Best Computer Science Certificates

Updated September 9, 2022

A certificate in computer science can set you on the path toward a new career in the field. Read on to learn about 2022's best computer science certificates.

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Computer science careers have become increasingly popular in recent decades. Employment in the field is projected to grow at an above-average rate from 2020-2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

However, tech jobs typically require a college degree. Certificates usually require less time and money than a traditional degree.

Let’s take a look at why people decide to obtain a computer science certificate, the process for doing so, and career opportunities for those who pursue this path.

Why Get a Computer Science Certificate?

Today, most jobs require some computer skills since employers rely on computers to collect, process, store, and analyze data for their operations. Organizations require IT professionals that maintain the equipment, manage users and handle data security.

The BLS projects the computer and information technology field to add 667,600 new positions from 2020-2030. Well-paying jobs in this field include computer and information research scientists; computer network architects; and software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers.

The variety of computer science disciplines offers several entry points for those just starting or looking to advance or change their careers. Many jobs do not require a two- or four-year degree.

The BLS projects the computer and information technology field to add 667,600 new positions from 2020-2030.

However, most computer science professionals do some type of short-term training to get the skills they need. Options include coding bootcamps, which are often available online. Still, these can be costly. Computer science certificate programs, another option, offer the following benefits:


Demonstrate Technical Competence

A computer science certificate demonstrates to potential employers and others that you have relevant knowledge and skills for the tech field.

Lead to Higher Salary

Even if you are not changing jobs, showing the ability to independently improve your skills may impress prospective employers.

Time and Cost Effective

Most certificate programs are cheaper than traditional degrees. They also take less time to complete.

What to Expect From a Computer Science Certificate Program

Computer science degree programs differ from certificate programs in content. Degrees aim to provide students with a well-rounded education. This education focuses on computer science, also featuring courses in liberal arts, mathematics, and the traditional sciences.

Certificates are more narrowly focused and typically only consist of core computer science courses. They may focus on a single area or skill.

Over the past decades, higher education institutions have begun offering more online courses with flexible scheduling. These efforts have opened the door for more nontraditional students to attend college. Certificate programs may be more accessible for nontraditional students as well.

Admissions Process

If you plan to enroll in a computer science certificate program at a college or university, keep the admissions process in mind. Admission typically requires a bachelor’s degree from another institution.

If your degree is not in a computing or related discipline, you may need to pass a qualifying course to meet prerequisite requirements. Community colleges and technical schools, however, do not require bachelor's degrees.

Top Online Programs

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Different Certificate Types

Certificates indicate knowledge or skill in a particular area. They are awarded at the end of a course of study after passing an exam. Consider several factors before choosing a computer science certificate, including:

  • Schedule Flexibility: If you have a job or family, make sure to ask how much flexibility a certificate program allows when it comes to attendance and assignments.
  • Residency Requirements: Consider whether a certificate program is available online, in person, or in a hybrid format.
  • Skill Level: A certificate can help bolster a resume. However, it may not be necessary to get a certificate if you can demonstrate your skill level with prior experience or education.

Popular Computer Science Certificate Courses

The computer science field includes many positions. Therefore, many certificate programs focus on a single skill or application. However, many programs include the courses listed below.


System Administration

This course covers the administration of a computing environment, including system management, accounts, and access.

Computer Networking

This course typically covers LANs, WANs, MANs, client server models, transport protocols (e.g., TCP/IP), and data structures. The course may also explore wireless communication protocols such as WiFi and BLE, along with cloud computing.

Cybersecurity

This course teaches how to defend against the most common types of security attacks. These include phishing, malware, denial of service (DoS), and ransomware.

How Much Do Computer Science Certificates Cost?

Tuition and fees at public universities cost $9,212 per year on average for in-state students, according to the most recent NCES data. Most undergraduates pay tuition for at least four years, totaling about $37,000 overall.

Certificates often cost much less. The cheapest computer science certificate programs charge less than $3,000 for tuition. For example, Madison Area Technical College offers an IT-professional Java developer certificate for under $1,500. Seminole State College of Florida confers a computer programming specialist certificate for less than $4,000.

Pricier certificates may cost upwards of $10,000. However, this is still much less expensive than a traditional bachelor's degree.

Computer Science Careers

As mentioned above, virtually all organizations need employees with computer science skills. Computer professionals most commonly work in computer systems design, the federal executive branch, and company and enterprise management, according to the BLS.

There is strong demand for computer science specialists such as software developers and information research scientists. With cyberattacks on the rise and costing companies millions in ransoms, cybersecurity specialists are seeing high demand as well.


Web Developers and Digital Designers

People use webpages to connect and share information on the internet. Web designers build and test webpages. These professionals should demonstrate both technical and creative skills.

Required Education: High school diploma, associate, or bachelor’s degree in computer science

Job Outlook (2020-30): +13%

Median Annual Salary: $77,200


Computer Programmer

Programmers design, write, and test software programs and applications. Professionals with coding skills are always in demand to create new tools. Programmers spend most days exercising their creativity on new software or enhancing the capability of existing programs.

Required Education: Associate or bachelor’s degree in computer science

Job Outlook (2020-30): -10%

Median Annual Salary: $93,000


Information Security Analysts

Security analysts devise and implement strategies to protect their organizations' software assets. Organizations aim to protect their software assets from hackers, ransomware, and other types of attack. Therefore, cybersecurity careers are among the most lucrative in computer science.

Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in computer science

Job Outlook (2020-30): +33%

Median Annual Salary: $102,600


Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Systems administrators manage computing systems and networks. They ensure that these systems are working properly and are responsible for dealing with any contingencies. Typical duties include creating and updating user accounts, loading new software programs, and adding new computers and peripherals to the network.

Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in computer science

Job Outlook (2020-30): +5%

Median Annual Salary: $80,600


Computer and Information Research Scientists

Computer and information research scientists find innovative ways to use current and emerging computing resources. This exciting field is projected to experience a high growth rate over the next several years. However, these jobs require advanced degrees in IT.

Required Education: Master’s degree in computer science

Job Outlook (2020-30): +22%

Median Annual Salary: $131,490

Choosing the Right Computer Science Certificate

Regardless of what computer science career you are interested in, take your time selecting a program. The training and skills you gain will impact your career opportunities. Also consider each program or school’s reputation and accreditation status. Regional accreditation is typically more respected than national accreditation.

Other considerations may include the following:

  • School size
  • Location
  • Culture
  • Student-to-teacher ratio
  • Staff and student body diversity
  • Program reputation
  • Transferability of any courses
  • Tuition and fees

Should You Get Your Certificate in Computer Science Online?

Educational institutions are turning to online instruction for degrees and certificates. Distance learning makes higher education possible for more nontraditional students who might not be able to live on or near campus. That said, online learning has both pros and cons.

Advantages of getting a certificate online include schedule flexibility and the ability to study from any location. On the other hand, distance learners must be self-disciplined, and some students prefer to learn in classroom settings.

Should You Pursue a Certificate, Associate Degree, or Bootcamp?

Careers in computer science can be rewarding and high paying. However, it can be difficult to choose whether to pursue a certificate program, an associate degree, or a coding bootcamp.

Comparing Certificate, Associate, and Bootcamp Programs
Comparison Point Computer Science Certificates Computer Science Associate Degrees Bootcamp Programs
Program length One year or less Two years Four months on average
Admission requirements High school diploma or BS High school diploma Varies
Course load 10-30 credits 60 credits Varies
Program goals Learning a specific topic or skill Broad subject knowledge Learning a specific topic or skill
Class types Online, in person, or hybrid Online, in person, or hybrid Online, in person, or hybrid

Other Educational Paths

Computer science professionals might consider bachelor’s, graduate, and postgraduate degrees in addition to associate degrees and certificates. However, the requirements for an MS or doctorate typically include extensive research in addition to coursework.

Degree programs are time-intensive, multi-year commitments. That said, professionals with an MS in computer science make an average annual salary of $106,000, according to Payscale data from April 2022. Traditional degrees may garner higher salaries.

Explore other computer science education paths:

1

Affordable Online Bachelors Degrees in Computer Science

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Bachelors Degrees in Computer Science

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Online Bachelors in Computer Science

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1

Affordable Online Masters Degrees in Computer Science

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1

Masters Degrees in Computer Science

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1

Online Masters in Computer Science

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Doctoral Degrees in Computer Science

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2022's Top Computer Science Certificates

In our digital age, virtually all organizations need computer science expertise. The best computer science certificates in our rankings equip students with the right skills. Explore the methodology we used in the link below.

#1

Laurel Ridge Community College

School Information
Location Middletown, Virginia
Graduation Rate 38%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Laurel Ridge Community College (LRCC) is a public community college located in Virginia, dedicated to high performance and learning. Prior to the 2022-2023 school year, the school was named Lord Fairfax Community College. 

Applied Computer Science Certificate 

LRCC’s Applied Computer Science Certificate focuses on teaching students foundational computer science topics. This certification aims to equip students with the knowledge and skills for obtaining entry-level technical jobs. 

The curriculum includes programming, computer networks, software design, database, and web design. Students need to complete 18 to 19 credits over two semesters. 

In addition to Applied Computer Science Certificate, LRCC also offers a Career Studies Certificate in Computer Science. This course is essentially a computer science generalist option. 

Applying to Laurel Ridge Community College

LRCC has an open admissions policy. The school grants admission to applicants who have a high school diploma or GED certificate. Prospective students should be at least 18 years old. 

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges 
  • Tuition: $154/credit (in state) 
  • Program Length: 1 year 
  • Delivery Format: On campus
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 6%
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#2

Navajo Technical University

School Information
Location Crownpoint, New Mexico
Graduation Rate 16%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 11% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Navajo Technical University (NTU) is a tribal university in Crownpoint, New Mexico. The institution began in 1979 as the Navajo Skill Center. NTU supports a culturally diverse environment and philosophy based on Nitsahakees (thinking), Nahata (planning), Iina (living or life), and Sih Hasin (reverence or reflection).

Computer Science Certificate 

NTU’s School of Engineering, Math, and Technology offers the Computer Science Certificate. It is a one-year program requiring students to complete 31 credit hours. It enables learners to obtain entry-level jobs in Navajo Nation or pursue a baccalaureate or associate degree.

The program has two parts: general education requirements for 13 credits, and computer science core classes for 18 credits. 

Applying to NTU

Applicants need to provide an official record of enrollment indicating they are members of a federally recognized Indian Tribe or a Certificate of Indian Blood (CIB). The school also requires an official GED certificate or high school transcripts.

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $2,360/academic year
  • Program Length: 1 year 
  • Delivery Format: On campus
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 0%
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#3

Creighton University

School Information
Location Omaha, Nebraska
Admission Rate 74%
Graduation Rate 81%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 38% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Creighton is a Jesuit Catholic university. It is located in Omaha, NE, and has a strong mission to strengthen its community. Creighton considers itself an ideal place for those pursuing academic excellence while building a more just world.

Computer Science Certificate

Creighton’s Computer Science Certificate aims to equip students with the skills to thrive in today’s technology-driven environment. It strives to provide students access to the latest technology and related information. 

Students learn computer basics like systems analysis and programming. Students explore computer science and its role in business. 

Although it is an on-campus program, Creighton offers the flexibility of taking courses during the day, evening, or both. Learners must complete 24 credits, which include the following courses:

  • Introduction to Programming
  • Object-Oriented Programming
  • Data Structures
  • Algorithm Design and Analysis

Applying to Creighton

Applicants to Creighton must provide their high school GPA in addition to SAT or ACT scores. Extracurricular activities and recommendations from a high school counselor also enhance a student’s application. Advanced placement courses and honors sections are also a huge boost. 

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission 
  • Tuition: $1,367/credit 
  • Delivery Format: On campus
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 48%
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#4

Gateway Community College

School Information
Location New Haven, Connecticut
Graduation Rate 12%
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 16% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Gateway Community College (GCC) in New Haven is Connecticut's largest community college. About 14,000 learners each year pursue professional and academic goals at GCC. 

Computer Science Certificate

GCC’s Computer Science Certificate prepares students for entry level positions. Some of the outcomes the program seeks to achieve with its students include the following:

  • Identify and describe the main components of a computer system
  • Develop algorithms and subsequently solve problems using control structures.
  • Comprehend software design methodologies in two high-level languages so students can:
    • Analyze, design, code, debug, and test complex and sophisticated computer programs
  • Understand the internet and practically demonstrate an aptitude in using various internet tools.
  • Describe local area networks (LANs), including their protocols and topology.

The course requires 21 to 23 credits spanning two semesters.

Applying to GCC

GCC requires proof of high school graduation. Some courses require SAT and/or ACT scores. 

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: New England Commission on Higher Education
  • Tuition: $174/credit (in state)
  • Program Length: 1 year
  • Delivery Format: On campus
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 3%
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#5

University of Akron Main Campus

School Information
Location Akron, Ohio
Admission Rate 73%
Graduation Rate 46%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 37% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of Akron (UA) main campus is a research institution founded in 1870 and built on a hilltop. Its mascot is Zippy the kangaroo. Zippy had the distinction of winning Capital One National Mascot of the Year in 2007. 

Certificate in Computer Science

UA’s offers its certificate in computer science through its college of engineering and polymer science. Students need a minimum of a 2.0 GPA overall. Apart from passing courses, completing the certificate relies on prerequisites, class availability, course drops, and withdrawals.

The certificate requires 24 to 25 credits. Six of these credits are 300/400-level computer science elective courses. However, the credits earned in this certificate do not count towards a computer science program.

Applying to UA

To apply for this certificate, prospective students must possess a bachelor’s degree in another major. In addition, they must submit a written request for admission to the department chair of Computer Science.

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $328/credit (in state)
  • Delivery Format:  On campus
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 47%
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Computer Science Certificate Questions

What is a computer science certificate?

A computer science certificate is a non-degree designation that demonstrates technical competence in a specific area or skill.

What jobs can you get with a computer science certificate?

Professionals with computer science certificates typically work in information technology. Common jobs include web developer and computer programmer.

Should I get a computer science degree or certificate?

Yes, if you plan to pursue a career in computer science. When choosing a program, consider your target occupation, school reputation, location, costs, and admission requirements.

How do I get a computer science certificate?

The specific process for earning a computer science certificate may vary by institution. After filling out an application and paying requisite fees, the curriculum typically includes a series of courses and a final exam.


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