Best Online Bachelor's in Computer Programming 2021

Best Online Bachelor's in Computer Programming 2021

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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 Pennsylvania State University-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-College of Graduate and Extended Studies 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

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 22% job growth rate for software developers from 2019 to 2029. 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.

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.

  • IEEE Computer Society 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.
  • Association for Women in Computing 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.
  • CompTIA Association for Information Technology 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.
  • Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence 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.
  • Association for Computer Machinery 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

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Davenport University 

Grand Rapids, MI Apply Now

About this school

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.

Davenport University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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Oregon State University 

Corvallis, OR Apply Now

About this school

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.

Oregon State University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

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Central Methodist University-College of Graduate and Extended Studies 

Fayette, MO Apply Now

About this school

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.

Central Methodist University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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University of Illinois at Springfield 

Springfield, IL Apply Now

About this school

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.

University of Illinois at Springfield is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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Baker College 

Owosso, MI Apply Now

About this school

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.

Baker College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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Hodges University 

Naples, FL Apply Now

About this school

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.

Hodges University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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Regis University 

Denver, CO Apply Now

About this school

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.

Regis University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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Husson University 

Bangor, ME Apply Now

About this school

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.

Husson University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

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Saint Cloud State University 

Saint Cloud, MN Apply Now

About this school

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 Cloud State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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Saint Leo University 

Saint Leo, FL Apply Now

About this school

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.

Saint Leo University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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Lewis University 

Romeoville, IL Apply Now

About this school

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.

Lewis University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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Limestone College 

Gaffney, SC Apply Now

About this school

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.

Limestone College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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Champlain College 

Burlington, VT Apply Now

About this school

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.

Champlain College is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

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Bellevue University 

Bellevue, NE Apply Now

About this school

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.

Bellevue University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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Western Governors University 

Salt Lake City, UT Apply Now

About this school

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.

Western Governors University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

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Charleston Southern University 

Charleston, SC Apply Now

About this school

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.

Charleston Southern University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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National University 

La Jolla, CA Apply Now

About this school

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.

National University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

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End of list, bravo!

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