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Online Colleges for Computer Science

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Sources :

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From computer programming and software development to opportunities at help desks and support lines, computer science professionals are a mandatory fixture in modern life. Computer science focuses on the theory behind computers and the essential logic statements that make up computer software, and a degree in this field can prepare graduates for creating websites as web developers, applications and mobile apps as software developers, or network protocol technologies as computer scientists. Whether you prefer the technical aspect of developing and maintaining computers and software, or the human interaction of systems support, you can find an aspect of the industry that fits your needs.

Best Online Colleges for Computer Science in 2018-19

Our list of the top 10 best online colleges for computer science was compiled from data primarily provided through the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). In making this list, we used many different data points to rank the best online programs in computer science from U.S. colleges and universities. You can read more about the methodology we used to create this list at the bottom of this page.

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Methodology
1

University of Illinois at Springfield

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$11,413
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
65%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
24
School Type
4-year

Though it offers several undergraduate and graduate degree programs fully online, the University of Illinois at Springfield specifically makes our list thanks to their two online computer science degree programs. The bachelor's program aims to lay a foundation of skills and core theories, while the master's program is geared towards the design, analysis and implementation of software.

Resources available to distance learners include career counseling and planning, resume assistance, online learning tutorials, technical support, library access and peer tutoring. Students planning to transfer to UIS should know that credit can be obtained for prior learning, for military training and via joint agreements with other Illinois institutions.

Accreditation:

  • The Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
 
2

Davenport University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$17,558
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
71%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
56
School Type
4-year

Davenport University's Global Campus has been awarding online degrees since 1999, but its undergraduate and graduate degree programs in computer science are what have earned the school a spot in our top 10.

  • Bachelor of Science in computer science (with specializations in biometrics, gaming and simulation, or computer architecture and algorithms)
  • Master of Science in computer science (with specializations in computer science or security)

This university is committed to offering its online learners the same services and resources as on-campus students, and it adheres to a low student-to-professor ratio. Additionally, students may transfer up to 90 credits toward their bachelor's degree program from articulation agreements, training programs and military experience.

Accreditation:

  • The Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
 
3

Rasmussen College-Florida

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$10,935
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
93%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
60
School Type
4-year

Rasmussen College's computer science bachelor's degree program can be completed in a fully online format, or through the Flex Choice® format -- a blend of traditional online courses and competency-based education that allows students to move as quickly or as gradually through the program as they choose. In either case, both Apple and Microsoft technology is utilized throughout to build a solid foundation in mobile, analytics, and cloud computing. However, students may ultimately choose either Apple iOS or Microsoft Universal Windows as their mobile application development specialization.

Rasmussen College-Florida has an open admissions policy, and awards credit for college equivalency courses, military training and other experience. Online learners benefit from an academic advisor, 24/7 technical support, library services, tutoring, career advancement support, and live and interactive sessions with faculty and peers.

Accreditation:

  • The Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
 
4

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$14,417
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
26%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
34
School Type
4-year

The flagship University of Minnesota-Twin Cities is well known as a public research university and even helped invent the pacemaker, so they certainly have a technological reputation. But what earned them a spot in our top 10 is their offering of not just one, but two fully online master's level degrees in computer science: the skill-focused Master of Computer Science (MCS), and the more research-based Master of Science in computer science.

Distance learners can easily obtain help with technology issues and gain access to U of M support specialists via email, phone or chat. The school also features online library resources and ample support for transfer students: students planning to transfer credits to U of M from another Minnesota Transfer Curriculum participant should find the process to be a smooth one.

Accreditation:

  • The Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
  • Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC)
 
5

Georgia Southwestern State University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$5,341
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
58%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
13
School Type
4-year

Among the most famous alumni of Georgia Southwestern State University are former President of the United States Jimmy Carter and his wife, former first lady Rosalynn Carter. However, it's not the school's presidential status that landed it in our top 10; in fact, it's all thanks to GSSU's fully online Master of Science in computer science program.

GSSU provides a number of electronic library resources for distance learners, including the the innovative GIL Express service. This affords students access to all eligible circulating material across all libraries of the University System of Georgia. The school also hosts an online orientation specifically for transfer students, and a transfer articulation guide to help students get an idea about which of their credits may transfer.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
 
6

Stevens Institute of Technology

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$50,554
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
29%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
26
School Type
4-year

Stevens Institute of Technology was founded in 1870 by America's First Family of Inventors -- patent holders of steam ferries and the modern railroad track -- so it's no surprise that technological innovation remains a guiding force. The school offers a multitude of master's degree programs entirely online, including a master's in computer engineering.

A hallmark of these online programs is the school's use of web conferencing, not just to enhance instructors' presentations, but to encourage ease of communication between students. StevensOnline aims to keep distance learners connected to the university community through these web conferences and a number of other resources, including the Continuing and Professional Student Care Center and the Stevens Library.

Accreditation:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
 
7

Lewis University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$31,250
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
38%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
21
School Type
4-year

Founded in 1932 with just 15 students, Lewis University has grown into a famously innovative institution, offering a number of varied online degree programs -- including a Master of Science and an accelerated Bachelor of Arts in computer science. The 100 percent online program format means that students have 24/7 access to course materials, affording them the ability to complete this particular program's hands-on exercises at their own convenience. Master's degree students have the option to choose from three concentrations, giving them an opportunity to tailor their coursework to their career goals:

  • Cyber Security
  • Intelligent Systems
  • Software Engineering

Lewis University claims to be one of the most transfer-friendly universities in Illinois, stating that they accept coursework from all regionally-accredited institutions and that they evaluate transcripts on a case-by-case basis.

Accreditation:

  • The Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
 
8

University of Idaho

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$7,488
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
30%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
34
School Type
4-year

Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho has since expanded to five physical campuses throughout the state. However, it's what the school is accomplishing online that has allowed it to break into our top 10. The school's online Master of Science (M.S.) computer science degree program offers both a thesis option and a non-thesis option, though each requires 30 credits to complete. If choosing the thesis option, it must be presented at a public colloquium; if choosing the non-thesis option, students must instead pass a comprehensive exam at the end of their studies.

University of Idaho maintains course transfer guides to help prospective students get an idea of how many of their credits will transfer, although credits from non-regionally accredited institutions are not accepted.

Accreditation:

  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
 
9

Colorado Technical University-Colorado Springs

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
N/A
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
N/A
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
N/A
School Type
N/A

The for-profit and primarily online Colorado Technical University lands in our top 10 due to the extensive options in their fully online computer science department. This school offers bachelor's and master's degree programs, each with the choice of the following specializations:

  • Cybersecurity engineering
  • Data science
  • Software engineering

CTU also offers a Doctor of Computer Science (DCS) degree program, featuring specializations in cybersecurity, big data analytics, or enterprise information systems.

The school has an open admissions policy and accepts many forms of transfer credit, including those earned from previous education, job or military experience and equivalency exams. Fast Track™ exams are also offered so that students may earn credit for course material that they already know.

Accreditation:

  • The Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
 
10

Grantham University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$6,540
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
100%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
45
School Type
4-year

Grantham University began offering degree programs exclusively online in the late 1990s and remains 100 percent online to this day. The school rounds out our ranking with their dual offerings of an associate degree program and a bachelor's degree program in computer science.

The school's resources for distance learners include tutoring sessions, live chats, tutorials, webinars and more through the Teaching & Learning Center, as well as career services and a dedicated Veteran Support Team for military veterans and their families. Transfer credit is awarded on a course-by-course basis, and articulation agreements have been established with more than a dozen other institutions. The school also has an open admissions policy.

Accreditation:

  • Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)
  • Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
 

Degree Overview: Computer Science

The world of technology is moving fast, so people who want to enter the field must be up-to-date on the latest machines and mechanics to keep up. Developing an understanding of these technologies and learning to work with and utilize them is the key component of an online computer science degree program, which is why enrolling in one can be so favorable for one's career. This section explores examples of the courses students may take in such a program, as well as the skills they may want to prioritize developing.

Online Computer Science Courses

As a computer itself is composed of many different parts, the field of computer science is comprised of many different areas of knowledge. Computer science students may find themselves engaging in these areas with varying grades of intensity, depending on the level of degree program they have enrolled in — an associate degree program will likely focus more on broad concepts rather than intricate details, a bachelor's degree program is likely to delve deeper into specifics, and so on. However, regardless of the degree level you're pursuing, you can be sure that you'll be touching on all of these fields in one context or another throughout your computer science education.

  • Programming languages: In order to program a computer, you'll first need to be able to speak the machine's language. In addition to covering the syntax of programming languages such as C+, Ruby, Python or Java, classes in this subject may cover data structure management, development tools and parsing.
  • Software development: To develop software, it's important to understand the entire life cycle of software product development. From analysis to design, from testing to production, courses in this subject have a lot of ground to cover.
  • Data mining: Data mining involves discovering meaningful patterns in large amounts of data. This subject involves the different aspects of how to classify and cluster data, as well as various methods used for identifying patterns.
  • Database management: These courses emphasize the many different ways that databases are designed, implemented and used. Related topics include integrity enforcement, query optimization, concurrency control and data recovery.
  • Operating systems: A crucial part of a functional computer, the underlying principles of operating systems are just as crucial for computer science students to understand. Courses in this area may cover how multi-process and threaded applications work, the ways different operating systems communicate with each other and strategies for applying synchronization.

Career-Related Skills to Develop

Computer science majors will likely have the opportunity to explore many marketable skills during their time in a computer science program. Some of the most important skills to make sure you focus on during your studies are:

  • Technology: It should come as a surprise to nobody that computer science students will want to have solid technological skills before looking for a career in the field. Particularly relevant skills include programming and database management, as well as the ability to use software, hardware and multimedia products.
  • Creativity: Computer science requires a different way of thinking from many other careers, and the field is filled with innovators who are pushing the boundary of technology every day. People who work in computer science must be able to think outside the box to create new directions for their products and find solutions to the inevitable problems that crop up during the process.
  • Teamwork: The computer science field is not just about working with machines. Technology projects are often completed by teams of professionals, meaning that the career-oriented computer science hopeful must be able to work in a group to design, develop and test products.
  • Learning: Since technology is regularly evolving, workers in the field need to have strong learning skills that can keep up with the pace of new tech, as well as the curiosity to keep abreast of what developments are being made.
  • Communication: Whether it's communicating with your team via email, writing a progress report for your boss, or giving a presentation for a group of uninformed shareholders, strong verbal and written communication skills are relevant to the computer science professional.

Computer Science Specializations

Although information technology professionals are not required to obtain a certification to get hired, earning a credential can go a long way toward standing out in the competitive job market. The computer science field is made up of diverse innovations, and the certifications workers can earn are just as diverse. The following are some examples of these professional designations.

  • The Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC), offered by ISACA, is for those who work in enterprise risk management.
  • Issued by the International Society of Forensic Computer Examiners, the Certified Computer Examiner (CCE) credential is available to professionals who conduct digital forensic examinations.
  • Those who work as network engineers or administrators can earn a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) from Cisco Systems, Inc.
  • Certified Information Systems Security Pro (CISSP) certifications from the International Information System Security Certification Consortium are for people who have experience crafting and enforcing an organization's IT security policy.
  • The Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) is for professionals who specialize in data platforms, server infrastructures, private cloud technologies, and enterprise devices.

Computer Science Career Outlook

Computers make the world go 'round, and from writing code to developing software to ensuring computer security, the number of jobs related to them continues to increase. If you're interested in a career pertaining to these incredible machines, a bachelor's degree in computer science can help you get your foot in the door.

Software Developers
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2017 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$108,080
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
85,500
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
30.5
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017
Bachelor's degree

From developing applications that allow a user to perform a particular function on a device to creating the underlying systems that actually make that device work, software developers are the brains behind the computers. They design, test and develop software to meet users' needs; create models or diagrams that help programmers write the code for the software; perform maintenance and testing to ensure the software functions as it should; plan and document upgrades; and work closely with other computer experts to ensure a polished end product.

Software developer careers require a strong background in computer programming. A bachelor's degree is the usual minimum to begin work; though a computer science or software engineering degree is typical, employers might also accept a bachelor's degree in mathematics or a related field.

Computer Programmers
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2017 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$89,580
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
15,400
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
-7.6
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017
Bachelor's degree

Computer programmers create and test code that allows software and computer applications to function as intended. In other words, they take the software created by software developers and turn it into a set of instructions a computer can understand.

The work includes writing code in a variety of computer programming languages; updating and expanding existing programs; testing programs for errors and fixing the problems; testing code; and simplifying the process through the use of code libraries. They often work closely with software developers and might even have overlapping responsibilities.

An associate degree and a specialization in certain programming languages is sometimes enough for entry-level work in computer programmer careers, but most computer programmers have a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field.

Web Developers
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2017 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$75,580
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
14,200
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
13.1
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017
Associate's degree

Web developers handle all aspects of websites: creation, design, maintenance and sometimes even content development. They discuss website needs with their clients, then set about creating them. This includes writing code with popular programming languages; working with other teammates to create an appropriate format and layout; integrating audio, graphics and video into the site; and testing the site as it ages and expands.

Once the website is complete, the web developer monitors website traffic, creates new content and updates the site regularly to keep it running smoothly.

An associate degree is the usual route to web developer careers. A strong grasp of programming languages and graphic design is essential. Those who earn a bachelor's degree might be able to advance to work as project managers.

Information Security Analysts
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2017 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$102,470
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
10,400
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
28.4
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017
Bachelor's degree

As hacking and other cyber attacks increase, the work of information security analysts is more important than ever. These professionals work to protect information from a wide variety of potential problems, including natural or man-made disasters, as well as hacking and security breaches from individuals, hostile governments and more.

Information security analyst careers include protecting sensitive information through the use of intense monitoring, installing software designed to maintain security of network systems, conducting penetration testing, compiling reports on security breaches, researching new threats and planning out best security practices for an organization.

A bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field is often preferred, though some employers will be impressed with those who earn the MBA in information systems. As with all other careers in technology, experience helps a person stand out in a sea of applicants.

 
Article 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) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
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