With a Computer Science Degree?
Graduates with computer science degrees are in demand, but salary ranges for positions vary depending on the specialty area. Other factors include the region where the employer is located and applicant years of relevant experience. Additionally, employers have their internal salary ranges, but also set competitive rates to attract quality employees. The salaries listed below are based on the national average of reported salaries for bachelor's degree holders for each position.
Computer Programming: New graduates planning for careers in computer programming may apply for jobs with titles such as software developer, software engineer, front-end developer or engineer, application developer or computer programmer. Software engineers earn an average of $79,000 a year; software developers earn about $76,000 a year, and front-end developers earn about $71,000. Application developers and web application developers on average earned a little less with salaries of $66,000 and $56,000 respectively. Individuals with expertise in a programming language may be attracted to jobs such as java developer. The average reported salary for a Java developer was $67,000.
Information Technology and Systems Engineers: Individuals looking for jobs in information technology may apply for positions with titles such as IT project manager, IT business analyst, systems engineer and network engineer. IT project managers earned a reported average salary of about $89,000 per year while IT business analysts earned about $70,000 per year. Systems engineers earned about $63,364 annually, and the average salary for network engineers was about $67,000.
The Experience Factor: Applicants with experience in the field can qualify for higher salaries. For example, senior software engineers or senior developers can earn $101,000 per year, and a senior systems administrator can earn about $84,000 per year. Solutions architects specialize in designing computer systems for organizations. Individuals in this specialty area can earn an average of $114,000 annually.
Do I Need a Degree to Work in Computer Science?
While free online resources for computer science education exist and can be helpful if used as supplementary material, college graduates are reported to have landed more jobs than self-educated individuals. Do you dream of working for a top tech company, like Amazon or Google? You better hit the books for a couple more years, because chances of being hired at these companies are dramatically improved for those who have earned master's degrees. Tech recruiting experts agree that it takes a balance of talent and education to be a great candidate for a job, so having a degree in addition to demonstrated computer science skills can provide the edge you need to get noticed by recruiters and hiring managers. In this day and age, when our lives revolve around computers, gaining an education in the field of computer science is more beneficial than ever!
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