If you're looking for a job that can help you join the ranks of the booming tech industry, you shouldn't overlook online computer programming degree programs. Nearly all the technology that we use on a regular basis has some type of computer code at the heart of it, and computer programming schools can give you the skills you need to create that code.
U.S. News & World Report listed computer programming among the top ten technology jobs in a recent survey, citing salary, job market opportunity and work-life balance as the field's main benefits. Computer programmers can often work remotely, sending their work through development system GitHub or other means.
Computer programming vs. computer science: It's important to understand the difference between computer programming and computer science programs. Computer programming courses and degrees tend to focus on teaching effective ways to apply computing languages and data architectures to real-world situations, while computer science programs often dive into the theories behind software, hardware and other elements of technology.
Read on below to find out about the top online computer programming schools in the country, pick up some helpful information about computer programming careers and learn about ways that you can increase your chances of success both during school and after graduation.
With the technology industry constantly evolving and growing, it can be an exciting time to join this profession through earning an online computer programming degree. In order to join the tech industry, you need to find the right school to meet your education and career goals — particularly if you're an adult learner who works a full-time job or you are raising a family while earning your degree. To help you find a program, we have compiled a list of the best online colleges for computer programming. Continue reading for information on specific computer programming degree programs, as well as the resources schools offer to help students succeed.
DU Academic Focus: Claiming to be a pioneer in distance learning, DU offers dozens of online degree programs designed to help students get the education and skills needed in today's job market. The school leverages over 150 years of creating high-quality education to provide a variety of programs, from technology to healthcare to business degrees.
Featured DU Resource: Davenport offers several career services, including assessments, networking assistance and salary negotiation advice. In addition, the school has an online platform that helps students and alumni find full- and part-time positions, as well as internships.
Computer Programming at Davenport University
Bachelor 's Degree
GPTC Academic Focus: Georgia Piedmont Technical College has been providing career education programs since 1961. With over 50 degree programs offered completely online, GPTC is dedicated to helping adult learners become qualified to work in a variety of careers.
Featured GPTC Resource: GPTC's Advising, Career and Retention Services department helps students write resumes and cover letters, network with potential employers and use the most effective job search techniques.
Computer Programming at Georgia Piedmont Technical College
CTU Academic Focus: Founded in 1965, CTU is committed to providing career-focused education that prepares students to work in dozens of fields. The school offers about 100 online and hybrid degree programs.
Featured CTU Resource: CTU has career planning services, including resume writing advice, help preparing for interviews and tips for leveraging the hidden job market.
Computer Programming at Colorado Technical University - Colorado Springs
Stark State Academic Focus: Stark State offers over 200 degree programs in areas such as technology, education, human services and liberal arts. Their aim is to make quality education accessible for all and to meet the needs of a diverse student body.
Featured Stark State Resource: The Career Services Office at Stark State provides online assistance with job searches, interview preparation and resume writing.
Computer Programming at Stark State College
SFCC Academic Focus: SFCC has provided education programs based on the core values of integrity, innovation, excellence and respect since 1968. Over the years, the school as prided itself on offering quality career development degree programs that help students thrive intellectually and economically.
Featured SFCC Resource: SFCC's Access office has disability services for students who need accommodations in order to be successful in their programs. Some of the services online students can receive include textbooks in audio format, note takers and closed caption lectures.
Computer Programming at State Fair Community College
Lake Area Tech Academic Focus: Since opening in 1965, Lake Area Tech has provided comprehensive technical education designed to help students launch their careers and position themselves for a brighter future. With its 30 programs, 12 of which are delivered online, the school strives to create a competent workforce that values integrity and caring.
Featured Lake Area Tech Resource: The school's Center for Student Engagement and Support provides tutoring services delivered by staff members and peer tutors.
Computer Programming at Lake Area Technical Institute
Rasmussen College Academic Focus: Opened as Rasmussen Practical School of Business in 1900, the school has a history of combining career-focused programs with general education in order to create well-rounded employees ready to tackle the challenges of an ever-changing workforce.
Featured Rasmussen College Resource: Rasmussen College offers career services including help with resume writing and connecting with potential employers.
Computer Programming at Rasmussen College - Florida
Bachelor 's Degree
CGTC Academic Focus: The school provides workforce development programs designed to help students prepare for a variety of jobs, such as health sciences, technology and public safety positions.
Featured CGTC Resource: Students can get assistance with their job search, find internships and participate in workshops through CGTC's Career Services Office.
Computer Programming at Central Georgia Technical College
Rhodes State College Academic Focus: Rhodes State College has career education rooted in the values of quality, integrity, responsibility and caring.
Featured Rhodes State College Resource: Students can receive assistance with a myriad of subjects — such as accounting, biology, mathematics and chemistry — from the Academic Success Center. In addition, the school's eWriting Lab allows students to upload their papers to get help improving their writing.
Computer Programming at James A Rhodes State College
Full Sail Academic Focus: Whether students want to pursue jobs in technology, business or media, Full Sail has robust programs available on the associate, bachelor's and master's levels. Founded in 1979, the school strives to provide education based on both theoretical principles and real-world experience.
Featured Full Sail Resource: Full Sail has career advisors who give students individualized help based on their experience and career goals. They also offer classes called Global Professional Standard (GPS) which are specific career modules where a student can equip themselves with career strategies.
Computer Programming at Full Sail University
Bachelor 's Degree
What is taught at computer programming schools, exactly? The specific curriculum you'll study tends to vary from one institution to another, but there are a few core concepts that a vast majority of programs cover:
Continue reading for more about what you can learn in an online computer programming degree programs on the associate and bachelor's levels.
How long does an online associate program in computer programming take?
Generally, full-time students who enroll in an online associate program in computer programming can complete their studies in two years.
What are the requirements to start an online associate program in computer programming?
Although each online computer programming college has specific requirements for admission, generally those who want to enroll in an associate degree program are expected to have a high school diploma or its equivalent and at least a 2.0 grade point average.
Why earn an online associate in computer programming?
This degree level is for you if you want to enter the computer programming field quickly. It can also be a way to prepare for a higher-level degree program.
The first year of a computer programming degree program lays the framework for future coursework. During this time, you take classes that familiarize you with computing fundamentals and coding.
You can also expect to take general education classes to round out your computer programming studies, such as coursework in English composition, mathematics, psychology and sociology.
Computer programming electives:
As you learn about the field, you can expect to dive further into coding and data concepts, along with expanding your computing fundamentals practice.
How long does an online bachelor's in computer programming take?
You usually complete an online bachelor's in computer programming in about four years as a full-time student.
What are the requirements to start a bachelor's in computer programming?
Applicants are generally expected to have a high school diploma or GED, a 2.0 grade point average and a certain score on the SAT or ACT. You may also be able to transfer into a four-year program if you've already earned an associate degree in computer programming.
Why earn an online bachelor's in computer programming?
An online bachelor's in computer programming can help you learn the fundamentals as well as the skills needed to land a job. A bachelor's program can also give you the opportunity to choose a specialization in order to study a specific subsection of the field. This more advanced information can help current computer programming professionals who are looking to move their career forward.
Years One and Two
Introductory computer programming coursework:
When you begin this program, you can expect to learn the basics of computer programming, including introduction to operating systems, introduction to the design and analysis of algorithms, introductory calculus, introduction to computer science and data structures and algorithms.
General education classes:
You can expect to take general education classes in areas such as mathematics, art, psychology, sociology and English.
Years Three and Four
In order to apply what you have learned in the classroom to real-world computer programming settings, you may have the opportunity to complete an internship.
Capstone course or project:
Some schools may require a capstone course or project that allows you to demonstrate your understanding of the course material you've studied throughout the program. At other schools, you may be required to take a comprehensive examination covering the department's curriculum.
Computer programming is one of the top tech careers open to candidates without a bachelor's degree. Not every employer has available positions for candidates with a computer programming certificate or associate degree, but certain entry-level jobs may only require an education in the basics.
If you're thinking about earning a degree in computer programming and want to learn more about how it can translate to a career, read on below.
What can you do with a computer programming degree?
In simple terms, computer programmers write the code that works behind the scenes of software programs, whether they're applications like games and social media platforms or full-service operating systems like Windows or MacOS. Most programmers work on a team with engineers or developers, producing the individual blocks of code that will come together to constitute the finished piece of software.
Here's a short list of common duties that computer programmers have on the job:
Computer programmers may sometimes be responsible for designing programs, particularly if they're working on teams without a dedicated software engineer or developer. Essential elements of development-stage planning, such as streamlining project goals and creating flowcharts, may be part of the job for senior programmers.
How to become a computer programmer
A bachelor's degree is far and away the most common educational requirement for computer programming careers, according to the Occupational Information Network (O*NET). Nearly 90 percent of working computer programmers in 2019 had obtained a four-year college degree, with around 10 percent holding a computer programming certificate or associate degree.
If you're looking to land a computer programming job without first earning your bachelor's, it might be helpful to focus your undergraduate studies on a single programming language and look for jobs that emphasize proficiency with your specialty. Also, if your goal is to make use of your tech skills in a specific job field like healthcare or business administration, it's a good idea to take some relevant courses in your intended field while you're in school.
Here's a short list of valuable skills and abilities for aspiring computer programmers, according to O*NET:
No state in the U.S. currently requires computer programmers to be licensed, but earning professional certification can help boost your options on the job market. Check out the details of some popular certifications in the next section.
This credential, offered by the C++ Institute, serves to verify that you have the skills necessary to code effectively in its associated language, including preprocessing and the use of common library functions.
Requirements: The certification exam has no formal prerequisites, but candidates are expected to have knowledge of the details of the C language and familiarity with general programming concepts.
Exam Format: Multiple-choice; 55 questions with a 65-minute time limit.
How long does the certification last? C++ Institute certifications are valid for life.
Available through the International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC2), CSSLP certification assures employers that you know how to effectively incorporate security practices into your coding projects.
Requirements: Three years of paid experience with software development lifecycle work for bachelor's degree holders; four years for candidates without a bachelor's.
Exam Format: Multiple-choice; 125 questions with a three-hour time limit.
How long does the certification last? Three years.
Provided by Oracle, the company that maintains the Java platform, this certification covers data types, operators, decision constructs, loop constructs and other essential elements of Java programming.
Requirements: There are no stated requirements that need to be met to qualify for the exam, but some formal training or Java programming experience is strongly encouraged.
Exam Format: Multiple-choice; 70 questions with a 150-minute time limit.
How long does the certification last? Java certifications currently do not expire.
Professional organizations can provide a range of benefits in your computer programming career, especially when you're just starting out. Here's a list of some of the organizations you might consider joining: