Online Computer Science Degrees and Careers

Niche technology occupations like computer systems analysts, information security analysts, software developers, and web developers are also expected to grow at above-average rates.

Earning Your Computer Science Degree Online

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs in computer science are on the rise. The computer and information technology industry as a whole is projected to grow by 12% — or roughly 488,500 jobs — between 2014 and 2024. Niche technology occupations like computer systems analysts, information security analysts, software developers, and web developers are also expected to grow at above-average rates. These projections are due to a stronger emphasis on the use of computer systems and information technology across all industries.

Featured Online Programs

The 2016-17 PayScale College Salary Report also notes that earning a computer science online degree is a wise investment. This report outlined the relatively high salary expectations for students that obtain computer science degrees at the associate, bachelor's, and graduate degree levels. The table below features a detailed breakdown.

Computer Science Degree Holders Salary by Career Level

Degree Median Entry-Level Salary (0-5 Years) Median Mid-Career Salary (10+ Years) Salary Increase After 10 Years
Associate Degree in Computer Science $40,400 $67,300 66.6%
Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science $65,300 $107,000 63.9%
Master's Degree in Computer Science $84,800 $125,000 47.4%
Ph.D. in Computer Science $118,000 $145,000 22.9%

Source: PayScale 2016-17 College Salary Report

The Best Online Computer Science Programs

Rank School Student to
Aid Rate
Description Cost Address School Logo Websites  

LeTourneau University

14 to 1 42% 83% 49% 42% 57% 7.5%

Located in Longview, Texas, LeTourneau University prides itself on providing a strong education rooted in Christian values. This reputable institution offers a BS in computer information systems for working students who need the flexibility of a completely online degree. A degree in computer information systems is similar to a degree in computer science, but focuses more on practical skill development. Students learn about computer networks, data management, and computer system design. Classes include software engineering, web development, and programming for information systems.

LeTourneau’s online classes are structured in an accelerated five week format. Transfer students must possess at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA and grades of C or higher. Transfer students must take a minimum of 18 major credits at LeTourneau. As a private institution, LeTourneau charges the same tuition rate for in-state and out-of-state students.

2100 S Mobberly Ave
Longview, TX 75602
Program Page

Duquesne University

13 to 1 63% 90% 73% 28% 65% 2.9%

Founded more than 130 years ago by a Catholic congregation, Duquesne University is rated a top tier university by U.S. News & World Report. The school serves over 9,000 students while maintaining a low 14 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio. Duquesne’s BS in computer systems technology focuses on solving practical technology issues. Courses include information technology for modern organizations, web technologies and applications, and technical communication and writing. Students also take a course in social, ethical, and legal issues in computing technology in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the field.

The school accepts admissions on a rolling basis. New students may begin in the spring or fall terms. Transfer students must have a 2.5 cumulative GPA and grades C or higher. Duquesne accepts 60 credits from previous two-year schools, and up to 90 credits from previous four-year schools. Transfer students must complete the last 30 credits at Duquesne. Duquesne prides itself on providing extensive resources for its online students, including an online learning support center, an online writing center, and an online library. Out-of-state students pay the same tuition as their in-state counterparts.

Administration Bldg 600 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15282
Program Page

Lewis University

13 to 1 40% 83% 61% 20% 68% 6.6%

With 97% of its students receiving financial aid, Lewis University strives to make education affordable for all learners. Although it is a Catholic university that teaches Lasallian values, Lewis serves students of all faiths and backgrounds. The school’s accelerated online bachelor’s degree in computer science allows students to graduate with their degree in a short amount of time. Students may choose between a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science. Topics include programming languages, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence.

The eight-week online schedule allows students to complete their studies faster than usual. Only transfer students qualify for this degree option. Applicants must possess at least 30 transferable credit hours and hold a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher. Students with prior programming and coding experience may earn credit for prior learning. In-state and out-of-state students pay the same tuition rate.

One University Parkway
Romeoville, IL 60446-2200
Program Page

DePaul University

17 to 1 51% 87% 69% 18% 58% 5.5%

Located in Chicago’s business district, DePaul University serves students from all 50 states and 114 countries. The award-winning school has been ranked one of the best national universities by U.S. News & World Report and one of the best Midwestern colleges by the Princeton Review. DePaul’s online bachelor’s degree in computer science is a degree completion program for students who have already completed prior college coursework. Notable courses include software development, database systems, and applied computing. Seniors complete a capstone software project.

Incoming students must provide proof of a minimum of 45 quarter hours or 30 semester hours of transfer credit, including one semester of C++ or Java. Applicants must also hold a cumulative 2.0 GPA. The school grants scholarships to students that demonstrate academic excellence, school involvement and leadership, and a dedication to serving others. In-state and out-of-state tuition for this online bachelor's in computer science degree are the same.

1 E Jackson Blvd
Chicago, IL 60604
Program Page

University of Illinois at Springfield

14 to 1 29% 79% 61% 33% 54% 7.4%

The University of Illinois at Springfield promotes student engagement through volunteerism, student committees, NCAA athletics, clubs, and civic outreach. The school offers an online BS in computer science and an online BS in information systems security. Students in the computer science online degree take core coursework in operating systems, data structures and algorithms, and programming languages. Learners may choose electives such as HTML design, intrusion detection, and internet in American life.

The online version of this program requires 30 previous college credits and a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA. DePaul accepts new online students every fall and spring semester. Distance learners may complete internships in their hometowns for academic credit. All online students qualify for a low e-tuition rate.

One University Plaza
Springfield, IL 62703-5407
Program Page

University of Florida

27 to 1 N/A 68% 22% 70% 88% 3.5%

Consistently ranked one of the nation’s best universities, the University of Florida conducts cutting-edge research in every discipline. UF students and faculty have made breakthroughs in battling brain cancer, detecting gravitational waves, and protecting Florida’s environment. Despite its prestigious status, the school ensures its education is affordable; over half of UF’s students graduate with no student loan debt. The online BS in computer science at UF emphasizes technical knowledge and communications skills. Students learn programming basics and complete coursework in digital logic and software engineering.

Transfer students with less than 59 hours of previous credit must hold a 2.5 cumulative GPA. Additionally, they must have taken analytic geometry and calculus 1. Students with 60 or more transferable hours must have passed analytic geometry, calculus 1, 2, and 3, and physics 1. Applicants need a C or higher in prerequisite courses in order to be competitive.

341 Tigert Hall 300 SW 13th St
Gainesville, FL 32611
Program Page

California Baptist University

18 to 1 45% 83% 79% 32% 77% 8.1%

Located in Riverside, California Baptist University uses the latest educational technologies to deliver high-quality online education. The BS in computer information technology focuses on solving technical and computer problems in organizations. Unique courses offerings include legal and ethical practices in information technology and e-commerce systems development. Since CBU built its institution on Christian values, all students must take overview of the Bible and foundations of Christian thought.

Transfer students must have a minimum of 24 prior credits and a 2.0 cumulative GPA.The average length to graduate from this program is approximately 16 months. Courses to begin every 8 weeks, allowing students to finish their program quickly. In-state and out-of-state students pay the same tuition rate.

8432 Magnolia Ave
Riverside, CA 92504-3297
Program Page

City University of Seattle

11 to 1 20% 80% 100% 35% 50% 6.2%

City University of Seattle offers programs in eight countries, including China, Canada, and Mexico. The bachelor of science in applied computing from CityU gives students hands-on experience in tech. Distance learners develop skills in Python, information security, and systems analysis and design. The program requires a capstone project at the end where students demonstrate the knowledge they learned through examinations, written work, and oral presentations.

CityU maintains a year-round schedule and a rolling admissions policy. Applicants must show proof of a cumulative 2.0 GPA. This degree requires 180 credit hours for students to graduate. Students may transfer a maximum of 135 transfer credits towards this degree. Prior learning assessments give students with practical the chance to apply their knowledge for school credit. Students coming from out-of-state do not pay higher tuition.

521 Wall Street, Suite 100
Seattle, WA 98121
Program Page

Regis University

14 to 1 47% 78% 96% 20% 56% 4.9%

Located in Denver, Regis University offers a completely online BS in computer science. Interesting course offerings include ethical leadership in computer science and computer architecture. A class in intelligent systems gives students a solid foundation in artificial intelligence technology.

Students in this major must complete 128-133 credit hours, depending on general education credits and if a minor is chosen or not. Since the school is Jesuit, online students must take religion courses. Regis allows a maximum of 90 transfer credits from a recognized college, as long as student earned a C- or higher. Regis also grants credits for related work experience. Out-of-state students pay the same in tuition as their Colorado counterparts.

3333 Regis Blvd
Denver, CO 80221-1099
Program Page

Oregon State University

19 to 1 30% 84% 77% 33% 51% 5.1%

The BS in computer science from Oregon State University is a unique post-baccalaureate degree. All students already hold a bachelor’s degree, and the program is tailored for students who want to develop technical skills on top of their current credentials. This program offers one-year, two-year, three-year, and four-year tracks so students can fit their studies into their schedules. The accelerated one-year program is designed for those individuals who can commit to a full-time online course load.

This post-baccalaureate computer science online degree does not require any experience or education in computer science, only a bachelor's degree in any field. Students may start in any of the four terms, except summer if they apply for the one-year track. Students must exhibit excellent time management skills and dedication to succeed.

1500 S.W. Jefferson Avenue
Corvallis, OR 97331
Program Page

Old Dominion University

20 to 1 25% 81% 81% 37% 56% 6%

Located in Norfolk, Virginia, Old Dominion University offers more than 100 programs, including online and distance learning options. The online BS in computer science heavily emphasizes coursework in science and mathematics. Degree seekers take interesting courses, such as computers in society, principles of programming languages, and cryptography for cybersecurity. Graduates have the skills to excel in technology careers, including software engineering, database development, network administration, and system design.

This online computer science degree requires students to complete at least 30 credits at ODU. Depending on the course, professors may require students to meet online, turn in assignments, and take exams at certain times. New students may begin the program in spring, summer or fall.

5115 Hampton Blvd
Norfolk, VA 23529
Program Page

California University of Pennsylvania

22 to 1 36% 77% 89% 37% 74% 7.5%

California University of Pennsylvania offers an interdisciplinary BS in computer information systems program to students interested in business technology. Distance learners take courses like visual programming, decision support systems, web programming, and concepts in enterprise resource planning. In their last two semesters, students apply what they learned by creating a real-world computer information system project for a company or organization. Credit hours obtained through local internships give students hands-on experience within the field.

Classes for this online computer science degree begin every fall and spring semester. Asynchronous online courses allow students to complete coursework on their own schedule. Full-time students can complete the program in as little as 24 months. Applicants with backgrounds in college algebra, trigonometry, business, or pre-calculus fit well with this program. Transfer students must show proof of a 2.0 or higher cumulative GPA and good academic standing from previous schools.

250 University Ave
California, PA 15419-1394
Program Page

Charleston Southern University

15 to 1 22% 64% 58% 26% 72% 7.1%

Charleston Southern University offers a BT in computer science for students who hold associate degrees in approved technical fields. This online bachelor's in computer science degree consists mostly of upper level classes that prepare students for a successful career in technology. Since each student comes from a different background, faculty members work with each individual to create a program that fits their schedule and education.

Transfer students beginning with the maximum of 89 hours often graduate within two years. Associate degrees that fit best with this program include engineering technology, computer technology, and telecommunications management. Prior to enrollment, prospective students must complete a college math course and an in-person programming class in C++ or Visual Basic. Students need a minimum of 125 credit hours to graduate.

9200 University Blvd
Charleston, SC 29406-9121
Program Page

Park University

12 to 1 22% 75% 66% 29% 46% 10.5%

Park University, located in Missouri, offers a BS in information and computer science degree that gives students the skills to pursue graduate studies or professional tech positions. Students choose a specialization in one of five areas: computer science, software development, networking and security, information technology, or data management. Courses like writing for online environments, user interface design, and computer architecture educate students in the fundamentals of technology. Depending on their chosen focus, students can pursue careers as applications programmers, systems analysts, information technology specialists, database analysts, web programmers, or software engineers.

Students in this online bachelor's in computer science program take Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) courses that prepare them for the CCNA certification exam. Transfer students need a cumulative 2.0 GPA or higher to be considered for admission. Students from out-of-state pay the same in tution as their in-state counterparts.

8700 NW River Park Dr
Parkville, MO 64152-3795
Program Page

Concordia University - Texas

11 to 1 19% 67% 85% 34% 65% 8.4%

Founded as a Christian high school in the 1920s, Concordia University Texas maintains strong ties to the Lutheran church. The school offers a BA in computer science for working students looking to pursue a career in software design or computer programming. Students benefit from the school’s location in Austin, a technology hub with ample internship opportunities.

This online computer science degree requires students to complete a minimum of 128 credits to graduate. CTX boasts a strong Christian foundation and requires all students to pass religion-based courses. Transfer students need a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA if transferring between 12 and 83 credits or a 2.5 GPA if transferring less than 12 credits. Out-of-state students pay the same as Texas residents. The Texas Transfer Scholarship offers students $2,000 in financial aid if they graduate with an associate degree in the state or qualify for the Texas Core Complete program.

11400 Concordia University Dr.
Austin, TX 78726
Program Page

Limestone College

14 to 1 20% 60% 52% 29% 72% 14.1%

Located in Gaffney, South Carolina, Limestone College is the largest private college in South Carolina. It's a small school, with only 1,000 traditional day students and 2,500 extended campus students. The completely online BS in computer science, computer and information systems security focuses on securing private data for businesses, government agencies, and institutions. Courses include cryptology and access control, continuity and disaster recovery planning, and security architecture and design. Students must complete a capstone project, which consists of a large-scale project that draws on knowledge from previous courses.

Classes are structured in eight-week sessions with six terms each year. Students take two courses per term. Transfer students who have an associate degree from a South Carolina technical college do not have to complete general education requirements. All other transfer students may bring a maximum of 66 credits from a two-year school or 92 credits from a four-year college. Out-of-state students pay the same tuition as in-state students.

1115 College Drive
Gaffney, SC 29340-3799
Program Page

Saint Leo University

15 to 1 32% 68% 72% 24% 60% 10.1%

The oldest Catholic university in Florida, Saint Leo University has instructed students for more than 125 years. The school began offering online courses in the 1990s. SLU offers a BS in computer science with a specialization in information assurance to students interested in forensics and internet security. Distance learners take courses in artificial intelligence, disaster recovery, penetration testing, and network design.

Transfer students may apply up to 64 credits to their degree. SLU holds an agreement with more than 40 community colleges across the U.S., allowing associate students to easily transfer into the program. SLU requires students to complete 120 credits to graduate. Since Saint Leo is a private school, in-state and out-of-state tuition are the same.

33701 State Road 52
Saint Leo, FL 33574-6665
Program Page

Fort Hays State University

17 to 1 17% 68% 87% 47% 41% 7.5%

Fort Hays State University's Virtual College offers students a low cost alternative to in-classroom learning from a reputable institution of higher education. The school provides more than 50 online degree options, including an online BS in computer science. Distance learners may choose a concentration in business or networking. Business classes include managerial finance and management, while networking classes include advanced routing and interwork troubleshooting.

This online computer science degree prepares students for fulfilling careers such as computer engineer, software engineer, network architect, and web developer. FHSU's partnership with the Kansas community college system allows qualified students to easily transfer courses to FHSU. Course formats may be asynchronous or synchronous. Students must complete 120 credits in total in order to graduate.

600 Park St
Hays, KS 67601-4099
Program Page

Dakota State University

16 to 1 14% 65% 84% 44% 43% 8.9%

Located in Madison, South Dakota, Dakota State University boasts a high employment rate for graduates, with a 94% employment rate for the latest class and a 100% employment rate in certain majors. DSU’s online bachelor’s degree in computer science gives students access to the newest technologies so they can stay ahead of their peers. Courses include assembly language, object-oriented design, and database management. Graduates often pursue careers as programmers, software engineers, or tech startup entrepreneurs.

DSU schedules on-campus and online courses at the same time, so both student groups have the opportunity to collaborate with each other on projects. All computer science professors have a Ph.D. This program requires transfer students to have 24 credit hours or more. Applicants must hold a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher.

820 N Washington Ave
Madison, SD 57042-1799
Program Page

Mercy College

19 to 1 20% 66% 71% 18% 61% 7.4%

Located 45 minutes from New York City, Mercy College offers more than 90 undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs. The school promotes education for underrepresented groups such as minorities and first-generation students. Mercy Online’s BS in computer science combines theoretical technical knowledge with hands-on skills. Courses include forensic and electronic discovery, artificial intelligence, and network security.

Mercy requires students to obtain 120 credits in order to graduate. The college accepts up to 75 transfer credits from a two-year school or 90 credits from a four-year school. Mercy prides itself on offering affordable tuition compared to other private institutions in the area. No matter state of residence, all students pay the same tuition. Outstanding transfer students are eligible for scholarships.

555 Broadway
Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522
Program Page

Franklin University

11 to 1 8% 22% 100% 35% 66% 11.4%

Located in Columbus, Ohio, Franklin University designs all of its programs for busy, working adults. As a result, the school offers dozens of flexible online programs. Franklin’s online BS in computer science is language-independent, meaning students’ skills stay relevant even if their primary coding language becomes obsolete. Notable classes for this online computer science degree include human-computer interaction, object-oriented analysis and design, and mobile programming.

This degree requires students to complete 124 credits in order to graduate. Franklin accepts a maximum of 94 transfer credits. Distance learners must complete a final capstone project in order to demonstrate their knowledge and technical skills. All students pay the same tuition regardless of their state of residency.

201 S Grant Ave
Columbus, OH 43215-5399
Program Page

Florida Institute of Technology

26 to 1 N/A 80% 57% 12% 79% 12.8%

Florida Institute of Technology boasts impressive alumni, including astronauts, the first female four-star general, and CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Florida Tech’s online BS in computer information systems prepares students for careers in the technology industry or private businesses. Core courses include electronic commerce, internet applications, and business computer skills.

Courses are delivered asynchronously so students to have the freedom to complete work at their own pace. Students learn through discussion boards, chat rooms, videos, and interactive media. Florida Tech requires students to complete a total of 124 credits to graduate. Transfer students may receive credit for classes in which they earned a C- or higher. Out-of-state students pay the same tuition as Florida residents.

150 West University Blvd
Melbourne, FL 32901
Program Page

Independence University

25 to 1 N/A 84% 100% 35% 75% 24.1%

Located in West Haven, Utah, Independence University has provided distance education for 37 years. The school was founded in 1891 and holds accreditation from the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges. IU's BS in software and mobile applications development degree teaches students how to design, code, and test software. Courses include computer law, solution concepts, webpage programming, and programming concepts. Graduates pursue careers such as mobile app developer, web developer, IT entrepreneur, and software developer.

Without an elective requirement, students can complete this degree in as little as 36 months. IU requires learners to complete 180 credit hours minimum to graduate from this major. IU provides all students with a new tablet at the start of the program, and a laptop during the fourth module to keep upon graduation.

4021 S 700 E Ste 400
Salt Lake City, UT 84107
Program Page

Central Methodist University

30 to 1 N/A 64% 45% 67% 25% 11%

Located in Fayette, Missouri, Central Methodist University prides itself as a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Distance learners at CMU can complete an online BA or BS in computer science. Courses include scientific computer programming, web page design, mobile application development, and a capstone seminar. Students learn how to examine and solve a variety of software issues, such as flaws in the code.

Courses last either eight or 16 weeks. Transfer students must have a 2.0 cumulative GPA to apply. This online computer science program requires a minimum of 124 credits. Out-of-state students pay the same in tuition as their in-state counterparts.

411 Central Methodist Square
Fayette, MO 65248-1198
Program Page

National University

20 to 1 20% 60% 100% 35% 41% 7.1%

Located in La Jolla, California, National University offers more than 100 distance education programs, including an online bachelor’s degree in computer science. Core requisites for this online computer science program include computer ethics, programming languages, and digital logic design. The program features a strong foundation in calculus and science. Students complete labs in which they create and test their own code.

Online classes take place over a one month period. National holds agreements with many California community colleges, making it easy to transfer credits. The school offers a Transfer to Success Scholarship that awards up to $5,000 to transfer students who come from a community college in California, Nevada, or an approved out-of-state program. Qualifying students for this scholarship must already have 30 credits with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0.

11255 North Torrey Pines Road
La Jolla, CA 92037-1011
Program Page


Featured Online Programs

Job Outlook for Computer Science Graduates

As computer systems and information technology continue to become more prevalent across all industries, the job outlook for online computer science degree-holders should remain strong for the foreseeable future. The table below explores the expected industry growth and unemployment estimates for 10 of the most popular occupations among computer science majors. For comparison, the average occupation is projected to grow 6% between 2014 and 2024, and the unemployment rate for all industries is currently set at 4.4%.

Database Administrator+11% (+13,400 jobs)1.0%Information Technology (IT) Manager+15% (+53,700 jobs)1.9%Software Developer+17% (+186,600 jobs)2.0%Computer Systems Analyst+21% (+118,600 jobs)2.4%Computer Systems Administrator+8% (+30,200 jobs)3.1%Computer Programmer-8% (-26,500 jobs)3.5%Web Developer+27% (+39,500 jobs)3.6%Computer Support Specialist+12% (+88,800 jobs)3.7%Information Security Analyst+18% (+14,800 jobs)3.9%

Occupation Projected Industry Growth (2014-24) Unemployment Rate (2017)
Network Architect +9% (+12,700 jobs) 0.6%

Sources: U.S. News & World Report and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Computer Science Salaries

The computer science and information technology industries are quite extensive, and earning potential in these fields will largely depend on one's specific job title. Using data from the BLS, the following table looks at the median annual earnings of 10 popular occupations among those who earn a computer science online degree.

Database Administrator$84,950Information Technology (IT) Manager$135,800Software Developer$102,280Computer Systems Analyst$87,220Computer Systems Administrator$79,700Computer Programmer$79,840Web Developer$66,130Computer Support Specialist$52,160Information Security Analyst$92,600

Occupation Median Annual Salary
Network Architect $101,210

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

The average annual salary for all 10 occupations listed is $88,189. Comparatively, the BLS estimates that the median annual salary for all occupations is currently $37,040.

Computer Science Careers and Concentrations

Computer science is such a broad, multidisciplinary field that many colleges and universities allow online computer science degree students to follow specialized study tracks that focus on niche areas of the industry. Five common concentrations for computer science online degree programs are listed below, along with careers and annual salary information associated with these concentrations.

Data and Databases

A growing number of industries rely on computer programs used to collect, sort, evaluate, and store important data. Those who follow a data/database concentration track will learn the best practices for gathering and organizing data, as well as the technology tools and platforms used every step of the way. Careers related to this concentration include:


Online networks are used to link employees working with the same software programs and platforms. Most networks are classified as local area networks (LANs), which serve a relatively small number of people in a limited number of locations, or wide area networks (WANs), which provide coverage to a large number of people at a larger number of locations. Popular jobs related to a network-based concentration include the following:


The umbrella term ‘software' refers to programs, applications, and platforms that are entirely digitalized; hardware, on the other hand refers to the physical components of a computer system. A software concentration is ideal for students who are interested in designing and developing, creating, evaluating, and marketing different software products. Careers in this concentration field include:

Information Systems

The term ‘information system' refers to the collective hardware, software, network, and data collection components that make up the computer system used by a particular company or organization. Students who follow an information systems concentration are often preparing for managerial roles where they will oversee the functionality and security of whole information systems. Some popular career paths related to information systems include:


The cutting-edge field of cybersecurity is dedicated to safeguarding computer and information technology systems against outside threats. These threats include hackers, cyberterrorists, and other criminal elements, as well as viruses, equipment malfunctions, and other technical issues that can compromise the security of sensitive information. Some common cybersecurity occupations include:

Types of Computer Science Degrees

Computer science is one of the select fields of study that is currently offered at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. Those who complete their studies with an online computer science bachelor's degree or associate degree will be qualified for a large number of entry-level jobs in fields like programming, information and data analysis, network administration, and web design. The master's degree is designed for students who plan to enter advanced fields, and possibly pursue leadership roles later in their careers. The doctoral degree is aimed at those with an interest in scientific or academic research; many doctoral degree-holders go on to teach computer science at the postsecondary level, as well. The best online computer science degree programs will ready students for immediate entry into their career field of choice.

A detailed breakdown of these four computer science degree online pathways is featured in the table below.

Computer Science Degree Level Definition Average Time to Completion Possible Concentrations Median Salary (10+ Years)
Associate Introductory coursework that combines classroom lectures and hand-on technical training. Capstones are rare, but internships are widely available. Two years Computer programming, web design, information systems analysis, database administration $67,300
Bachelor's A comprehensive curriculum that includes core undergraduate coursework and major-specific instruction; may also feature capstone and/or internship requirements. Four years Software development, IT management, network administration, web development $107,000
Master's The master's is designed to complement the bachelor's by building on foundational concepts while also introducing more advanced theories and approaches. Capstones and internships are frequently required. Two years Software and hardware engineering, network architecture, information systems management $125,000
P.h.D. A graduate degree designed for students who plan to pursue careers in research, postsecondary education, or advanced tech leadership. Six years IT leadership, postsecondary computer science education, academic technology research $145,000

Computer Science Certifications and Licensing

Unlike fields where certification and licensure are required for employment ― such as nursing, teaching, and psychology ― computer science does not demand its employees to become officially certified or licensed. However, employees that earn professional credentials in certain fields stand to earn more money, enjoy stronger job security, and become eligible for a greater number of advancement opportunities. Some computer science professionals must also receive certification to use certain products; this is known as vendor certification. Vendor-neutral certification may be required for some jobs, as well; this type of certification evaluates employees on general technology knowledge and skills, and the certifier is not affiliated with one particular vendor company. The best online computer science degree pathways will prepare students for the certifications or professional credentials that are applicable to their field.

The table below outlines five professional certifications and credentials currently available to employees in the computer science and information technology industries.

Citrix Certified Enterprise Engineer (CCEE)CitrixThe CCEE credential was created to train developers, programmers, and designers how to use Citrix servers, programs, and platforms, which are used worldwide by thousands of companies and organizations.

Credential Sponsoring Organization Expectation
Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) This credential is aimed at IT analysts and managers who are responsible for assessing, mitigating, and predicting different types of risks.
Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) The CISM is designed for IT security analysts, computer systems administrators, cybersecurity professionals, and other employees who are tasked with optimizing IT security. Those who with to receive this credential must have at least five years of professional experience in their field.
Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) Scrum Alliance ‘Scrum' is a leadership philosophy focused on making teams adaptable and self-reliant. The CSM credential requires one course and a passing score on a two-day written exam.
Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) International Council of E-Commerce Consultants Ethical hacking is a term for hacking strategies used for legal, beneficial purposes. The CEH is a suitable credential for students with hacking proficiency that would prefer to use their skills for positive purposes.

Computer Science Scholarships

Higher education represents a significant expense for most students today, and earning a computer science degree online can amount to thousands of dollars per year. To help alleviate this financial burden, a multitude of scholarships and grants are offered to computer science students at all academic levels. Unlike federal and private student loans, scholarships and grants do not need to be paid back, and will not affect the amount of debt a student has when they graduate. Scholarships come from a wide range of sources, including private companies, nonprofits, professional organizations, government agencies, and degree-granting institutions. Below we've listed details about 12 scholarship opportunities for those seeking online computer science degrees.

(ISC) ² Foundation Undergraduate Cybersecurity Scholarship

See Scholarship
Applicants must be pursuing a degree in cybersecurity or information assurance, and must have completed at least two semesters of study prior to applying for the scholarship. A minimum 3.0 GPA is also required.

  • Amount: $5,000
  • Deadline: May 3
(ISC) ² Foundation Women's Information Security Scholarship

See Scholarship
Applicants must be female students pursuing a degree related to information security.

  • Amount: $10,000
  • Deadline: March 15
Adobe Research Women in Technology Scholarship

See Scholarship
Applicants must be female undergraduate students who are pursuing degrees in computer science, computer engineering, or another technical field related to computing technology. Those with immediate family members who work at Adobe Research will be ineligible for this award.

  • Amount: $10,000
  • Deadline: November 4
Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program

See Scholarship
Applicants must be studying abroad as part of an accredited degree program for a period of at least two to four weeks, and must be receiving Pell Grant financial aid. Those who are majoring in underrepresented STEM fields (such as computer science) will be given preference.

  • Amount: $5,000
  • Deadline: March 1
Blacks at Microsoft Scholarship

See Scholarship
Applicants must be African-American high school seniors who plan to enter an undergraduate degree program immediately after earning their high school diploma and major in computer science, computer information systems, or other related technical fields. Applicants must also have a cumulative high school GPA of 3.3.

  • Amount: $20,000
  • Deadline: March 1
Cognizant Making the Future Scholarship Program

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Applicants must be sophomores or juniors in an accredited four-year program pursuing a degree in STEM and/or business with IT-related career plans.

  • Amount: $5,000
  • Deadline: March 31
Davidson Fellows Scholarship

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Applicants must be students 18 years or younger with advanced study skills who are able to complete courses at the graduate degree level. This award is available to students interested in different career paths, including STEM fields.

  • Amount: $50,000
  • Deadline: February 8
Google Lime Scholarship for Students with Disabilities

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Applicants must be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program with a focus on computer science, computer engineering, or a related technical field. Students with visible or invisible disabilities are eligible for this award.

  • Amount: $10,000
  • Deadline: December 6
Google SVA Scholarship for Student Veterans

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Applicants must be student veterans (including the National Guard) who are enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program with a focus on computer science, computer engineering, or a related technical field.

  • Amount: $10,000
  • Deadline: November 4
HENAAC Scholars Program

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Applicants must be students of Hispanic descent that are currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program with a STEM emphasis. Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA.

  • Amount: $10,000
  • Deadline: April 30
National GEM Consortium Fellowships

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Applicants must be enrolled in a master's or Ph.D. program with an emphasis on science, engineering, or a related STEM field.

  • Amount: $16,000
  • Deadline: November 15
NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program

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Applicants must be enrolled in research-based master's or Ph.D. programs with a STEM focus.

  • Amount: $44,000
  • Deadline: Varies

Professional Organizations

Membership in a professional organization can be quite beneficial for computer science students at all online degree levels. The best professional organizations offer a wide range of perks for members, including unlimited access to academic journals and data, invitations to conferences and other industry events, complimentary magazine subscriptions, and reduced fees for web tutorials and continuing education courses. Additionally, many organizations offer lower membership rates for currently enrolled students and young professionals. Some of the most popular professional organizations in the computer and information technology industry include the following five groups:

  • International Association of Computer Science and Information Technology: This scholarly organization (IACSIT for short) is dedicated to publishing and promoting scientific, peer-reviewed research related to computer science and information technology. All qualifying members are allowed to submit academic proposals and evaluate the work of others. Selected contributors are invited to present their findings at conferences and seminars, as well.
  • Association of Software Professionals: This trade organization was created to represent the developers and engineers that design and test software programs, applications, and platforms. All members gain access to a full archive of the ASP's monthly newsletter, ASPects, as well as discounts on various software products, services, and continuing education opportunities.
  • Network Professional Association: The NPA provides advocacy and professional development for computer networking professionals. A professional credential ― the CNP ― is available through the NPA. Members will also have access to an extensive online job center, electronic journal archives, and a comprehensive calendar of U.S. and international events.
  • Association of Information Technology Professionals: The AITP was established in 1951, and is today one of the largest worldwide organizations in the computer and IT industry. In the U.S., the association sponsors 55 state chapters in nine different regions of the country, as well as postsecondary chapters at colleges and universities in 36 states.
  • Data Management Association International: DAMA was founded in 1980, and has grown to represent thousands of members across the globe. The association currently sponsors 70 international chapters on six continents, and has a hand in dozens of conferences and networking events each year.

Computer Science Internships and Externships

Internships and externships are not typically required for students earning degrees in computer science. However, due to the high demand for qualified computer science and IT professionals, internship opportunities are widely available to students majoring in these fields. In programs where these are not required, students can usually choose to complete an internship as part of their elective coursework.

Internships and externships are designed to achieve two goals: equipping students with the foundational knowledge and skills needed to obtain an entry-level job; and giving students the opportunity to supplement their lectures and exams with exposure to a real-world workplace. Internships tend to be longer (sometimes up to one year), with students with a background in their field; externships, on the other hand, are usually much shorter (two weeks or less) and require less experience from participants. In most cases, interns and externs will be tasked with basic responsibilities at first; as they progress through the internship, their workflow will be more advanced and employer expectations will increase. For students in computer science and information technology programs, some of the most common types of internships include:

  • Front-end engineering: These trainings will cover fundamentals of user-facing coding, testing, and removing bugs, and may be ideal for those seeking an online computer programming degree.
  • Back-end engineering: These trainings include coding, testing, and bug removal that takes place on servers and databases; back-end engineering is also suitable for online computer programming majors.
  • Information security: These trainings will introduce the best methods and strategies for identifying, evaluating, and addressing different types of information security threats.
  • Data engineering: These trainings will prepare students to collect, organize, store, and retrieve datasets, as well as manage databases.
  • Mobile technology: These trainings will help students gain experience in the design, testing, evaluation, and marketing of games, applications, and other programs for mobile devices.

Top internships and externships can be competitive, especially if space is limited to a select number of applicants. The best online computer science programs will produce students with the skills needed to excel at any internship or externship. To ensure they can compete for internship and externship spots, students should follow these tips:

  • Frequently visit your school's online career center to remain up-to-date on all current internship and externship opportunities. For some students, visiting the career at their brick-and-mortar campus may be most effective.
  • Ask professors, academic advisers, and other faculty members about internships and externships — even if they don't know of any opportunities, they can steer you in the right direction.
  • Attend local and campus-based job fair to inquire about internships and externships with company representatives. In some cases, job fair presenters will hire interns on the spot.
  • Job sites like Glassdoor, Monster, Indeed, and LinkedIn routinely post lists of internship opportunities, as well as helpful articles about applying for and participating in these training sessions.
  • Some internships pay students a small stipend, but career relevance is the most important consideration; avoid participating in internships that pay a little but will not help you land the career of your choice in the long run.
  • Consider an internship even if it's not required as part of your program. Online computer science students can boost their hireability and earning potential by participating in these onsite training sessions.

Open Courseware

In recent years, ‘open courseware' has become a popular educational alternative among teachers and students alike. The term refers to specialized, module-based courses that help students gain knowledge and skills in niche areas of their field. Though these courses follow a standard curricula and are led by experienced educators, they are typically free-of-charge and accessible to anyone. However, with rare exceptions, open courses do not award transferrable college credit.

Open courseware is especially helpful for students who are preparing to take a relatively difficult course, present a capstone project, or build a portfolio. Open courseware may also serve as a refresher for college graduates who are hoping to bone up on a particular subject that is relevant to their career. A wide range of open courseware is offered to computer science students. The following list includes some available open courses concentrated in computer science and information technology.

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