Learn about computer science degrees, top schools and online learning options.


Read about the varied types of computer science careers, certification requirements and salary ranges.


See if you’ve got what it takes to be a computer scientist, and how to research careers before and during college.


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Pre-Collegiate Programs


Earning an associate degree in computer science is often the first educational step for someone exploring a future in computers and technology. Learn how this two-year credential helps students cultivate the background knowledge, skills and formal training required for many entry-level computer science careers.

A bachelor's degree in computer science offers graduates a variety of opportunities for career growth and advancement. Students develop considerable knowledge and skills in the field to enhance marketability and the opportunity to work toward more advanced study.

Master's degrees in computer science offer advanced students a number of education and career growth opportunities. Read more about the basics of computer science at the graduate level, including an overview of the degree and how it works via online learning.

A doctorate degree is the terminal achievement in the study of computer science. It is designed for professionals who wish to make a lasting impact and contribution to both practice and knowledge in the field. A doctorate in computer science can make a bigger impact on the graduate's marketability and also allow the Ph.D. to impact others in the field through instruction at the university level.

Earning Your Computer Science Degree Online

Computer science degrees are in high demand, largely due to ample and high-paying job prospects. It’s no surprise, then, that computer science degrees are some of the most popular offerings in the world of online learning. Degree programs, from associate to doctoral, are plentiful. Some programs allow students to combine the coursework of a bachelor’s and a master’s, enabling them to earn both degrees in less time. Others offer fast track options that enable students to earn a degree in as short a time as one year.

As with any discipline, some online computer science degree programs are better than others. When evaluating options, students should consider three key categories:

  • Curriculum Quality:

    The computer science industry is constantly in flux. New technologies are introduced practically daily. A good computer science degree program must be able to keep up with the industry by updating its courses regularly. The coding languages and skills students learn must still be relevant when they graduate. Check course offerings to ensure they are up to date.

  • Student Support:

    Many computer science courses can be challenging. It’s important to evaluate the type of student support the online computer science degree program offers. How accessible are the professors? What type of tutoring help is available? Is there an option to come to campus for assistance?

  • School or Program Accreditation:

    Employers only recognize degrees granted from accredited schools. Any other degree, online or campus-based, is practically worthless in the job market. Colleges that offer online education degree programs are generally accredited by one of six regional accrediting agencies. Regional accreditation applies to all of a school’s programs, including its computer science degrees. Online schools may also be accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). In addition, schools have the option of having their computer science programs accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Students should look for at least regional or DETC accreditation when selecting a program.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Computer Science Degrees


Are online computer science degree programs accepted by employers?


Absolutely. Online learning has come a long way and even major universities now offer online degree programs where students earn the exact same diploma as those learning on campus. Often employers can’t tell whether a degree was earned online or on campus. As long as the online degree program is accredited regionally, by DETC or ABET, employers should accept the degree.


How can I tell if an online computer science degree program is reputable?


Only consider schools and programs that are accredited. An accredited college has been assessed by an independent agency and found to meet basic quality standards. Look for regional accreditation, and/or accreditation by DETC or ABET. If a school lists other accreditations, make sure the accrediting agency is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.


What types of computer science degrees are available online?


Online computer science degrees are available at every level – associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral.


Is an online computer science degree easier to complete than a classroom-based program?


Accredited online computer science degrees are considered to be of the same quality as classroom-based degrees and are certainly not any easier to complete. In fact, online courses can sometimes be even more rigorous than their classroom- based counterparts. Its important to evaluate the type of student support an online computer science degree program offers.


How much time should I expect to spend earning an online computer science degree?


The length of time it takes to complete an online computer science degree varies greatly and depends on many factors, such as the type of degree, whether you pursue full- or part-time study, the number of credits required, and whether the program offers accelerated study options. Students should expect to devote several hours per week to each course they take. Again, the actual time spent will vary, but schools can help students estimate their time allotment needs.


Some computer science degrees, such as hardware engineering, require hands-on lab work. How do online programs handle these requirements?


Programs that require lab work are sometimes offered in a hybrid format, where students take most of their classes online, but go to campus for their lab-based science and design courses. Others offer their degrees fully online and use various technologies to simulate lab work. Which you choose will be a matter of preference and convenience.


How can I gain practical experience while I’m pursuing an online computer science degree?


All students pursuing a computer science degree, whether online or in the classroom, should consider completing an internship as a way to gain hands-on, real-world experience. While internships are generally not a graduation requirement for online programs, it’s worthwhile to research the options and pursue one as a way to get a leg up in the competitive job market.



Computer science careers are incredibly varied. Computer scientists code software, build components, figure out how to handle massive amounts of data, create websites and even solve crimes. Learn more about specific types of computer science careers below.


Salaries within the field of computer science will depend on the type of job and its geographic location. The chart below illustrates the average salary ranges for several computer careers. Try our salary tool to see how much these particular types of computer scientists make in different areas of the country.


In the field of information technology, employers look for candidates with certifications, because these indicate a person has the knowledge, experience, and skills to perform a specific job. Some certifications are technology-specific, while others focus on measuring skills independent of any specific hardware or software products. Certification candidates generally complete a classroom or online course of study and pass an examination. Some certifications are only valid for a certain period of time and need to be renewed periodically. Here we take a look at three popular types of certifications:

Microsoft, one of the world's leading software corporations, offers certifications that validate the holder's expertise with its technology. Microsoft Certified Professionals also have access to community resources that enable the exchange of ideas, increase knowledge and skills, and broaden career opportunities. Certifications are available in three levels, each requiring increased levels of knowledge and expertise: Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA), Microsoft Solutions Associate (MCSA), and Microsoft Solutions Expert (MCSE). Certifications are offered in the following five categories:

  • Server
  • Desktop
  • Applications
  • Database
  • Developer
Microsoft certifications include:
  • MTA: IT Infrastructure
  • MTA: Developer
  • MTA: Database
  • MSCA: Windows Server 2012
  • MSCA: Windows 8
  • MCSA: SQL Server 2012
  • MSCE: Server Infrastructure
  • MCSE: Data Platform
  • MCSE: Business Intelligence
  • MCSD: Windows Store Apps
  • MCSD: Web Apps
  • Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS): Specialist, Expert, Master

Cisco Systems, a leader in networking equipment, offers five levels of network certification, each indicating increased experience and expertise: Entry, Associate, Professional, Expert and Architect, the highest level of accreditation within the Cisco Career Certification program.

An additional designation, that of Specialist, further certifies those with Cisco Career Certifications at the associate, professional or expert levels. By earning specialist certifications, network professionals can enhance their core networking knowledge in technologies such as security, data center or video.

Cisco certifications include:
  • Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT)
  • Cisco Certified Technicians (CCT)
  • Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
  • Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA)
  • Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP)
  • Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)
  • The Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE)
  • The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE)
  • The Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr)
  • Cisco Data Center Application Services Design Specialist
  • Cisco Cybersecurity Specialist
  • Cisco Video Network Specialist

CompTIA offers vendor-neutral certifications that measure foundational skills. They show employers that a candidate has skills to do a job, regardless of the hardware or software product the company uses. There are four levels of CompTIA certifications:

  • Basic: For those seeking entry-level jobs.
  • Specialty: Covers the business and technical knowledge needed for specific vertical or niche markets.
  • Professional: Evaluates the technical skills and knowledge needed to succeed in specific IT careers.
  • Mastery: Covers the advanced practice of a specific discipline; candidates must be able to integrate multiple enterprise disciplines through the application of advanced skills.
CompTIA certifications include:
  • Advanced Security Practitioner (CAS)
  • CompTIA A+
  • CompTIA CDIA+
  • CompTIA Cloud+
  • CompTIA CCT+
  • CompTIA Linux+ Powered by LPI
  • CompTIA Mobile App Security+
  • CompTIA Mobility+
  • CompTIA Network +
  • CompTIA Project+
  • CompTIA Security+
  • CompTIA Server+
  • CompTIA Storage+ Powered by SNIA
  • CompTIA Cloud Essentials
  • CompTIA Healthcare IT Technician

Career Salary Tool

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Birmingham 2012 MEAN PAY $63,060 per year
Huntsville 2012 MEAN PAY $66,000 per year

Are You Cut Out for a Computer Science Career?

We've all become familiar with the portrayal of computer geniuses as socially inept individuals working at all hours in dark basement rooms. Movies and television have done a stellar job of propagating this image of computer scientist as nerd. But the reality is quite different. Most computer science professionals work in teams and collaborate on projects on a daily basis. In fact, successful computer science professionals tend to have several core skills and traits in common. Take this quiz and see how you compare.


Many teachers have special skills, knowledge, and talents that help them teach, lead, and inspire. Do you have what it takes to be a teacher? Answer the following 10 questions to find out.

  • 1. Do you have an aptitude for working with numbers and for using logic to solve complex problems?
  • 2. Are you highly organized and detail-oriented?
  • 3. Are you a patient person?
  • 4. Can you effectively handle multiple tasks at once?
  • 5. Do you enjoy working as part of a team to solve problems and also working on your own to complete projects or parts of projects?
  • 6. Are you a creative problem solver?
  • 7. Do you enjoy change and learning new things?
  • 8. Are you a strong oral and written communicator?
  • 9. Are you a self-motivated person?
  • 10. Are you passionate about technology?
  • It looks like a career in computer science may not be a great fit. However, you may possess the various attributes necessary to succeed in other technology-related careers.

    It looks like you possess some of the skills, traits and interests shared by today's most successful computer science professionals. However, you may need to develop certain areas during your education or training to maximize your effectiveness in the workplace.

    It looks like you have many of the attributes found in today's top computer science professionals. A formal degree program can help you hone those skills and launch a lucrative career.

Resources for Minorities and Women

Computer Science and Minority Students: A Guide to Schools, Scholarships and Resources

A guide to help minority students make the most of the plentiful opportunities in the field of computer science.

Women Wanted: Scholarships, Colleges and Careers in Computer Science

A guide to help young women select, prepare for and succeed in computer science careers.


For many fields, an education is not considered complete without some sort of practical experience. Computer science is no different. Luckily, computer science internships abound. Here we look at eight top internship programs in both the corporate and government realms.

  • Google offers paid technical internship opportunities to undergraduate students in the U.S. and around the globe. With guidance, interns build new features and improve on existing products. Start dates are flexible and are offered year-round, but interns need to commit to at least three months of full-time work.

  • Facebook employs interns on a regular basis in a variety of its areas, including analytics, data center design, data warehousing, security, and software engineering. Internships typically last 12 weeks and are well paid.

  • Microsoft offers two levels of internships for college students. Freshmen and sophomores can participate in Explore Microsoft, a 12-week paid summer internship program designed to expose students to the field of software development through hands-on training and group project experience. More experienced upperclassmen and graduate students can apply for paid internship positions in specific areas such as software development and hardware engineering.

  • Apple employs hundreds of interns worldwide in a variety of areas, including hardware engineering, information technology, operations, and software. Through this hands-on learning opportunity, interns become part of a vibrant community and enjoy unique exposure to corporate leaders at Apple.

  • The NASA Pathways Intern Program provides students with the opportunity to explore NASA careers and gain meaningful developmental work experience. The program offers internship in most areas of NASA, including information technology. Interns may help design, develop, implement, and maintain software solutions; gain experience in information security and COMSEC; support web tools; and provide software application support.

  • The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency offers a variety of internships and co-op opportunities for computer science students. Requirements vary, so check the website listings for additional information on positions currently accepting applications. And, plan in advance, because applications are due nine to 12 months before the desired job start date.

  • The NSA's Computer Science Intern Program (CSIP) is 12-week paid internship open to students majoring in computer science or related disciplines. CSIP interns apply their computer science skills to NSA hardware and software systems on projects that contribute to NSA's mission. Internships culminate in a short presentation and technical paper.

  • The Washington Internships for Students of Engineering (WISE) selects outstanding junior or senior engineering/ computer science students, or students in engineering/ computer science graduate programs, from a nation-wide pool of applicants. The students spend nine weeks in the summer in Washington, D.C. learning how government officials make decisions on complex technological issues, and how engineers can contribute to legislative and regulatory public policy decisions.