Computer Science Programs in Rhode Island

In late 2017, Rhode Island’s governor announced an initiative to double the number of computer science degrees conferred in the state by 2025. This initiative focuses on making improvements to computer science degree programs in areas such as accessibility and equitability. The governor stressed the need for significantly more highly-skilled and qualified computer science professionals; there were only 817 graduates of computer science programs in Rhode Island in 2017, which was far less than than the 1,300 available in-state jobs in the field.

State leaders also place a high value on tech-based education in K-12 public schools, providing a “computer science boot camp” for educators where they learn more about teaching these skills in schools. This emphasis on computer science extends to the collegiate level, and the following guide provides in-depth information about what you can expect to encounter while pursuing an online computer science degree in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island’s governor announced an initiative to double the number of computer science degrees conferred in the state by 2025.

Higher Education in Rhode Island

The state of Rhode Island invests heavily in its higher education system. In addition to budgeting a large amount of federal dollars towards higher education, Rhode Island has a number of important initiatives that emphasize both secondary and postsecondary education. Prepare RI is a state-funded program for high school students that allows young people to pursue dual enrollment at a state institution for free; this allows students to earn college credits prior to finishing high school. Additionally, Graduate! RI is an initiative that helps remove barriers and create resources for adults to complete their education and pursue a degree. The goal is to reach 70% degree attainment by 2025 for adults in the state.

For individuals considering online computer science programs in Rhode Island, the RI Promise program should be especially helpful. This program fills the 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. This “last dollar” funding is available for up to four semesters.

Computer Science Careers in Rhode Island

The information technology industry in Rhode Island is one of the faster growing fields in the state, leading to the creation of state programs like CS4RI, which aims 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 is one of the best ways to enter this exciting industry and earn the credentials you need to advance and progress in the field. Computer science schools in Rhode Island prepare students for a range of careers in a variety of settings. The table below contains a few examples of potential career options as well as the corresponding average salaries for each job type.

Median Salary for Computer Science Careers by Degree

Bachelor's Degree

Senior Software Engineer $104,665
Software Developer $65,665
Software Engineer $76,725

Master's Degree

Senior Software Engineer $116,199
Software Developer $79,796
Software Engineer $90,687

Computer Science Employers in Rhode Island

  • Rhode Island Hospital: Lifespan, the health system that powers the entire Rhode Island hospital system, is the largest employer in the entire state. Computer science professionals work for Rhode Island Hospital where they handle technology in the facilities, information management and security, and even website and software development and maintenance.
  • CVS Pharmacy: Another of the state’s largest employers, CVS Pharmacy employs Rhode Island residents in many storefronts around the state as well as in corporate positions. The company’s corporate headquarters is located in the city of Woonsocket. Computer scientists find roles as communications advisors, 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?

The table below compares mean wages for computer science occupations in Rhode Island with the national averages in this profession. Several variables, including a worker’s academic background, experience, and business, can influence their salary. Location is another factor that impacts wages; areas with a higher cost of living typically feature higher compensation. Computer scientists in Rhode Island make very close to the national average in this field.

Employment Hourly Mean Wage Annual Mean Wage
Rhode Island 14,270 $40.96 $85,200
United States 4,165,140 $42.25 $87,880

Source: BLS

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 (an Ivy League school) and the highly-competitive Rhode Island School of Design, there are three major public higher education institutions 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, which helps Rhode Island residents pay tuition at these schools for up to four semesters. The Community College of Rhode Island is the only public associate degree-granting school in the state. It features four campuses and one satellite location within 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 that also offers professional degree programs.

When it comes to online and distance learning programs in the state, all three public institutions offer a range of online programming, including options in computer science. For example, 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 degree programs are often accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.


Types of Computer Science Degrees

There are many types of degrees students can choose when pursuing education in computer science: associate degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate degree. In general, further formal education within a field results in a higher salary. In addition, some positions require a certain level of degree. For instance, many research positions or teaching positions at the university level require at least a master’s or doctorate degree. The table below features descriptions and basic data about each degree type.

Associate in Computer Science


An associate in computer science provides students with foundational knowledge in computer languages and programming. In addition to learning about computer systems, students will emerge with general education courses usually required by four year colleges. Graduates with an associate degree qualify for entry-level computer science positions in the job market.

Average Program Length – 2 Years
Median Salary – $32,897

Bachelor’s in Computer Science


A bachelor’s in computer science provides students with knowledge of operating systems, a variety of programming languages, database management, and computer systems and architecture. These programs typically require 120 credit hours of coursework and a capstone project. Many employers in the industry are increasingly hiring individuals with a bachelor’s degree.

Average Program Length – 4 Years
Median Salary – $60,835

Master’s in Computer Science


A master’s in computer science provides students with a deeper understanding of computer systems, design, and programming languages. Some master’s programs may provide specializations for those who wish to concentrate further in a specific area. Individuals with a master’s degree typically earn a higher salary upon graduation than those with a bachelor’s.

Average Program Length – 1-2 Years
Median Salary – $104,269

Computer Science Ph.D


A doctorate degree in computer science is designed for individuals who wish to pursue research in the field. These intensive programs often require students to narrow their field of study and design and carry out a specific research project that culminates in a dissertation. Graduates with a Ph.D in computer science often go into academia as computer science professors.

Average Program Length – 4+ Years
Median Salary – $126,744


What Schools Offer a Computer Science Degree in Rhode Island?

Now that you’ve read a bit more about what the state of Rhode Island offers in terms of higher education and employment opportunities in computer science, you can make a better choice about what program is the best suited for your academic and career goals. The list below details computer science colleges in Rhode Island, all of which are fully accredited and offered online.


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Professional Computer Science Organizations in Rhode Island

Professional organizations exist for just about every type of field, industry, and occupation. They generally aim to help members by offering benefits like networking opportunities, job boards, continuing education programs, annual conferences, career services, and even legal advocacy. It’s a good idea to be aware of the major professional organizations in your field and to consider joining some while studying computer science in Rhode Island.

  • Computer Science Teachers Association – RI: This group consists of computer science educators from all levels. Members gain access to a quarterly newsletter and a job board.
  • Rhode Island STEAM Center at Rhode Island College: This center works to further the state’s initiatives to expand and improve upon STEAM (STEM fields plus art + design) programs at all levels of education, including computer science and information technology. The center offers a physical location for events as well as mentorship programs.
  • Tech Collective: This organization is made up of a network businesses in the tech industry in Rhode Island. The collective emphasizes social initiatives, training and education, and professional development in the field.

Additional Computer Science Resources in Rhode Island

  • Rhode Island Data Hub: The Rhode Island Data Hub is state-run and offers a number of datasets, publications, and reports regarding education and the economy in the state. Computer science students can learn about job growth in the industry and the success of state initiatives.
  • CS4RI: Computer Science 4 Rhode Island is a state initiative with the goal of growing and improving computer science education programs in public K-12 schools in the state. This is a useful resource for individuals enrolled at Rhode Island computer science schools, especially students interested in pursuing a career in education.
  • Rhode Island Department of Education: Because so much emphasis is placed on creating the best computer science schools in Rhode Island, there is a great deal of opportunity for computer science professionals who want to pursue careers in education. The state’s DOE website is a good resource for finding funding opportunities as well as information about educator prep programs.
  • The Department of Computer Science at the University of Rhode Island: The Department of Computer Science and Statistics at the University of Rhode Island is a resource for students and the public. Individuals can find links to announcements, job openings, internship opportunities, and upcoming computer science-related events. For current and prospective students, the department also provides information about computer labs, courses, and degree programs.