Best Online Computer Programming Degrees 2021

by TBS Staff
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Computer programming majors study programming languages like C++, Java, and Python in order to produce the codes for software applications and operating systems.

Programmers turn software designs into instructions that a computer can read and follow. Programmers also test programs, fix errors, and debug systems. While an accredited online computer programming degree prepares graduates to work in many different industries, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that most programmers work in computer systems design and related fields. According to BLS, computer programmers earned a median annual wage of $86,550 in 2019—117% higher than the median salary for all occupations.

While the BLS also projects slowed job growth rates for computer programmers through 2029, the skills learned in a computer programming bachelor’s degree can apply to several other jobs in IT. The BLS projects a 11% growth rate for all computer–related occupations in the same time period.

Professionals with a bachelor’s degree or higher and individuals fluent in several programming languages should enjoy excellent job prospects. Candidates may further strengthen their resumes by combining an online degree in computer programming with supplemental business or science courses. Some students round out their online computer programming degree by pursuing a concentration or by taking technical elective courses in areas like data structures, artificial intelligence, and computer graphics.

Top 10 Online Bachelor's in Computer Programming Programs 2021
#1 Penn State World Campus University Park, PA
#2 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH
#3 Arizona State University-Skysong Scottsdale, AZ
#4 Davenport University Grand Rapids, MI
#5 Oregon State University Corvallis, OR
#6 Central Methodist University Fayette, MO
#7 University of Illinois at Springfield Springfield, IL
#8 Baker College Owosso, MI
#9 Hodges University Naples, FL
#10 Regis University Denver, CO

Featured Online Computer Programming Degrees

The Advantages of a Computer Programming Education

In today’s competitive job market, computer programmers who hold a bachelor’s degree and understand multiple programming languages gain an edge over less–educated candidates. An associate–level online computer programming degree may lead to internship opportunities or entry–level positions in web development or computer support. However, many professionals are expected to hold a bachelor’s degree, including computer programmers, software developers, and information security analysts.

Individuals who earn a computer programming degree online also enjoy greater opportunities for professional growth, particularly in the computer science and information technology industries. For example, experienced computer programmers often transition to high–level software developer roles. BLS projects a 24% job growth rate for software developers from 2016 to 2026. Graduates can also improve their professional skills and increase their career advancement opportunities by pursuing vendor certifications and mastering specialized concepts in networking, systems analysis, database management, and mobile applications development.

Choosing an Online Computer Programming Degree Program

It is important to research and compare potential schools before selecting an online computer programming degree. As you explore your options, be sure to consider factors such as school accreditation status, residency requirements, admission prerequisites, and available concentrations. A degree should fit your career goals, lifestyle, and budget.

Accreditation for Online Computer Programming Degrees

Accredited schools provide the best online bachelor’s degree programs in computer science. Accreditation is a review process used to ensure that a school or program meets or exceeds quality standards. There are two types of accreditation: institutional and programmatic. While entire colleges and universities receive institutional accreditation, programmatic accreditation applies to programs, curricula, and departments within larger academic institutions. For example, many STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs hold accreditation from the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology.

Institutions may be regionally or nationally accredited. The U.S. is home to seven regional accrediting bodies, which mainly review nonprofit, degree–granting institutions. In contrast, national accrediting organizations typically assess for–profit, single–purpose schools, such as technical and vocational institutions. Nearly 3,000 American colleges and universities hold regional accreditation.

While the U.S. Department of Education (ED) recognizes all seven regional accrediting bodies, it does not approve all national accreditors. The ED works alongside the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) to review and recognize accreditation standards and accrediting organizations. Both the ED and CHEA maintain comprehensive databases of accredited schools and programs on their respective websites.

Computer Programming Concentrations

Many programs offer computer programming as a concentration under a computer science or information technology degree. A standalone BS in computer programming may offer specializations in areas such as game development or mobile apps.

Computer Security

Cybersecurity is an increasingly in-demand subfield of information technology and computer science. Students pursuing this concentration explore topics such as computer network security, data mining, cryptography, computer forensics, and secure software systems. Candidates learn to protect data, computer networks, and databases from unauthorized access or criminal threat.

Careers This Concentration Prepares For:

Information Security Analyst, Forensic Computer Analyst, Security Architect

Game Development

An online computer programming degree with a game development specialization explores the algorithms, processes, and technologies involved in video game creation. Along with courses in game design and development and computer graphics, students take highly specialized classes like human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, and modeling and simulation.

Careers This Concentration Prepares For:

Game Programmer, Game Designer

Mobile Application Development

This concentration imparts the skills needed to develop software and design mobile apps for the iOS and Android operating systems. Candidates explore programming languages like Swift, Java, Python, and PHP. Common course topics include mobile backend service, web/mobile user experience, and mobile interface implementation.

Careers This Concentration Prepares For:

Computer Programmer, Mobile Developer, Mobile Game Developer

Data Mining

Students pursuing a computer programming degree online can broaden their computer science expertise with a concentration in data mining. This track teaches candidates to work with big data and large databases. Along with courses on data structures and discrete structures, students explore topics like assembly language programming, probability, and statistics.

Careers This Concentration Prepares For:

Data Mining Specialist, Database Programmer

Machine Learning

Computer experts use machine learning techniques and applications in many different fields, including bioinformatics, finance, and information retrieval. Typical course offerings include data mining, computational learning theory, computer vision, robotics, and natural language processing.

Careers This Concentration Prepares For:

Computer Programmer, Data Mining Specialist, Machine Learning Engineer

How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Computer Programming?

The average online college computer programming degree includes roughly 120 course credits. Full–time students typically graduate in four years, while part–time learners tend to spend an additional 2–3 years on their studies. However, there are many variables that can influence a program’s duration, including semesterly course load, program format, and any transfer credits a student may hold. While many online programs offer accelerated, self–paced schedules, others use a cohort learning model. Students in a cohort complete courses with the same peer group, from the first day of class to graduation. This lock–step approach fosters student–faculty collaboration and peer interaction, but typically takes longer to complete. In contrast, competency–based programs allow learners to move through courses as quickly as they can master a skill or lesson. Transfer credit can also shorten program length. Most schools accept 30–90 credits of prior coursework. Some two–year degree completion programs admit students who already hold an associate degree.

Courses in an Online Bachelor’s in Computer Programming Program

Typical courses in a computer programming bachelor’s program address operating systems, networking, troubleshooting techniques, and algorithms. Most curricula culminate in a final capstone project, during which students synthesize and demonstrate their acquired skills.

Professional experience plays a critical role in finding employment, and many online computer programming degrees include internship opportunities. Internships provide an effective way to gain hands–on experience in tech–based work environments. They can also prepare students for program–specific certification exams. Candidates who obtain certification in products such as Microsoft or Cisco often enjoy an edge over competitors in the job market.

While every program is different, an online computer programming degree usually offers one or more of the following courses.

  • Game Programming: This course presents the basic programming and design skills used to create personal computer, console, and mobile games. Class topics include problem-solving, level design, physics laws within gaming environments, and 2D and 3D design.
  • Data Warehousing: Students in this online computer science course explore major data warehouse design concepts, including data modeling, database access, and implementation. Candidates acquire the concepts, methods, and skills needed to mine data warehouses for information and create new data acquisition strategies.
  • Object–Oriented Programming: This class surveys introductory concepts and principles related to object-oriented programming, including encapsulation, abstraction, inheritance, and polymorphism. The best online bachelor’s degree programs in computer science typically begin an object-oriented programming course with a review of control structures and data types, then move on to paradigms.
  • Operating Systems: In an operating systems course, students examine the core concepts behind operating systems such as UNIX, Windows, and iOS. Typical course topics include OS processes and threads, memory management, file systems, CPU scheduling, input/output, and synchronization. Security is also an essential topic when discussing operating systems. Students learn about threats like malware and common security techniques like access control and intrusion detection.
  • Software Testing: Emphasizing hands-on learning, this class presents integral methods and specialized strategies for unit and mutation testing. Candidates master object-oriented, component-based, distributed, and concurrent testing phases for different types of software.

Computer Programming Degree Salary Information

In the ever–expanding tech industry, earning a computer programming degree online can lead to a variety of career opportunities in many different settings. A bachelor’s degree in computer programming qualifies graduates for entry–level positions in software development, network and system administration, and other computer science and information technology fields. While job requirements vary considerably between employers, gaining additional work experience and specialized skills can help advance your career. Below are a few of the most common jobs for computer programming graduates.

Computer Programmer

Computer Programmers write code, test programs, and fix bugs. Most possess a bachelor’s degree and a working knowledge of one or more computer languages, such as C++ or Java. Using programming languages, they translate designs or applications into code that computers use to produce meaningful output.

Software Developer

Most Software Developers focus on designing either operating systems or computer applications. These professionals must possess strong computer programming skills.

Network Administrator

Network Administrators are charged with maintaining local area networks, wide area networks, and intranets, network administrators ensure that an organization’s computer network and operations run smoothly. They administer updates, install upgrades, and maintain network security. They also troubleshoot any network–related problems that may arise.

Database Administrator

Database Administrators create databases to store and organize data. Their daily duties include testing and modifying database structures, merging databases, and protecting data from unauthorized access. Database administrators typically hold a degree in computer science or information systems.

Computer Systems Analyst

Computer Systems Analysts improve organizational efficiency by overhauling, updating, and modifying computer systems. Many systems architects benefit from an academic background in computer programming, especially when creating data models.

Computer Programming Membership Associations

Students who join computer science or information technology membership associations establish valuable contacts, build professional networks, and gain new skills after graduation. Professional organizations like the groups below provide members with a host of benefits, including continuing education opportunities, industry publications, and career services. Many host networking events like annual conferences and workshops and provide special benefits for student members.

The IEEE Computer Society works to advance the theory, practice, and application of computer and information science. The association provides more than 60,000 members with networking opportunities, career resources, and recognition opportunities. Members can also access discounts on conferences, events, and publications. Established in 1978, AWC was a pioneering organization for women in the computing field, and to this day, the association continues to support women in technology. Most chapters hold monthly meetings, which typically include an informative presentation related to information technology and professional or personal growth. As a premier advocate for technology professionals, CompTIA AITP serves individuals looking to start, grow, and advance their IT careers. State chapters allow members to stay current on industry trends and collaborate with peers. This international society promotes AI research and responsible practices. AAAI also helps the public better understand AI and its potential. AAAI hosts conferences, symposia, and workshops, and members can apply for grant and scholarship opportunities. ACM unites more than 100,000 computing professionals from around the world. Members receive access to continuing education programs, career development opportunities, and events.

The Best Online Bachelor’s in Computer Programming Programs

Penn State World Campus true View School Profile $$$$ University Park, PA 71% 48% 100% Pennsylvania State University World Campus is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

Penn State World Campus began offering online classes in 1998, and today teaches more than 150 accredited online degree programs.

Penn State World Campus's bachelor of science in software engineering focuses on computer science and engineering. Coursework covers computer programming, software design and security, object-oriented methodology, and more.

Students take online classes and complete software development and design projects to fulfill the curriculum.

Senior year students must complete an industry-sponsored design project with other students.

Applicants to the major need a GPA of at least 2.7 and successful completion of certain calculus classes.

Southern New Hampshire University true View School Profile Manchester, NH 54% 68% 93% Southern New Hampshire University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

SNHU, a private non-profit university, enrolls 3,000 on-campus students and over 135,000 online students.

The bachelor of science in computer science degree uses programming languages such as Python, Java, and C++ to prepare students for software development at the industry level. Students will learn how to develop software and gain experience with full-stack development.

This degree offers four different concentrations: data analysis, project management for STEM, information security, and software engineering. The program entails degree-specific courses in addition to general education.

Interested applicants need a GED or high school diploma to apply.

Arizona State University-Skysong true View School Profile $$ Scottsdale, AZ 14% 55% 97% Arizona State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

ASU, a public university with over 20,000 yearly enrolled students, works actively with NASA on development projects

The online bachelors of science in software engineering program trains students on software fundamentals in math, programming, and systems management. Coursework covers building code, program development, programming languages, and more.

Students will engage with a program that is primarily project-focused, with students completing a software engineering project every semester. Each project is developed with other students in the program.

Davenport University true View School Profile Grand Rapids, MI 45% 59% 73% Davenport University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

DU, founded in 1866, offers 22 bachelor's degree programs both in-person and online. It functions as a private, nonprofit university.

The bachelor of science in computer science degree includes three concentration options for students: computer theory and algorithms, gaming and simulations, and artificial intelligence. The gaming and simulations concentration requires on-campus attendance for use of the state-of-the-art gaming lab. The rest of the program consists of online coursework.

The program includes courses such as database design, intro to programming, data communications, and networks.

Interested applicants need a GED or high school diploma to apply.

Oregon State University true View School Profile $$$ Corvallis, OR 67% 43% 43% Oregon State University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

A public research university, OSU serves students across two campuses and offers over 200 programs and certifications.

The bachelor of science in computer science degree provides students with an advanced skill set in programming fundamentals, mobile and web development, and network security. Faculty with hands-on experience in the industry lead the online program.

Students can enroll in an applied computer science concentration. Individuals choosing this specialty will be required to build a unique curriculum in the area of computer security.

To graduate, students must complete a three-term capstone design project. Interested applicants need a high school diploma or a GED.

Central Methodist University View School Profile Fayette, MO 26% 55% Central Methodist University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

CMU, founded in 1854, enrolls 1,100 on-campus each year. Roughly 4,000 additional students attend online classes through CMU's College of Graduate and Extended Studies.

Students may complete a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science in computer science. The program teaches students how to understand computer systems through communication and problem-solving skills. Classes focus on programming languages, database technologies, and computer architecture.

First-year applicants need a high school diploma or GED, complete no more than 11 college credit hours, and send in either SAT or ACT scores. Transfer applicants must submit official transcripts showing a 2.0 GPA.

University of Illinois at Springfield View School Profile $$ Springfield, IL 51% 46% 68% University of Illinois at Springfield is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

The bachelor of science in computer science provides students with foundational coursework in the theories of computer science. Enrolled students can choose between a systems security, software engineering, or information assurance concentration. Courses cover topics such as data structures and algorithms, programming languages, and operating systems.

Interested applicants need high school transcripts with at least a 2.0 GPA to apply. Transcripts should also show one semester of calculus, statistics, and discrete or finite math.

Baker College View School Profile Owosso, MI 19% 65% 58% Baker College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

An independent, non-profit college, Baker began offering online classes in 1994.

The bachelor of science in computer science degree offers a concentration in computer programming. The curriculum prepares students to develop the architecture and code for advanced computing systems. Coursework focuses on data structures, algorithms, computer architecture, artificial intelligence, and more.

Students complete a year-long senior project and a 150-hour work experience in a professional company.

Applicants need a high school diploma or GED to apply.

Hodges University View School Profile Naples, FL 22% 56% 92% Hodges University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Founded in 1990, Hodges offers undergraduate, master's, doctoral, and certificate programs.

Hodges offers an online bachelor of science in software development, computer information technology, or cybersecurity. Coursework prepares students to work in hands-on or theoretical computer environments and covers both hardware and software components. Software development students focus on coding for the web, gaming, and other applications.

Applicants need a high school diploma or GED to apply.

Regis University View School Profile Denver, CO 69% 47% 63% Regis University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Regis enrolls over 6,900 students annually. The Jesuit university teaches out of three different campuses located in the Denver area.

Regis's bachelor of science in computer science degree provides students with the ability to use multiple programming languages to create software solutions for critical real-world problems. Courses take place in eight-week terms and in a completely online format.

Interested applicants must submit official transcripts from a high school or prior college transcripts. Transfer students may transfer up to 66 total credits.

Husson University View School Profile Bangor, ME 55% 78% 50% Husson University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

Husson University, founded in 1898, functions as a non-profit, private institution. It began offering bachelor's degrees in 1953.

The bachelor of science in integrated technology – software development program provides hands-on coursework for students interested in developing software solutions. The curriculum focuses on computer programming, systems analysis, and workflow management.

Full-time students transferring 60-90 credits may complete the program in as little as 12 months.

In order to apply, individuals need a high school diploma or GED, an ACT or SAT score, previous college transcripts (if any), and an online application.

Saint Cloud State University View School Profile $$ Saint Cloud, MN 44% 41% 31% Saint Cloud State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

SCSU offers 200 undergraduate programs and over 60 graduate degrees and certifications.

The software engineering degree requires students to complete a relevant project every semester. Coursework combines computing skills, project management, and engineering principles. Students in the program will be provided with state-of-the-art technologies to practice game design and various mobile/web applications.

The same faculty that leads in-person classes also leads the online curriculum.

Interested applicants must submit previous transcripts to apply. A degree completion option is also available online for adults with existing two- or four-year degrees.

Saint Leo University View School Profile Saint Leo, FL 45% 55% 74% Saint Leo University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Saint Leo University, a Catholic university with over 2,400 yearly enrolled students, teaches out of 16 regional campuses. The university offers both in-person and online degrees.

Saint Leo's bachelor of science in computer science degree provides students with the ability to design and manage software multimedia. Students practice computer techniques in skills such as programming, information security, and artificial intelligence. Courses cover various programming languages, computer and operating systems, and database concepts.

All applicants need previous high school or college transcripts.

Lewis University View School Profile Romeoville, IL 64% 61% 41% Lewis University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Lewis University, located outside of Chicago, Illinois, enrolls over 6,500 students annually.

Lewis's bachelor of science in computer science program focuses on popular programming languages — such as Python, Java, C# — and computer design. The program also includes cybersecurity tasks, encryption, and how to implement AI.

Students can choose between an accelerated or traditional format. Students looking for fewer math requirements may also elect to complete a bachelor of arts option.

Interested applicants need previous high school transcripts and a diploma/GED to apply.

Limestone College View School Profile Gaffney, SC 35% 72% 56% Limestone College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Limestone College, founded in 1865 as the first all-female college in South Carolina, now teaches students from all demographics with a Christian lens.

The online bachelor of science in computer science - programming degree trains students to create and maintain information systems, code, and applications at the industry level. Asynchronous coursework covers programming, operating systems, project management, and more. Students take two courses at a time in eight-week terms.

Interested students need previous transcripts and SAT or ACT test scores to apply.

Champlain College View School Profile Burlington, VT 64% 54% 52% Champlain College is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

Champlain, a private, non-profit institution, enrolls 2,100 students in undergraduate and graduate programs annually.

The online bachelor of science in software development degree requires 10-17 hours of coursework per week. The curriculum builds on existing technical skills to further students' capacity in software development through hands-on learning.

Courses take place across two seven-week terms per semester.

Previous transcripts and test scores from either ACT or SAT required to apply. Applicants may transfer up to 90 credits.

Bellevue University View School Profile Bellevue, NE 40% 85% Bellevue University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Founded in 1966, BU functions as a nonprofit, public institution that offers more than 75 online degree programs.

BU's online bachelor of science in software development degree provides students with hands-on learning via projects in programming design. In addition to necessary software skills, coursework focuses on project management and other communication soft skills. Graduates are prepared to pursue CompTIA+certification.

Coursework takes place in six- or eight-week courses, with students taking one course at a time.

Applicants need previous transcripts, an online application, and a high school diploma or GED.

Western Governors University View School Profile Salt Lake City, UT 29% 55% 100% Western Governors University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

WGU, the first university founded in the U.S. using competency-based learning, enrolls nearly 120,000 students every year.

The online bachelor of science in software development instills a strong foundation in web development, computer programming, and application development. Students choose to concentrate in either Java or C#. The program includes certifications such as CompTIA A+ and CIW User Interface Designer.

To graduate, students must complete a capstone project solving a real-world problem.

Interested applicants must submit an online application and previous transcripts.

Charleston Southern University View School Profile Charleston, SC 42% 77% 39% Charleston Southern University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

A Christian university, CSU offers both undergraduate and graduate programs to over 3,400 students.

The bachelor of technology in computer science degree focuses on the fundamentals of computer science and advanced mathematics. Students will learn computer programming, networking, technical program management, and app design. The degree requires all students to complete a senior project for hands-on experience.

Applicants need high school transcripts or a GED to apply.

National University View School Profile La Jolla, CA 36% 36% 61% National University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

National University, founded in 1971, now functions as a private university with over 75 degree offerings.

The bachelor of science in computer science offers students the opportunity to gain a full degree online with a four-week format for each course. The coursework mixes academic and real-world programming assignments in topics like computer communication networks, software engineering, and computer architecture.

Interested applicants need previous transcripts to apply. Applications are accepted year-round with new classes beginning monthly.

Best Online Bachelor's

Online Bachelor's in Computer Programming Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

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