Just like there are greats in the science fields, there are greats in the computer programming field. Just think of the enterprising programmers who helped found Facebook, Google and Twitter, to name a few. And with computers being a relatively new invention, we've only scratched the surface on the possibilities that can be realized through them. If you'd like to be involved with the next advances of the computer industry, earning an online computer programming degree might be a wise move to make in order to start off your career on the right foot.

Best Online Colleges for Computer Programming in 2018-19

Are you trying to find the online computer programming degree program that's right for you? Our ranking of the 10 best online colleges for computer programming might be able to help you find what you're looking for. Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and our unique methodology, we have identified the top 10 accredited colleges for the subject in the U.S. For more details on our methodology, see the bottom of this page.

1

Georgia Piedmont Technical College

Tuition & Fees
$2,920
Distance Education Participation
53%
Number of Programs Offered
52
School Type
2-year

Students who are looking for quality education to develop their understanding of computer programming may be interested in looking into Georgia Piedmont Technical College, one of the oldest of Georgia's technical colleges. Via online education, GPTC offers students the opportunity to complete an Associate of Applied Science computer programming specialist degree program (requiring 65 credit hours) or a computer programming specialist diploma program (requiring 52 credit hours). Both programs focus on subjects such as SQL, XHTML, systems analysis and design, and various programming languages. A virtual career center is also accessible to help GPTC students with networking and job searches.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
 
2

Laramie County Community College

Tuition & Fees
$3,426
Distance Education Participation
40%
Number of Programs Offered
27
School Type
2-year

Laramie County Community College is a full-service, comprehensive community college that was founded in 1968. In addition to its many on-campus offerings, the College also features multiple distance education programs to accommodate online learners from far-off parts of Wyoming… and from all across the rest of America.

Students interested in computer programming may be interested in LCCC's online Associate of Applied Science in computer information systems. In this program, students are required to select two chief disciplines to focus on -- one of the options is computer programming. Other options, which could be chosen to complement a computer programming focus, include computer security, internet technology, business or Cisco networking. LCCC also features several computer-related certificate programs, and allows students who have completed these programs to apply their certificate coursework towards the AAS program.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

Location:

1400 E College Drive
Cheyenne WY 82007-3299
3

Champlain College

Tuition & Fees
$39,818
Distance Education Participation
54%
Number of Programs Offered
67
School Type
4-year

A private, nonprofit college that was founded overlooking Lake Champlain in 1878, the school specifically introduced online education into its curriculum in 1992 in order to better meet the needs of working adult students. Through seven- and eight-week-long courses that begin at six start dates throughout the year, students have the ability to complete various computer programming programs at Champlain, including:

  • Online Associate of Science in software development
  • Online Bachelor of Science in computer and information systems (CIS)
  • Online Bachelor of Science in software development

Several computer-related certificate programs could also be pursued at Champlain alongside one of these degree programs to add additional weight to a student's resume, including software development, Visual C#, web design or cyber security.

Accreditation:

  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges
 
4

Limestone College

Tuition & Fees
$25,025
Distance Education Participation
56%
Number of Programs Offered
20
School Type
4-year

Students who are interested in becoming a software analyst or systems programmer may be well served by the online computer programming degree programs at Limestone College. A four-year liberal arts school based in Christian principles, Limestone offers a Bachelor of Science in computer science with a concentration in programming, as well as an Associate of Science in computer science programming. Both programs can be taken in eight-week-long online courses with six terms per year, either in a self-paced route or by taking two classes per term.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
 
5

Herzing University-Kenosha

Tuition & Fees
$13,850
Distance Education Participation
81%
Number of Programs Offered
28
School Type
4-year

Herzing University actually began as a computer training institute in 1965. While it has branched out since its inception, it has not forgotten its roots. Through the Herzing online campus, students can complete several different IT bachelor's degree programs, including online bachelor's programs in computer programming or software development. Courses can be taken year-round, which can help to accelerate program completion. Herzing's online learners also have access to student and career services, which can help students to create cover letters, resumes or curriculum vitae (CVs).

Students interested in a dual major may be pleased to know that up to 12 credits of the bachelor's in computer programming program can be applied toward the school's graduate-level online MBA program.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
 
6

University of Toledo

Tuition & Fees
$9,547
Distance Education Participation
38%
Number of Programs Offered
29
School Type
4-year

The University of Toledo has two options for students looking for an online education in computer programming: an associate of programming and software development degree program, and an online workplace certificate in programming and software development. In fact, students who complete the certificate program can later apply their credits toward the associate program if desired, or even to other IT programs such as the associate program in business management technology or the computer software specialist program. Transfer students can use the school's "Transferology" tool to find out which of their previously completed courses might be transferable to UToledo.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
 
7

Sinclair Community College

Tuition & Fees
$3,674
Distance Education Participation
36%
Number of Programs Offered
35
School Type
2-year

Not only can students at Sinclair Community College take individual online courses or fully online degree programs, but they can utilize the online Sinclair FlexPace format. Sinclair FlexPace allows students to control how quickly they complete their courses, whether they want to complete them at an accelerated pace or need to take them slowly and steadily.

As such, Sinclair's distance learners have many choices. They can pursue the online AAS in computer information systems, or the short-term technical certificate for software applications for the professional. They can take IT fundamentals or software testing/ development courses through FlexPace and complete the rest of their program normally. Or they can use FlexPace to complete an entire AAS program in CIS/software development, or a fast track programming short-term certificate.

Accreditation:

  • North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs
 
8

University of Maryland-University College

Tuition & Fees
$7,296
Distance Education Participation
89%
Number of Programs Offered
92
School Type
4-year

The University of Maryland-University College is dedicated to improving the lives of adult learners, and one of the ways it does this is through its wide variety of online degree and certificate programs. The university's online bachelor's degree program in software development and security can be taken fully online or in a hybrid format, and it focuses on programming languages and best practices for software development.

Several similar IT-related degree programs are also available online at UMUC, including programs in computer networks and cybersecurity or computer science. UMUC students also can build their skills and network with others by becoming part of the school's computing club or joining the Upsilon Pi Epsilon Honor Society for the Computing Sciences.

Accreditation:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education
 
9

University of Phoenix-Arizona

Tuition & Fees
$9,608
Distance Education Participation
99%
Number of Programs Offered
131
School Type
4-year

Computer programming education is structured in an interesting way at the University of Phoenix. Two of UOPX's online degree programs -- an Associate of Arts in information technology, and a Bachelor of Science in information technology -- can be taken with a programming certificate program making up part of the curriculum. This allows students to complete the core coursework for the certificate program first. They can then demonstrate these core programming skills to prospective employers or internships while finishing up the other general education requirements for their degree program, which can help them set up their opportunities for after graduation well in advance.

The associate degree program requires completion of 60 credits, and the bachelor's degree program requires twice that: 120 credits.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
 
10

Pitt Community College

Tuition & Fees
$1,930
Distance Education Participation
50%
Number of Programs Offered
32
School Type
2-year

While it was first chartered in 1961 as an industrial education center, Pitt Community College has evolved into a two-year technical training school that offers adult basic education, literacy training, occupational extension courses and online education. This community college hosts an online associate degree program in information technology: computer programming and development, as well as individual certificate programs for C++, Java and Python programming. Topics for the associate degree program include programming languages, project management, systems analysis & design and software engineering.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
 

Why Pursue an Online Computer Programming Degree?

Computer programming is a technical field, requiring an understanding and knowledge of basic and more advanced computer languages. Degree programs in computer programming can enable students to build skills in these languages and to learn how to apply them in specific ways, i.e., to application development or software design.

What Online Computer Programming Courses Can I Take?

Online computer programming degrees are available at a variety of levels, in both undergraduate and graduate programs. Undergraduate programs can help students to develop basic skills and knowledge in programming while graduate level degrees are more advanced, sometimes even providing opportunities for research. More details on coursework in these programs are listed directly below.

  • Certificates and diplomas are the most short-term programs available to students interested in computer programming. Most courses in these programs are foundational in scope, allowing students to learn the likes of Visual Basic, Java and Microsoft Access.
  • Continuing on, students enrolled in online colleges for computer programming at the associate degree level will generally find themselves taking general education coursework along with computer programming classes. The Linux operating system, object-oriented programming and C# are common themes explored in associate programs.
  • Online bachelor's degree programs in computer programming can help students to understand programming in a much broader context, including its application in business, information technology and computing. Students may be able to learn about algorithms and data structures, programming enterprise applications and IT case planning. Research methods, cyber-security and cloud computing could also be addressed. A senior project is necessary in some programs.
  • Students enrolled in online master's degrees in computer programming may have an increased ability to steer their coursework toward desired learning goals, after completing required courses. Advanced programming and algorithms may be topics in a master's program, along with software program management and software design.
  • At the PhD level, most degrees are available in computer science rather than the field of computer programming. However, many PhD degrees give students an opportunity to pursue very specific work, and so specializing in programming can be done. Keep in mind that PhD degrees can be quite rigorous and require research, an oral exam or a dissertation.

What Skills Are Necessary to Become a Computer Programmer?

Computer programmers need to have specific knowledge and skills to be successful on the job. Students seeking online education for computer programming may want to think about finessing the following skills while they are enrolled in a program.

  • Concentration: Computer programmers spend a lot of time focused on a computer or computer screen, examining and writing lines of code. The ability to concentrate and not be easily distracted by co-workers, the smell of coffee or a jingling phone can be an asset on the job.
  • Detail-oriented: The ability to concentrate is one thing, but the ability to discover the small details that are creating large problems is entirely another. Attention to detail is particularly important to computer programmers looking through long, continuous lines of code.
  • Troubleshooting: When a good computer programmer runs their newly-finished program and it crashes their computer, it is important to immediately start thinking about how to find and fix the issue in the code. Learning multiple ways to test for and isolate an issue is a crucial step of the coding process, and therefore important to a computer programmer.
  • Critical thinking: Troubleshooting relies in large part upon being able to think critically about the problem being presented. Critical thinking skills allow professionals to consider a problem from many different perspectives, considering this possibility and that possibility in order to find the best solution for their situation. The knowledge imparted by a computer programming degree program can provide such different perspectives, facilitating the troubleshooting process and by extension many computer programming careers.

What Computer Programming Certifications Are There?

Many different types of certifications are available to computer programmers, including in specific programming languages, specific products or through specific platforms. Computer programmers often choose to become certified in the languages or products that they most commonly use in order to demonstrate to prospective employers where their skills lie. The Bureau of Labor Statistics even reports that some employers may outright require their employees to be certified in the products they specialize in on the job. The Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) credential may be among the most prevalent certifications in this field; it even appears as a requirement on some job board posts. There are actually five different certifying areas within this credential, and a test is required for each. Once an MCSD credential is obtained, re-certification is required in most of the fields each year. Other types of certifications are available through organizations such as:

  • CompTIA
  • IBM
  • IEEE Computer Society
  • Oracle
  • SAS

Finally, computer programmers can seek certification in specific languages, such as Java, Javascript, Ruby on Rails, and Python. These certifications typically require a computer-based test and a testing fee, which can range from quite affordable to surprisingly hefty. There may even be various levels of certification available for each programming language. This may all seem rather excessive, but considering the estimation that there are anywhere between 450 to 2,000 different computer programming languages in use, it's not so unreasonable for programmers to want to look for certification in the latest languages available to them.

Computer Programming Career Opportunities

Computers and their programs are going to continue to be an integral part of our society, and many people will be needed to build, improve and fix them. However, since programming is so easily done remotely, programming opportunities are sometimes hired out of country. As such, you'll want to make sure your skills and resume are well polished when you start your career in this field.

Software Developers
Average Salary
$114,000
Projected Job Openings
35,400
Projected Job Growth
10.1
Entry-level Education
Bachelor's degree

Every program that exists was once just a vision in somebody's head, and every program that will ever exist is going to start the same way. Software developers dream up new ideas for computer programs and processes, then design documents and flowcharts for how the pieces of the project will fit together so that computer programmers can make it a reality.

A developer's involvement doesn't end after the software is coded, either. Software developers must keep notes on the systems they design, figure out and implement fixes as the inevitable bugs pop up, and work with with other computer specialists to think up, outline, and program new or related products. Knowledge of programming languages is obviously a must, but people in software developer careers need to be problem-solvers as well.

Applications Developers
Average Salary
$108,080
Projected Job Openings
99,200
Projected Job Growth
25.6
Entry-level Education
Bachelor's degree

Computer and mobile applications are the forte of applications developers, who have the brains and pizzazz to design brand-new applications that satisfy the unfulfilled needs of their customers. Like software developers, applications developers outline the pieces and requirements of their upcoming undertaking, then work with computer programmers to ensure the finished product is in line with their initial concept.

Applications developer careers require an ability to work independently, but also to work in groups to resolve problems, often under deadline as their applications prepare to head out the door for public consumption. Their work doesn't end once the product ships, either: monitoring the performance of their applications, both to produce necessary bugfixes and gather information for their next project, is of vital importance.

Computer Programmers
Average Salary
$89,580
Projected Job Openings
15,100
Projected Job Growth
-7.2
Entry-level Education
Bachelor's degree

"Code" is the key word in the world of computer programmers. Since these professionals often know several different computer languages, programming is like a second tongue to them. They are experts in writing code, but also in tracking down coding errors and making requisite changes. While developers often paint a picture of where to go, computer programmers write the code to make it happen, then test the result, experimenting to see whether the code is working correctly and correcting any bugs that might be causing errors.

Computer programming can be done from just about anywhere in the world, making it a versatile career for somebody who has a lot of other obligations to juggle.

Web Developers
Average Salary
$75,580
Projected Job Openings
15,100
Projected Job Growth
13
Entry-level Education
Associate's degree

Creating an attractive, easily-navigable website does not occur with the snap of the fingers. That is why companies hire professionals to do the planning and heavy lifting. After all, working with HTML is not a simple task; web development takes technical skills, patience and a well thought-out plan.

Web developer careers require knowledge of software, like Notepad++ for text editing and Browserstack to carry out cross-browser testing, but this software changes over time, making up-to-date knowledge important. Having a solid grounding in these programs from a Computer Programming education is therefore valuable to the fledgling web developer. Monitoring website traffic, adding graphics and interactive features, and using the latest markup language, like HTML5, are other aspects.

Related Programs

Computer programming may not be the best way for you to learn about computers, or the best approach to your career goals. In such a situation, one of these related programs may be a better fit for what you need.

 
Sources
Methodology

Using the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we generated a list of colleges and universities that met the following four criteria for the specific subject being ranked:

  • Offer a degree or certificate program in that subject, either in an online or hybrid format
  • Have at least 1% of students attending some form of distance education
  • Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in 2016-17
  • Have reported data for all 11 ranking variables listed below

We ranked 1,813 colleges and universities in the United States on 11 criteria, using 2016-17 data from IPEDS:

  1. Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded via distance education in 2016-2017 were in this particular subject
  2. Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered via distance education at any level
  3. Ratio of students participating fully or partially in DE to Total Enrollment
  4. Average in-state tuition for undergraduates
  5. Graduation rate
  6. Retention rate
  7. The availability of any tuition plans (Payment, Prepaid, Guaranteed, Other)
  8. Services (Academic/Career, Placement for Completers)
  9. Credit offerings (Dual, Life, AP, Military)
  10. Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid
  11. Average amount of federal, state, local, institutional, or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students

All schools were scored on a 10-point scale for each of the points listed above. Individual data point scores were then multiplied by their respective weights, and the scores were added together, for a maximum possible score of 10 points.

NOTE: Schools' tuition amounts are based on 2016-17 undergraduate and graduate data reported to the National Center for Education Statistics. The actual cost of tuition may vary.

Methodology Sources

  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2017-18, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
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