Best Online Computer Programming Degrees

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.

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.

Featured Online Computer Programming Degrees

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 Degree 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.

The Best Online Bachelor’s in Computer Programming Degrees Programs

  1. Penn State World Campus
    Location

    University Park, PA

    Tuition

    $21678

    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.

  2. Southern New Hampshire University
    Location

    Manchester, NH

    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.

  3. Arizona State University-Skysong
    Location

    Scottsdale, AZ

    Tuition

    $14166

    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.

  4. Davenport University
    Location

    Grand Rapids, MI

    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.

  5. Oregon State University
    Location

    Corvallis, OR

    Tuition

    $18625

    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.

  6. Central Methodist University
    Location

    Fayette, MO

    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.

  7. University of Illinois at Springfield
    Location

    Springfield, IL

    Tuition

    $10733

    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.

  8. Baker College
    Location

    Owosso, MI

    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.

  9. Hodges University
    Location

    Naples, FL

    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.

  10. Regis University
    Location

    Denver, CO

    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.

Featured Computer Science Programs

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