Best Online Computer Science Degrees 2021

| TBS Staff


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An online bachelor's degree in computer science can open up a wealth of rewarding career paths, including systems management and data science.

An online computer science degree can help professionals advance their current careers or enter a new field. Computer science graduates 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, onlinr computer science graduates will benefit from strong career demand. After earning an online bachelor's degree, computer science graduates can also pursue graduate programs in computer science, data science, or machine learning.

Our list ranks the best online bachelor's in computer science programs to help prospective students find the right fit to reach their career goals. This article also explores career and salary outlooks for different computer science jobs.

Top 10 Online Bachelor's in Computer Science Programs 2021
#1 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH
#2 Davenport University Grand Rapids, MI
#3 Oregon State University Corvallis, OR
#4 Regis University Denver, CO
#5 University of Illinois at Springfield Springfield, IL
#6 Central Methodist University Fayette, MO
#7 Saint Leo University Saint Leo, FL
#8 Lewis University Romeoville, IL
#9 National University San Diego, CA
#10 Baker College Flint, MI

Related Programs That Might Interest You

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, design algorithms that analyze data, and solve computing problems. 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 trains students in fundamental computing and programming concepts. Students learn programming languages, software engineering techniques, and computer science algorithms. Many online computer science programs offer concentrations that allow students to tailor their degree to match their interests and goals. Common concentrations include data science, information security, and information management systems.

In addition to computer science classes, online bachelor's in computer science programs include general education and elective courses. General education requirements often include humanities, social science, and natural science classes that help build critical thinking skills.

The flexibility of an online CS degree track 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 several factors when choosing an online program, including tuition costs, degree requirements, and institutional reputation. Learn more about what to look for in an online college and how to pick a college. Then, check out our resource on how to choose your major.

What Can I Do With a Degree in Computer Science?

Bachelor's in computer science programs prepare graduates for lucrative careers with strong job growth potential. Graduates can work as computer information systems managers, data scientists, and computer systems analysts.

Graduates can also pursue a master's degree in computer science, which allows them to advance their careers. Options include online master's in information assurance security, online master's in information technology, online master's in data science, and online MBA in management information systems programs.

Computer Science Salary Information

Computer and Information Systems Manager

Computer and information systems managers — also known as IT managers — oversee an organization's computer-related activities. They determine the organization's IT goals and implement computer systems to meet those goals. These professionals also oversee IT employees, ensure the security of an organization's network, and analyze the costs and benefits of system upgrades. They may make recommendations to top executives. A bachelor's degree in computer science and work experience meet the requirements for computer information systems manager jobs.

Median Annual Salary

$146,360

Job Outlook (2019-2029)

10%

Data Scientist

Data Scientists create algorithms that analyze large datasets to detect patterns. They develop tools to sort, manage, and display data. These professionals work in diverse fields, including business, healthcare, and science. The position demands strong programming and computing skills, in addition to analytical and critical thinking abilities. Many data scientist jobs require a master's degree, though employers may hire candidates with a bachelor's in computer science.

Median Annual Salary

$122,840

Job Outlook (2019-2029)

15%

Computer Systems Analyst

Computer systems analyst — also known as systems architects — help to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of an organization's computing systems. They work with managers to understand an organization's IT needs, research new technologies, and conduct cost-benefit analyses for IT systems and computing upgrades. These professionals also install and configure new systems and conduct testing on their performance.

A bachelor's degree in computer science meets the entry-level education requirements for computer systems analyst jobs.

Median Annual Salary

$90,000

Job Outlook (2019-2029)

7%

Computer Information Scientist

Computer information scientists create new technologies and develop applications for existing technologies. They may also conduct research, develop theories, or creating 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 positions only require a bachelor's in computer science.

Median Annual Salary

$122,840

Job Outlook (2019-2029)

15%

Computer Science Jobs for Bachelor's Degree-Holders

Graduates with an online bachelor's degree in computer science enjoy diverse career opportunities. The following list outlines common careers for graduates:

  • 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

Additional computer science careers can be found in fields like:

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Computer and information systems management
  • Computer information security
  • Computer networking
  • Computer programming
  • Computer systems analysis
  • Database administration
  • Database development
  • Networks administration
  • Robotics
  • 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

Ask an Expert

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.

Preferred Pronouns: He/Him/His

What was your favorite aspect of earning a bachelor's in computer science degree?

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.

What should students interested in this subject be good at?

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.

What makes computer science a popular field for online study?

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.

Are there any advantages to studying computer science online as opposed to in a traditional brick-and-mortar setting?

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.

What makes computer science such an in-demand and potentially lucrative degree?

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.

The Best Online Bachelor's in Computer Science Programs

Southern New Hampshire University View School Profile Manchester, NH 54% 68% 93% AccreditationSouthern New Hampshire University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

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 University View School Profile Grand Rapids, MI 45% 59% 73% AccreditationDavenport University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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 University View School Profile Corvallis, OR 67% 43% 43% AccreditationOregon State University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

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.

Regis University View School Profile Denver, CO 69% 47% 63% AccreditationRegis University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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.

University of Illinois at Springfield View School Profile Springfield, IL 51% 46% 68% AccreditationUniversity of Illinois Springfield is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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.

Central Methodist University View School Profile Fayette, MO 26% 55% AccreditationCentral Methodist University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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 University View School Profile Saint Leo, FL 45% 55% 74% AccreditationSaint Leo University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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.

Lewis University View School Profile Romeoville, IL 64% 61% 41% AccreditationLewis University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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.

National University View School Profile San Diego, CA 36% 36% 61% AccreditationNational University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Colleges and Schools Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

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 College View School Profile Flint, MI 19% 65% 58% AccreditationBaker College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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.

The motto of TheBestSchools.org is Finding the best school for you. Here is how we do it:

The value of any ranking list of schools and/or degree programs depends on having a methodologically sound assessment of each school’s/program’s characteristics, especially insofar as these can be objectively measured. A college or university is a complex entity, with numerous factors to consider, and distilling these down to the place where meaningful comparisons can be made to form a defensible ranking list becomes part science and part art.

To meet this challenge—and thereby provide you with the most useful and insightful educational rankings on the Internet — TheBestSchools.org formulates our rankings based on five informational categories (six, when considering online schools). The major metrics and qualities for which we rank are these (with expanded, detailed considerations and weights listed):

1. Academic excellence based on a school’s curriculum generally or within the selected discipline [weight = 25%]

  • Weighs school against known leading schools in that discipline
  • Weighs number of core curricula listed as advanced courses within that discipline and compares against introductory courses
  • Weighs school’s curriculum against known knowledge needs of major employers in that discipline
  • Considers number and types of specializations offered within that discipline
  • Considers faculty expertise in that discipline
  • Considers range of electives within that discipline
  • Considers quality of online environment offered to students (if applicable), particularly within that discipline

2. Strength of faculty scholarship [weight = 25%]

  • Considers education background of the faculty
  • Considers years of faculty experience both inside and outside of academia.
  • Considers faculty membership and leadership within relevant, prominent associations
  • Considers academic papers published by faculty in relevant, prominent periodicals
  • Considers awards and recognitions given to faculty members from prominent organizations and from other sources

3. Reputation [weight = 20%]

  • Considers a school’s reputation among academic peers and employers regarding the following:
    • Faculty
    • Curriculum
    • “Freshness” of academic knowledge
    • Adaptability to changes in employment sectors
    • Suitability of graduates for the workplace

4. Financial aid [weight = 10%]

  • Mandatory: Requires full accreditation from an agency endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and listed on the federal register to accept student federal financial aid
  • Considers range of school-sponsored financial aid such as scholarships and grants

5. Range of degree programs [weight = 20%]

  • Considers range of degree levels: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral and professional
  • Considers range of degree subjects offered, such as art & design, computers & technology, education & teaching, criminal justice, and business

6. Strength of online instruction methodology (if applicable) [weight = 25%; subtract 5% from each of the above for online schools/programs]

  • Considers the following of the online classes:
    • Types of online technology used to deliver content
    • Pedagogy style: asynchronous, synchronous, or both (depending on the degree)
    • Extent and quality of the online, community learning environment, including options for communication, interactivity, and collaboration between students and also between students and instructors
    • Variety, breadth, and depth of coursework, and its support, including project options and online tutoring
  • Considers the following of instructors:
    • Extent of training for teaching within an online learning environment
    • Amount of timely, consistent feedback to students
    • Extent of collaboration with prospective employers to ensure suitability of instructional materials for achieving desired skills
    • Ratio to number of students in a class
  • Number and quality of internships in a student’s geographical area for applicable degrees

Because students tend to review a variety of information when choosing a school, the weight a student gives any one criterion will vary. For instance, it’s not enough to offer a carefully constructed ranking of great schools if many are too expensive or too difficult to get into.

To better serve the needs of prospective students, we are therefore increasingly offering filters that help you better use our rankings to find the schools that match your specific needs. These supplement our ranking criteria and include:

  • Accreditation
  • Public or private status
  • Acceptance rate
  • Retention rate
  • Graduation rate
  • ACT/SAT requirements
  • Cost in-state / out of state
  • Undergrad, grad, or both offered
  • Region
  • State
  • City

Get the best rankings here AND get them to suit your personal needs. That’s TheBestSchools.org advantage!

If you have any questions about our ranking methodology, please contact us.

Citations: For a broader account of our ranking methodology, especially as it relates to TheBestSchools.org's underlying educational philosophy and, in other ranking articles, looks beyond academic excellence (as here) to such factors as return on investment or incidental benefit, see our article "Ranking Methodology: How We Rank Schools at TBS." Reputation of schools and degree programs can at least in part be gauged through the school or department's publishing activity, citations, and desirability. At TheBestSchools.org, we keep track of such social and peer validation: "Making Sense of College Rankings." For nuts-and-bolts information about colleges and universities, we look to the National Center for Education Statistics and especially its College Navigator. Insofar as salary and inflation data are relevant to a ranking, we look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, nothing beats contacting schools and degree programs directly, which our researchers often do, with the result that all the entries in this article should be considered as belonging to this citation!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Computer Science a BS or BA?

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.

What Is Required for a Degree in Computer Science?

While earning a bachelor's in computer science, students complete a mix of general education and computer science courses.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Computer Science Degree Online?

An online bachelor's in computer science degree generally takes four years of full-time study to complete, though some programs offer accelerated timelines. Students who have associate degrees can typically graduate in two years.

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