2023 Guide to the Best Online Computer Programming Degrees
Do you have an affinity for computers and technology? If so, an online computer programming degree could be a practical and lucrative move. With an average annual salary of $80,000 for programmers with bachelor’s degrees, earning a computer programming degree online can help open the door to a budding career in the software development and IT space.
If a career in computer programming is a path you want to pursue, this guide to the best computer programming online degrees will give you all of the information you need to get started. From admissions requirements and coursework to the types of jobs you will be able to qualify for after earning your computer programming degree, we discuss all of this and more to help you prepare for a future ripe with potential.
Online Computer Programming Degrees
Computer programming is a wide field with a variety of online degrees and specializations for you to explore and possibly pursue, including:
- Computer Programming
- Computer Science
- Computer Engineering
- Software Engineering
- Information Technology
- Computer Information Systems
- Management Information Systems
Despite some overlap in these specializations and degree concentrations, each can put you on the track to becoming a specialist in your chosen field.
When majoring in computer programming, you can study everything from software design to how to write instructions for computers to follow. You can also take electives to learn about debugging programs, artificial intelligence, and more.
Online coding degrees can demonstrate your extensive knowledge of C++, Python, Java, and other programming languages. More importantly, however, you can complete courses in other subjects, like science or business, to experience a well-rounded education and prepare for work in corporations, laboratories, and various work environments.
Specializations for Online Degrees in Computer Programming
Computer programming is a broad category encompassing several different degree specializations that can help you narrow down a specific computer-related field. Online degrees in computer programming can prepare you for a career in:
General Computer Programming
Online degrees in computer programming specialize in learning all about computer coding and its application in various software and IT systems. You may develop code for smartphones, tablets, PCs, and other computer systems as a computer programmer. You may also design software programs, create patches and updates, test for bugs, remove errors, and more.
Suppose you’re interested in a career in computer programming. In that case, you will need computer skills and the ability to learn several different programming languages needed to design code for software and operating systems. The required courses for online coding degrees vary from one online school to the next, but you can expect the curriculum to include SQL fundamentals, app design, Java programming, and so on.
Potential career paths for those with an online degree in computer programming include computer engineer, database administrator, network architect, and, of course, computer programmer, among others.
An online degree in computer science covers computer programming and information technology, computer engineering, and other advanced topics, making it more comprehensive than an online degree in computer programming alone. Many computer science degree programs offer coursework covering all aspects of computer engineering, including hardware and software.
Earning a degree in computer science can provide you with a well-rounded understanding of computer systems and technology, which can result in access to a greater variety of jobs post-graduation. Those with computer science degrees can pursue careers in web development, software design, information security, systems analysis, platform development, network administration, and almost any other computer-related field.
At some schools, you can focus on computer programing while pursuing an online degree in computer science. However, other concentration options may include data mining, machine learning, or computer security.
Computer engineering covers designing, developing, and maintaining larger computer and network systems used in power, communications, and control systems. When earning an online computer engineering degree, you may take courses like Introduction to Microprocessor Systems, Digital Logic Design, Mobile Robotics, and other diverse, in-depth courses covering various computer engineering topics.
Computer Information Systems
A degree in computer information systems may help broaden your career horizons by bridging the gap between information technology systems and business management. You will enhance your expertise through a curriculum focused on project and information systems management.
Information technology is one of the most essential and popular fields in the computer programming sector. Like computer information systems, online degrees in information technology also bridge the gap between business and technology by covering the ins and outs of project management, systems administration, Java programming, and more.
Management Information Systems
Management information systems (MIS) professionals specialize in studying technology, organizations, people, and the relationships between them. Employed by firms of all types and sizes, they use their expertise in information systems design and analysis to maximize the benefit from investment in equipment, personnel, and business processes.
Software engineering and development is one of the most specialized online computer programing degree programs. While computer programming and various aspects of IT are often a part of the curriculum, the primary focus is the design and development of software operating systems and applications.
Software engineers work on all phases of software development. To become a software engineer and hone your programming skills, you may be required to take classes on programming languages and numerous other topics. Some courses you may be required to take include:
- Scripting and Programming
- Ethics in Technology
- Logic and Critical Thinking
- Foundations of Web Development
- Applied Statistics
- Introduction to Information Technology
These are some possible classes you may need to take when pursuing a software engineering degree. With this degree, you can launch a career as a software developer or engineer, database administrator, systems analyst, or systems software engineer.
Computer Programming Career and Salary Information
According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report, 93 percent of STEM occupations command wages well above the national average. Therefore, if you are debating whether to pursue an online degree in computer programming and the prosperous career such a degree can bring, the numbers are in your favor.
Here’s a look at median salaries for several of the most common computer programming specializations:
- Computer Network Architect – $120,520
- Software Developer – $109,020
- Information Security Analyst – $102,600
- Database Administrator – $101,000
- Computer Systems Analyst – $99,270
- Computer Programmer – $93,000
- Computer and Network Systems Administrator – $80,600
- Web Developer – $78,300
The average salary for those working in the computer programming field is one of the most significant selling points for today’s online and offline computer programming degree programs. Additionally, due to the permeation of technology in nearly all aspects of our lives, individuals with online degrees in computer programming can work in almost any industry.
Online Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Programming Curriculum and Courses
From NASA to the OS on your smartphone, every computer-related device, service, or function was created by computer programmers. While early programmers were largely self-taught, computer programming today is a highly specialized field requiring a degree, certifications, and hours of coursework. How do you develop skills as a computer programmer and successfully join the workforce?
A bachelor’s degree in programming, computer science, or another related field is required for most computer programming jobs. However, for those without the resources or time to devote to a four-year bachelor’s degree, many companies have entry-level programming positions that only require an associate’s degree.
Whether you opt for a two-year or four-year degree, becoming a computer programmer requires considerable time and dedication. If you decide to enroll in a computer programming online degree program, you will likely be required to take courses covering:
- Calculus and advanced algebra
- Computer information systems
- Programming languages
- Computer graphics
- Software engineering
- Front- and back-end web development
- Database design, development, and management
Courses like these will help you learn the skills to launch and grow your computer programming career.
The required coursework will vary depending on your chosen specialization and online degree program. Still, you can expect to participate in various classes covering everything from coding and network architecture to security and systems analysis.
Admissions Requirements for Online Degrees in Computer Programming
Different colleges and online degree programs have individual admissions requirements for prospective students. Nonetheless, here are the most common minimum admissions requirements:
- High school diploma, GED, or equivalent completed coursework
- Minimum GPA of 2.0 or higher (some schools require a GPA of 3.0 or above)
- SAT or ACT exam scores (22 for ACT and 1120 for SAT)
- Letter(s) of recommendation
- An essay or personal statement
While these are among the most common minimum admissions requirements, it’s important to note that different programs and online coding degrees have additional admissions requirements. And these requirements can vary significantly from one school to the next.
Accreditation for Computer Programming Degree Programs
There are plenty of computer programming training and degree programs online, but many of them lack accreditation. This means the quality of their education may need more critical components for developing successful computer programmers.
To ensure you experience the best education possible and a degree employers will appreciate and respect, you should only enroll in an accredited school.
Most respected colleges and universities offering online and in-person degree programs are regionally accredited by one of six major accrediting bodies representing regions across the country.
The sole purpose of each of these boards is to regularly review the institutions in their specific region to verify the quality of education and ensure it meets specific standards. Therefore, a regionally accredited school is more likely to offer a higher quality education. Employers know this and often only consider candidates with degrees from accredited colleges and universities.
Accreditation can also be a determining factor when applying for financial aid, and for any credits to be considered transferable, they must be from an accredited school.
Financial Aid & Scholarships for Online Computer Programming Degrees
Whether you want to pursue a computer programming degree online or on-campus, the first step in receiving financial aid is filling out and submitting your FAFSA (Federal Application for Student Aid).
There are three primary types of financial aid for most students: scholarships, grants, and loans. Both federal grants, such as the Pell Grant, and federal student loans can only be applied for and obtained by submitting a FAFSA.
Unlike student loans, which must be repaid, grants and scholarships provide “free money” with no repayment requirements. As far as grants go, one of the best and most common is the Federal Pell Grant.
This grant is available to students meeting specific income requirements who are seeking to pursue associate or Bachelor’s degrees in any field at any accredited school or educational institution. You can apply for the Federal Pell Grant via the FAFSA website.
Similar to grants, which the government issues, scholarships provide “free” funding for many computer programming students. Some scholarships are specifically awarded to students pursuing degrees in computer programming, computer science, and related fields.
Some examples of these scholarships include the following:
- Stokes Educational Scholarship
- Betty Stevens Frecknall Scholarship
- ESA Foundation Scholarship Program
- Adobe Research Women-in-Technology Scholarship
- IEFE Presidents’ Scholarship
These are just a fraction of the scholarships you can pursue to help cover the costs of obtaining your online computer programming degree.
What Can You Do With an Online Degree in Computer Programming?
An online degree in computer sciences or programming may allow you to gain entry into a variety of computer and technology-related fields. Computer programmers operate within almost every sector of today’s employment marketplace.
From healthcare to utilities, computer programmers play vital roles in a variety of positions for companies around the globe. Some examples of positions commonly held by computer programmers and scientists within today’s workforce include:
- Software Developer
- Computer Programmer
- Web Developer
- Database Administrator
- Computer and Network Systems Administrator
- Computer Network Architect
- Information Systems Manager
- Information Security Analyst
- Computer Systems Analyst
Computer programmers are highly sought after to fill hundreds of software, network, and IT positions currently available around the globe. This is due to their ability to harness technology in direct support of company goals and objectives. The field continues to grow and unleash new opportunities every day.
How Much Does an Online Degree in Computer Programming Cost?
Like other types of degrees, associate’s and Bachelor’s computer programming tuition rates differ from school to school. One factor in cost is residency. Even though this guide explores online degrees, many schools still offer lower prices to those living in the same state as the university. Consider the residency requirements of your top schools before making a decision.
Most computer programming bachelor’s degree programs cost anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000 in tuition expenses. Of course, some programs are less expensive than others, but this is the average range you can expect to pay at any reputable, accredited four-year school.
As you read through the information on your top schools’ websites, pay close attention to the miscellaneous fees attached to the online degree program. Often you will need to pay an annual technology fee as well as fees for enrollment, application, and books. If your online program requires a brief residency, you must also factor in transportation and lodging costs.
How Much Time is Needed to Earn an Online Degree in Computer Programming?
Many employers only hire computer programmers with a bachelor’s degree in programming, IT, or a related field. A bachelor’s degree in programming or computer science typically requires 120 credit hours. It usually takes students four years to complete the online degree when enrolled full-time.
If you have the time to dedicate, some degree programs offer accelerated classes that allow you to get your degree faster. Moreover, those who transfer eligible courses or test out of credits will need less time to finish their degree.
Are There Affordable Online Degrees in Computer Programming?
Similar to other types of degree programs the cost of earning an online degree in computer programming can vary considerably from one school to another.
While some computer programming degree programs may cost upwards of $75,000, other programs can be as low as $15,000. Regardless, given the average income of computer programmers across the board, the cost of tuition is well worth the investment.
Is an Online Degree in Computer Programming Worth It?
In a nutshell, yes! Most students find that earning an online degree in computer programming is worth the time and financial investment.
According to the BLS, software developers are expected to experience 22 percent job growth over the next decade. Meanwhile, IT and other computer-related fields are expected to grow at a rate of 11 percent.
Stats like these and the continued progression of the use of technology in society make computer programming definitely worth it for the majority of students and degree holders.
10 of the Best Schools Offering Online Undergraduate Computer Programming Degrees
The following list features ten top computer programming online degree programs from respected colleges across the country. Each school is regionally accredited and offers online degree programs known for their quality, flexibility, and effectiveness. The schools are listed in alphabetical order.
1. Colorado State University Global (Aurora, CO)
The Colorado State University Global Campus in Aurora is an extension of the state university in Colorado Springs. Founded in 2007, CSU Global facilitates online learning and degree opportunities for students across the United States and worldwide. With Higher Learning Commission accreditation and over 19,000 students from over 40 countries, the online school routinely ranks as one of the top choices for those seeking a flexible and accessible program.
The school has a 100% online Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. This 120-credit program has over 20 specializations, including Data Management and Analysis, Digital Marketing, Project Management, Virtualization and Cloud Computing, and Web Application Development.
2. Dakota State University (Madison, SD)
Located in Madison, South Dakota, Dakota State University is offers a variety of online programs for associate, Bachelor’s, and graduate degrees in computer science and several other fields. The school opened its doors in 1881 and has academic colleges for business, education, arts, science, computer science, and cybersecurity.
DSU offers an online Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. The program covers everything from algorithms and software engineering to computer hardware and architecture.
3. Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL)
Located in the capital of “The Sunshine State,” Florida State University was founded in 1851. The school is home to over 41,000 students from across the globe. US News & World Report consistently ranks Florida State among the nation’s top public universities.
The school offers both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in Computer science and requires students to maintain a 2.5 GPA while completing 120 credit hours. The program is accredited by the Computer Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.
4. Old Dominion University (Norfolk, VA)
Old Dominion University, or ODU as some call it, is a Norfolk, Virginia-based post-secondary school founded in 1930. Originally a private division of the heralded College of William and Mary, Old Dominion is now a public institution serving over 25,000 students both on campus and online.
The university offers a Bachelor’s in Computer Science degree program for aspiring programmers searching for the highest quality education. The Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET accredits this 120-credit program.
5. Oregon State University (Corvallis, OR)
Oregon State University is a public research school with land, sea, sun, and space grants, helping it gain a stellar reputation throughout numerous science and research communities. The school’s attendance is over 30,000 at the main campus in Corvallis, Oregon, though many more attend online degree programs.
The university is a popular option for students seeking quality education and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree online. OSU College of Engineering’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science offers this online degree.
6. Saint Leo University (Saint Leo, FL)
SLU is a small private school founded by the Benedictine Order and later re-established as a private college affiliated with the Catholic Church. This fine university is accredited by the SACSCC and has 11,000 students who benefit from attending one of the country’s top-ranked regional private institutions.
Students can earn a Bachelor’s in Computer Science degree by attending classes online. The online degree covers topics like software engineering, artificial intelligence, and programming C/C++ and Java.
7. Troy University (Troy, AL)
This university is a public institution in Alabama dating back to 1887. These days, the SACSCC-accredited school serves over 18,000 students online and at its suburban campus. Troy University’s notable alums have gone on to hold important positions across the country in all 50 states.
Students interested in computer programming can earn a Bachelor’s in Computer Science degree online. The program emphasizes individual and group projects that focus on things like web applications, visualization, game design, Teensy Board Programming, and database accessing applications.
8. University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)
The University of Florida is ranked sixth best public school by US News & World Report. Located in Gainesville, Florida, it was originally established as a seminary in 1853. Today, it has over 56,000 students and is one of the state’s largest public universities.
Known for its high level of research activity, an online Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Florida commands respect from prospective employers in any industry or sector. The degree is provided by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at UF.
9. University of Illinois – Springfield (Springfield, IL)
The University of Illinois–Springfield dates back to 1969 when it was founded as a public land grant school. It is one of the newest and smallest schools on this list. Its over 5,000 students enjoy high-tech facilities and computer science education at an HLC-accredited university.
At University of Illinois – Springfield, students can pursue a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science online. To apply for this program, students must have at least 30 qualifying semester hours of transfer credit with a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.00.
10. University of Maryland Global (Adelphi, MD)
The University of Maryland’s “Global Campus” strictly focuses on offering online Bachelor’s degree programs. The public online school currently serves nearly 50,000 students in the US and in 140 countries around the world. Many of the students are active-duty service members striving to further their education while on tour abroad.
This university’s online Bachelor’s in Computer Science is 120 credits. The coursework in this program includes subjects such as Building Secure Python Applications, Software Engineering Principles, and Current Trends and Products in Computer Science.
Getting Your Online Computer Programming Degree
Computer programming is a broad field with various online degree programs and specializations for you to explore and pursue. Despite some overlap in these specializations and degree concentrations, each one can put you on the track to becoming a specialist in your chosen field.
Potential career paths for those with an online computer programming degree include computer engineer, database administrator, network architect, and computer programmer, among others. With an average annual salary of $80,000 for programmers with Bachelor’s degrees, earning a computer programming degree online can pave the way to a budding career in the software development and IT space.
If you are hungry to launch into the field of computer programming, read this guide thoroughly! It provides you with all of the information you need to get started today. From admissions requirements and coursework to the types of jobs you can qualify for after earning your computer programming degree, we’ve discussed all of this and more to help you prepare for a future with virtually limitless potential.