Online computer science degrees introduce students to computer systems, programming, and design software.
While it can cover software and hardware integration, computer science also focuses on software's problem-solving capabilities. The field encompasses subdisciplines including programming, operating systems, and artificial intelligence.
Online computer science degree graduates may find jobs in many industries. Demand for professionals with strong programming and computing skills is growing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects more than 667,600 new information technology jobs between 2020 and 2030.
Read on to discover the best online degrees in computer science available, plus our guide to this versatile degree.
|College||Program Stats||How much?|
|Florida International University |
|Per credit hour |
Application fee: $30
|Oregon State University |
|Per credit hour |
Application fee: $65
|University of Illinois |
|Per credit hour |
Application fee: $50
|Western Governors University |
Salt Lake City, UT
|Per 6-month term |
Application fee: Free
|Fort Hays State University |
|Per credit hour |
Application fee: $30
As a computer science major, you will learn to think analytically, evaluate complex problems, and design algorithms through coursework covering theory, development, and application. You can specialize and earn qualifications in areas including systems security, software engineering, and video game design.
To maximize your success in a computer science degree program, consider your career goals when selecting your degree level. Weigh concentration areas that interest you and potential internships.
Common computer science bachelor's degree courses include algorithms and data structures, computer architecture, fundamentals of computer systems, and introduction to networks.
You'll also take advanced classes covering operating systems and programming languages. You can expect later courses to build on skills learned in earlier ones.
One of the fastest routes to entry-level computer science positions is an associate degree. A bachelor's degree includes foundational courses, along with general education. After completing a bachelor's degree, you can specialize or increase your earning potential with a master's or doctoral degree.
|Degree||Length||Cost per credit||Post-degree careers|
|Associate degree in computer science||Two years||$80-$432|
|Bachelor's degree in computer science||Four years||$289-$655|
|Computer science master's degree||Two to three years||$358-$2,148|
|Doctorate in computer science||Four to five years||$450-$1,000|
A computer science bachelor's degree opens doors to graduate studies and a wide range of lucrative jobs. Computer science associate degree holders' earning potential starts around $60,000 per year. The national average comp-sci salary is around $80,000, while those with a masters degree can crack six-figures.
Meenakshi 'Meena' Das is a software engineer at Microsoft. Through her writing and speaking engagements, she has shared her accessibility expertise in making software accessible to users with disabilities with individuals and organizations. She is the founder of "Working with Disabilities," a support group for working professionals with disabilities.
For her tech inclusion work, she was inducted into the National Susan M. Daniels National Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame. She is also a member of the Accessibility Leadership Committee of Disability:IN.
Shas been quoted by Forbes, CNET, Salon, and ABC News for her views on disability inclusion in tech.
Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
ZDNet: How did you make the most of your computer science degree program so that it prepared you for post-grad jobs?
MD: One thing I did was to use all the help and resources available to me. I went to TA office hours and programming tutors if I was stuck on a homework assignment or just needed help understanding a coding problem.
For programming projects, I didn't just do them for a grade. I looked at it as an actual industry project and utilized tools that are used by tech companies, such as Git, to manage my code. This gave me a taste of real-world skills, improved my resume, and landed me my first software engineering internship!
ZDNet: What misconception(s) do people have about a computer science bachelor's degree, and what would you tell them?
MD: There is definitely a misconception that only people who are math or science geniuses and/or those who have been programming since childhood will succeed in a computer science degree.
That is not at all true! You just need to enjoy problem-solving and have a willingness to learn.
Computer programming is definitely a skill that you can master with practice. The more you code, the better you get.
Individuals with disabilities also should not be discouraged from pursuing computer science majors. The tech industry is a lot more accessible than some of the other jobs out there, and the tools and technologies to learn computer programming are also becoming more accessible day by day.
ZDNet: What was the most challenging course you took as a computer science major? What advice would you give to students who are about to start this course?
MD: The most challenging course I took was data structures and algorithms. Most computer science students take this after they have taken a course or two on introductory programming. This course can be challenging because it emphasizes the efficiency of your code.
Programming every day using data structures, even for 10 minutes or so, can greatly improve your skills! Pick a problem on Hackerrank and think of the most basic way to solve the problem. Then, try to optimize your algorithm by using an efficient data structure.
Don't panic if you can't think of an efficient solution right away. Make use of hints and discussion boards. Problem-solving gets better with practice.
ZDet's ranking methodology determines the best online bachelor's in computer science programs to help you find one that aligns with your educational and career goals.
Unless otherwise indicated, data is drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Scorecard.
1. Florida International University
About the program: FIU's 120-credit bachelor of arts in computer science program teaches strong computer science skills without the heavy focus on math and science required in a bachelor of science program.
2. Oregon State University
About the program: OSU's bachelor of science in computer science online program includes 180 credits of coursework taught by industry experts and offers opportunities for career-building networking. The curriculum emphasizes algorithms and problem-solving.
3. University of Illinois Springfield
About the program: Students in UIS's online bachelor of science in computer science can concentrate on computer science or systems security and information assurance. Enrollees must complete 120 credit hours.
4. Western Governors University
Salt Lake City, Utah
About the program: The bachelor of science online computer science degree at WGU features competency-based education, allowing students to complete the program's 35 courses at their own pace.
5. Fort Hays State University
About the program: FHSU's 120-credit bachelor of science in computer science prepares graduates for careers including cybersecurity, database management, and video game design.
6. Regis University
About the program: The accelerated bachelor of science in computer science at Regis offers students a 120-credit hour online curriculum that hones skills in programming languages, paradigms, and platforms.
7. Lewis University
About the program: Lewis offers two computer science tracks leading to a bachelor of science or bachelor of arts. Both programs require completion of 128 credits.
8. Southern New Hampshire University
Manchester, New Hampshire
About the program: SNHU's online computer science degree program leads to a bachelor of science. The 120-credit curriculum includes programming languages, cloud integration, and full-stack development.
9. Limestone University
Gaffney, South Carolina
About the program: Limestone's 120-credit bachelor of science in computer science program focuses on computer and information systems security tools to combat hackers and viruses.
10. Saint Leo University
Saint Leo, Florida
About the program: Saint Leo's 120-credit online bachelor of science in computer science curriculum gives students skills in programming, internet applications, computer forensics, information security, and artificial intelligence.