Best Online Computer Science Bachelor’s Programs

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A bachelor’s in computer science qualifies graduates for profitable career options in several fields.

Computer scientist employment is on the rise, thanks to an increasing global demand for reliable computer programs and applications.

An online bachelor’s in computer science meets the minimum education requirement for entry-level jobs in computer programming, software and web development, and network administration. 

Jobs in computer programming, support, and research can lead to long-term, lucrative employment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that computer and information technology professionals earned a median annual wage of $88,240 as of 2019. The BLS also projects an 11% increase in these occupations from 2019-2029.   

The following sections highlight some of the nation’s best online bachelor’s in computer science programs.

Top 10 Best Online Computer Science Schools

Rank School Location
1 Regis University Denver, CO
2 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
3 Concordia University-Saint Paul Saint Paul, MN
4 University of Illinois at Springfield Springfield, IL
5 Oregon State University Corvallis, OR
6 DePaul University Chicago, IL
7 Lewis University Romeoville, IL
8 Florida International University Miami, FL
9 Thomas Edison State University Trenton, NJ
10 Florida State University Tallahassee, FL
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What Is Computer Science?

The study of computer science explores computing machines and systems. Computer scientists design, develop, and implement computer programs and applications. They possess proficiency in computer coding and testing, tracking new software from conception to implementation.

Though the fields share similarities, IT and computer science differ in some significant ways. IT encompasses a broader set of technology components, such as cloud computing, data storage, and hardware. Computer science involves more back-end, behind-the-scenes work in programming languages, computing theory, and app content creation.

Aspiring computer scientists study algorithms, methods of computation, and hardware and software functions. Computer science degree-holders find employment in IT, math, and engineering roles, among others. Professionals commonly specialize in software engineering, artificial intelligence, bioinformatics, visual graphics, and gaming. 

The National Center for Education Statistics recently highlighted the growing popularity of college programs in computer and information sciences, with bachelor’s programs increasing by 51% in this major from 2011-2017. Students with acute problem-solving and analytical skills excel in computer science careers. 

Why Get an Online Computer Science Bachelor’s?

Earning an online bachelor’s in computer science yields many benefits for graduates. Along with providing a strong return-on-investment (ROI), adaptable job skills, and steady job growth, computer science bachelor’s degrees offer broader skills than specialized programs. This makes an online bachelor’s in computer science more popular than alternatives like graduate degrees or coding bootcamps, which sometimes offer a faster and cheaper path to graduation.  

High ROI
Most computer science careers require at least a bachelor’s degree, and subsequent employment typically yields a salary of more than double the cost of an undergraduate program. Computer and information research scientists earned a mean wage of $127,460 as of 2019, allowing them to easily pay back their student loan debts and continue to save.
Reliable Career Skills
Graduates can adapt the skills learned in a bachelor’s in computer science degrees to nearly any job in IT. Since this degree meets the minimum education requirements for most entry-level jobs, students develop the coding, programming, and data science skills most desired by employers.
Tech Job Growth
Though individual occupations vary, BLS data indicates an 11% projected employment growth rate for computer and IT jobs from 2019-2029. Students who complete general computer science programs find employment in software, programming, or web development fields.

The Top Online Bachelor’s in Computer Science Schools

  1. Regis University
    Location

    Denver, CO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Regis is a private school located in Denver, Colorado. The nonprofit institution offers an online bachelor of science in computer science with concentrations in computer science, computer information systems, and information technology.

    This four-year computer science bachelor's degree balances theory and practice. Students explore foundational theories in the field and learn how to solve modern computational problems. Learners develop proficiencies in software development, multiple programming languages, and computational solution design.

    Degree-seekers must complete at least 128-133 credit hours for graduation. Required major courses include software engineering, computation theory, data networks, and database management. Faculty deliver these courses online in eight- or five-week terms.

    Prospective students need a high school diploma or GED. Incoming students may receive credits toward the degree for previously earned college credits, professional credentials, and work or military experience.

  2. University of Florida
    Location

    Gainesville, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    UF is a public school with regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College. Located in Gainesville, the school serves approximately 52,300 students. Remote students can take advantage of the institution's online computer science bachelor's degree.

    Degree-seekers need to complete at least 120 credits for graduation. Required courses include operating systems, applications of discrete structures, information and data systems, and programming fundamentals. Students must also complete a senior project that includes a technical report and oral presentation.

    Computer science students must also pass a department rubric of student performance on a major design experience. Most full-time students take eight semesters to complete this program. Graduates can work as business analysts, software engineers, computer systems analysts, programmers, and researchers.

  3. Concordia University-Saint Paul
    Location

    Saint Paul, MN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    CSP is a private, nonprofit institution with regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. The school is affiliated with the Lutheran Church and hosts approximately 5,000 students. CSP students can attend one of the country's top computer science programs online.

    The 120-credit online bachelor's in computer science includes courses on topics like discrete mathematics, language design and implementation, software engineering, and server-side development. CSP computer science students also complete a capstone project.

    Applicants must submit transcripts and a personal essay. Competitive applicants possess a 2.0 or higher GPA. CSP reports that 95% of its graduates receive job offers within one year of graduation. Graduates can work as software developers, computer systems analysts, programmers, web developers, and software engineers.

  4. University of Illinois at Springfield
    Location

    Springfield, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    UIS is a public school that serves approximately 4,500 students. The school holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission and offers one of the top computer science programs for distance learners.

    The 120-credit online bachelor's in computer science features concentrations in software engineering and systems security and information assurance. All students must pass an entrance assessment during their first semester in the major and an exit exam during their final semester.

    Prospective students must possess a 2.0 or higher GPA; at least two semesters of Java programming experience; and one semester of coursework in statistics, calculus, and discrete or finite math.

  5. Oregon State University
    Location

    Corvallis, OR

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Oregon State is a public institution located in Corvallis. The school holds regional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and serves approximately 31,000 students. The school offers an online bachelor of science in computer science that comprises 180 quarter credits.

    The fully online program includes classes such as software engineering, operating systems, introduction to usability engineering, and analysis of algorithms. Remote pupils also complete a senior software engineering capstone project.

    Graduates can obtain computer science jobs like business intelligence analyst, data scientist, information security analyst, network engineer, and software developer. This program also prepares students for graduate study.

  6. DePaul University
    Location

    Chicago, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    DePaul is a private school located in Chicago, Illinois, with regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. Founded in 1898, the school hosts approximately 22,500 pupils. The online bachelor's in computer science degree-completion program typically takes three years to complete.

    Required computer science courses include Python for programmers, data structures in Java, technical writing, and applied computing. Instructors teach most classes online, except for some required general education classes. Degree-seekers need to complete these classes on campus or transfer them from another institution to receive credit.

    DePaul reports that 91% of its bachelor's degree recipients continue their education or obtain a job within six months of graduation. Prospective students need at least 45 prior quarter credits or 30 prior semester credits for admission. Learners also need at least one semester of Java or C++ instruction and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

  7. Lewis University
    Location

    Romeoville, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Founded in 1932, Lewis is a Catholic university based in Romeoville, Illinois. The school holds regional accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission and offers an accelerated computer science bachelor's program.

    Students focus on programming languages including Python, Java, C#, and Ruby. Additionally, the curriculum features studies in artificial intelligence, data encryption, and machine learning.

    Learners complete the program entirely online and follow an eight-week course schedule. The degree requires at least 128 credits for graduation. Required classes include discrete mathematics, algorithms and data structures, operating systems, programming languages, and client-server computing.

    Graduates can work as software developers, network engineers, network architects, data scientists, technical analysts, and project managers.

  8. Florida International University
    Location

    Miami, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    FIU is a public school with regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Located in sunny Miami, the institution hosts approximately 58,000 students.

    The school features an online bachelor of arts in computer science that gives students the modern digital programming skills needed to compete for top computer science jobs. The 120-credit degree includes courses such as software engineering, technology in the global arena, data structures, and database management.

    Applicants must submit SAT or ACT scores and official high school transcripts. Online learners enjoy remote access to academic advising, career and success coaching, and 24/7 tutoring.

  9. Thomas Edison State University
    Location

    Trenton, NJ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Trenton, New Jersey, TESU offers a bachelor of arts in computer science that teaches students how to design and implement computer-based solutions based on the latest computer science theories. Learners also develop the critical thinking, communication, design, and project management skills necessary for success in computer science careers.

    The 120-credit degree includes classes like data structures, operating systems, computer architecture, and calculus. Learners also choose from popular computer science electives, such as computer simulation, web design and development, and assembly language. Degree-seekers culminate the degree with a capstone project.

    Students can transfer up to 90 credits from a regionally accredited institution toward the online bachelor's in computer science.

  10. Florida State University
    Location

    Tallahassee, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    FSU is a public school with regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school offers an online bachelor's degree in computer science designed for part-time learners.

    This computer science program provides undergraduates with entry-level skills in computer programming, basic software and systems design, database structure, operating systems, and computer organization. Learners focus on essential programming languages such as C++. Java, Lisp, Scheme, and HTML.

    Degree-seekers need at least 120 credits for graduation. Required classes include programming languages, operating systems, theory and structure of databases, object-oriented programming, and introduction to UNIX.

    Applicants need a minimum 2.65 GPA. Additionally, the school recommends that interested learners complete the AP, IB, or CLEPS test before applying. Some students may need to complete prerequisites before taking computer science major classes.

What To Expect From Bachelor’s in Computer Science Programs

The requirements for a bachelor’s in computer science may vary by school and type. For example, schools commonly offer BS or BA degrees in computer science, which may be housed within IT or engineering departments. Though rare, some colleges may offer math-focused undergraduate computer science degrees.

Most bachelor’s in computer science require four years of full-time study, though many online bachelor’s in computer science offer accelerated paths to graduation. Bachelor’s degrees usually allow applicants to apply transfer credits from prior college coursework and life or work experience toward early graduation.

The typical online bachelor’s in computer science requires 120 semester credits. While not always required, some programs include an internship or field experience. Many programs enable students to earn a BS or BA and industry or vendor certificate in a specific language, like Python or Ruby. A bachelor’s in computer science typically culminates in a capstone requirement, such as a final project proposal. 

Online bachelor’s in computer science programs may deliver courses synchronously, with set class times and live video sessions, or asynchronously, with flexible, pre-recorded learning options. Most online computer science programs do not require students to set foot on campus for in-person sessions.

Admission Requirements

Most schools require the same criteria for admission into a bachelor’s in computer science. Some bachelor’s programs in computer science accept students with no prior experience, while others prefer applicants with associate degrees. Computer science programs commonly require calculus prerequisites as well. Transfer students may need to demonstrate prior coursework in math and physics.

Though requirements vary, most schools prefer applicants with GPAs of at least 2.5, cumulatively or specifically in math, science, computer science, and engineering. Schools routinely include SAT or ACT requirements, especially for recent high school graduates. Each applicant typically needs to submit a resume, personal statement, and letter of recommendation.

Schools increasingly require students to apply online rather than mail their applications. More than 800 colleges and universities process applications online through Common App, the most popular service of its kind in the U.S. and Europe. This service allows each candidate to send multiple applications at once.

Degree and Concentration Options

Many online computer science programs enable students to customize their course of study. Schools most commonly offer a bachelor of science in computer science, though some offer BAs and bachelor of business administration degrees in the subject. A school usually features a BS or BA in computer science through its engineering, IT, or natural science departments.

An online bachelor’s in computer science also offers dynamic and innovative concentrations. Programs typically include core requirements in computer programming, systems, and theory, with concentrations in big data, computer systems, cybersecurity, game development, machine learning, and more.

While the BA and BS may offer some of the same concentrations, BAs tend to emphasize liberal arts core coursework in problem-solving, communication, and analytics. Some schools offer an accelerated BS-to-MS in computer science to award both degrees in roughly five years.

Popular Computer Science Courses

Most online bachelor’s in computer science include core, elective, and concentration courses, usually culminating in a capstone project. While not always required, students should consider pursuing internships.

As one of the building blocks of computer science, algorithm expertise is critical for aspiring IT professionals. This course explores searching, sorting, pattern-matching, and graph-computing algorithms. Other topics include backtracking, dynamic programming, and greedy method processes. This course may require prerequisites in math and computer science.
Enrollees explore math concepts specific to computing and IT, such as predicates and quantifiers, propositional logic, proofs, and sets. Most courses in this subject include prerequisites in math and basic computer science. Other topics include functions, applications, and discrete probability.
This course introduces students to network programming through code optimization, virtual memory and memory management, system-level I/O, and synchronization. Degree-seekers explore the broad concept of computer systems through the acute study of apps and base-level computing functions. Prerequisites may include programming and data structures.
Most online bachelor’s in computer science programs include in-person field requirements. Students typically seek out practicum experiences in their preferred areas of expertise. Computer science practicums enable learners to hone their skills in software development, advanced language features, debugging and testing, and code management.
A bachelor’s in computer science degree typically requires a capstone course. Some programs require students to participate in a professional development seminar, while others may require a final project or senior portfolio. A capstone typically includes career guidance and graduation preparation.

How Much Will a Bachelor’s in Computer Science Cost?

Learners can expect many factors to affect the cost of earning an online bachelor’s in computer science. Each school typically sets its tuition rates depending on public vs. private status, and many institutions differentiate between in-state and out-of-state tuition rates. Online students often enjoy set or in-state tuition rates as a primary benefit of distance education.

Most college students could not complete bachelor’s in computer science degrees without financial aid. Candidates can determine their eligibility for financial aid by completing FAFSA forms. Enrollees may qualify for institutional scholarships, work-study, or employer reimbursement programs.

They may also qualify for federal scholarships, grants, and loans. Most applicants exhaust scholarship and grant opportunities first, which do not require repayment, then pursue loans, which they must repay.

Bachelor’s in Computer Science Careers

As companies outsource computer programming jobs to pay lower wages outside the U.S., the BLS projects job growth to decline in this occupation from 2019-2029. However, employers favor candidates with bachelor’s degrees and broad experience in computer languages. While computer programmers do not earn the highest salary among IT professionals, their median annual salary more than doubles the median annual salary for all occupations nationwide.

Computer and information systems managers enjoy a projected job growth of 10% from 2019-2029 and earn a top median salary in IT at $146,360. Though candidates who earn bachelor’s in computer science degrees qualify for entry-level positions in IT management, employers prefer experienced professionals and seek candidates with advanced degrees for top positions, such as chief information officer (CIO) or chief technology officer (CTO).

Graduates of online bachelor’s in computer science programs can pursue specialized work in the field. The jobs below represent some of the most popular jobs for candidates with bachelor’s degrees, with room for advancement and higher earnings through graduate study. Students commonly enter the field as computer programmers and work their way up to positions as computer and information systems managers.

  • Computer Programmer

    Computer programmer responsibilities sometimes overlap with software developers. Computer programmers primarily write and test code. They often specialize in one or more computer languages, like Java or C++. Employers may prefer candidates with specialized experience in healthcare or accounting. Most computer programmers hold bachelor’s degrees in computer science or IT.

    • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree
    • Job Outlook (2019-29): -9%
    • Median Annual Salary: $86,550

  • Computer and Information Systems Manager

    Also referred to as IT managers or project managers, computer and information systems managers direct and oversee organizations’ IT operations. This occupation includes top-ranking executive positions such as CIO, CTO, and IT director. Most candidates hold years of experience and bachelor’s degrees.

    • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree
    • Job Outlook (2019-29): +10%
    • Median Annual Salary: $146,360

  • Computer Hardware Engineer

    Computer hardware engineers design, develop, and test computer hardware components. This unique position requires training in computer engineering, similar to electrical engineering, but with a strong emphasis on computer science. Most hardware engineers earn bachelor’s degrees in computer engineering or computer science.

    • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree
    • Job Outlook (2019-29): +2%
    • Median Annual Salary: $117,220

  • Computer Network Architect

    Computer network architects build networks, including intranets, LANs, and WANs, for data communication. Some professionals focus on coupling small businesses through intranet systems, while others join multiple entities through global, cloud-based network systems. Many computer network architects gain field experience as network and computer systems administrators.

    • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree
    • Job Outlook (2019-29): +5%
    • Median Annual Salary: $112,690

  • Network and Computer Systems Administrator

    As an increasingly crucial position in nearly every field and industry, network and computer systems administrators oversee daily computerized operations within an organization. They install and provide support for computer networks, servers, and desktop and mobile equipment. Most professionals hold bachelor’s degrees in computer or information science.

    • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree
    • Job Outlook (2019-29): +4%
    • Median Annual Salary: $83,510

Explore Computer Science Careers

Choosing the Right Computer Science Program

Our ranked list offers a sensible way to begin your search for the best online bachelor’s in computer science, but candidates should consider several other factors in their research, such as accreditation. Schools may earn national or regional accreditation, though the latter carries more prestige. 

Some bachelor’s in computer science degrees hold additional programmatic accreditation from an agency such as ABET. The following list includes some of the key considerations for students pursuing computer science programs.

Cost/Financial Aid
Many students strongly consider schools that offer discounted or in-state tuition for online learners.
Future Education Opportunities
Most schools offer dual degrees and favor bachelor’s degree graduates for automatic enrollment in in-house master’s programs.
Required Admission Materials
Some colleges require a candidate to possess an associate degree and at least two years of work experience for admission, along with SAT or ACT scores.
Concentrations/Specializations
With specialized choices like artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, concentrations can play a major role in the selection process.
Student-to-Teacher Ratio
Some students seek out a more intimate learning environment, while others prefer large classroom settings.
Staff Credentials/Diversity
Many schools known for their computer science programs include high-profile staff and alumni. Consider which professors specialize in your desired area of expertise.
University Resources/Career Services
Many online bachelor’s in computer science programs offer supplemental resources, including vendor certification, career services, and computing centers.

Why You Should Get Your Degree Online

Students can choose from several paths to earn their bachelor’s in computer science degrees. With more than one-third of all college students in 2018 enrolled in at least one online course, more learners continue to pursue virtual computer science programs. Earning an online bachelor’s in computer science can lead to lucrative computer science careers, and many offer in-state tuition rates, accelerated schedules, and flexible enrollment formats.

Many IT jobs require a candidate to possess only a bachelor’s in computer science. However, online programs also offer soft skills specific to this industry. Regardless of specialization, an online computer science degree develops programming and computing skills while stressing the communication, management, and problem-solving skills desired by employers.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you get a bachelor's in computer science online?

    Yes. Many schools offer online bachelor’s in computer science programs. Distance learners can study from anywhere and often enjoy flexible enrollment options, in-state tuition, and accelerated paths to graduation.

  • Are online computer science degrees worth it?

    Like most IT jobs, computer science careers offer lucrative, long-term employment options. Earning an online bachelor’s in computer science provides a favorable ROI, adaptable job skills, and high earning potential.

  • What can you do with a bachelor's in computer science?

    A bachelor’s in computer science meets the minimum education requirement for many IT occupations. Computer and information systems managers are among the top earners, with a median salary exceeding $146,000 as of 2019.

  • Is computer science a good career?

    Computer science careers offer lucrative salaries and longevity in IT, engineering, and management. The BLS projects an 11% growth in computer and IT jobs from 2019-2029, much faster than the average of all occupations.

Feature Image: Maskot / Maskot / Getty Images

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