Online Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science Guide

In 2020, computer and information systems managers earned median salaries of $151,150, making it one of the best-paid jobs in the industry. The good news is that these positions require only a bachelor’s degree in computer science, making it possible to earn a six-figure salary and solve complex computer issues after only four years of education. 

Students considering this path can learn much about what a computer science bachelor’s degree entails, where it leads after graduation, and how they can find support along the way.

What Can I Do With a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science?

Pursuing an online bachelor of computer science provides the credentials and training individuals need to qualify for myriad roles in the field. Whether a student feels more drawn to software design, information technology, or computer network management, plenty of jobs exist to meet individual needs and interests. 

Bachelor of Computer Science Salaries and Career Outlook

Jobs for computer science degree graduates pay generous salaries and offer room for growth, making them competitive among professionals. Computer network architects brought home median salaries of $116,780 in 2020, while their peers working as database administrators earned $98,860 over the same period. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects both of these roles will expand in the coming decade, but projections do not guarantee job growth.

Computer Science Bachelor’s Degree Career Paths

Completing a bachelor’s degree in computer science provides the training students need to qualify for a whole range of exciting and well-paying jobs. We look at four great options below.

CareerSalaryProjected Job Growth (2019-2029)About the Position
Software Developer$110,14022%Whether working in a freelance or in-house role, software developers use their knowledge of computer science to develop applications that meet client needs. They design software, create upgrades, and monitor for bugs.
Computer and Information Systems Managers$151,15010%Working in supervisory positions, these professionals oversee their companies’ networks, software, and technology. They assess the need for upgrades, oversee installation and maintenance, and work with vendors to secure contracts.
Computer Programmers$89,190-9%Computer programmers are the professionals who write and test the codes behind computer applications and software. They’re typically fluent in several coding languages. 
Computer Systems Analysts$93,7307%Also known as systems architects, these professionals serve as technology troubleshooters. They assess current computing capabilities, make recommendations on upgrades, and manage the installation process.
Source: BLS

Earning an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science

Online bachelor’s degrees in computer science provide the foundational knowledge needed to qualify for entry-level positions in a variety of industries. Whether an individual wants to start their own IT consulting company or work in-house for an organization, this degree leads to myriad professional opportunities. We look at some of the basics of these programs below.

Pros and Cons of Online Programs in Computer Science 

ProsCons
As data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics demonstrates, jobs for computer science graduates are on the rise and show no signs of slowing.Students who don’t enjoy advanced mathematical concepts, analytical thinking, and creative problem-solving likely won’t thrive in this degree.
Computer science degrees allow students to go into many different areas of the discipline, ranging from data analysis and software engineering to network management and app creation.Because the field moves so quickly, computer science professionals are expected to stay up-to-date on continuing education.
Many computer science jobs allow professionals to work remotely, providing ample flexibility.While computer science graduates often command six-figure salaries, these can come with great amounts of pressure and stress.
Completing a bachelor’s degree in computer science qualifies graduates to pursue advanced degrees.

Courses in Computer Science Bachelor’s Programs

As students review the curricula of prospective programs, they will soon notice that, while courses vary by school, most have some overlap in core class requirements. Aside from general education courses, some topics frequently on offer include:

  • Software Engineering
  • Theory and Practice of Algorithms
  • Operating Systems
  • Discrete Structures and Applications
  • Systems Security
  • Principles of Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Architecture
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Database Systems and Data Structures

Bachelor’s in computer science programs typically include a capstone course that students must complete to graduate. 

Skills Learned in a Bachelor of Computer Science Degree Program

Graduates of computer science bachelor’s degrees walk away with plenty of skills that can help them secure future jobs or pursue an advanced degree. In addition to gaining a deeper knowledge of computer and technology workings, learners also delve into topics such as data analysis, software development, computer programming, cybersecurity, technical writing, and network management. 

Some of the soft skills typically learned include problem-solving, teamwork, attention to detail, time management, and how to communicate with many different types of colleagues and clients. 

How Long Does it Take to Get an Online Computer Science Degree?

The majority of computer science bachelor’s degrees require four years of full-time study, but several factors can affect this timeline. Students who previously completed coursework at another institution can typically transfer those credits, leading to less time enrolled. Similarly, accelerated programs cover the material more quickly and allow students to graduate in about three years. Conversely, part-time learners usually need between 5-6 years to graduate.

Choosing the Best Online Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science

With so many online bachelor of computer science programs on the market these days, it’s important for students to take the time to find one that fits their needs. We consider some of the choices to make during the school research phase in this section.

Bachelor of Science vs. Bachelor of Arts

Many schools offer both B.A. and B.S. programs in computer science, leading some students to wonder about the differences. While the core computer science curriculum remains the same, a B.S. typically leads to more opportunities for specialization within the field. The B.A., conversely, provides more opportunities for electives that could result in a second major or a complementary minor. 

Online vs. On-Campus Degrees

Completing a bachelor’s degree in computer science is easy given that many schools now offer partially and fully online programs in addition to traditional campus-based options. Studying online works for many busy learners who need to balance personal and professional obligations alongside their studies. In addition to cutting out a campus commute multiple times per week, distance learning provides more flexibility to complete assignments and watch lectures at times that work with individual schedules.

That said, some students decide they want the full campus experience, complete with a more consistent schedule and more access to social opportunities.

How Long do Online Courses Take to Complete?

As students look at online bachelor of computer science programs, they may notice different programs provide varied course timelines. While the traditional schedule for a course — and semester — is 16 weeks, some schools also offer accelerated online courses lasting 5-8 weeks. 

Some schools also provide a work-at-your-own-pace model that allows students to move as quickly or as slowly as they wish, so long as they complete the course within 16 weeks. If following this model, learners complete courses asynchronously rather than logging in at specific times for live lectures.

Computer Science Certification and Licensure

The majority of computer science positions do not require licensure, but many employers do favor candidates who seek certification to add to their knowledge and stay up-to-date on changes in the field. Many organizations, such as (ISC)², provide a variety of certifications that students can complete online. Some employers may even pay for these certifications.

Accreditation

Attending a properly accredited school and program is one of the most important steps a student can take, making it highly important that they research accreditation before enrolling. Accreditation comes in both institutional and programmatic forms. At the institutional level, learners should look for colleges and universities that maintain regional accreditation, as this signals that the school went through a rigorous process to achieve that status.

At the programmatic level, the Computing Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accredits bachelor-level computer science programs. By graduating from one of these degrees, students let employers know they participated in a top-tier program.

Applying to Online Computer Science Programs

The application process for online bachelor’s in computer science programs requires gathering up various types of documentation, filling out applications, and taking standardized tests. Therefore, it’s best to start this process early; otherwise, learners can end up feeling rushed.

Admission Requirements for Bachelor of Computer Science Programs

Admission requirements can vary based on the schools to which a student applies, but most require all of the basic components listed below.

  • Official Transcripts: Schools require official transcripts from any high schools or colleges previously attended, as these provide proof of stated GPA and insight into which classes the student has taken.
  • Standardized Test Scores: Most schools require SAT or ACT scores to help get a baseline for students’ knowledge in key topics. Learners should check prospective schools’ websites to see about minimum required scores.
  • Essays: Essays provide the opportunity for degree seekers to show what is unique about them, their life experiences, and their hopes for the future. 
  • Letters of Recommendation: Recommendation letters play an important part in giving admissions panels an insider’s look at a candidate’s personality, work ethic, and potential for success in an undergraduate computer science degree.

Paying for an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science

It’s no secret that degrees are expensive, and computer science bachelor’s degrees are no exception. Whether you study online or in person, you’ll need to cover tuition and fees. Thankfully, plenty of scholarships, grants, and other types of financial aid exist that can help students limit their loan debt.

Computer Science Bachelor’s Degree Costs

The cost of a bachelor’s degree in computer science can quickly add up, with expenses like tuition, fees, textbooks, and course materials all costing a pretty penny. That said, students can reduce their costs in several ways. For example, attending a public school in their state of residence often leads to reduced tuition, while pursuing a degree online allows learners to bypass common campus-based fees such as facilities usage, meal plans, and dormitories.

Scholarships for Computer Science Students

Upsilon Pi Epsilon Scholarship: The International Honor Society for the Computing and Information disciplines offers this award of up to $3,000 to undergraduate computer science majors who are members of the society.

Richard E. Merwin Student Scholarship: With a focus on rewarding student leadership from its members, IEEE provides this annual award of $1,000 to 36 students. Applicants must possess a GPA of 2.5 or higher.

Google Student Veterans of America Scholarship: Designed to support veterans pursuing degrees in computer science, Google offers this $10,000 award. Applicants must enroll on a full-time basis and be current student veterans.

Betty Stevens Frecknall Scholarship: Computer science majors who possess an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher can apply to this award if they are enrolled on a full-time basis and have already completed at least one semester of studies.

Lockheed Martin STEM Scholarship: This annual award of $10,000 can be renewed three times, leading to up to $40,000 in scholarship support for qualified computer science majors.  Applicants must possess a 2.5 or higher GPA and demonstrate an interest in a paid Lockheed Martin internship.

Computer Science Career Resources

Association for Computing Machinery: ACM supports the growth of computer science students and professionals alike by providing regional chapters, continuing education opportunities, awards, an online learning center, and several industry publications.

IEEE Computer Society: In existence for more than 75 years, IEEE’s Computer Society provides members access to a digital library, education opportunities, job listing, conferences, and an interactive resource center.

Association for Women in Computing: To raise the profile of women in computing and encourage more females to join the field, AWC provides professional networking, mentoring, continuing education, and regional chapters.

Computing Research Association: CRA looks to bring together the worlds of academia, industry, and government to strengthen the computer science field and promote research. The group focuses on policy initiatives, talent development, and leadership. 

The Institution of Engineering and Technology: With a history of more than 150 years, IET continues to innovate and push the field forward. You can take advantage of career and learning resources, online and in-person events, and a media hub.

FAQ

Can you do a computer science degree online?

Yes. Given the nature of the topic, many schools provide fully online computer science degrees that you can complete from any location with a steady internet connection.

Is an online bachelor’s degree in computer science worth it?

As this guide has highlighted, computer science professionals are in demand in countless industries and fields. Jobs for graduates also generally pay higher than the national average.

How much is an online degree in computer science?

The cost of an online computer science degree can vary substantially based on whether you attend a public or private school. If you’re looking for the cheapest route, attending a state school as a resident learner is usually the best option. 

What is the best bachelor’s degree in computer science?

The best bachelor’s degree in computer science is the one that meets your academic, professional, and financial needs. Just because a school is considered the best in the nation doesn’t mean it’s the best one for you.

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