Earning an Online Computer Science Degree
Emphasizing the scientific approach to communication and its applications, an online computer science degree is a great stepping stone to pursue your career goals within the ever-evolving world of modern technology.
Do you enjoy working with technology, and have a passion for the scientific method? Earning a degree in computer science online could be the perfect way to utilize your skills with technology in a lucrative and fast-growing career!
Careers in Computer Science
Many students who have earned a degree in Computer Science find themselves working for organizations across a variety of industries to write, develop, and code a business’s computer programs and applications. To give you an idea of the career paths available after earning this degree, we have put together a list of common Computer Science jobs and their median annual salaries:
|Job Title||Job Summary||
Median Annual Salary
|Software Development Engineer (SDE)||Works in a range of industries to design, build, and develop their employers’ computer systems and software.||
|Software Engineer||Plays a key role in developing the ways that software functions created by the design team will work.||
|Software Developer||Develops computer applications that allow users to perform specific tasks on computers and electronic devices.||
|Programmer Analyst||Works at various organizations to design, code, and test new computer programs.||
|Web Developer||Responsible for building the backbone of websites and working with designers and content producers.||
*Job and salary data provided by Payscale.com
With the changing business world and constant development of advanced technologies, those in the computer science field have a number of career options. While many careers within this industry offer lucrative annual salaries, your unique skillset and level of experience will factor into whether you make more or less than the salaries listed above.
Types of Online Computer Science Degrees
Over the last several years, more of the nation’s top universities have begun offering accredited online Computer Science degrees that can be completed on a schedule that fits into your busy life. With quality curriculum and access to state of the art technology, your online Computer Science degree will help prepare you for jumping right into the fast-paced workforce.
Online Associate’s Degrees in Computer Science
An online associate’s degree in Computer Science will help you develop the foundational skills needed to pursue entry-level positions in a technology-related occupation.
Throughout the course of your program, you will learn a variety of computer skills that include:
- Proficiency in Microsoft Office products
- Introductory programming skills
- Interpretation of written programs
- Creation and maintenance of web pages
Once you have completed this online associate’s degree program, you will have the basic computer and business communication skills needed to apply for positions in a variety of business industries. Many students also choose to further their education by applying their associate’s degree credits towards a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science.
Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Computer Science
As one of the most popular majors for students interested in Information Technology, a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science is an excellent starting point to be competitive in today’s modern workforce. After completion of this program, you will know how to plan, design, and optimize computer software and hardware within commercial and government environments.
The advanced coursework that you will be required to complete throughout the course of your online bachelor’s degree program may include the following topics:
- Data Structures and analysis
- Computer systems and architecture
- Image and signal processing
- Mastery of applications including Java, C++, Octave, and MATLAB
To increase your earning potential after graduation, this program also prepares you to sit for industry certification examinations, such as the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) and Oracle Certified Java Programmer.
Online Master’s Degrees in Computer Science
An online master’s degree in Computer Science is designed for professionals within the field who want to take their skills to the next level. The courses throughout this program focus on learning new computer skills, developing critical thinking abilities, and mastering the cutting edge developments in technology and computing.
When enrolling in an online master’s degree program in Computer Science, you may have the option to choose a specialty track to further develop your professional skills, including:
- Databases and Data Mining
- Software Engineering, Analysis, and Design
After completion of this rigorous program, you will have the opportunity to pursue management level positions as a software engineer, software developer, or software development engineer.
Online Doctorate Degrees in Computer Science
A doctorate level degree in Computer Science gives you the opportunity to develop high-level research and analytical skills that can be used to reach top career positions within the industry.
Through the course of this challenging degree program, you will take a number of advanced courses that may include:
- Advanced Statistical Research
- Technology and Innovation Management
- Artificial Intelligence
- System Metrics and Risk Analysis
Graduation from a doctorate level program requires students to develop, research, and write a professional doctoral dissertation. It is also important to check into any residency requirements your online school may have to successfully complete certain advanced-level classes.
Computer Science Career Outlook and Salary Information
With technology continuing to play a larger role in all occupational industries, the career outlook for those with a Computer Science degree is overall positive. According to information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), software developers and web developers are expected to have occupational growth of 22% and 8% respectively between 2019 and 2029. This is much faster than the national average across all occupations and great news for those looking to enter the world of computer science!
When it comes to annual salaries for jobs within the field of computer science, the average wages are typically well above the national average across all occupations. For example, the BLS shows that web developers make an average of $73,760 per year while software developers enjoy an average annual wage of $107,510!
View our list of the top 40 Computer Science careers to compare jobs and salaries in this field.
Is an Online Degree in Computer Science Right for me?
The advancement of technology in the world of distance education has made online Computer Science degrees feasible at several different educational levels. Whether you want to get started in the industry with an associate’s degree or enroll in a graduate degree program, there are a number of advantages to choosing to pursue your education through online learning.
A few of the many advantages of enrolling in an online Computer Science degree program include:
- Access to state of the art virtual educational platforms
- Opportunity to increase your computer skills through computer-based course modules
- Flexible scheduling that allows you to maintain business-hour employment
- Opportunities to specialize your Computer Science program with specific concentrations
What’s the difference between Computer Science and Information Technology?
When it comes to Computer Science and Information Technology, both areas of study are related, but specific aspects of the field are covered under each specialty.
Those who pursue a degree in Information Technology focus on learning the skills necessary to utilize existing operating systems, software, and computer applications. Typically, IT professionals work within a business setting to help organizations and client’s effectively utilize their computers, operating systems, and networking.
On the other hand, those who study Computer Science go deeper into the theory and “why” behind computer programs and applications. Professionals in the field of Computer Science use these advanced research skills and their understanding of algorithms to invent new ways to utilize and transfer information.
Comparing Top Computer Science Degree Programs
Choosing the right school to enroll in an online Computer Science program is an essential first step of beginning your educational journey. There are many factors to consider when picking the school that is right for you, and below we discuss a few of the aspects that are important for you to research when selecting a degree program.
An accredited college or university is one that has undergone a voluntary review process to ensure that its curriculum and educational offerings meet the standards of high quality that are expected from their students.
There are many regional and national accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, and a few of the names that you should look out for when choosing a Computer Science program include:
- Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)
- Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
- Computing Accreditation Commission
Reputable online Computer Science degrees are offered by schools with recognized accreditation. By doing your research beforehand, you can avoid the trap of enrolling in a “degree mill” program that doesn’t have a positive professional reputation.
Student to Faculty Ratio
Small class sizes are as essential in online learning as they are in the traditional classroom. When you are researching schools, be sure to check into the student to faculty ratio for the college’s Computer Science courses. When this ratio is low, professors are better able to provide individual instruction and support to help their students reach their full potential in the program.
If you are looking for additional information on the qualifications of your prospective school’s Computer Science program, take a look at the “Faculty” section of your college’s website. Here you will find detailed information on the credentials and academic achievement of the instructors that you will be working with throughout the course of your degree.
Academic Advising and Student Services
Beyond a quality curriculum and accredited program, many of the top universities offer additional student services that can help you succeed while earning your online Computer Science degree. These services may include:
- Access to advanced technology applications to provide hands-on practice in mastering computer skills
- Opportunities to connect to top computer scientists through virtual workshops or mentoring programs
- Virtual academic advisement and tutoring services
For those who want to understand the theory and application of technology, a Computer Science degree provides the unique opportunity to enter into an exciting, growing field. From web development to software engineering, an online degree in Computer Science could be your first step to a lucrative, challenging career path!