Online Computer Science Programs in Washington

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Considering technology’s continued prevalence, pursuing a computer science degree can prove a worthwhile career investment. The field is healthy: The International Data Corporation projects the tech industry will generate $5 trillion of revenue 2021.

According to CompTIA, Washington state’s tech industry has a $121 billion impact and ranks 2nd in the nation for its percentage of workforce in tech. The state also features advancements in green technology, with the largest coordinated hydroelectric system throughout the globe. The state promises to use 100% clean energy by 2045.

Washington state’s tech industry has a $121 billion impact.

Coupled with the state’s prominent tech sector, these factors make it ideal to seek computer science careers in Washington. This page includes a ranked list of the best online computer science degrees in Washington, available careers, and other pertinent information for earning a computer science degree.

Washington at a Glance

  • Population: 7,796,941
  • Per Capita Income: $41,521
  • Number of Higher Learning Institutions: 43
  • % of Workforce in Tech: 11.2%
  • Economic Impact of Tech Industry: $121 billion
  • Climate: Average Annual Temperature: 48.3 ℉, Annual Precipitation: 38.4 inches
  • Major Sports Teams: Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Krakens, Seattle Mariners, OL Reign FC, Seattle Storm

Top Washington Schools for Computer Science

  • Gonzaga University
  • University of Washington-Seattle Campus
  • Seattle University
  • Saint Martin’s University
  • University of Puget Sound
  • Whitworth University
  • Washington State University
  • University of Washington-Bothell Campus
  • City University of Seattle
  • Seattle Pacific University

Why Go to College for Computer Science in Washington?

Washington became a hub for the tech industry, with corporations such as Microsoft and Amazon calling the Seattle area home. According to the Washington State Department of Commerce, the tech sector’s employment in the state increased almost 34% in the last decade.

These companies’ presence in Washington can lead to a host of networking opportunities for computer science students. Local tech companies collaborate with computer science programs in Washington to hire local qualified graduates by co-creating course materials and buying hardware for computer labs.

For example, the Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington doubled the number of computer science degrees awarded annually by the school. The state also houses a national laboratory and several research universities that work with tech companies in innovation partnership zones.

Education Statistics for Washington

Most of Washington’s education statistics clock in on par with national averages. Though the state’s higher education appropriations resemble the nationwide average, Washington’s percentage of allocated taxes comes in slightly lower than national data. Across every category, Washington contains a higher percentage of adults with college degrees than the nation at large.

Higher Education in Washington
Washington Data National Data
Number of Four-Year Colleges 63 2,679
Number of Two-Year Colleges 11 1,303
Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education 28.1% 36.6%
Higher Education Appropriations per Full-Time Enrollment, 2020 $8,610 $8,636
Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education, 2018 4.3% 5.6%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree, 2019 10% 8.5%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor’s Degree, 2019 22.4% 19.8%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher, 2019 13.6% 12.4%
Sources: NCES, SHEEO, U.S. Census Bureau – American Community Survey

Accreditation for Washington Schools

Accrediting agencies audit schools to ensure they meet standards of academic excellence. Schools hold two kinds of institutional accreditation: regional and national. Regional accreditation holds more prestige and refers to nonprofit schools. National accreditation more often applies to trade and vocational schools.

Students should apply to schools with accreditation from Department of Education-recognized accrediting agencies. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) regionally accredits Washington schools. NWCCU accreditation helps determine a degree’s value.

Some programs also hold programmatic accreditation. Agencies dedicated to certain fields award program-specific accreditation, which can highlight degrees that prepare students for careers in that field. ABET is the accrediting agency that audits computer science programs.

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Considerations for a Computer Science Degree in Washington

When choosing a program, prospective students should consider many factors, including costs, available internships, and what degree level best fits the degree-seekers’ career goals. The links below highlight these degrees.

The data featured in the below table highlights online enrollment data for Washington students. This may help you decide on an online computer science degree program in Washington.



Computer Science Concentration Options

Computer science contains many subfields, so computer science programs in Washington often offer several concentrations or academic tracks. Students should pursue concentrations that align with their career interests. The three concentrations highlighted below can help students land computer science careers in Washington.

Software Engineering


This concentration dives into the software development side of computer science. Software engineering curriculums focus on programming languages, design, and algorithms. This concentration provides the necessary skills for computer programmers, a prominent role in the state.

Data Science


Data science dissects the organization of information in technology. The field explores algorithms, machine learning, data management, and data visualization. Data science continues to grow, making it desirable to various tech companies in Washington.

Cybersecurity


Cybersecurity specialists secure sensitive data and prevent virtual attacks. The demand for cybersecurity solutions skyrocketed alongside the rise in cyberattacks in recent years. Companies like Microsoft constantly develop new digital security solutions, so the industry always seeks more cybersecurity experts.

Explore More Computer Science Concentrations

Paying for Your Computer Science Degree

Students can pursue various financing options to help pay for their online computer science degree from Washington. Along with filing a FAFSA and applying for loans, learners can apply for scholarships, grants, and fellowships. Washington provides need- and merit-based aid through programs like the Washington College Grant program.

Click on the link below to learn more about financial aid options.

Learn More About Financial Aid Options


In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition

In-state tuition incentivizes state residents to continue their education within their home state. The average costs listed above demonstrate how in-state tuition rates can save students money. Private schools typically do not vary tuition based on state residency, but the tuition can and often does exceed out-of-state public tuition.

Some states offer reciprocity agreements that offer lower tuition for students in nearby states. Washington participates in the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). This program ensures the out-of-state tuition does not exceed 150% of the rate offered to state residents.

Washington’s Cost of Living

Prospective students should consider the local cost of living while researching the cost of an online computer science degree in Washington. On-campus and hybrid learners must live near or move to campus while enrolled in the program. Some online computer science degrees in Washington may make students come to campus for orientations or internship opportunities.

Washington’s cost of living index, scored at 110.7, exceeds the national average cost of living. The higher cost of living means that things like rent and groceries cost more than in other states. Students should compare these scores to their current area to gauge the expected living expenses if they plan to attend any in-person computer science programs in Washington.

Selecting Your Computer Science Program

The strength of a computer science program should factor heavily into choosing a college. Degree-seekers often seek highly ranked computer science curriculums that feature plentiful resources, equipment, and prestigious faculty. The links below explore highly ranked computer science programs to help you find the best fit.

Explore Our Rankings for the Best Computer Science Programs

Careers for Computer Science Graduates in Washington

Washington became an epicenter of the tech industry. Some of the largest companies in the world, such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Zillow, originated in the state. In total, over 14,000 information and communication tech companies call Washington home.

Washington’s tech sector accounts for more than 20% of the state’s total economy. Technology also makes up 57% of the state’s service exports. Among these exports include video games, with Washington-based companies like Valve, Nintendo, and Big Fish generating a huge portion of the globe’s game revenue.

Over 14,000 information and communication tech companies call Washington home.

U.S. News & World Report ranked Washington’s economy 4th in the list of state economies. The same agency also ranked Washington 3rd for business environment and 2nd for economic growth. The sections below highlight some of the major computer science careers in Washington and some big employers in the state.

Select Computer Science Careers in Washington

  • Software Developers and Quality Assurance Analysts

    Software developers use problem-solving and programming skills to create computer programs. The quality assurance side of the position tests the application for usability and design flaws. Most of these jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science. This position requires a lot of collaboration and often takes place in an office setting.

    Salary for Software Developers in WA: $138,400 | Job Outlook in WA: +34.6% (2018-28)

  • Computer Systems Analysts

    Also known as system architects, computer systems analysts improve organizations’ technology and operations efficiency. Many systems analysts hold at least a bachelor’s degree. This role may benefit students who specialize in information systems and business topics.

    Salary for Systems Analysts in WA: $109,400 | Job Outlook in WA: +16.7% (2018-28)

  • Web Developers

    Web developers create and update websites for organizations. These workers can specialize in front- or back-end development. While the education requirements vary, web developers should have a strong understanding of HTML and other web-oriented languages. A background in graphic design may provide applicants a competitive edge.

    Salary for Web Developers in WA: $133,790 | Job Outlook in WA: +28.1% (2018-28)

Computer Science Employers in Washington

Microsoft


A global brand founded in 1975, Zippia reports Microsoft’s annual revenue as $110.4 billion. Along with software, Microsoft creates a variety of electronics, computers, and other technology. The company maintains a staff of over 57,600 in Washington.

Amazon


Established in 1995, this e-commerce giant earns a reported $232.9 billion in annual revenue. The company is considered one of the Big Four technology companies. Besides online shopping and distribution, Amazon also runs cloud computing, streaming, and e-book services. Amazon headquarters in Seattle.

Tableau Software


Tableau Software focuses on business intelligence and data visualization software. The company earns an annual revenue of $877 million and considers Seattle home base. Graduates who specialized in data science or information analysis may find work at Tableau Software. In 2019, Zippia rated the company the third best technology company to work for in Washington.

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

Washington Employment Trends
State National
Computer Programmers
2018 Employment 6,510 250,300
2028 Projected Employment 6,570 232,300
Projected Job Growth, 2018-28 +0.9% -7.2%
Computer and Information Systems Managers
2018 Employment 14,590 414,400
2028 Projected Employment 19,090 461,100
Projected Job Growth, 2018-28 +30.8% +11.3%
Web Developers
2018 Employment 18,200 160,500
2028 Projected Employment 23,320 181,400
Projected Job Growth, 2018-28 +28.1% +13%
Source: Projections Central

The data above shows that software developers dominate the tech force in the state, accounting for nearly 100,000 employees. Students who hope to find computer science careers in Washington may want to focus their efforts on becoming software developers.

In general, the tech industry in Washington pays better compared to the nationwide averages. Especially for programmers, as Washington features the highest annual mean wage in the country for computer programmers.

Curious About Other Computer Science Jobs? Explore More Here.


Resources


Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is computer science a good major in Washington?

    Yes! The tech industry’s expansive presence in the state creates ample opportunities for students to network with nearby companies. Students can earn an online computer science degree from prestigious schools like the University of Washington.

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

    There are no bad fields in computer science for Washington. However, computer programmers and software developers account for many tech jobs in the state. Students may want to focus on programming languages and software engineering to take advantage of available tech positions.

  • What computer science jobs are there in Washington?

    Washington features a prominent tech industry, so graduates can find almost any type of computer science job. Aside from programmers and software developers, positions in web development and systems analysis also account for a significant number of tech jobs in the state.

  • Does Washington have online computer science programs?

    Yes! Prospective students can choose from a variety of online programs from public and private schools. Washington features several online computer science programs at institutions like Gonzaga University, Seattle University, and Washington State University.


Professional Computer Science Organizations in Washington

  • Washington Technology Industry Association

    This group represents tech businesses big and small while helping them find skilled workers. WTIA provides a forum for members of the tech industry to discuss new developments and potential issues in the field.

  • Puget Sound Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction

    With a focus on the Puget Sound Region, PSSIGCHI specializes in research about how humans interact with computers. From October to June, the group holds monthly events featuring guest speakers and networking opportunities.

  • Washington Independent Telecommunications Association

    With a history spanning over 100 years, WITA aims to connect Washington to the rest of the world through technology. WITA provides a platform for professionals to discuss trends and emerging technology. The association also offers additional learning opportunities.

  • Washington Geographic Information Systems Association

    WAGISA specializes in the field of geospatial and information technology. The nonprofit organization aims to solve state and local problems such as issues in transportation and the environment. WAGISA offers workshops, conferences, and panels with guest speakers.

Featured Images: Getty Images

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