Online Computer Science Programs in Pennsylvania

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Home to 48 Fortune 500 companies as of 2021, several cities in Pennsylvania are emerging as major technology hubs. Thanks to targeted investment and a growing culture of entrepreneurship, locations including Erie, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh have seen their technology and innovation economies soar in recent years.

With Pennsylvania becoming a rising destination for tech professionals, the state’s higher education network has responded with increased support for computer science programs. Many institutions now offer online computer science degrees in Pennsylvania, with prestigious schools such as the University of Pennsylvania, Penn State University, and Carnegie Mellon University leading the way.

Strong earning potential and burgeoning opportunities constitute two appealing reasons to study computer science in Pennsylvania.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that computer science careers in Pennsylvania pay average salaries of $87,970 per year. Strong earning potential and burgeoning opportunities constitute two appealing reasons to study computer science in Pennsylvania. The sections that follow detail helpful tips and information for students looking at tech-oriented programs in the Keystone State.

Pennsylvania at a Glance

  • Population: 12,804,123
  • Per Capita Income: $35,800
  • Number of Higher Learning Institutions: 63
  • % of Workforce in Tech: 7.3%
  • Economic Impact of Tech Industry: $59 billion
  • Climate: Average Annual Temperature: 48.8°F, Annual Precipitation: 42.9 inches
  • Major Sports Teams: Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia 76ers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Penguins

Top Pennsylvania Schools for Computer Science

  • California University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Lehigh University
  • Drexel University
  • Franklin and Marshall College
  • Saint Joseph’s University
  • Dickinson College
  • Bryn Mawr College
  • Duquesne University

Why Go to College for Computer Science in Pennsylvania?

CompTIA’s annual Cyberstates review shows several noteworthy reasons to pursue Pennsylvania’s college-to-career pipeline. In 2020, the state offered more than 127,000 technology job postings, including 25,000 positions in emerging fields. Pennsylvania’s tech industry accounts for a healthy 8.3% of its overall economy, with tech professionals in the state earning median salaries 77% higher than nationwide median earnings.

Both elite private schools and affordable public institutions in Pennsylvania deliver renowned computer science programs. The Keystone State ranks fourth in the country for total number of degree-granting postsecondary institutions.

Pennsylvania also hosts diverse employment destinations. Computer science graduates can find work in major cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, along with smaller urban areas.

Education Statistics for Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s dense concentration of degree-granting institutions contributes to its well-educated workforce. The percentage of Pennsylvania residents over age 25 with a college degree aligns favorably with national averages.

While Pennsylvania commits a relatively low percentage of its tax revenues to higher education, the strong presence of prestigious private institutions may explain this trend. The state continues to work toward bridging its distance education gap relative to national levels.

Higher Education in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Data National Data
Number of Four-Year Colleges 155 2,679
Number of Two-Year Colleges 63 1,303
Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education 28.3% 36.6%
Higher Education Appropriations per Full-Time Enrollment, 2020 $5,412 $8,636
Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education, 2018 2.6% 5.6%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree, 2019 8.5% 8.5%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor’s Degree, 2019 19.0% 19.8%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher, 2019 12.4% 12.4%
Sources: NCES, SHEEO, U.S. Census Bureau – American Community Survey

Accreditation for Pennsylvania Schools

Learners considering computer science programs in Pennsylvania should always research a school’s accreditation status before applying. A crucially important consideration, accreditation ensures that an institution delivers rigorous, high-quality education as determined by external, independent authorities.

Two types of accreditation apply to U.S. colleges: national and regional. The federal Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation oversee the various agencies that bestow national and regional endorsements. National accreditation typically applies to vocational, technical, and for-profit schools, while academically focused, nonprofit institutions usually hold regional endorsements.

Most experts consider regional accreditation more valuable, as the agencies that grant it hold schools to higher standards. The Philadelphia-based Middle States Commission on Higher Education is the regional body with authority over Pennsylvania-based institutions.

Students considering online computer science degrees in PA can also look for programs with specialized accreditation from ABET. Programmatic accreditation enhances the prestige and value of recognized programs and academic departments.

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Considerations for a Computer Science Degree in Pennsylvania

Learners must consider many important factors when weighing their education options. A systematic approach that narrows options according to program-defining criteria can help candidates navigate the initial research stages. To this end, two of the first decisions you should make cover degree level and delivery format.

Pennsylvania schools offer both undergraduate and graduate computer science degrees. The links below explain all available degree level options in detail.

You should also determine whether you prefer an online, campus-based, or hybrid delivery format. The data in the following table defines key trends specific to program delivery formats at Pennsylvania institutions.



Computer Science Concentration Options

Campus-based and online computer sciences degrees in Pennsylvania offer many specializations and concentrations. The following three concentrations offer particular advantages due to their high profile in the state’s employment landscape.

Software Engineering


Software engineers design, create, and refine programs to fulfill specific user requirements. The 2021 Cyberstates report notes that software roles rank among Pennsylvania’s leading tech occupations.

Web Development


This concentration focuses on front-end and back-end website development for both public (internet) and private (intranet) platforms. Cyberstates also cites web-oriented jobs as a leading employment source in Pennsylvania’s tech industry.

Cybersecurity


Cybersecurity professionals mitigate online threats, monitor digital assets for unauthorized activity, and identify and address vulnerabilities. Along with systems analysis, cybersecurity accounts for more than 25,000 Pennsylvania tech jobs, with a strong future growth outlook.

Explore More Computer Science Concentrations

Paying for Your Computer Science Degree

Learners who need help financing online computer science degrees in Pennsylvania can apply for financial aid. Nonrepayable sources of aid include grants, fellowships, and scholarships. Federal and private loans require repayment.

Higher education in Pennsylvania is relatively expensive compared to nationwide averages. The following table summarizes pertinent details, while the link below provides further information about financial aid options.

Learn More About Financial Aid Options


In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition

Public U.S. colleges and universities typically apply higher tuition rates to out-of-state students and lower rates to in-state learners. This tiered tuition structure reflects the idea that local residents help fund state-operated schools through the taxes they pay. However, many jurisdictions extend discounted tuition to residents of neighboring states through reciprocity agreements.

Unfortunately, Pennsylvania counts among the few U.S. states that do not participate in any such reciprocity compact. Thus, students entering Pennsylvania from adjacent states do not qualify for reduced tuition. The same is true for Pennsylvania residents leaving their home state to attend college in another jurisdiction.

Pennsylvania’s Cost of Living

If you plan to relocate to Pennsylvania for your computer science program, you should factor the local cost of living into your financial projections. Pennsylvania ranks just above the national average in overall living costs.

Using 100 as the nationwide benchmark, Pennsylvania scored 101.7 in 2021, meaning the state is 1.7% more expensive than the typical U.S. destination. However, Pennsylvania’s housing costs fell just below national averages, which benefits budget-conscious students.

Selecting Your Computer Science Program

In addition to a school’s reputation, students commonly consider factors like program retention rates, graduation rates, and post-graduation placement rates when evaluating options. Ranked lists account for these important quantitative factors, making them an excellent starting point for your program research.

Explore Our Rankings for the Best Computer Science Programs

Careers for Computer Science Graduates in Pennsylvania

The BLS projects overall employment growth of 11% in computer science and IT professions from 2019-2029, far outpacing the average for all jobs. In Pennsylvania, current trends display several points worth keeping in mind as you position yourself for a computer science career in the state.

The BLS projects overall employment growth of 11% in computer science and IT professions from 2019-2029, far outpacing the average for all jobs.

The 2021 CompTIA index notes two Pennsylvania tech sectors with high job numbers and positive year-over-year growth profiles. First, employment in tech engineering, research and development, and testing services grew 1.1% in 2020 to nearly 90,160 jobs. Next, telecommunications and internet services grew at a slightly higher year-over-year rate of 1.2%, expanding to 42,880 positions.

In the subsections that follow, we offer state-specific career development insights and profile popular tech occupations and employers in Pennsylvania.

Select Computer Science Careers in Pennsylvania

  • Software Developer

    Software developers create, test, and refine programs to fill desktop and mobile system users’ application-based needs. These professionals may create custom solutions for public- and private-sector clients. This specialization appears poised for strong long-term growth in Pennsylvania’s fast-growing tech industry.

    Salary for Software Developers in PA: $100,110 | Job Outlook in PA: +21.3% (2018-28)

  • Information Security Analyst

    These cybersecurity professionals fill numerous roles for private clients, companies, and government organizations. They design and monitor access and security controls, watch networks and systems for breaches and unauthorized use, and design digital asset protection policies and procedures. Long-term growth projections point to a bright future for this specialization in Pennsylvania.

    Salary for Information Security Analysts in PA: $104,680 | Job Outlook in PA: +26.9% (2018-28)

  • Web Developer

    Web developers create, build, and maintain informational and commercial websites in accordance with clients needs and specifications. They handle both the creative and technical aspects of site development, publication, and administration. With fewer formal education requirements than most other specializations, web development ranks among the most accessible computer science professions.

    Salary for Web Developers in PA: $73,450 | Job Outlook in PA: +9.4% (2018-28)

Computer Science Employers in Pennsylvania

Unisys


Headquartered in Blue Bell, PA, Unisys is a major international provider of information technology and software solutions. The company employs more than 17,000 people and generates annual revenues above $2 billion as of 2021, according to Fortune magazine. The company hires computer science graduates across many specializations, including network and IT engineering, software development, and cloud services.

EPAM Systems


Focused on digital economy niches such as platform engineering, custom software development, and consulting services, Newton, PA-based company EPAM Systems trades on the New York Stock Exchange and earned revenues of nearly $2.7 billion in the 2020 fiscal year.

Comcast


Headquartered in Philadelphia with a high national profile in the United States, Comcast is a major provider of telecommunications services and infrastructure. The company routinely posts hundreds of technology job openings and sports an appealing long-term growth profile based on historical performance trends.

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

Pennsylvania Employment Trends
State National
Computer Programmers
2018 Employment 12,290 250,300
2028 Projected Employment 11,110 232,300
Projected Job Growth, 2018-28 -9.6% -7.2%
Computer and Information Systems Managers
2018 Employment 13,760 414,400
2028 Projected Employment 15,020 461,100
Projected Job Growth, 2018-28 +9.2% +11.3%
Web Developers
2018 Employment 5,660 160,500
2028 Projected Employment 6,190 181,400
Projected Job Growth, 2018-28 +9.4% +13%
Source: Projections Central

The information in the table above indicates several trends that emerging computer science professionals should note. Software development and systems analysis jobs dominate the Pennsylvania tech employment market, with both professions offering high wages that compare favorably to national averages. Strong job numbers also define computer and information systems management, the Pennsylvania job market’s top-paying major specialization.

Information security also continues to prove a high-paying, high-growth career path in Pennsylvania. A 2021 Business Wire tech industry analysis projects the global cybersecurity industry to more than double in value from 2019-2025, making this field another specialization worth considering.

Curious About Other Computer Science Jobs? Explore More Here.


Resources


Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is computer science a good major in Pennsylvania?

    Yes, Pennsylvania is home to multiple major companies that employ numerous computer science graduates. The state also boasts an excellent higher education network and a strong school-to-job pipeline.

  • What is the best field in computer science in Pennsylvania?

    Software development and information security both enjoy strong growth projections in Pennsylvania over the 2018-2028 period. The BLS projects a contraction in computer programming jobs, reflecting larger tech industry trends in the United States.

  • What computer science jobs are there in Pennsylvania?

    Pennsylvania-based employers hire all types of computer science specialists. The state hosts software development, systems analysis, network administration, and IT management jobs in especially large numbers.

  • Does Pennsylvania have online computer science programs?

    Yes, many accredited Pennsylvania public and private schools offer fully online computer science programs. Some institutions also offer hybrid programs that blend in-class and online learning, offering an alternative for students seeking to incorporate traditional learning into a flexible schedule.


Professional Computer Science Organizations in Pennsylvania

  • Association for Women in Computing

    Founded in 1978, this Washington, D.C.-based professional organization supports female-identifying technology professionals. Women account for just 25% of Pennsylvania’s tech employment, giving AWC a strong role to play in the state’s industry profile.

  • Computing Research Association

    This organization liaises between government, academia, and the private sector to drive sustained growth and success in the global technology industry. CRA also hosts job listings, making it a valuable resource for aspiring and established professionals.

  • IEEE Computer Society

    This branch of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers offers extensive informational, industry-specific, and career development portals. The IEEE CS also hosts professional development programs and publishes peer-reviewed technology journals.

  • Institution of Engineering and Technology

    Celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2021, IET provides extensive industry intelligence and research resources along with mentoring opportunities, developmental workshops, and career management services.

Featured Image: Getty Images

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