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2023 Best Online Computer Science Degree Programs

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 10/13/2023
2023 Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in Computer Science Badge

An online bachelor's degree in computer science aims to give students a foundation in the mathematical, technological, and analytical skills needed to work in information technology. Enrollees might code in assorted programming languages, set up databases, design applications, or test the security of distributed networks. Because of technology's growing presence, graduates may find computer science careers in any industry, not just the technology sector. 

You might also consider a degree in a focused computer science specialization, such as cybersecurity, network administration, or computer programming. 

View our methodology for more details about our list, or learn more about OnlineU

2023 Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in Computer Science Badge
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#1 University of Florida

  • Salary Score: 81
  • Median Starting Salary: $76,677
  • Locations: Gainesville (FL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of Florida (UF) is a public institution that offers an online Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with 120 credit hours of coursework. This degree might take as little as four years to finish with a full-time schedule. The university accepts 62% of bachelor's degree applicants for admission.

UF uses the Canvas digital learning platform to host online courses. This program's faculty aim to teach practical technology skills balanced with the history and theory behind computer science. Required foundational classes include a three-course Analytic Geometry and Calculus sequence, Engineering Statistics, and Data Structures and Algorithms. Upper-level students can choose an internship or independent research project as the final step on the degree path.

#2 Western Governors University

  • Salary Score: 78
  • Median Starting Salary: $74,868
  • Locations: Salt Lake City (UT)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

Western Governors University (WGU) is a private, fully online school featuring two computer science degrees for undergraduates: a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Computer Science and a Bachelor of Science in Cloud Computing. Each degree is designed to last four years with a full-time course load. The university has an open admissions policy and a 54% graduation rate for bachelor's degree students.

WGU's online learners sign in to Blackboard to access coursework, including recorded lectures and assignments. The computer science BS has a general curriculum that covers competencies in software, data management, operating systems, and network security. The cloud computing degree focuses heavily on knowledge of distributed networks and lets students choose a specialization in the AWS or Azure cloud services.

#3 Oregon State University

  • Salary Score: 78
  • Median Starting Salary: $74,600
  • Locations: Corvallis (OR)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

The public Oregon State University (OSU) offers an online Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree requiring 180 quarter credits of courses. This degree may take as little as four full-time years. OSU's acceptance rate is 82% for bachelor's applicants, 65% of whom graduate with a degree.

The university delivers online courses through the Canvas learning management platform. Computer science faculty aim to create analytical graduates who can apply computer science principles to solve a host of problems. Some core classes include Data Structures, Web Development, and Operating Systems. Students may select an optional concentration in applied computer science that focuses on cybersecurity design.

#4 Regis University

  • Salary Score: 75
  • Median Starting Salary: $72,850
  • Locations: Denver (CO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Regis University is a private Catholic institution offering an online, 120-credit Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree. Administrators designed this accelerated program to last less than the usual four years. Rather than semesters or quarters, students take eight-week courses at a full-time pace.

Regis uses Brightspace as its digital learning platform, where online students can access coursework remotely. The program's curriculum is divided between general core classes, foundational computer science courses such as Principles of Programming Languages, and upper-level courses such as Computer Organization and Architecture. Advanced students can elect an independent study class or internship to get practical work experience before graduation.

#5 Colorado State University - Fort Collins

  • Salary Score: 74
  • Median Starting Salary: $72,253
  • Locations: Fort Collins (CO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Colorado State University - Fort Collins (CSU) is a public school that offers an online Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree with four optional concentrations. This degree generally takes at least four years to complete. CSU accepts 84% of bachelor's candidates and has a graduation rate of 72%.

CSU delivers online courses through the Canvas learning management system. The core curriculum offers a general grounding in the discipline through classes on linear algebra, software development, operating systems, and algorithms. Students who want to tailor their studies can choose from these concentrations: artificial intelligence and machine learning, computing systems, human-centered computing, and networks and security.

2023 Best Online Computer Science Degree Programs

RankSchool Salary Score Median Starting Salary
# 1 #1 University of Florida 81 81 $76,677
# 2 #2 Western Governors University 78 $74,868
# 3 #3 Oregon State University 78 $74,600
# 4 #4 Regis University 75 $72,850
# 5 #5 Colorado State University - Fort Collins 74 $72,253
# 6 #6 Saint Louis University - Main Campus 70 $70,234
# 7 #7 University of Colorado Boulder 69 $69,804
# 8 #8 National University 69 $69,756
# 9 #9 Arizona State University 66 $68,521
# 10 #10 Kansas State University 65 $67,854
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Overview of Computer Science Bachelor's Degrees

Computer science is a common subject area for online study, so candidates can choose from a wide range of bachelor's degree options. Undergraduates typically learn to design, develop, and test computer software, hardware, and networks through hands-on programming projects. Many programs offer concentrations allowing students to specialize in cybersecurity, information technology, and web design.

Most online programs feature asynchronous courses, meaning that students log in to a learning management system whenever they want in order to view lectures, submit assignments, and interact with classmates. Computer science bachelor's degrees generally require 120 credit hours, which is designed to take four years to complete with a full-time schedule. Students take general education courses alongside their computer science credits, which include both required courses and electives. Many programs culminate in a capstone course that challenges students to demonstrate their knowledge and abilities. Some degrees feature an internship that lets students gain practical experience in the field.

Many computer science programs culminate in a capstone course that challenges students to demonstrate their knowledge and abilities.


Institutional accreditation means that an independent agency attests to the overall quality of a college's educational experience. Accreditation allows schools to accept federal financial aid, and it also helps students to transfer credits to another school more easily.

Beyond institutional accreditation, individual degree programs can also earn accreditation. The accrediting agency for computer science is the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), which reviews both online and on-campus programs. Most technology employers don't require candidates to hold ABET-accredited degrees, but this credential may nonetheless be a useful sign of a high quality program.

Program Requirements

Bachelor's degree applicants need to submit high school or GED transcripts, usually showing a minimum 2.5 GPA. More selective schools might require a 3.0. Many schools also require standardized college entrance exam scores, though this is becoming less common. Prospective students also generally submit letters of recommendation and a personal essay written from a prompt.

To graduate, students must complete all required credit hours. Most colleges have a minimum GPA requirement for major courses because administrators want to ensure that they're graduating knowledgeable alumni who are prepared for the workforce.

See our guide to learn more about applying to an online college or university.

What Is the Difference Between Computer Science and Computer Programming?

Computer science and computer programming are closely linked, so it's easy for the distinction between the two to become slightly blurred. There is a fair amount of overlap in the online courses required to earn a bachelor's degree in either subject. However, the focus of these two degree programs is different, and they're designed to prepare graduates for particular types of jobs in technology.

Computer science degree programs typically concentrate on the theory of computer processes and the practice of designing software systems. Math and logic play a prominent role in the computer science curriculum, although most programs include some practical skill-building courses in programming languages and coding. Entry-level positions for computer science graduates include systems analyst, data scientist, and network administrator. Some computer science students choose to specialize in a particular subject, such as artificial intelligence, data science, or machine learning.

Computer programming degree programs, by contrast, focus on the application of those theories. Students learn to use programming languages and tools to write instructions that enable computers to perform tasks. Graduates often become software developers, web developers, and computer programmers. Computer programming students sometimes specialize in the development of particular products, such as websites or mobile applications, or in using a specific programming language.

Interested in learning about degrees similar to computer science? Explore the best online software engineering degrees and the best online web development degrees at the bachelor's level. 

Common Courses in a Computer Science Program

Computer science faculty design bachelor's degrees to cover mathematics, programming, data science, and networks. Ideally, Students gain working knowledge of these topics and useful skills in organization, ethics, and professional communication.

Many computer science programs offer students the opportunity to specialize and include various concentration options, but here we list courses common to the core curriculum.

Introduction to Programming

Students typically take this class first in a sequence on software programming. As an introduction, it might survey the most common programming languages and include lessons in input and output, iteration, branching, looping, method, and object constructs.

Computer Architecture and Design

In this class, students are introduced to the physical components that comprise computer systems. Topics may include hardware-software interfaces, instruction codes and representation, and machine representation of data.

Computers and Society

Professors seek to expose students to ethics theories so they can understand the social effects of their work. Lessons might include data use and privacy, government regulation of technology, implications of artificial intelligence, and accessible design.

Data Structures

This course generally covers the algorithmic underpinnings of data structures, along with how computers use data to solve user problems. The syllabus often covers queues, trees, objects, and searching and sorting algorithms.

Linear Algebra

This course aims to teach some of the most important mathematical concepts relating to computer science. Students might learn about vector spaces, linear equation systems, matrices, and complex concepts such as eigenvectors and eigenvalues.


Many schools offer areas of specialization or emphasis for students pursuing online computer science degrees. Choosing a program with a concentration gives students a chance to study a subject that personally interests them. It could also allow them space to develop specialized problem-solving skills that may set them apart as well-qualified candidates for particular technology jobs. A concentration generally requires taking three or four related courses, which count toward fulfilling a major's core or elective requirements. 

The following are some common concentrations available for computer science majors:


One field that is experiencing a growing need for trained information technology professionals is cybersecurity. Graduates with expertise in this area know how to protect systems from hackers and security threats. Courses typically cover topics such as network security, risk assessment, cryptography, regulations, and ethical issues. If this specific field really interests you, you might consider getting a cybersecurity degree instead.

Data Mining

All types of organizations are increasingly reliant on data, so this is also a career path that's expected to grow substantially in the coming years. Data specialists understand how to create structures and write code that collects, organizes, and manipulates data. Enrollees with this concentration often study analytics, data visualization, and probability and statistics.

Game Development

With an emphasis on gaming, this specialization's curricula aims to teach students about the processes and technologies involved in game development. The courses focus primarily on the computer graphics and modeling skills needed to work in this field but may also include animation, character development, and creature design.

Mobile Application Development

Students who enjoy finding creative solutions to common problems may want to specialize in developing mobile apps for iOS and Android operating systems. For this concentration, students typically take dedicated courses on programming languages, such as Java and Python. Coursework may cover cloud computing, the Internet of Things, smart devices, and cross-platform operating systems.

Operating Systems

While most online computer programming degree programs include a course on operating systems, a concentration in this area features a number of dedicated courses on the C and C++ programming languages. Other advanced topics include concurrent execution, memory management, file systems, and data security.

Careers With a Computer Science Degree

Computer science graduates can often demonstrate problem-solving and deductive-reasoning skills that they've developed during undergraduate studies. With these skills and their technical knowledge, alumni might qualify for jobs designing software for a corporation, setting up an intranet for a non-profit, or running security tests on government servers.

Students can choose to pursue a master's degree in computer science if they think an additional credential will improve their job security and salary potential. However, graduates are usually eligible for the technology jobs below with only their bachelor's diploma.

Computer and Information Systems Managers

Median Annual Salary: $164,070
Job Growth: 15%

Computer and information systems managers direct teams of technology and IT professionals. Although many of these professionals hold bachelor's degrees, they often start their careers in related jobs and move into management after several years of experience. Interested undergraduates might improve their chances of securing a management role by taking business management electives.

Computer Systems Analysts

Median Annual Salary: $102,240
Job Growth: 10%

Computer systems analysts work to improve the quality and efficiency of an entity's computer infrastructure. The largest portion of these professionals work for IT consulting firms and spend time onsite at client offices. Because of this, students interested in this career may want to take some classes in business communication to develop skills required for interacting effectively with clients.

Database Administrators

Median Annual Salary: $112,120
Job Growth: 8%

Database administrators manage collections of their employers' data using specialized software. They seek to ensure that data is secure and resilient to avoid security breaches and data loss. Prospective administrators might improve their job prospects by taking electives in database design and management.

Information Security Analysts

Median Annual Salary: $112,000
Job Growth: 32%

Information security analysts are responsible for safeguarding their employers' computer systems and networks. They stay current on cybersecurity threats, recommend security enhancements, and develop and codify the organization's best practices and security standards. Students may be able to improve their employment opportunities in this field by taking extra cybersecurity courses as undergraduates.

Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Median Annual Salary: $90,520
Job Growth: 2%

Network and computer systems administrators monitor their employers' computer networks for performance and security issues. They plan hardware and software upgrades, stay in touch with cloud service vendors, and grant permissions to new employees. Students interested in these jobs might want to take electives in networks and cybersecurity.

Is an Online Computer Science Degree Worth It?

There's no right answer to this question, because your financial, familial, and work circumstances are different from everyone else's. But as you weigh the decision to study computer science online, you can consider the pros and cons listed below.

Potential Benefits

  • Computer science majors tend to enter high-paying jobs. Graduates with computer science and IT degrees earn median wages of $90,000 per year, which is higher than the $63,000 median pay for all bachelor's degree alumni combined.

  • Computer science translates well to online learning. Students complete all of their major coursework on their computers, with less emphasis on class discussion than liberal arts disciplines.

  • A computer science bachelor's is typically all that's required to start a career in the field. On average, fewer computer science graduates hold advanced degrees than graduates of other majors, implying that work experience is more important to career growth than further education in tech.

Potential Drawbacks

  • The skills taught in today's computer science courses may quickly become obsolete. Computer professionals must constantly update their skills and may need to adopt new specialties to avoid the kind of job declines that certain tech professionals are experiencing, such as front-end web developers and single-language coders.

  • Some computer science specialties are experiencing low rates of job growth. Computer programmers in the U.S. have the most dismal job outlook, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting a 11% decline in the field because of outsourcing to other countries. Even network and computer systems administration is growing at a slower rate than the nationwide average of 3%, so students interested in these jobs should keep their eyes on industry trends.

  • Women, non-white racial groups, and LGBTQ-identifying people are underrepresented in computer jobs. The technology sector is dominated by straight white men, which may suggest systemic, institutional barriers to entry for people from other backgrounds.

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