Top 10 Best Computer Science Online Degree Programs (Updated)

By CSDH Staff
July 2021

These days, more and more schools offer online computer science degrees. This is great news for any busy professional who wishes to complete a degree on his or her own time. That’s why Computer Science Degree Hub compiled this list of the top 10 best computer science online degree programs.

Methodology:

Points were awarded in three categories according to the system provided below. In addition to these three categories, we utilized a fourth bonus category to award points for standout features. Examples of standout features include arranged internships or job placement programs, discounts for online students, and appearance on national rankings. 

Estimated Program Cost: 

Under $70,000 – 1 point
Under $60,000 – 2 points
Under $50,000 – 3 points
Under $40,000 – 4 points
Under $30,000 – 5 points
Under $20,000 – 6 points
Under $15,000 –  7 points
Under $10,000 – 8 points 

Annual Percentage of 20-Year Net Return on Investment (ROI):

0-2% – 1 point
3-4% – 2 points
5-6% – 3 points
7-8% – 4 points
9%+ – 5 points 

Graduation Rate: 

Below 60% – 1 point
Below 70% – 2 points
Below 80% – 3 points
Below 90% – 4 points
Below 100% – 5 points 

Auburn University
Auburn UniversityOnline Bachelor of Computer Science

Auburn, Alabama
Points: 10
Estimated Program Cost: $35,280
Website

The Bachelor of Computer Science degree online at Auburn University is a degree completion program and is 100% online. The program is 60 credits (you transfer in the other 60 credits) and can be completed in just two years. The program is delivered two courses per 7.5-week term over five terms in the year. Auburn is one of the top 100 schools in the United States according to U.S. News and World Report. Kiplinger rates Auburn among its top 50 best values among public colleges. The low tuition is available to both in-state and out-of-state students.

Oregon State University
Online Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

Corvallis, Oregon
Points: 9
Estimated Program Cost: $31,620
Website

Oregon State University’s online computer science degree is a post-baccalaureate program. The 60-credit program is designed for students who already hold a bachelor’s degree, or have all the credits necessary for a bachelor’s degree besides the computer science credits. There is a fast track program available that students can complete in just one year of full-time study online. OSU is ranked among the top 150 national universities by U.S. News and World Report and 63rd for best undergraduate engineering programs. All students pay the same low tuition regardless of their residential status.

Arizona State University
arizona-state-universityOnline Bachelor of Science in Computer Software Engineering

Tempe, Arizona
Points: 8
Estimated Program Cost: $34,245 (Arizona residents), $39,930 (out of state)
Website

Arizona State University boasts one of the very best online undergraduate degree program in the nation. The BSE in Computer Software Engineering is ABET-accredited. Students who complete this degree program often pursue jobs in:

  • video game development
  • web application development
  • embedded systems
  • networking
  • security
  • computer system administration

Baker College
Baker CollegeOnline Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

Owosso, Michigan
Points: 8
Estimated Program Cost: $51,000
Website

Baker College offers a computer science degree online with concentrations in:

  • computer programming
  • database technology
  • mobile application software engineering

There is also a bachelor of science in game software development. Students will take courses like database management and design, systems development methods, and data structures and algorithms. The series covers programming languages, including:

  • visual BASIC
  • C++
  • Java
  • C#
  • Python.

Central Methodist University
central methodist universityBachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

Fayette, Missouri
Points: 7
Estimated Program Cost: $31,200
Website

The main difference between Central Methodist University’s bachelor of arts vs. the bachelor of science program is in the focus of the general education curriculum. Students taking the computer science degree online will take courses like:

  • computer architecture and operating systems
  • data structures and algorithms
  • scientific computer programming
  • game programming
  • web programming
  • mobile application development

Students will also learn programming languages like visual BASIC, Java, and .NET.

The University of Illinois at Springfield
Illinois SpringfieldOnline Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

Springfield, Illinois
Points: 7
Estimated Program Cost: $42,240
Website

Students taking the computer science degree online at the University of Illinois at Springfield may choose between concentrations in software engineering or systems security and information assurance. The 120-unit program offers classes like:

  • programming languages
  • computer organization
  • introduction to networks
  • systems programming languages
  • systems security

It has an information assurance capstone, or software engineering capstone. The University of Illinois at Springfield is ranked 31st among regional universities in the Midwest by U.S. News and World Report.

Concordia University Texas
Concordia TexasOnline Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science

Austin, Texas
Points: 7
Estimated Program Cost: $55,200
Website

Concordia University’s 120-credit hour online computer science degree is made up of eight-week courses. Some of the jobs available to students upon graduation are:

  • computer programmer
  • database administrator
  • computer systems analyst
  • computer system architect
  • software developer

Students who take this computer science degree online will study subjects like:

  • discrete structures
  • software engineering
  • data structures and algorithm analysis

Students will also have a computer science internship.

Lewis University
LewisAccelerated Online Bachelor’s in Computer Science 

Romeoville, Illinois
Points: 7
Estimated Program Cost: $121,820
Website

The online computer science degree at Lewis is offered in a 100% online format. This accelerated program targets primarily adult non-traditional students. Those who already have experience with coding and programming can get credit for their experience. Graduates who earned this computer science degree online have found employment as:

  • software developers
  • network engineers
  • security engineers
  • web developers
  • network architects
  • data scientists
  • project managers.

U.S. News and World Report ranks Lewis University 42nd among best value schools in its region, and 23rd overall among regional universities in the Midwest.

Regis University
Regis UniversityOnline Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

Denver, Colorado
Points: 6
Estimated Program Cost: $66,600
Website

Regis University’s accelerated online computer science degree is ABET-accredited and offered 100% online. U.S. News ranks Regis’ online bachelor’s programs among the best in the United States. A dual-level combined bachelor’s and master’s degree in computer science online is also offered at 152 credits. Students will take courses like:

  • discrete mathematics,
  • computational foundations
  • algorithms and complexity
  • web database applications.

Pennsylvania State University – World Campus
pennsylvania-state-university-world-campusOnline Bachelor of Science in Computer Software Engineering

University Park, Pennsylvania
Points: 3
Estimated Program Cost: $74,340 (Pennsylvania residents), $79,632
Website

Penn State’s world campus is ranked 10th in the United States among best online bachelor’s programs. The full 126-credit bachelor’s in computer software engineering is available online. Graduates have taken jobs as:

  • computer systems analyst
  • user interface designer
  • video game designer
  • project manager
  • sales engineer
  • software testing engineer
  • software developer (embedded, web, and mobile). 

What’s the difference between computer science and computer engineering?

Computer science is the study of the methods by which computers store, process, and communicate information. Computer scientists develop the algorithms for processing data. They design the languages used to instruct computers on how to process data. They also develop and employ the techniques and methods used to program computers. Essentially computer scientists are mathematicians who scientifically apply mathematics to the problem of processing, interpreting, storing, communicating, and securing data. It is typical for individual computer science professionals to specialize in just one or two of these areas.

Computer engineers take computer science and combine it with electrical engineering. Computer software engineers focus on designing, adapting, and optimizing software to run on specific hardware configurations. Computer hardware engineers focus on the design, development, and construction of all the hardware involved in computing, from microprocessors to supercomputers.

There is a lot of overlap between computer science and computer engineering. Computer scientists and computer engineers often work on the same projects, but focus on different aspects of the project. Both play an essential role in the advancement of computing technology.

Should I pursue an accelerated computer science degree program online?

There are a lot of benefits to accelerated online degree programs, though accelerated programs are not for everyone. First and foremost, accelerated degree programs allow students to complete the same degree in a faster amount of time. This is certainly appealing to those who wish to advance their career more quickly, or who would like to save both time and money. What does this look like? Some four-year degree programs can be completed in as little as 2.5 years when completed as part of an accelerated online program. Many people are best suited to a faster-paced, busier schedule…though many are not. Before committing to an accelerated program, be aware of the number of hours per day and week you will be expected to invest in order to succeed. Finally, accelerated degree programs tend to attract only the most dedicated students. If you know yourself to be exceptionally dedicated to your studies, and value classmates who are equally as dedicated, then an accelerated program may be for you. 

What kinds of jobs can I get? How much do they pay?

As technology develops, computers are becoming even more integrated into our lives. Phones are computers, as well as laptops and desktops. But there are also computers in our cars, televisions, and even some refrigerators, microwaves, toaste.rs, washers, and dryers. Computer engineers and scientists are required for the development of all these devices. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then, that both are in high demand. The field of software development is expected to grow by 21% from 2018-2028. Here are four jobs in the computer science and engineering industry, along with their median pay, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

  • Computer Programmer: $84,280
  • Computer Network Architect: $109,020
  • Network and Computer Systems Administrator: $83,510
  • Software Developer: $105,590

What skills should I focus on to prepare for a computer science/engineering degree online?

Computer science and engineering both have an intimidating reputation as difficult degrees to earn. A solid foundation of fundamentals can provide a smooth transition into the degree. Computer science and engineering are both quite heavy on mathematics. Both professions apply algebra, calculus, and elementary discrete mathematics. Another good idea would be to start learning to code and program before entering the degree program. Most computer science and engineering degrees teach C++, C#, Java, and Python. So gaining some experience in any one of these is a great start. Python is often recommended for beginners these days. There are many websites that employ various methods to teach you how to program. Here are a few to check out.

How do I finance my computer science degree?

Undergraduate computer science degrees online programs are eligible for all the same financial aid as traditional degrees. FAFSA is a great place to start. Not only can you apply for federal aid there, but you can also research other forms of funding. Scholarships and grants are often available from your university, community organizations, churches, and state government resources. The best strategy is to get as much of your tuition covered by scholarships and federal grants as possible. Then take out federally subsidized student loans to supplement the rest. Finally, as a last resort, you can always take out private student loans as well. These typically have good interest rates, slightly higher than the federal loans, but they’re less flexible when it comes to paying them back.

Do I need a graduate degree for this field?

Graduate degrees don’t hurt in computer science and engineering, but they aren’t necessary by any means. In fact, it’s likely going to be better for your career if you go straight from graduation into the workforce. Spend some time in the industry, figure out what interests you and what you want to specialize in. Then decide down the line whether or not a graduate degree is right for you. One of the greatest benefits of a computer science online degree is your ability to jump right into the field and be competitive without having to worry about graduate school.

Sources:

  • Tuition and graduation rate information was sourced from The National Center for Education Statistics’ College Navigator.
  • Information on each school’s 20-year net return on investment was sourced from PayScale.com.

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