Students in online computer science programs in Rhode Island enjoy a variety of promising career opportunities after graduation. The state demonstrates its commitment to computer science through the Computer Science for Rhode Island Initiative, which brings together schools, universities, nonprofits, and private businesses to improve opportunities for K-12 students interested in computer science. It represents one of the most comprehensive state initiatives of its kind.
Computer science graduates find a diverse selection of lucrative computer science careers in Rhode Island, including positions as software engineers, chiefs of information technology, computer scientists, professors of computer science, and cybersecurity integrators. In fact, Rhode Island boasts the third-highest concentration of computer and information research scientist jobs in the U.S. Prospective employers include government agencies, the U.S. military, universities, healthcare organizations, and businesses.
Rhode Island’s Computer Science for Rhode Island Initiative represents one of the most comprehensive state initiatives of its kind.
Higher Education in Rhode Island
Rhode Island invests heavily in its higher education system. In addition to budgeting federal money toward higher education, Rhode Island enacts initiatives to emphasize secondary and postsecondary education. Prepare RI, a state-funded program for high school students, allows young people to pursue dual enrollment at a state institution for free; this lets students earn college credits prior to finishing high school. Additionally, Graduate! RI helps remove barriers and create resources for students to complete their education and pursue degrees.
Individuals considering online computer science programs in Rhode Island especially benefit from the RI Promise program. This initiative fills funding gaps between federal aid and grants for state residents attending public state institutions, including the Community College of Rhode Island, the University of Rhode Island, and Rhode Island College. Students can access this "last dollar" funding for up to four semesters.
Computer Science Careers in Rhode Island
The information technology industry in Rhode Island represents one of the state's faster-growing fields. State programs like CS4RI aim to educate and prepare students at all levels for careers in computer science. Programs like these endeavor to supply the state with a skilled computer science and technology information workforce to fill the expanding number of available positions.
Earning an online computer science degree in Rhode Island serves as one of the best ways to obtain the credentials you need to advance in an exciting industry. Computer science schools in Rhode Island prepare students for careers in a variety of settings. The table below explores a few examples of potential career options, plus corresponding mean annual salaries for each job type.
Mean Salary for Computer Science Careers by Degree
Computer Science Employers in Rhode Island
- Rhode Island Hospital: Lifespan, the health system powering Rhode Island hospitals, stands as the state's largest employer. Computer science professionals working for Rhode Island Hospital handle technology in the facilities, information management and security, and website and software development and maintenance.
- CVS Pharmacy: Another of the state's largest employers, CVS Pharmacy employs Rhode Island residents in corporate positions and in storefronts around the state. The company's corporate headquarters is located in the city of Woonsocket. Computer scientists find roles as communications advisers, website developers, and digital merchandisers.
- Citizens Bank: Also headquartered in Rhode Island, this national bank employs over 1,000 people in the state. Like many other large corporations, Citizens Bank relies on skilled computer science professionals to handle its digital presence, online security, banking apps, and data analytics.
How Much do Computer Scientists Make in Rhode Island?
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Computer Science Programs in Rhode Island
Despite its small size, Rhode Island is home to several colleges and universities, including some of the most prestigious institutions in the country. In addition to Brown University and the highly competitive Rhode Island School of Design, three major public higher education institutions reside in the state: Rhode Island College, the Community College of Rhode Island, and the University of Rhode Island. The state's RI Promise initiative covers these institutions, helping Rhode Island residents pay tuition at these schools for up to four semesters.
The Community College of Rhode Island operates as the only public associate degree-granting school in the state. It features four campuses, plus one satellite location in a public high school. Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island both offer undergraduate and graduate programs, but the University of Rhode Island is the only public institution in the state also offering professional degrees. Regarding online and distance learning programs, all three public institutions offer online programming, including options in computer science.
Students at the Community College of Rhode Island can earn an associate degree in computer science online before transferring to a four-year state school to finish their education. Higher education institutions in Rhode Island receive regional accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and computer science programs often obtain accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.
Types of Computer Science Degrees
Prospective students can find associate, bachelor's, master's, and Ph.D. online computer science programs in Rhode Island. Earning an advanced degree typically qualifies graduates for more job opportunities and increased compensation, but also requires them to spend more time and money earning it. Students aiming to conduct advanced research in specialized areas, or teach computer science at the college level, may pursue master's or Ph.D. degrees.
Associate in computer science programs teach students about basic computing systems and information technology. Learners take courses like introduction to computer science, principles of computer networks, and object-oriented data structures and algorithms. Graduates find employment in entry-level IT positions as computer user support specialists, software developers, and computer systems analysts. Computer science professionals with associate degrees often pursue their bachelor's to increase job and salary prospects.
Professionals with an associate degree can develop new skills without returning to school by taking advantage of professional development opportunities online. Most full-time computer science associate programs take two years to complete. Students who take a full load of courses year round can graduate faster. Ideal candidates for computer science associate programs include recent high school graduates and people who want to pursue entry-level IT positions without the time and financial commitments a bachelor's degree requires.
Students interested in earning online computer science degrees in Rhode Island often choose bachelor's programs. Candidates hold an associate in computer science or come straight from high school and know they want a career in IT. Computer science bachelor's programs prepare graduates to work as software developers, computer scientists, IT security analysts, and web developers. Many computer science professionals with their bachelor's take advantage of professional development opportunities while enrolled.
Students take courses in data structures and algorithms, programming fundamentals, computer organization, and web development. They receive a broad understanding of the theory of computing and develop relevant, practical skills. Most full-time students take four years to graduate from bachelor's in computer science programs. Some accelerated online programs take less time to finish. Part-time learners usually complete their bachelor's in 5-6 years, depending on how many credits they take each term.
Master's in computer science programs teach students advanced computing theory and practice. In many programs, student choose a focus area like cybersecurity, software engineering, human-computer interaction, and database systems. Available courses vary by program and focus area, covering topics like web security, computational genomics, advanced topics in wireless networks, cloud computing, and robotics. The average master's in computer science degree takes two full-time years to complete.
Graduates qualify for computing and IT jobs in nearly any industry, filling positions as computer scientists, software engineers, software developers, and systems modeling engineers. Professionals with a master's in computer science can expect well-paid, complex positions with high levels of responsibility. The ideal student holds a bachelor's in computer science and/or several years of professional experience. Master's in computer science programs expect applicants to meet prerequisites and boast significant knowledge and skills.
Prospective Ph.D. students can find many online computer science programs in Rhode Island. The ideal Ph.D. in computer science student boasts extensive academic and professional experience. Most possess a bachelor's or master's in computer science, plus years of professional experience. Ph.D. in computer science programs allow students to develop expertise in a specific area within the field. Many offer specializations like artificial intelligence, cognitive science, computer graphics, and data processing.
Learners spend significant time pursuing independent study, working on dissertation projects that focus on a narrow area of computer science. Students take courses like advanced machine learning, research topics in human-computer interaction, and advanced topics in programming languages. Most computer science Ph.D. students take four or five years to complete their degrees.
Professional Computer Science Organizations in Rhode Island
Professional organizations help professionals in every field. They offer member benefits such as networking opportunities, job boards, continuing education programs, annual conferences, career services, and even legal advocacy. Students should research the major professional organizations in their field and consider joining some while studying computer science in Rhode Island.
- Computer Science Teachers Association - RI: CSTA promotes computer science and advocates for K-12 computer science teachers. The Association for Computing Machinery founded CSTA in 2004. The group represents more than 25,000 members from around the world. Members access continuing education, free and discounted teaching materials, subscriptions to publications, and priority registration for conferences.
- Rhode Island STEAM Center at Rhode Island College: The Rhode Island STEAM Center serves as the state's main resource for promoting and advancing science, technology, engineering, arts and design, and mathematics (STEAM). The Center works to make STEAM more accessible and relevant to Rhode Island residents; it partners with nonprofits, business, government agencies, and educators.
- Tech Collective: Tech Collective promotes information technology stakeholders in Rhode Island, including IT professionals and industry professionals, government workers, and students. Tech Collective advocates for the tech industry and IT professionals in Rhode Island. It coordinates initiatives promoting women in tech, K-12 STEM, and professional development. Members access networking events, mentorship programs, career resources, professional development opportunities, and technical resources.
What Schools Offer a Computer Science Degree in Rhode Island?
Students can now make more informed choices regarding which programs best suit their academic and career goals. The list below details computer science colleges in Rhode Island, all of which hold accreditation and offer online learning.
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