Online Computer Science Programs in North Carolina

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North Carolina, also known as the Tar Heel State, houses a tech industry with a $49 billion economic impact. The state employs over 360,000 workers, which could mean promising computer science careers in North Carolina. The industry is a stable one: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 11% growth nationwide in computer and information tech jobs from 2019-29.

Thus, seeking an online computer science degree in North Carolina can help students secure employment in the state’s blooming tech scene. This guide can help you take the first steps to finding a program. Along with statistics about North Carolina’s higher education institutions and job market, this article includes a list of the top schools for computer science in the state.

North Carolina at a Glance

  • Population: 10,701,022
  • Per Capita Income: $32,021
  • Number of Higher Learning Institutions: 135
  • % of Workforce in Tech: 7.9%
  • Economic Impact of Tech Industry: $49 billion
  • Climate: Average Annual Temperature: 59.0 ℉, Annual Precipitation: 50.3 inches
  • Major Sports Teams: Charlotte Hornets, Carolina Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes, and NC Courage

Top North Carolina Schools for Computer Science

  • Duke University
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Wake Forest University
  • North Carolina State University at Raleigh
  • Elon University
  • University of North Carolina Wilmington
  • Appalachian State University
  • Gardner-Webb University
  • East Carolina University
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Why Go to College for Computer Science in North Carolina?

North Carolina allocates a higher-than-average percentage of tax revenue to higher education programs. Schools may use these funds to fuel research projects and other activities and resources for students. This often translates to internship and networking opportunities for computer science careers in North Carolina.

Students in North Carolina can also benefit from the research and industry centered near Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. This area, also known as Research Triangle Park, hosts several schools and tech companies, such as Red Hat. Other high-profile businesses like Google and Apple plan to develop offices in the area in the coming years.

Even if students pursue online computer science programs in North Carolina, they can enjoy access to the state’s extensive tech network through their institution. North Carolina also features over 100 two- and four-year schools.

The statistics below highlight North Carolina’s higher education opportunities.

Education Statistics for North Carolina

North Carolina values higher education. The percent of tax revenue the state allocates to higher education nearly doubles the national value. Likewise, appropriations per full-time student in the state outpace the national average.

Higher Education in North Carolina
North Carolina Data National Data
Number of Four-Year Colleges 73 2,679
Number of Two-Year Colleges 62 1,303
Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education 42.4% 36.6%
Higher Education Appropriations per Full-Time Enrollment, 2020 $10,496 $8,636
Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education, 2018 10.1% 5.6%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree, 2019 9.7% 8.5%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor’s Degree, 2019 20.0% 19.8%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher, 2019 11.3% 12.4%
Sources: NCES, SHEEO, U.S. Census Bureau – American Community Survey

Accreditation for North Carolina Schools

Accreditation ensures a school meets standards of academic excellence. Institutions earn accreditation from independent organizations through an auditing process. All quality schools should hold accreditation from U.S. Department of Education-approved accrediting agencies. Institutional accreditation consists of two main types: regional and national.

Only trade and vocational schools receive national accreditation. Regional accreditation, typically considered more prestigious, audits nonprofit public and private institutions and mandates stricter regulations. North Carolina institutions can receive their accreditations from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

For students seeking online degrees, the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) specializes in accrediting distance education, including online programs. Schools may not need accreditation from DEAC to teach online courses; however, a DEAC stamp of approval can help highlight quality online programs.

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Considerations for a Computer Science Degree in North Carolina

The best online computer science degree in North Carolina varies depending on a student’s career goals and other factors. The first step involves choosing the desired degree level, explored in the links below.

Then, prospective students should pick a type of program delivery: online, in-person, or hybrid. An online program can provide maximum flexibility, but students may prefer the more rigid structure of in-person learning. Hybrid courses strike a balance between in-person and online degrees.

North Carolina’s percentage of students enrolled in distance education courses exceeds the national average. The statistics below highlight the state’s adoption of distance education.



Computer Science Concentration Options

Computer science contains many subfields. Degree concentrations allow students to specialize in these areas, and a concentration’s value can depend on the local job market. The three concentrations listed below reflect the hiring trends for computer science positions in North Carolina.

Software Engineering


This concentration focuses on programming and designing software. According to the BLS, software developers and quality assurance testers account for nearly a third of North Carolina’s tech force as of May 2020.

Systems Analysis


Computer systems analysts and systems administrators account for around a quarter of North Carolina’s tech force. This specialization works to improve an organization’s productivity and efficiency through technology. A systems analyst also helps maintain current software and networks.

Computer-Human Interface


User support specialists are the third most employed tech position in North Carolina. This specialization explores how people interact and use computers, teaching students how to improve user experience and user interfaces.

Explore More Computer Science Concentrations

Paying for Your Computer Science Degree

North Carolina’s average tuition for public four-year schools — both in-state and out-of-state — comes in below the nationwide average. However, the private school tuition in North Carolina exceeds the national average.

To help cover the cost of a computer science program in North Carolina, students can fill out the FAFSA when enrolled in eligible programs. Students can also find state-level aid through the College Foundation of North Carolina. In some instances, an online computer science degree in NC may prove less expensive than an in-person program. Degree-seekers should also apply for other forms of aid like scholarships, fellowships, and loans. To find out more about financial aid, check out the link below.

Learn More About Financial Aid Options


In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition

Public institutions charge tuition based on students’ state residency. Thus, in-state students enjoy lower rates compared to those from out of state. Private schools usually offer a single tuition rate for all students, but private school tuition typically exceeds public school tuition.

North Carolina’s average tuition and fees for public schools come in underneath the national average costs, except for out-of-state two-year programs. Though North Carolina withdrew from the Academic Common Market reciprocity agreement in 2011, some schools, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, offer out-of-state tuition waivers.

Public schools sometimes charge online students in-state tuition regardless of state residency. Other institutions, including private schools, may charge a lower rate reserved for distance learners.

North Carolina’s Cost of Living

The cost of living also factors into the total expense of college. According to the World Population Review, North Carolina’s cost of living index scores at 94.9, slightly below the national average of 100. This means it may be more affordable to live in North Carolina than in other states, a crucial consideration for students who plan to live or work in the state.

Selecting Your Computer Science Program

Other qualities beyond location can determine the right computer science program in North Carolina. For example, students might seek a programmatically accredited computer science curriculum approved by ABET. Field-specific accrediting bodies like ABET ensure programs prepare learners for careers in the field and can help graduates stand out in the job search.

The ranked lists below compare schools’ cost, academic challenge, educational opportunities, and other key factors.

Careers for Computer Science Graduates in North Carolina

North Carolina’s tech industry thrives. CompTIA ranks North Carolina 13th for net tech employment by state and 7th for net tech jobs added. The U.S. News & World Report also ranked North Carolina the 17th best economy in the country.

Many computer science careers in North Carolina concentrate in metro areas such as Charlotte and Research Triangle Park. Several companies created hubs near the Research Triangle, including IBM, NVIDIA, and Cisco Systems. Likewise, Charlotte houses major businesses such as Red Ventures, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America.

We explore some popular, lucrative technology careers for online computer science degree graduates below.

Select Computer Science Careers in North Carolina

  • Software Developer

    Software developers create new software solutions and updates. This position emphasizes programming languages and writing code. Many developers work in teams to solve potential problems or loopholes in a program. These employees also take specialized roles in quality assurance to test new software.

    Salary for Software Developers in NC: $106,260 | Job Outlook in NC: +6.4% (2018-28)

  • Systems Analysts

    Also known as system architects, these professionals combine organizational operations with computer science. Systems analysts create, maintain, and update technology for organizations. Analysts work with other technology teams to implement new tech solutions. These workers also evaluate current systems to improve efficiency.

    Salary for Systems Analysts in NC: $95,890| Job Outlook in NC: +12.8% (2018-28)

  • Computer and Information Systems Managers

    This lucrative leadership position directs technology departments in an organization. Systems managers devise new initiatives to increase productivity. Systems managers can also take on specialized roles in areas like cybersecurity.

    Salary for Systems Managers in NC: $146,690| Job Outlook in NC: +15.5% (2018-28)

Computer Science Employers in North Carolina

Red Hat


Headquartered in Raleigh, Red Hat brings in $3.4 billion annually, according to Zippia. Established in 1993, the software development company now operates multiple offices around the world. The company provides multiple application services, including software development and cloud computing. Graduates specializing in software engineering and programming may find employment with Red Hat.

Oracle


The tech giant Oracle has offices near Research Triangle Park. Oracle creates software and technology with an emphasis on its developed brand of database management programs. The company’s annual revenue totals $39.8 billion. Computer science programs can prepare graduates to work with Oracle’s technology and development team.

Cisco Systems


As of June 2021, Cisco lists hundreds of job openings in the Research Triangle area alone, according to Glassdoor. Headquartered in Silicon Valley, Cisco earns $49.3 billion in revenue each year. The company specializes in networking and telecommunications hardware, including wireless technology. Computer science graduates can find jobs writing software and designing hardware at Cisco.

Projected Job Growth for Computer Programmers, Computer and Information Systems Managers, and Web Developers

North Carolina Employment Trends
State National
Computer Programmers
2018 Employment 6,740 250,300
2028 Projected Employment 6,380 232,300
Projected Job Growth, 2018-28 -5.3% -7.2%
Computer and Information Systems Managers
2018 Employment 13,060 414,400
2028 Projected Employment 15,090 461,100
Projected Job Growth, 2018-28 +15.5% +11.3%
Web Developers
2018 Employment 4,150 160,500
2028 Projected Employment 4,860 181,400
Projected Job Growth, 2018-28 +17.1% +13%
Source: Projections Central

The BLS projects strong growth in computer science positions from 2019 to 2029. When it comes to attaining an online computer science degree in North Carolina, students may want to focus on specialized roles with a strong projected growth, such as web developers and information systems managers, to ensure long-term career security.

A strong background in programming languages often helps job-seekers find computer science careers in North Carolina. Because the BLS projects computer programming jobs face a decline in the U.S., however, students may want to study additional in-demand areas like cybersecurity or software development.


Resources


Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is computer science a good major in North Carolina?

    Yes! The state’s tech industry has an economic impact of $49 billion and offers many jobs. North Carolina also allocates 10.1% of tax revenue to higher education as of 2018, which suggests colleges and universities are well-funded and have robust course offerings.

  • What is the best field in computer science in North Carolina?

    North Carolina features a high number of software developers and assurance testers. Other major job fields include systems analysis and human-to-computer interaction. Studying these fields can lead to lucrative employment.

  • What computer science jobs are there in North Carolina?

    Software developers, systems analysts, and systems managers are three prominent job types available in North Carolina. CompTIA also reports a high percentage of IT service, engineering, testing, and tech manufacturing positions in the state.

  • Does North Carolina have online computer science programs?

    Yes! North Carolina features several online computer science programs. For example, the University of North Carolina system alone offers over a dozen online master’s programs in IT and technology. Students can complete online degrees in areas like computer engineering, networking, and information technology.

Professional Computer Science Organizations in North Carolina

  • NC Tech Association

    The NC Tech Association provides professional resources and developmental programs. The organization maintains a statewide network in the tech field, useful for building professional contacts and finding new opportunities.

  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

    Advertised as one of the largest technical professional organizations in the world, IEEE features several chapters, including the North Carolina Council. The organization focuses on developing new and exciting technology for humane purposes.

  • Computer Science Teachers Association

    For computer science educators, CSTA offers a dedicated North Carolina chapter to connect with fellow teachers. The organization provides career development programs and a nationwide platform to discuss computer science education.

  • Association of IT Professionals

    The Research Triangle Park chapter of the Association of IT Professionals started in 1952. This interdisciplinary organization discusses current issues and how emerging technology impacts daily life. AITP-RTP also offers resources for professionals, educators, and students.

Featured Image: Getty Images

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