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.

Frequently Asked Questions

The core concepts in computer programming can typically be delivered just as effectively in the virtual classroom as on a traditional brick-and-mortar campus. Fully online computer programming degree programs aren't available at every institution in the country, but it shouldn't be too hard to find one.
There are a few key factors to look for in computer programming schools that offer online computer programming degrees. Online access to the institution's library can be vitally important, as well as online academic services like tutoring, advising and career counseling. School-hosted tech clubs that include an academic advisor are another indication of the department's commitment to the field.
Make sure that your chosen online computer programming degree has earned general regional accreditation, which means that its programs and services meet or exceed a nationally accepted quality standard. Individual programs of study in computer programming can also earn specialized accreditation from the Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC) of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

Best Online Colleges for Computer Programming in 2020

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.


Davenport University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Grand Rapids, MI
School Type

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

  • The computer programming degree program aims to provide a solid foundation by emphasizing database design,networks,programming and data communications
  • Students can focus their studies on gaming and simulation,computer architecture and algorithms or artificial intelligence
  • Those with computer certifications — including Adobe,CompTIA,Microsoft or Oracle credentials — may be able to have some courses in the program waived

Georgia Piedmont Technical College

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Clarkston, GA
School Type

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

Associate Degree

  • Students can expect to learn fundamental technical areas,such as database management,programming languages,systems analysis and design,and networking
  • General education classes are required to give students valuable,well - rounded workplace skills

Georgia Piedmont Technical College

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Clarkston, GA
School Type

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

Associate Degree

  • Students can learn the fundamentals of programming,including Python,mobile,SQL and C++
  • General education courses are required
  • The school allows students to earn prior learning credits by taking an assessment

Stark State College

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
North Canton, OH
School Type

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

Associate Degree

  • When students complete the computer software programs,they can expect to have the skills needed to set up and test computer databases,as well as make modifications as needed
  • The degree is offered completely online with day and evening classes offered for students ' convenience

State Fair Community College

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Sedalia, MO
School Type

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

Associate Degree

  • The computer programming degree program focuses on the creation,modification and testing of computer code
  • Students can develop strong critical thinking,problem - solving and communication skills by the time they graduate

Lake Area Technical Institute

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Watertown, SD
School Type

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

Associate Degree

  • This is a hybrid program that requires students to come to campus on some evenings and weekends to do lab work
  • The degree can be completed in a year and a half
  • Students are required to complete a 240 - hour internship to get hands - on experience

Rasmussen College-Florida

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Ocala, FL
School Type

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

  • This online computer programming degree can be earned in 18 months
  • Students can expect to graduate with SQL,web analytics and advanced Java skills
  • The curriculum prepares students to take the examinations for Java Foundations 1 Z0 - 811 and Database Foundations 1 Z0 - 006 certifications
  • Students can earn credits based on prior knowledge assessments

Central Georgia Technical College

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Warner Robins, GA
School Type

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

Associate Degree

  • The curriculum of this program emphasizes C++,Java,Linux and network programming
  • Students can complete the degree program online in about two years
  • General education classes are also required

James A Rhodes State College

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Lima, OH
School Type

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

Associate Degree

  • The online computer programming degree program focuses on JavaScript,database and ASP.NET programming
  • Students are required to complete a capstone course where they create an e - portfolio assignment and get assessed for their writing and critical - thinking skills
  • General education classes are also required

Full Sail University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Winter Park, FL
School Type

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

  • The program focuses on an understanding of the design,development and implementation of software solutions that can be used by organizations and individuals
  • Students get the opportunity to create portfolios that they can show to potential employers
  • Degrees can be earned within 29 months
Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

Computer Programming Program Overview

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:

  • Computing fundamentals. Even computer programming certificate plans that last one or two terms include a strong introduction to the foundational concepts of computer science. Computing fundamentals include hardware concepts like input/output (I/O), data representation, number systems and physical data storage, as well as programming language hierarchy, implementation and other essential elements of working with computer software programs. These courses tend not to focus on any specific programming language and often have college math or algebra as prerequisites.
  • Object-oriented programming. One of the most-used computer programming models is object-oriented programming, which allows data to be manipulated through the interaction of different properties and methods associated with it. A number of the most common computer languages in use focus on object-oriented programming, including C++, Java, Python, JavaScript, C#, Ruby and PHP. Courses in these topics are likely to take place throughout your study plan, starting in your first or second semester.
  • Database concepts. Many computer software programs rely on databases to implement their core functions. Understanding how database structures interact with different types of software is vital in the field, especially if you're working on programs designed to allow multiple users to access them independently. Study often includes relational database modeling, the MySQL data management framework, user interface development and programming in languages such as PHP and Python.

Continue reading for more about what you can learn in an online computer programming degree programs on the associate and bachelor's levels.

Earning an Online Associate Degree in Computer Programming

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.

Associate Degree Timeline

Year One

Introductory coursework:

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.

General education:

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.

Year Two

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.

  • Common Courses:
    • Network fundamentals
    • Database design
    • Discrete mat
    • Pre-calculus
    • Object oriented analysis and design
    • Programming language
  • Common Careers:
    • Computer programmer
    • Computer support specialist
    • Systems analyst
    • Software developer

Earning an Online Bachelor's Degree in Computer Programming

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.

Bachelor's Degree Timeline

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.

  • Common Courses:
    • Computer Systems
    • Cybersecurity
    • Gaming Developers
    • Mobile Computing
  • Common Careers:
    • Software Developer
    • Web Developer
    • Systems Analyst
    • Database Developer
    • Computer Programmer

Computer Programmer Job Outlook

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.

Computer Programming Certifications

C Programming Language Certified Associate (CLA)

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.

Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP)

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.

Java SE 8 Programmer I

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

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:

This national association offers discounts on an array of products and services, an industry employment website and numerous local chapters for members.
Members of this worldwide organization get access to its network of nearly 100,000 computing professionals and a wide range of learning resources.
Students, new graduates and established professionals can all join the IEEE Computer Society at different levels, gaining access to the organization's digital library, networking opportunities and other benefits.
This socially conscious organization provides special access to worldwide events, a monthly online publication, healthcare coverage for members and more.

Related Rankings

Computer programming isn't the only degree that can get you started in the tech industry. Check out our pages for these other fields of study:

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