Best Online Computer Science Degrees 2021
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An online bachelor's degree in computer science can open rewarding career paths.
An online computer science degree can help professionals advance their current careers or enter a new field. Computer science graduates can pursue careers as software developers, data scientists, and information security analysts — all jobs that offer median salaries in the six figures and faster-than-average projected job growth.
Many computer science employees work remotely, making these careers largely pandemic-proof. As the tech industry continues to grow, online computer science graduates can expect strong career demand. Computer science graduates can also pursue graduate programs in computer science, data science, or machine learning.
Our ranking of the best online bachelor's in computer science programs can help students find the right fit. This article also explores career and salary outlooks for different computer science jobs.
What Is Computer Science?
Computer science is the study of computers, computer technology, and computational systems. Computer scientists work in fields like technology, business, healthcare, and academia.
Computer scientists write software code, solve computing problems, and design algorithms to analyze data. Computer science professionals can specialize in areas like computer systems, programming languages, or software engineering. Newer specialties include artificial intelligence and human-computer interactions, which rely on cutting-edge technology.
What Is an Online Computer Science Degree?
An online bachelor's in computer science program covers fundamental computing and programming concepts. Students learn programming languages and the basics of software engineering. Many online computer science programs offer concentrations that allow students to tailor their degrees to specific career goals. Common concentrations include data science, information security, and information management systems.
Online bachelor's in computer science programs also include general education and elective courses. General education requirements usually cover humanities, social science, and natural science classes, which all help build critical thinking skills.
The flexibility of attending an online college may appeal to students balancing their studies with work and family obligations. Online learners typically complete the same coursework and requirements as students in on-campus programs.
Choosing the Best Online Computer Science Degree Program
Prospective students should consider factors like tuition cost, degree requirements, and institutional reputation when choosing an online program. You can use our resources to learn more about what to look for in an online college and how to pick a college. You can also check out our resource on how to choose your major.
Popular Online Computer Science Programs
The Best Online Bachelor's in Computer Science Programs
Founded in 1932, SNHU offers more than 200 online programs, including an online bachelor of computer science degree. This 120-credit program includes core courses in server and full-stack development, along with concentrations in data analysis, STEM project management, information security, and software engineering.
At SNHU, online classes run asynchronously through six eight-week sessions, and enrollees can start during any term. Applicants may receive up to 90 transfer credits, and candidates with industry certifications can qualify for additional credit.
Davenport has run online programs since 1999 and now enrolls approximately 3,000 students. In the 120-credit online computer science degree, enrollees take courses in computer vision and distributed systems. They can also choose between concentrations in artificial intelligence, computer theory and algorithms, or gaming and simulations.
Davenport enrollees can complete the program entirely online, except for the gaming concentration, which requires practical training in the school's gaming lab. Classes begin in the spring, fall, and summer, running through seven-week, 10-week, and 15-week sessions.
Oregon State has offered distance education since the 1910s. Today, it builds on that tradition with its online computer science degree. The 180-quarter-credit degree includes courses in cryptography and web development, along with a three-term engineering design capstone.
Oregon State also offers an applied computer science option with a security emphasis, and learners can add a minor or a certificate to their studies. Applicants need a 3.0 GPA at minimum for admission, and they can start during any of the school's four terms.
Since launching one of the earliest online programs, Regis has grown its online learning system to include more than 70 undergraduate programs. In its 120-credit, online computer science degree, learners take courses in data networks, advanced UNIX, and systems security.
Regis students can complete the entire program online and asynchronously, unless they choose an internship, which may require in-person participation. Classes take place in eight-week sessions, and enrollees can choose from six start dates. Degree-seekers with graduate aspirations can enroll in an accelerated program to earn both a bachelor's and master's in cs online.
Founded in 1969, UIS offers more than 50 online programs. Its 120-credit, online bachelor of computer science degree includes emphasis options in systems security and software engineering, each with seven required courses and a capstone.
UIS online classes take place during the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Though most classes run asynchronously, some courses use synchronous sessions. For admission, applicants need a 2.0 GPA, along with Java programming and mathematics experience.
CMU was founded in 1854 and now enrolls more than 4,000 students annually, including students in online classes. The school offers online computer science degrees through both bachelor of arts and bachelor of science programs. Enrollees complete 120 credits in courses like computer architecture and data structures and algorithms.
The CMU program allows learners to take asynchronous courses every 8-16 weeks. For admission, applicants need a minimum GPA of 2.5, along with SAT scores over 1050 or ACT scores over 21.
Saint Leo is one of the oldest Catholic universities in Florida. It offers more than 25 undergraduate programs for online learners, including its online bachelor's degree in computer science. In this 120-credit program, training includes systems administration, programming languages, and network theory.
Online programs at Saint Leo offer five start dates, and most classes run asynchronously in eight-week terms, though some run in 16-week sessions. While enrollees can complete their degrees entirely online, Saint Leo also offers two computer labs and an information assurance lab on campus for computer science learners to use.
Since its founding in 1932, Lewis has developed into a leader in distance education, offering more than 15 online programs. Its accelerated, online computer science degree comprises 128 credits and provides training in computer organization and legal and ethical issues in computing. Enrollees also complete a capstone sequence to gain practical experience.
Computer science students can choose from concentrations in gaming, artificial intelligence, mobile computer, and secure and systems programming. Online classes at Lewis run asynchronously through eight-week terms, though the odd synchronous session or proctored exam may also appear.
Striving for accessibility since its inception in 1971, NU introduced online programs in 1999 and now offers more than 45 degrees for online learners. The 180-quarter-unit online computer science degree includes courses in database design, digital logic design, and discrete structures.
NU offers monthly start dates, and classes run asynchronously through four-week sessions. Students can also join a transition program to fast-track their route to a master's-level education in computer science. For direct entry, applicants need a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Baker has led in online learning since 1994 and now offers nearly 20 online bachelor's degrees. Its 120-credit, online computer science degree includes courses in emerging programming languages and computer architecture. The program also has practicum requirements, including a year-long project and a 150-hour internship.
Online students at Baker have six start dates to choose from each year, with classes running asynchronously through eight-week sessions. Enrollees typically complete their training within four years and can continue into the computer science graduate program if they wish.
Online Computer Science Programs Ranking Guidelines
We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.
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.
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.
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What Can I Do With a Degree in Computer Science?
Bachelor's in computer science programs prepare graduates for tech careers with strong job growth potential. Graduates can work as computer information systems managers, data scientists, and computer systems analysts.
Graduates can advance their careers with an online master's degree in computer science. Specialization options include information assurance security, information technology, data science, and management for information systems.
Computer Science Salary Information
|Median Salary 2020: $151,150||Projected Job Growth 2020-2030: 11%|
Computer and information systems managers — also known as IT managers — oversee an organization's computer-related activities. They determine IT goals and design computer networks to meet those goals. These professionals also oversee IT employees, ensure cybersecurity, and analyze the costs and benefits of system upgrades. They may make recommendations to top executives. Computer information systems managers typically need a bachelor's degree in computer science and work experience.
|Median Salary 2020: $126,830||Projected Job Growth 2020-2030: 22%|
Data scientists create algorithms to analyze large datasets and detect patterns. They also develop tools to sort, manage, and display data. They can find work across industries, including business, healthcare, and science. Candidates must have strong programming and computing skills, in addition to analytical and critical thinking abilities. Many data scientist jobs require a master's degree, though some employers may hire candidates with a bachelor's in computer science.
|Median Salary 2020: $93,730||Projected Job Growth 2020-2030: 7%|
Computer systems analysts — also known as systems architects — manage the efficiency and effectiveness of an organization's computing systems. They work with managers to understand IT needs, then research new technologies and conduct cost-benefit analyses for system upgrades. They also install and configure new systems and conduct performance testing.
A bachelor's degree in computer science meets the entry-level education requirements for most computer systems analyst jobs.
|Median Salary 2020: $126,830||Projected Job Growth 2020-2030: 22%|
Computer information scientists create new technologies and applications for existing technologies. Depending on specialty, they may conduct research, develop computational theories, and create new computing languages. Some computer information scientists specialize in areas like programming or robotics.
These professionals work in many industries, including business, science, and medicine. Many positions require a master's degree, though some entry-level and government roles only require a bachelor's in computer science.
Computer Science Jobs for Bachelor's Degree-Holders
Graduates with an online bachelor's degree in computer science can pursue varied careers, including those listed below.
- Business intelligence analyst
- Computer engineer
- Computer programmer
- Computer scientist
- Computer systems analyst
- Database administrator
- Database developer
- Information assurance officer
- Information security analyst
- Information systems manager
- IT security analyst
- Mobile applications developer
- Network administrator
- Network architect
- Network engineer
- Network systems administrator
- Simulation expert
- Software developer
- Software project manager
- Systems analyst
- Systems integrator
- Systems software developer
- System test engineer
Other Computer Science Careers
Computer science professionals with other credentials — such as a master's degree — can pursue jobs like those listed below.
- Artificial intelligence
- Computer and information systems management
- Computer information security
- Computer networking
- Computer programming
- Computer systems analysis
- Database administration
- Database development
- Networks administration
- Software development and engineering
- System design, administration, and analysis
- Training and project management
- Video game programming and digital arts
- Web and application programming
- Web development
Computer Science Expert Advice
Dr. Razib Iqbal is an associate professor in the department of computer science at Missouri State University. He received a BS from North South University, Bangladesh, and MS and Ph.D. degrees from University of Ottawa, Canada.
Prof. Iqbal is the director of the Multimedia Systems and Communications (MuSyC) Laboratory. He researches multimedia systems and communications, Internet of Things, and software engineering. He started his academic career at Valley City State University as an assistant professor of software engineering, and he was a development expert with Bridgewater Systems Division of Amdocs, Ottawa, Canada.
The ability to code to solve real-life computing problems and to troubleshoot and fix defects in computer software helped me to gradually fall in love with computer science and software engineering.
We use computers as a tool. Therefore, students would benefit from creative problem-solving and logical thinking skills to learn to make a computer do something specific.
In addition, enthusiasm for working in a group and collaborating effectively with others is a definite plus — in both the classroom and professional settings.
Online study gives us the flexibility to earn the degree at a custom pace, on our own terms. Plus, this field is all about computers and computing. As long as you have a computer and internet access, you have the necessary tools to immerse yourself into the classroom.
The COVID‐19 pandemic prompted a paradigm shift toward online or virtual settings for business meetings, team collaboration, and classrooms. Therefore, students may benefit from pursuing a computer science degree online while using the extra time and space for practice and further personal development.
Almost every business sector uses computers and technology that require someone to design new computer applications, write code, fix problems, and administer it. Therefore, the lack of qualified graduates in the computing field opens doors to a variety of well-paying careers.
Questions About Computer Science Degrees
Most schools offer a BS in computer science, though some schools offer the degree as a BA. A BS tends to focus more on technical skill, while a BA includes general liberal arts coursework.
Students complete a mix of general education and computer science courses while earning a computer science bachelor's degree. This includes a number of math and logic courses.
It usually takes four years of full-time study to earn an online bachelor's in computer science degree, though some programs offer accelerated timelines. Students who have associate degrees can typically graduate in two years.
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