If you’re interested in creating new apps and software, earning an online computer programming degree may be right for you. Programmers play a crucial role in the world of technology. They are the writers and translators of computer code, turning engineers’ and developers’ ideas into code a computer can understand. Programming degrees emphasize troubleshooting, analytical thinking, and concentration skills, all highly desirable among employers in the tech industry.
While most professionals in computer technology receive high pay and career growth, employment prospects for software developers are especially favorable. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 24% growth rate in professional opportunities for software developers by 2016. Additionally, developers earn an average annual salary of $102,280.
Choosing a Program
Earning a computer programming degree online has never been more flexible and accessible. 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. Common classes include operating systems, networking, troubleshooting techniques, and algorithms. The degree usually culminates in a final capstone project in which students demonstrate skills they gained through the course of the program.
As professional experience is critical to finding a job after graduation, many online computer programming degrees also offer internship opportunities. Internships are effective tools for students looking to gain hands-on experience in various tech-based work environments. They can also prepare students for program-specific certification exams. While not always required by employers, certification in particular products such as Microsoft or Cisco can help give candidates an edge over competitors in the job market.
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Online Bachelor’s in Computer Programming Degree Program Ranking Guidelines
We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.
The Best Online Bachelor’s in Computer Programming Programs
1 Champlain College
Based in Burlington, Vermont, Champlain College offers several online programs. The school’s bachelor’s in online software development track is one of the best online computer science degree programs of its kind. Champlain designed this program for working professionals who want to break into the field of computer programming. The curriculum teaches students the skills necessary to design, develop, and manage computer programs, web applications, and databases. Graduates can pursue a growing number of tech-based careers.
The school’s online computer programming degree requires individuals to earn 120 credits, 90 of which can be transferred from another institution. With the exception of a few intensive, 15-week long courses, such as data and algorithms, most classes last seven weeks. Semesters consist of two, seven-week sessions. Students can access online coursework 24 hours a day, without set class meeting times, allowing individuals to complete assignments at their convenience.
Students take 63 credit credits of professional courses, including introduction to computer systems, networking fundamentals, and foundations of cyber security. Distance learners also complete general education courses in technical writing, ethics in the profession, and discrete mathematics.
Champlain offers six different start dates throughout the year.The program also offers certifications in C++ programming, Java programming, software development, and visual C#, which students can earn before graduating.
Champlain College is regionally accredited from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
2 Fort Hays State University
Based in northwestern Kansas, Fort Hays State University’s virtual college offers students a convenient and affordable way to earn an undergraduate degree. The school’s online BS in computer science is a relatively new program that prepares students for careers in web development and computer engineering. Graduates can pursue jobs at universities, leading tech companies like Google and Facebook, and regional companies like Cargill.
The school’s computer programming online degree uses a flexible structure that allows full- or part-time students to take as many courses as their schedules can handle. Students can even skip a semester if they need to. To help interested students decide whether or not distance learning is right for them, the school’s website offers a short 15 question quiz.
The program requires students to complete 120 credits. The three-part curriculum consists of general education courses, including computer literacy and elements of statistics, as well as a selection of major courses and an emphasis track in either business or networking. Major coursework features classes in java programming and software engineering. The networking emphasis focuses on interworking and advanced LAN networking, while business courses include principles of accounting and managerial finance. Students also take a one-credit capstone requirement to complete the program.
Fort Hays State University is regionally accredited from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
3 Davenport University
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Davenport University is a nonprofit school that boasts diverse online course offerings and a small student to teacher ratio. The school’s online BS in computer science program teaches students how to write software, qualifying them for jobs in the fields of IT, telecommunications, education, and finance. The program encourages students to explore a range of programming interests, including gaming, robotics, and artificial intelligence. Graduates can become software engineers, mobile app developers, and game developers.
Distance learners pursuing this online degree in computer programming must complete 120 credits, and they can take classes online or in-person. Required courses include database design, diversity in society, and software engineering. After completing required courses, students specialize in one of three areas: biometrics, computer architecture and algorithms, or gaming and simulation. Distance learners take 12 credits of coursework focusing on their chosen specialization. Interested students can also add a specialty in math modeling.
Davenport University accepts many types of transfer credits, including some qualifying high school courses. Students can also earn several certifications, including certificates from Adobe and Microsoft, which can set individuals apart from their peers when it comes time to look for a job. 97% of Davenport University’s student body receive some form of financial aid.
Davenport University is regionally accredited from the Higher Learning Commission.
4 Western Governors University
Salt Lake City, Utah
With a main campus in Salt Lake City, Utah, Western Governors University’s BS in software development degree is available through a competency-based online program. This track prepares students for careers in web development, app development, and computer programming. The program focuses on practical applications of course material, ensuring that everything students learn in the classroom can be directly applied to their professional lives.
The program is different from other computer science online degree programs in that it is competency-based, meaning students advance through the curriculum at whatever speed fits their particular learning style and professional background. Students with prior knowledge or experience can test out of courses and advance rapidly. Dedicated individuals often finish the program ahead of schedule, sometimes in as few as six months. The median time frame is two years, and the average students transfers 31 credits into the program.
This online degree consists of 34 courses, all of which can be completed online in an asynchronous format. Students take one course at a time, completing papers, projects, and assessments. Individuals progress to the next course in the degree track once they pass a final competency test.
Course offerings include scripting and programming foundations, user interface design, and software engineering. Students also complete a capstone course where they develop their own software application. The program offers built-in certifications, including CompTIA and CIW, which students earn without taking extra courses or paying extra fees. WGU charges a flat-rate tuition for each six-month term, no matter how many courses a student completes in that time frame.
Western Governors University is regionally accredited from The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
5 Bellevue University
Based in eastern Nebraska, Bellevue University consistently ranks as one of the top military-friendly universities. The school is also known for offering a variety of affordable online degrees. Bellevue’s online BS in software development teaches students how to maintain, develop, and design software for individual consumers and businesses. The school designed this program for professional coders who need a four-year degree for career advancement and for students interested in starting a new career in computer programming.
Students can complete Bellevue’s accelerated online computer programming degree the internet or in-person. Graduates leave the program with expertise in software development and analysis as well as professional skills in business, writing, and communication.
The degree consists of 127 credits: 36 general education credits, 55 elective credits, and 36 major-related credits. Major courses include business system programming, intermediate and advanced Java courses, and information security. In addition to major requirements, all students at Bellevue must take the school’s Kirkpatrick Signature Series, a trio of courses designed to educate students about the traditions of Western Civilization and the history of American values. The series includes courses in American vision and values, tradition and change, and freedom and responsibility.
Online students pay the same tuition, regardless of their state of residency, although active duty members of the U.S. armed forces receive a substantial tuition discount. Applicants must hold a high school diploma or GED certificate, and individuals who want to transfer credits into the program must submit official transcripts from all previously attended schools.
Bellevue University is regionally accredited from the Higher Learning Commission.
Ranked as one of the top providers of online bachelor’s programs in the U.S., Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas specializes in online courses designed for working professionals and military members. The school’s online BS in computer programming teaches students how to program computer applications, beginning with the development of algorithms and ending with the maintenance of completed applications. Courses use HTML, XHTML, Java, and Visual Basic, while also emphasizing related career skills like communication and problem solving.
Foundational requirements include courses in ethics, professional communication, and composition. Students also take six humanities credits, six social science credits, and four natural science/mathematics credits. The major-related coursework in this program includes SQL fundamentals and Java programming. Distance learners also complete a senior capstone requirement where they create a portfolio related to their career interests. The program delivers online classes in flexible, six-week terms.
To earn this online computer programming degree, students complete 124 credits of coursework. Southwestern is a transfer-friendly institution, but students must complete at least 30 credits of coursework through the college. Learners may also qualify for credit based on previous military and work/life experiences. Applicants must possess a GPA of 2.0 or higher and six post-high school credits.
Southwestern College is regionally accredited from the Higher Learning Commission.
With a dedication to social responsibility, Husson University in Bangor, Maine helps professionals from New England and around the country advance their careers. The school offers an online BS in integrative technology that equips individuals with the skills necessary to begin a career in software development. Students learn how to build hardware, analyze data, and communicate with clients, qualifying them for high-paying careers in the tech field.
Distance learners pursuing this computer programming degree online complete 121-122 credits. Students typically finish in one to two years, depending on their course load and number of transfer credits. In addition to 50 general education credits, which focus on the humanities and core sciences, students take 33 credits of classes related to software and business. These major-related courses include introduction to computer programming, workflow management, and theory and practice in IT security. Students also complete 6-7 credits of advanced mathematics, choosing from courses such as logic and problem solving and calculus with applications. Students round out the program by taking 30 elective credits, six of which must directly relate to integrative technology.
All online students pay the same tuition, regardless of their state of residency. Additionally, Husson lets students apply up to 90 transfer credits to their degree. Applicants submit all of their official transcripts as well as their SAT or ACT scores.
Husson University is regionally accredited from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Hodges University is a nonprofit, international school that offers several affordable online degrees. Working professionals and nontraditional students with busy schedules may find the school’s online programming particularly appealing. Hodges’ online BS in software development program prepares students for careers in computer programming, teaching them how to address the needs of clients with technology. Graduates of the program can go on to work computer and electronic product manufacturing, finance, and software publishing, among many other fields. The school’s career services help current students and graduates find employment.
This online degree in computer programming is offered entirely online through a self-paced format. Students can also opt to earn this degree in-person at the school’s campus in Naples, Florida. Full-time students who take 12 hours per semester usually complete the program in four years.
The degree consists of 120 total hours of coursework, including 80 hours of software development courses, 32 hours of liberal arts courses, and eight hours of electives. Major courses include classes in computer information technology (CIT), software development, and business. CIT courses include hardware support essentials and introduction to web design, while courses in the software development core include game program design, software engineering, and mobile applications development. Students also take personal finance and principles of accounting classes.
Hodge’s University is regionally accredited from the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
9 Limestone College
Gaffney, South Carolina
Established as one of the first women’s colleges in the country, Limestone College became fully coeducational in the late 1960s. This non-denominational Christian liberal arts college has a main campus in Gaffney, South Carolina. The school boasts a small student to teacher ratio and affordable courses that can be taken both online and face to face. Limestone’s BS in computer science – programming track teaches students how to write code and design and maintain information systems. Graduates can go on to work as software analysts, application developers, and programmers.
This online computer programming degree consists of 123 credits. In addition to general education courses, students take major-related classes such as operating systems and networking fundamentals, information system analysis and design, advanced microcomputer applications, and introduction to calculus for business. Distance learners also complete a capstone project where they write weekly reports and put together a final research paper.
An affordable degree option, 98% of the student body at Limestone College receives some form of financial aid. Interested students should be comfortable taking courses in a Christian learning environment that seeks to uphold Christian ethics and ideals. Interested students can apply for free online.
Limestone College is regionally accredited from the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
10 Baker College
Based in Flint, Michigan, and hosting 10 additional locations across the state, Baker College is Michigan’s largest independent not-for-profit college. The school focuses exclusively on degrees that qualify students for jobs in growing fields, helping graduates gain meaningful employment quickly. The school’s flexible scheduling is well-suited for working students with busy schedules. With 70% of students receiving some form of scholarship assistance, Baker is an affordable option for individuals seeking an online degree.
The school’s BS in computer science with a concentration in computer programming prepares students for careers in the burgeoning field of software development. Students learn about the fundamentals of mobile technologies, computer languages, and internet communications. Graduates can pursue work in the areas of program development, computer analysis, and mobile app design.
Baker’s online computer programming degree contains 120 hours of coursework. 72 of these relate directly to computer science and involve classes in database management and design, data structures and algorithms, and programming for mobiles devices. Students also take concentration courses in Python programming and advanced computer architecture. Additionally, they choose one science elective course, such as introduction to healthcare, principles of astronomy, or environmental science. General education requirements at Baker include composition and cultural diversity classes.
Baker College is regionally accredited from the Higher Learning Commission. The school is also an approved institution of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact and a participant in the Academic Quality Improvement Program.
Online Bachelor’s in Computer Programming Careers
Earning a computer programming degree online can lead to a wide variety of career prospects in the expanding tech industry. With a bachelor’s degree in computer programming, you’re eligible for entry-level positions not only in computer programming but also in software development, network and system administration, and other areas of computer science and information technology. Though job requirements vary, gaining additional work experience and specialized skills can help you advance in your career. Below are a few of the most common jobs for computer programming graduates.
- Computer Programmer: Computer programmers take designs for new computer applications and software created by engineers and developers and turn them into code that a computer can understand. Programmers should have at least a bachelor’s degree and may need specialized expertise in one or more specific programming language. In some cases, computer programmers are responsible for some of the same duties typically performed by software developers.
- Median Annual Salary: $79,840
- Projected Growth Rate: -8%
- Software Developer: Software developers design new software and applications. With the help of computer programmers, developers test and implement their creations. In some cases, they may perform the duties of both developer and programmer, writing and testing the code themselves to ensure proper functionality. Candidates should have at least a bachelor’s degree and some work experience.
- Median Annual Salary: $102,280
- Projected Growth Rate: 24%
- Network and Computer Systems Administrator: Network and computer systems administrators oversee the daily functions of all computer systems for an organization. They maintain servers, desktop and mobile computers and devices, and individual employee workstations. Ideal candidates for entry-level jobs in this field have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field with an emphasis in administration.
- Median Annual Salary: $79,700
- Projected Growth Rate: 6%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics