Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Computer Science Programs

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Updated November 17, 2022

Looking for an affordable online bachelor's in computer science program? Explore our list of the cheapest computer science bachelor's degrees to get started.

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Choosing an affordable online bachelor's in computer science can help students save money while preparing for new tech careers.

The skills that computer science programs teach can transfer to many computer and information technology jobs, and demand is high for skilled tech professionals. This trend will likely continue as organizations and individuals increasingly rely on computers.

Completing a degree often requires a large investment of time and money. However, the return on investment (ROI) for a bachelor's in computer science is usually high. ROI varies depending on how much you pay for your degree and the salary you make after graduating.

Computer science graduates may qualify to apply for high-paying careers like software developer (median annual salary of $109,020 as of 2021) and computer network architect (median salary of $120,520).

Explore some of the cheapest online computer science degrees, learn how to make your education even more affordable, and discover options for paying for your program.

Top Five Cheap Online Bachelor's in Computer Science Degrees

View our ranking methodology

#1 Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Computer Science Programs

Western Governors University

  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • 4 years
  • Online

Nineteen US governors created an online, student-focused university in 1997. WGU's mission is to increase accessibility to higher education by lowering costs and creating flexible learning opportunities. The school's competency-based curriculum lets students progress as they master subjects, not according to a strict academic term schedule.

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

WGU offers a competency-based BS in computer science. The curriculum includes 35 classes. These computer science courses cover data structure, algorithms, and computer architecture. Learners also complete classes about software, data management, ethics in technology, and IT business. 

A computer science capstone asks students to synthesize their skills through a final project. The online bachelor's degree program also prepares students for two popular industry certifications: CompTIA Project+ and ITILⓇ Foundation. 

Applying to WGU

Students complete an online application and pay a $65 fee. Degree-seekers must have completed postsecondary math courses covering precalculus or calculus. 

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Tuition: $3,625/six-month term
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 47%
Average Tuition
In-state
$6,380
Out-of-state
$6,380
Retention Rate
73%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
136,139
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#2 Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Computer Science Programs

University of Illinois at Springfield

  • Springfield, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

UIS began as Sangamon State University in 1969. It joined the University of Illinois system in 1995. Nearly 4,000 students attended UIS in 2021-22, including 38% who take classes completely online. 

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

UIS offers a BS in computer science degree. Online and on-campus students complete the same program. It begins and ends with assessments to test enrollees' progress. 

The computer science core includes 36 credits. Learners take courses about topics like algorithms and computer architecture. The programming class provides an overview of languages like C# and Java. Enrollees also take an operating systems class. 

UIS allows students to select three computer science electives. Potential courses include cryptography, networking, and web development. Enrollees finish the program with a software engineering capstone. They work on team projects to explore the entire software development process.

Applying to UIS

Degree-seekers fill out a free online form and submit a statement of purpose. They present undergraduate transcripts showing a 2.0 minimum GPA. The Department of Computer Science expects applicants to have completed previous math and Java courses. If necessary, students can complete these prerequisite courses at UIS.

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $308/credit
  • Credits Required: 120 credits
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous with possible synchronous components); on campus
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 44%
Average Tuition
In-state
$9,520
Out-of-state
$15,948
Retention Rate
79%
Admission Rate
77%
Students Enrolled
4,275
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
70% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#3 Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Computer Science Programs

Central Methodist University-College of Graduate and Extended Studies

  • Fayette, MO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Since its founding in 1854, CMU has striven to develop curiosity, community, and communication in its students. Over 4,000 students take online classes through CMU's College of Graduate and Extended Studies.

Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

CMU lets students pursue a BA or BS in computer science. Both computer science degree programs include 37 credit hours toward the major. These core courses explore subjects like networking, computer architecture, and .NET. Other topics include database systems and information security.

Learners also select two computer programming electives. One must focus on programming languages. The other class covers app development, web page design, or game programming. Before graduation, enrollees complete a senior thesis and capstone project. Students can also pursue internship opportunities to gain real-world experience. 

Applying to CMU

Degree-seekers fill out a free online application. Transfer students must present undergraduate transcripts with a 2.0 minimum GPA. First-year applicants submit transcripts and ACT/SAT scores. 

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $270/credit
  • Credits Required: 120 credits
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous); on campus
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 36%
Average Tuition
In-state
$6,070
Out-of-state
$6,070
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
100%
Students Enrolled
3,821
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
57% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#4 Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Computer Science Programs

Lewis University

  • Romeoville, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Named after philanthropist Frank J. Lewis, this Catholic university promotes justice and wisdom. It has followed Lasallian principles of respect and inclusivity since its 1932 founding. Today, the Illinois campus serves 6,200 undergraduate students.

Accelerated Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

Lewis offers an accelerated computer science program through its School of Graduate, Professional, & Continuing Education. The computer science core includes 49-59 credits. Enrollees study math topics like calculus and linear algebra. They also explore topics like cybersecurity and software engineering. 

Distance learners pursuing the BA degree conclude the program with a two-course capstone sequence. These final classes ask students to complete a project related to software systems or computer infrastructure. BS students only take the software systems capstone.

Lewis also offers 4+1 programs. These allow undergraduate students to work simultaneously toward a graduate degree. In only five years of full-time study, learners complete both a bachelor's and master's degree. The graduate degree options for the 4+1 computer science program include data science, computer science, and information security.

Applying to Lewis

Prospective students complete the free online application and submit all transcripts. Applicants to the BS program need at least 30 undergraduate credits with a 2.0 minimum GPA. 

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $610/credit
  • Credits Required: 128 credits
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous); on campus
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 57%
Average Tuition
In-state
$33,270
Out-of-state
$33,270
Retention Rate
84%
Admission Rate
64%
Students Enrolled
6,359
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
43% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#5 Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Computer Science Programs

University of Arizona

  • Tucson, AZ
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Established in 1885, UofA began almost three decades before Arizona received statehood. It now serves almost 47,000 students and offers over 150 online programs. UofA's core values include adaptation, inclusion, and exploration.

Bachelor of Applied Science in Applied Computing

UofA's bachelor of applied science in applied computing prioritizes hands-on learning. Online students complete interactive assignments and projects. The program aims to develop marketable skills in areas like cloud computing and data analysis. 

Students can tailor the curriculum to their interests with one of six concentrations. These specializations include:

  • Applied artificial intelligence
  • Cloud computing
  • Dev ops
  • Information management
  • Network operations
  • Software development

Courses may include cyberethics, statistics in the information age, human-computer interaction, and web programming. All applied computing students complete a senior capstone project.

Applying to UofA

UofA's College of Applied Science and Technology expects prospective students to hold approximately 60 transfer credits. Applicants submit transcripts proving a 2.5 minimum undergraduate GPA. They also provide a goal statement and a resume. The online application costs $50 for Arizona residents and $80 for out-of-state students.

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $500/credit
  • Credits Required: 120 credits
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous with possible synchronous components); on campus
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 36%
Average Tuition
In-state
$10,990
Out-of-state
$33,273
Retention Rate
83%
Admission Rate
85%
Students Enrolled
44,577
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
42% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

What Factors Into an Online Bachelor's Affordability?

Tuition price is the biggest component of a degree's affordability. However, students should also consider how factors like program format, financial aid availability, and enrollment status can affect net cost.

Tuition

The cost of a cheap computer science degree can vary significantly. Colleges may set prices on a per-semester, pre-credit, or per-year basis. Whether tuition is "cheap" or "affordable" is subjective. However, a cheap degree typically refers to a program that costs less than average.

The College Board reports that for the 2022-2023 school year, one year of tuition and fees at a public four-year school cost $10,950 for in-state learners. Based on this data, students may pay over $43,000 for a computer science bachelor's degree at a typical public institution. Some online programs offer lower tuition prices.

Enrollment Status

Whether you study full time or part time can influence how much you pay for a bachelor's in computer science.

Part-time students may find it easier to hold a job while in school. However, taking fewer classes at once will likely extend the timeline for your degree.

If a school charges tuition by the semester or year, part-time learners can end up paying more than students who graduate in four years. But, if a university charges by the credit, attending part-time while working can help you stay on budget.

Research your school's tuition format to make sure you understand the pros and cons of attending part time versus full time.

School Location

The location of the school you choose for your online computer science bachelor's degree can affect cost.

Depending on where you live, you may need to pay out-of-state tuition rates to attend a public university online. In-state learners usually pay a much lower rate. Make sure to find out if you will pay in-state, out-of-state, or a special online tuition rate.

Students who select hybrid programs should also make sure to factor in expenses like commuting, parking, and housing.

Delivery Format

Many students find online-only learning more convenient and flexible than in-person or hybrid programs.

Asynchronous courses let learners log on to learn whenever they want. Synchronous courses require students to meet in a virtual classroom at specific times. Asynchronous programs may make it easier to work and continue making money while in school.

Online programs often offer access to in-person or online internships. Completing an internship can help students qualify for jobs after graduation.

Financial Aid

Private schools often charge higher tuition than public institutions. However, private schools may offer more financial aid, potentially making them an affordable option. Do not assume that the publicly stated tuition is what students actually end up paying.

The National Association of College and University Business Officers reports that private, nonprofit schools in the United States offered an average tuition discount of 54.5% for first-year undergraduates as of the 2021-2022 school year. Some private institutions hold no-loan policies, promising to meet 100% of students' demonstrated financial need.

Types of financial aid include federal student loans, grants, and scholarships. Students can also access work-study programs, a form of aid that helps learners make money through part-time jobs relevant to their majors. Loans must be repaid.

All college students should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Colleges, government agencies, and scholarship providers use this form to determine financial aid eligibility.

How Can You Pay for a Degree in Computer Science?

Even students pursuing the cheapest online computer science degrees may still need help paying for a degree. As free money that does not require repayment, scholarships are the best option to consider. This list below is not exhaustive but provides a helpful selection of scholarships for computer science students.

Scholarships for Computer Science Students

The Society of Women Engineers Scholarship Program

  • Requirements: This award benefits applicants who attend or plan to enter an ABET-accredited program in computer science, engineering, or technology. Candidates must identify as women. The Society of Women Engineers offers various scholarships for members and non-members.
  • Award: Varies
Apply

National Society of High School Scholars STEAM Scholarship

  • Requirements: Open to high school students planning to major in a STEAM field, this scholarship requires an academic resume, headshot, and educator recommendation. Applicants also must submit transcripts and complete an essay question. Candidates can optionally submit evidence of their leadership.
  • Award: $1,000
Apply

Microsoft Tuition Scholarship

  • Requirements: Microsoft offers this scholarship for computer science and other STEM majors pursuing bachelor's degrees in the U.S., Canada, or Mexico. Students must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA (out of a possible 4.0) or a minimum 4.0 GPA (out of a possible 5.0).
  • Award: Varies
Apply

Making Cheap Computer Science Degrees Even Cheaper

Students can make the cheapest online computer science degrees even cheaper by looking for creative ways to cut their expenses.

  • Rent Textbooks

    College textbooks are expensive, and many students do not use a textbook again once the course they bought it for is over. One way to save money on books is to consider renting them instead of buying them. Look for textbook rental options through your school's bookstore or through online booksellers like Amazon.
  • Choose an In-State Public School

    Tuition is typically much more affordable for in-state learners at public schools. Out-of-state students pay much higher tuition rates. Tuition prices at private schools are even higher, although financial aid packages can reduce the cost of attendance.
  • Complete Two Years at a Community College

    Many students make a four-year degree less expensive by completing the first two years at a community college. Community colleges usually charge significantly lower tuition rates. Make sure to research how easily you can transfer credits to your desired computer science bachelor's program before you choose this option.
  • Overload Credits

    If your school charges tuition by the semester or year, overloading credits may help you save money by accelerating your program. Many students can shave off a semester or more by taking extra credits each term. Make sure you can handle the extra coursework if you pursue this path.
  • Live with Family/Roommates

    Tuition is not the only cost to consider when thinking about how to make your college education more affordable. Students can save money on housing by living with family or roommates.

Will Getting an Affordable Bachelor's in Computer Science Pay Off?

Even a cheap computer science degree may demand a considerable expense of time and money, and no degree guarantees a job. However, the best computer science bachelor's programs can prepare graduates for high-paying careers in diverse industries, making this degree a worthwhile investment for many students.

When comparing affordable degree costs, calculate your estimated return on investment by looking at factors like prospective schools' alumni employment records and salary-to-debt ratio. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that computer and information technology professionals earned a median annual salary of $97,430 as of 2021.

Choosing an in-demand concentration or minor can increase your degree's value and improve your career and salary prospects after graduation. Consider specializing in a high-demand area like cybersecurity.

FAQ About the Top Cheapest Online Computer Science Degrees

How can I save money getting a computer science degree?

Save money by choosing one of the cheapest online computer science degrees. You can also rent textbooks instead of buying them, overload credits to graduate sooner, and choose an in-state public school.

Do employers take online computer science degrees seriously?

Employers increasingly recognize that online computer science degrees can prepare students just as well as traditional on-campus programs.

What jobs can I get with an affordable online bachelor's in computer science?

An affordable online bachelor's in computer science can prepare graduates to apply for jobs like information security analyst, computer programmer, and software developer. Previous work experience, specialization area, and location also affect which jobs you can get.

Are the cheapest online computer science degrees worth it?

It depends on your career goals and the cost of your program. Calculate your expected return on investment to decide if earning a cheap computer science degree is worthwhile.

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