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.
|#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 Schools
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. Below are a few variables to keep in mind as you investigate program options.
- Program Cost: Online college computer programming degrees tend to cost less than their on–campus counterparts, and distance learners avoid many expenses like room and board and transportation. While many schools charge higher tuition rates for out–of–state students, others offer flat or discounted tuition for all online students, regardless of their state of residence. Learners who have previously completed college–level coursework may also save money by transferring their credits.
- Transfer Policies: Before applying to a program, prospective transfer students should research any restrictions, such as their previous school’s accreditation status and minimum GPA requirements. Many state colleges and universities maintain articulation agreements with local two–year colleges, offering transfer–ready degrees that guarantee graduates admission to a bachelor’s program.
- School Size and Type: Small colleges and universities enroll fewer than 5,000 students each semester and tend to feature low student–to–faculty ratios. While small schools typically provide candidates with more individual attention, they may offer fewer programs and course options than larger universities. The College Board’s Trends in College Pricing 2018 report [PDF] found that the median in–state tuition for nonprofit private vs. public colleges was $36,890 and $8,600, respectively. The same report determined that out–of–state public university tuition rose to $26,290 in 2018.
- Program Length: Most full–time students can complete a 120–credit bachelor’s program in around four years. Part–time learners may take up to seven years to graduate. However, some schools offer accelerated program options that let candidates earn a degree in less time.
- On–Campus Requirements: A few online programs include on–campus components, such as mandatory orientation, testing, lab work, or seminars. Students who earn an online degree for computer programming usually take proctored exams at approved nearby locations.
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.
Students should attend a regionally accredited school to qualify for federal financial aid eligibility and transfer credit acceptance.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Most Software Developers focus on designing either operating systems or computer applications. These professionals must possess strong computer programming skills.
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 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 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 Best Online Bachelor’s in Computer Programming Programs
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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, 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.
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, 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, 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, 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, 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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
Online Bachelor's in Computer Programming Programs Ranking Guidelines
We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.
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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.
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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.
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Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology
About Our Ranking Factors
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