COMPUTER SCIENCE degree Programs & Majors

Computer science is such a diverse field, it can be hard for students to pick a path. The following guide looks at computer science education and dissects degree programs and coursework at all academic levels. It then delves into CS on the cutting edge, with profiles of degree options that tap into new tools, ideas and specializations. Get the inside scoop from experts, and learn what it takes to both enter and thrive in one of today's hottest sectors.

2015’S BEST COLLEGES FOR ONLINECOMPUTER SCIENCE DEGREES

Computer science remains one of the fastest-growing fields in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts jobs openings for software developers and related CS careers to grow by more than 20 percent through 2022. What does this mean for future college students? More computer- and tech-related degree programs from top schools, especially online. The growing need for work/education balance has made online learning a priority, and institutions with strong computer science programs continue to add online and hybrid options to their course collections.

The following colleges and universities have stand-out online programs in computer science and related fields, including computer engineering, information technology, software development and more. They offer generous cost structures, have award-winning faculty and offer student support services that make a difference. See which schools earned a spot among our Best Colleges for Online CS Degrees.

For more information on our rankings criteria and scoring, please visit our methodology page.

Score: 98.53
Student-teacher ratio: 25:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Arizona

ASU Online offers four different online Bachelor's of Science and Bachelor's of Applied Science degree programs within the realm of computer science:

  • Information Technology: The degree program seeks to deliver a firm understanding in the technological solutions which have been and will be created for a modern, computer-based society.
  • Graphic Information Technology: With a concentration in web technologies, the program offers education and training in the creation of graphic and creative content, along with multimedia, print and photography.
  • Internet and Web Development: Designed specifically for students who hold an associate degree in applied science, the program focuses on website development, multimedia design, web technologies, user experience design and more.
  • Software Engineering: The program melds together the various aspects of engineering, computing and project leadership as they influence the field of software construction.

In conjunction with Google Education Apps, ASU Online employs the most recent technology to create the necessary connectivity between classroom, professor and students. Through email, collaborative calendars, and document sharing, ASU Online strives to deliver the same content as its traditional, campus counterpart while bringing the educational aspects to its students in real and flexible ways.

Score: 97.83
Student-teacher ratio: 19:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Virginia

Liberty University offers online bachelor's degrees in several majors related to computer science. Programs are completed fully over the Internet, with no on-campus requirements. Undergraduate offerings in the technology field include minors that can be earned online in information security or business management information systems. Distance learning bachelor's degrees include these majors and potential areas of emphasis:

  • Information Technology: Concentrations in application and database development, data networking and security, gaming design, and web design and development
  • Business Management Information Systems: Specializations such as accounting information systems, application and database development, information assurance and business intelligence
  • Applied Web Technologies: Studies in programming for web and mobile applications, database management, web development, data networking
  • Informatics – Healthcare: Courses about business applications, software programming, enterprise systems, and web architecture and development

Applicants can apply to transfer credit from previous schooling or from work experience and on-the-job training. Out of the 120 credit hours typically required for graduation, 50 percent of courses for the major must be from Liberty University. Beyond academics, the school has an online streaming convocation weekly. The Liberty Online Communities are another channel of ministries available to remote students who seek counseling. Students can also access library resources and the writing center online.

Score: 97.64
Student-teacher ratio: 21:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Missouri

Missouri State University offers an undergraduate degree program in Informational Technology Service Management that can be earned fully online.

Some of the topics covered in this online program include:

  • Linux Essentials
  • Cloud Computing
  • Principles of Project Management
  • Fundamentals of Computer Information Systems

Potential careers for graduates run the gamut from database administration to systems development to technology consulting. Graduates are also prepared to enter a master's degree program in a related field, such as business education or computer information systems.

Missouri State's online classes use the Blackboard Learn 9.1 learning management software. This platform supports multiple instructional and communication tools, such as video and audio lectures, email and chat capabilities, discussion forums, presentations and visual media, and assessments. The school offers several video tutorials as well as a Blackboard Helpdesk and Live Support Chat to assist students in using this software.

Online students at Missouri State have access to many resources for assistance throughout their program and after also graduation. The Career Center offers a database of job openings, resume and cover letter assistance, and interview opportunities. Students also have access to online library databases, academic advising, counseling, and other support services. Special assistance is provided for transfer students, including an online or on-campus transfer student orientation and a transfer advisor.

Score: 96.50
Student-teacher ratio: 20:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Tennessee

Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) offers a bachelor's degree in information technology that can be earned fully online, with no on-campus requirements.

The information technology degree is part of the schools' Professional Studies program, designed for distance and non-traditional students. The Professional Studies program prepares students for management level positions, with foundation courses in statistics, international context, communications, and supervision. In the Information Technology concentration, courses center on software analysis, database management, data communications, and operating systems.

MTSU suggests many possible careers for students who complete their IT degree, including computer forensic investigator, information technology vendor manager, mobile application developer, and software engineer, just to name a few.

The online degree involves 21 credit hours for core classes, as well as 18 credit hours related to information technology. Students complete the program with a capstone project. Credits earned at accredited institutions can be transferred into the program. Additionally, students may be able to earn credits from work experience, passing certain exams such as AP, CLEP, and DSST tests, and military service.

Online students have access to many support services, including advising, counseling, use of library resources, free tutoring, and online tutorials. Students are required to complete the MTSU Online New Student Orientation prior to enrollment.

Score: 95.85
Student-teacher ratio: 15:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Tennessee

In an effort to broaden the audience it can reach, Tennessee State University emphasizes distance education with classes offered online, through interactive video instruction, or a blend of online and on-campus formats. Online learners have the option of earning a bachelor's degree in professional studies with a concentration in information technology.

The professional studies IT program incorporates 120 credit hours, of which at least 30 must be earned from TSU. The curriculum is split between general education (60 hours), professional core requirements (21 hours), information technology concentration (15 hours), culminating projects (3 hours), and both general and IT-related electives (21 hours). Choices for individual online courses from TSU include computer programming languages and web design.

Professional core classes cover categories such as administration and supervision, team and organizational relations, statistical methods and written communication. Courses for the major can be chosen from the following areas:

  • Management Information Systems
  • Software
  • Files/Operating Systems
  • Database Management
  • Networks

Currently, TSU is unable to offer online degrees to residents of certain U.S. states. To help students determine their compatibility with its Distance Education program, the school provides an online assessment that looks at individual attributes, learning styles, technical competency and knowledge, reading rate/recall, and typing speed/accuracy. The test can be completed online and takes approximately 35 minutes.

Score: 95.54
Student-teacher ratio: 20:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Utah

Weber State University is a semester based school that offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. Students who are enrolled into the program must complete a total of 126 credits to graduate. They must also maintain a minimum grade of 2.0 in individual core courses and an overall GPA of 2.70 for all required courses. For non-required courses or electives, students must earn at least a C- to stay in the program.

Core courses and electives are combined with general education courses throughout the curriculum. Math, communications, and foreign language are examples of general education courses. Core courses built into the program include:

  • Object Oriented Interface Development with Java
  • Advanced Database Programming
  • Concepts of Foreign Languages and Algorithms for Computing
  • Software Engineering
  • Operating Systems

Students can declare majors or minors through the university's online scheduling system. Weber State offers virtual classroom resources, including eWeber, Canvas, WSU Online, campus email and video conferencing. It may be possible for students to take some courses on a self-paced schedule. Students who choose to follow a self-paced schedule have a maximum of six months to complete a course.

Students also have access to academic advisors, financial aid advisors, and career counselors for help with course load, tuition, and job searches. Although the program is delivered fully online, students have the option of enrolling in a hybrid or blended program.

Score: 94.81
Student-teacher ratio: 20:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Georgia

Southern Polytechnic State University has a legacy of offering online education options for 17 years, and this includes a computer science program. SPSU's School of Computing and Software Engineering has a choice of online degrees in information technology:

  • Bachelor of Science, with courses in computer science and management
  • Bachelor of Applied Science, designed as a degree completion option
  • IT minor -- five courses including programming and computer architecture

The BSIT program, accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET, includes an overview of computer-related strategy and management, IT systems, and the development and administration of integrated computing.

The BASIT program requires 60 credits for students who already hold an AAS from the Technical System of Georgia. Studies focus on supervisory or managerial roles in IT, and topics of discussion include:

  • IT concepts and best practices
  • Organizational requirements for current and emerging technologies
  • Selection, design, integration and administration of IT-based solutions
  • Planning and execution of team projects

Bachelor's degree programs also offer a hybrid option (half online and half in-class) for those in the Marietta area. Admissions for online programs follow the same procedure as on-campus programs, which are handled through the admissions office for undergraduate degrees. Applicants can file their forms online, as well as check their admissions status.

Score: 93.77
Student-teacher ratio: 23:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Texas

The University of Texas Arlington has been classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a "High Research Activity" institution. It is a private university that offers 80 baccalaureate degrees to undergraduate students. Established in 1965, the College of Engineering is the fourth largest engineering college in Texas, with approximately 3,700 students and 8 baccalaureate degree programs.

One of the most popular academic departments of this college is the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, which offers online bachelor's degrees for:

  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (BSCS) for those interested in a computing profession. The program is accredited by Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET.
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering (BSCpE) for those interested in an engineering profession. The program is accredited by Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET.
  • Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering (BSSE) for those interested in a software engineering profession. The program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET.

All undergraduate degree programs allow students to get design experience in the first three years of the curriculum, as well as major industrial work experience in their senior year project.

Future students must meet the academic requirements outlined prior to applying for admission, which includes a minimum G.P.A of 2.5 or higher, as well as a passing score on Readiness Examinations. To earn a bachelor's degree online in the College of Engineering, students must complete a total of 121 credit hours, with an earned grade of C or above.

Score: 93.72
Student-teacher ratio: 21:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Texas

Lamar University, part of the Texas State University System, offers more than 100 bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs, including 11 bachelor's degrees and 19 graduate degrees through its LU Online program. There is an online bachelor's degree in computer science that requires 120 credit hours for completion. Within the major, credits are broken down as follows:

  • 48 hours in computer science
  • 20 hours in mathematics
  • 12 hours in laboratory science
  • 6 hours of electives
  • General university requirements

Classes for the four-year major cover core areas such as programming languages, databases, networking, computer architecture, software engineering, multimedia and information systems. In their final semester, candidates for graduation take the ETS exam in computer science. Students may start the degree at multiple times during the year and have the option to complete courses on an accelerated 8-week schedule instead of the traditional 15-week semester.

LU Online uses the Blackboard system to administer its online degree programs. Students can log in to the system to participate in class discussions, read course materials, take quizzes or contact their instructors. Technical support for the Blackboard learning platform is available through online FAQs and by email or phone.

Score: 93.55
Student-teacher ratio: 13:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Illinois

With a publically acclaimed dedication to online programs, the University of Illinois at Springfield offers some of the finest distance education in computer sciences. The Department of Computer Science at UIS - designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education - offers an online program for a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science.

Learning remotely, students will develop an understanding of the theories that power the rapid technological changes of today, as well as the fundamental skills needed to enter the job market. Upon completion, graduates will be ready to continue into graduate studies in computer science or other computer-related fields. Students enrolled in the program will choose to focus on either software engineering or systems security and information assurance.

Those seeking to apply must meet certain eligibility requirements, including:

  • Submission of a Statement of Purpose Form
  • A minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.0 from an accredited college or university
  • Completion of two semesters of Java programming experience
  • One semester of each of the following: Calculus, Discrete or Finite Math, and Statistics

Reviews of application for Spring enrollment begin on September 15th and reviews for Fall begin on March 15th. Application status can be checked online.

Score: 93.19
Student-teacher ratio: 18:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Minnesota

The University of Minnesota Twin Cities is a public research university that offers an online Bachelor of Science in Information Technology Management for students who are interested in eventually pursuing careers in the technology field. Through this online program, undergraduate students will learn about:

  • Information and operating systems
  • Hardware
  • Application software
  • Communication through technical reports
  • Business IT Solutions

Online learning is great for students who have busy work schedules or family responsibilities that make getting to campus on a regular basis difficult. University of Minnesota Twin Cities offers two programs in which students can complete online degrees: Bachelor of Science in Applied Studies and Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Multidisciplinary Studies.

The application deadlines are:

  • Fall term - August 14th
  • Spring term - December 26th

Students of online learning that are looking to obtain their Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology Management will receive a quality, blended mix of academic knowledge and real-world experience and skills in the field of their choice. Financial aid is available for eligible students.

Score: 92.97
Student-teacher ratio: 16:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Virginia

George Mason University offers fully online and hybrid bachelor's degree programs in technology, designed for both the adult learner and current college students. Online options include a bachelor's degree completion program in applied information technology, which requires candidates to have an associate degree or sufficient education and experience. Students may also earn an online certificate or minor in information technology.

A Bachelor of Science degree in applied information technology is available as a hybrid program, where students attend some classes on campus though more than half of the instructional content is available online. For example, in-person attendance is necessary for the senior design project and the capstone courses. This hybrid program offers concentrations such as database programming, health care informatics, networks and telecommunications, information security or web design.

George Mason's online classes are typically delivered asynchronously. Students access course materials through Blackboard, the school's online course management system, at their convenience. Instructors expect students to log in at least four days per week and spend about 8 to 12 hours each week completing assignments and reading required materials.

Students complete orientation, occasional assessments, final exams and labs on-campus or through proctored services. Participants in distance education programs have access to Mason's library, an online writing lab and other student services also available to on-campus students.

Score: 92.77
Student-teacher ratio: 14:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Tennessee

The University of Memphis does not have online computer science programs on its own, but it does offer a bachelor's of science in professional studies with a concentration in information technology through the Regents Online Degree Program. The RODP program requires professional core subjects, information technology classes, a culminating special project, and general education and elective courses.

Professional core requirements for the fully online IT degree fall into areas such as:

  • Administration & Supervision
  • Organizational Systems
  • Team & Organizational Relations
  • Statistical Methods
  • Written Communications
  • International Context

Courses for the IT concentration cover topics such as information systems, software, files and operating systems, database management and networking technology.

Online classes use asynchronous web technology and can be completed off-campus. Certain courses may require proctored midterm or final examinations. In order to receive the B.S. degree, students must complete these requirements:

  • At least 120 semester hours total
  • At least 30 semester hours awarded by the University of Memphis
  • At least 45 semester hours at the 3000-4000 level
  • No more than 24 semester hours in business courses

After completing the requirements, graduates may receive their diploma either by mail or by attending the official graduation ceremony at the University of Memphis.

Score: 92.29
Student-teacher ratio: 23:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: California

CSU Monterey Bay's online computer science and information technology degree blends the theoretical with the practical to produce graduates who are experts of all elements in the field.

Ideally suited for students who desire employment as mobile app developers, software developers, and/or project managers, this fully online degree program provides experienced professors and industry professionals as mentors and advisors. All hands-on experience and classroom work is done in such a way as to create a "real world" connection, preparing the student for the field of computer science. The curriculum covers the most advanced theories and practices, evaluated for their relevance by an industry-supplied advisory board.

The coursework requires 30 semester units within the computer science field and a capstone project, serving as a portfolio to highlight the student's individual accomplishments. The degree's focus encompasses the cornerstone courses (CSUMB's "Golden Four") - English composition, speech/oral communication, critical thinking, and mathematics.

To gain admission to the online computer science and information technology program at CSU Monterey Bay, applicants must have at least 60 transferable semester credits, a minimum 2.0 GPA, and completed at least 30 semester credits of General Education courses with a C or better grade.

Score: 92.05
Student-teacher ratio: 18:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Washington

Central Washington University's online bachelor of applied science degree in information technology and administrative management allows students to specialize in one of three areas—administrative management, information technology, or cybersecurity. CWU also offers a bachelor of science in information technology and administrative management with specializations in administrative management and retail management and technology. The B.S. program is designed for students who have an applied or technical associate degree or a prior bachelor's degree in any area.

A FlexIT competency based option is available to students who need maximum flexibility. This is a self-paced program in the retail management and technology specialization and allows students to complete as many classes as they can in a six-month model. CWU touts this as an "all you can learn model."

Classes are delivered via the Canvas course management system, which supports Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. This is where students access course materials, view important course announcements, participate in discussions and conversations, turn in assignments, view grades, and view an aggregated calendar for all upcoming assignments. Online students have access to traditional on-campus resources such as advising, library materials and more.

Score: 91.90
Student-teacher ratio: 11:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: New Hampshire

Students at Granite State College can choose from several online bachelor's degrees including computer science innovation, health information management, information technology and technology management. Those who hold an associate degree in a related field can take advantage of the Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degree completion pathway program, which could require as little as 15 classes, depending on prior experience.

Participants in Granite State College's technology-related programs study the fundamentals of computer programming, network systems, data management, cyber security and more. The computer science innovation major allows students to focus in an area of interest such as quality assurance or mobile application development. Incoming students can inquire about attendance requirements or options. For example, the computer science innovation degree allows seniors to choose between an internship and a capstone project.

Granite State online students can usually work at their own pace in an asynchronous format to meet course and assignment deadlines. They access course materials online and participate in class discussions through message boards, online chats and email. Many classes utilize Moodle, an online learning management system that is also used to deliver the eLearning introduction and orientation. For those applying to the programs, Granite State considers past academic, life and work experience for potential transfer credits.

Score: 91.80
Student-teacher ratio: 13:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Illinois

Lewis University was founded by the Chicago Archdiocese in 1932 and came under the direction of the De La Salle Christian Brothers in 1960. By 1990, the school began offering accelerated learning options for working adults, which would eventually expand to night, weekend and online programs. Today, students can earn one of 14 degrees online, including five bachelor's degrees, two of which have links to the field of computer science. Students can select from the following two technology degrees, offered in a fully online, accelerated format:

  • Bachelor's degree in computer science: Program covers software development, security, networking, databases and video game development.
  • Bachelor's degree in information security and risk management: Program covers topics such as computer forensics and data discovery, security management practices and ethical hacking.
  • Bachelor's degree in information technology management: Subjects could include project management, cloud computing, web design, data networks and more.

Lewis University pays attention to the academic and professional needs of students. Graduates of the IT management program are expected to complete an online portfolio of their work suitable to show potential employers. To assist online learners, the school assigns each individual a Student Services Coordinator to assist them throughout their education. While students do not need to be online at specific times, they are required to follow a course schedule and turn in assignments and take assessments by certain dates. For projects in the information security program, participants have 24/7 access to CloudLab.

Score: 91.74
Student-teacher ratio: 18:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Massachusetts

The University of Massachusetts offers online degree programs through the system's distance learning initiative, UMassOnline. The online learning division offers a program for earning a bachelor's degree in information technology, with the option of a business minor.

This wholly online program addresses the role of IT in business, government, education and other organizations that use computers and networks in the workplace. The curriculum includes requirements from general education, professional skills, information technology and electives. The entire program includes 120 credits minimum across 40 courses.

The business minor adds course work in subjects such as accounting, communication and marketing. For completion of the degree with a business minor, the application becomes more competitive. Eligibility requires high school diploma or GED certificate. The Division of Online and Continuing Education operates on a rolling admissions basis, and the application includes:

  • Transcripts of all college, university or post-secondary schools attended, with course descriptions
  • Transcripts of high school (or GED certificate) if applicant has no prior college/university experience

UMassOnline is not presently accepting application from residents of Arkansas or Kansas.

Score: 91.68
Student-teacher ratio: 20:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Minnesota

The University of Minnesota offers bachelor's degrees for a wide range of fields. UMC is a public, four year university with an enrollment of 1,800 students—approximately 700 of which take their courses online. Crookston offers the University of Minnesota's first online bachelor degree in Information Technology Management. To earn the degree, students must complete 120 credit hours of coursework, with 54-55 of those hours within the major.

There are a variety of courses offered to undergraduate students interested in computer applications and software engineering, including:

  • Website Development
  • Multimedia Applications
  • Spreadsheet Applications
  • Database Applications
  • Microcomputer Operating Systems
  • Assign & Design of Information Systems
  • Networking & Telecommunications
  • Data Structures & Algorithms

The IT Management online program allows undergraduate students to obtain skills and knowledge needed to excel in technology-based careers, especially leadership roles such as webmasters, technology project managers, and information system managers.

Transfer students are welcome and can go through programs for Applied or Multidisciplinary Studies. UM Crookston also offers a Center for Adult Learning (CAL) program for busy, working individuals who want to pursue an education without having to sacrifice their work schedules.

UMC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and is a member of the North Central Association (NCA).

Score: 91.52
Student-teacher ratio: 16:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: California

California Baptist University's online programs offer a well-rounded curriculum for bachelor's degree students seeking careers in information technology and web design by preparing them for work in any number of capacities -- from managing a network to developing webpages. With a rigorous curriculum that connects its students to experienced mentors in these fields, CBU's online programs in these computer science fields help students transition from theory to real-world applications.

The computer information technology degree plans out coursework for students with a focus on a dynamic learning strategy. Through innovative problem solving, intense discussion, and critical thinking, the program engages students in the areas of programming, security, networking, design, and information management. Grounded in technology, the coursework encourages students to apply theory to practical projects.

The bachelor's in graphic design and digital media is designed to cater to aspiring professionals in the fields of graphic design, web design, and video animation, and offers a fluid skill-set to help fit into the ever-evolving digital world. Students build portfolios through hands-on coursework covering the major elements of design and media and branching into the necessary technologies and principles in the field.

Score: 91.47
Student-teacher ratio: 15:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Pennsylvania

Robert Morris University has an interest in online education that extends into computer science. RMU Online offers an undergraduate degree in cyber forensics and information security focused on ways to combat identity theft, corporate theft and cyber terrorism. Studies for this fully online bachelor's degree program could cover:

  • The use of computer forensic software tools and techniques
  • Legal procedures for obtaining, analyzing and reporting digital forensic evidence
  • Legal issues within technology, such as computer crime, privacy and intellectual property
  • Techniques for preventing attacks on networks
  • Measures for minimizing damage done by cyber criminals

The 126-hour curriculum consists of courses for the major, RMU core liberal arts requirements, electives and an area of interest within the field of information systems. The requirements of the major fall into two main disciplines, technology and criminology. The former includes programming languages, operating systems, computer forensics, project management, and systems analysis and design, while the latter deals with criminal law, cyberlaw, digital evidence analysis, IT security, control and assurance, network forensics, intrusion detection and response.

This web-based program utilizes instructional technologies including Blackboard Learn. In case of questions about the digital learning platform, students have access to an online support team seven days a week via email.

Score: 91.32
Student-teacher ratio: 15:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: North Carolina

The University of North Carolina Pembroke is a public, liberal arts university that offers online degree programs for distance learners. UNCP has a bachelor's degree completion program in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in applied information technology.

The online bachelor's program emphasizes areas including applied computer science, programming, communication and management. A variety of courses, such as operations management, statistics and project management, are designed to help professionals make data-driven decisions. The online bachelor's program in applied IT consists of:

  • 44 hours of general education
  • 30 hours in core requirements
  • 15 hours in track requirements
  • 30 hours awarded for a student's associate degree in applied science or applied arts
  • 3 credit hours of electives

The program requires completion of courses with a GPA of 2.0 or higher. While UNCP advises candidates to request transfer credits for as many general education courses as possible, there are limits to the number of transfer credits allowed. In addition, a certain number of courses for the major must be taken from UNC Pembroke.

UNCP also has a variety of standalone courses available online. The school uses the Blackboard Course Management System to give distance learners 24/7 access to their required course material. The virtual classroom allows students to earn their degrees based on their own schedules.

Score: 91.16
Student-teacher ratio: 18:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: New York

Mercy College offers online bachelor's degree programs in computer information systems, computer science, and cybersecurity for IT professionals or nontraditional students looking to further their education with a flexible schedule.

B.S. in Computer Information Systems: This degree focuses on how computers are used to solve business problems. It prepares students to work with companies that use computers to keep track of their business, but whose products are not necessarily software or computer devices.

B.S. in Computer Science: This degree is for students who want to learn programming skills, software engineering, computer architecture, operating systems, and computer networking.

B.S. in Cybersecurity: This degree prepares students to design and implement security software and technologies in the government or corporate sector. It also addresses how to provide protection and disaster recovery from cyber attacks for business systems.

In all three online programs, students can transfer up to 75 credits from two-year institutions, and 90 credits from 4-year institutions, with a total of 90 credits combined that can be transferred.

Online classes at Mercy College use the Blackboard Learning Management system to support interactions between professors and students, distribution of course materials, and submission of assignments and assessments. Mercy College offers several online modules to assist students interested in online education. They include a self evaluation to determine if online learning is the right choice, tutorials on online registration and using Blackboard, and information on the online bookstore and library materials.

Score: 91.07
Student-teacher ratio: 14:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Florida

Hodges University offers several technology-focused online bachelor's degrees and certificate programs for busy professionals and traditional college students. Online degree options include cybersecurity and forensics, computer networking, software development and computer information technology, which offers a concentration in networking or software. Majors related to applied computer science include information systems management, digital design and graphics, and information systems business analysis. An undergraduate certificate in eDiscovery and eLitigation is also available.

In addition to online degrees that follow the traditional academic calendar, Hodges students can also choose to earn a degree through a self-paced, subscription-based program. Degrees in the Upower program include software development, digital design and graphics, computer networking and computer information technology. Upower is described as a competency-based approach. Students pay for a six-month subscription and complete as many credit hours as they can within the given time period.

Students access all online classes through the university's portal, where they submit assignments and communicate with their instructors and fellow students. Classes are delivered in an asynchronous format, allowing students the flexibility to complete assignments at any time of the day or night. The same instructors who teach on-campus classes at Hodges also teach the online counterpart.

Score: 91.02
Student-teacher ratio: 24:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Idaho

The mission of BYU-Idaho's online learning community is to create a unique spiritual experience while still providing a high-quality, secular education. Online students can connect through popular social media communities and even access weekly devotionals.

The institution offers three 100% online bachelor's degree programs in the field of computer science: computer information technology, web design and development, and software engineering. Course plans and personal connections with classmates and professors offer online computer science students the opportunity to gain the expertise required in today's computer science professions.

The computer information technology degree consists of 120 course hours, designed so that graduates can enter the workforce able to solve complex IT problems and challenges. Courses include systems analysis, networking, data warehousing, and mobile application development.

Taking an in-depth look into graphic and web design, visual media, information design, and communication research, BYU-Idaho's web design and development degree program allows students the freedom to individualize coursework based on personal and professional goals.

Within the software engineering degree program, students learn to approach the design and development of computing systems based on industry standards. Coursework in computer security, web engineering, object-oriented software, and data structures creates a platform for future employment in the industry.

Score: 91.00
Student-teacher ratio: 13:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Ohio

Franklin University has fully online bachelor's degree programs including computer science, web development, management information sciences, information security, information systems auditing, interactive media design and information technology. The computer science major has a focus on software development used in application or system design. The curriculum covers subjects such as object-oriented development, coding and testing for programmers, computer architecture and so on.

Franklin's online students have access to the traditional resources used by on-campus students including the library, book store, student services and more. Course materials are available to students 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through myFranklin, the university's online learning portal. Students participate in video conferencing, online chat and discussion boards as part of their class requirements, allowing them opportunities for connection and communication similar to those of traditional brick-and-mortar academics.

Online classes are typically delivered asynchronously, meaning students do not have to attend class lectures at a specific time or day. Some classes require synchronous meetings online, and all classes do have specific deadlines and timelines for assignments. A course demo is available for students who want more information before deciding that an online degree is the best option for them.

Score: 90.87
Student-teacher ratio: 19:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: North Carolina

Campbell University's offers two separate paths for an online undergraduate degree in computer science - a Bachelor of Science degree and a Bachelor of Applied Science degree (BAS). Both options move through the same coursework material, but the BAS is open only to students who have already completed an associate degree in the field of computer science. Upon evaluation of transfer credits, the BAS program bypasses many of the lower level core classes and moves straight into the more complex nuts and bolts of computer science. Both the BAS and BS offerings cover information technology management and information technology security.

Campbell's online information technology management program melds the basics of computer science, information technology, management and networking to educate soon-to-be professionals.

The institution's information technology security degree program offers many of the basics of information technology and computer science, but with a focus on the security of data and information. This degree can lead to professions in cyber-crime investigation, web and network security, or corporate security.

The curriculums also focus on the international market, offering distance learners an understanding of how technology grows within the international scope.

Score: 90.80
Student-teacher ratio: 15:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Tennessee

King University offers a fully online bachelor's degree program in information technology for distance students. Students can choose to concentrate in areas related to computer science such as cyber security, network management or programming. Another online degree program targets the application of computer technology in the medical field, focusing on health informatics.

The information technology program is designed for working professionals who have earned some college credits, and who wish to complete their bachelor's degree. Prior to enrolling in this degree program, students must have earned 45 credit hours. These can be from core or elective courses at King University or another accredited institution, or from a previously earned associate degree. Students then complete 48 credit hours within the IT bachelor's program to reach the total of 124 credits needed for graduation. With classes offered at an accelerated schedule, participants can potentially graduate in 16 months.

Classes in King University's online IT program are the same as those in the school's on-campus program. The program covers the technical, business and communication skills used in the field of information technology. The program's focus is on management topics, including project management, problem solving, policy consultation, technology research methods and IT plan development. Students create a portfolio over the course of their program that can be shared with prospective employers to demonstrate their skills.

Score: 90.79
Student-teacher ratio: 19:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Tennessee

APSU's online learning system offers a computer science and information systems bachelor's degree with three possible concentrations: information systems, internet and web technologies and database administration. While some schools create a hybrid classroom-online curriculum, APSU's 100% online coursework appeals to students who need flexibility.

Through the convenience of an online class platform, APSU enables their students to compete in the business world by equipping them with the newest skills and knowledge. The information systems concentration centers on the skills needed to compete for jobs such as systems analyst, applications programmer, technical writer, and network manager. With a future as a data architect, database administrator, or database query writer, APSU's database administration concentration is the path to follow. Students seeking work as webmasters, web page designers, or web server manager should check out the internet and web technology concentration.

The school also offers a web technology minor through its 100% online platform.

APSU encourages applications from transfer students and military personnel by assigning personal admissions counselors who work with students to determine which credits will transfer in. Over 20 elective courses can be satisfied with military credit.

Score: 90.62
Student-teacher ratio: 18:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Georgia

Clayton State University has two options for online learning: traditional distance learning programs for adults and eCore, where students can complete their first two years of classes completely online.

For students looking to complete a technology-based bachelor's degree online, CSU has a bachelor of applied science in technology management program with concentrations in project supervision, aviation administration, and computer networking. Students may also choose a web bachelor of science in information technology (WebBSIT), a collaboration of five University System of Georgia colleges and universities.

Online students access their classes and other resources through a course management system. Here they can view class lectures, participate in discussion forums, submit assignments and view grades. Students also have access to the gamut of resources available to traditional, on-campus learners including the HUB technical assistance, the Galileo library service and its extension GIL Express, academic advising and the SWAN campus web portal.

While the online degree programs and classes are flexible, there are specific due dates for assignments and assessments. Most courses are asynchronous, allowing students to "attend" classes at a time convenient to them. Classes typically do not have on-campus or in-person requirements, but some assessments do require proctoring.

Score: 90.54
Student-teacher ratio: 19:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Michigan

Nearly every type of industry requires well-educated computer science professionals in greater numbers year after year. Baker College strives to fill this need by offering four bachelor degrees online—computer science, information systems, information technology and security and web development.

The Bachelor of Computer Science is designed for students who want to pursue careers in:

  • Computer science
  • Database technology
  • Game software development
  • Mobile application software engineering

Computer science students become familiar with a range of different theories and techniques. Database technology involves troubleshooting, updating, and fine-tuning databases and can deal with anything from medical patients’ records to commercial customer orders. Game software development professionals learn to apply creativity and practical programming skills to the design, storyline, and UX of a gaming experience. Students studying mobile application software engineering learn to create the software and systems that run mobile devices.

The Bachelor of information systems is suitable for students seeking occupations in either information systems or project management and planning. They gain a broad view of the information technology field, including leadership, business, and communication.

A three-week online orientation introduces new students to everything they need to know about their online degree programs. All classes are delivered fully online in six-week quarters and accessed at each student’s convenience.

Score: 90.50
Student-teacher ratio: 12:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: New Jersey

Students interested in the security aspects of computer technology can earn an online bachelor's degree in cybersecurity from Felician College. This degree completion program requires applicants to have an associate degree or a similar level of education. The degree, which has a foundation of core classes in computer science, is also available as a minor, double major or co-major. Students earning a degree in a different field can also earn a certificate in cybersecurity by taking six courses. Within the computer science department, online cybersecurity students are able to take specialty courses in topics like data mining, gaming, cloud computing, principles of robotics and other areas.

Courses are delivered completely online and utilize Pearson's eText for Campus and Pearson LearningStudio. Students access course materials through Felician Online Campus, where they download lectures, participate in discussion threads, submit assignments, and communicate with instructors and fellow electronic learners. Training videos are available to help students familiarize themselves with online learning via mobile technology such as a smart phone. In addition to web-based course work, students typically must take proctored final exams.

Score: 89.89
Student-teacher ratio: 19:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Iowa

The Upper Iowa University is a private institution of higher education that offers a distance education program. The university has 15 center locations throughout the U.S. in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, and Wisconsin. Online students can take up to two courses per term, with over 40 undergraduate courses to choose from.

Undergraduate students can attend the School of Science and Mathematics to obtain a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Information Systems or Information Technology.

  • The Information Systems program is for those interested in learning about the design, delivery, and implementation of computer technologies, systems, and applications. Students will learn how to manage complex systems and provide expert IT support for businesses.
  • The Information Technology program offers broad coverage of computer sciences while supplying students with the hands-on skills and experiences needed to succeed as an IT professional.

Upper Iowa's degree programs in computer science are available online and require 60-61 credits in core coursework. Applicants are required to submit official transcripts from a regionally accredited high school or G.E.D equivalent, a G.P.A minimum of 2.0 or above for any previous college work, and SAT/ACT test scores. There is a $50 application fee.

Upper Iowa University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Score: 89.80
Student-teacher ratio: 24:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: New Hampshire

Southern New Hampshire University offers online computer science programs, with undergraduate degrees in a variety of majors. SNHU delivers studies electronically for fields such as data analytics or game design and development. The online Bachelor of Science in Information Technologies has multiple concentrations:

  • Cybersecurity, including cyberlaw and ethics
  • Database management, including data mining
  • Information technology management
  • Networking and telecommunications
  • Robotics and artificial intelligence
  • Software development, including mobile application design
  • Web design and development, including digital commerce

While the Bachelor of Science in Information Technologies has a technical focus, the online Bachelor of Arts degree in the same discipline examines the impact of technology on society. The SNHU online BA degree program in game design and development explores interactive storytelling and the supporting arts. Other undergraduate degrees analyze the application of computer science in different professions, for example, accounting information systems, health information management, or business studies emphasizing computer information technology.

SNHU Online provides access to various resources at any time of the day. Students can shop at the virtual bookstore and use tech support 24/7. After enrollment, program participants gain access to the web-based resources of Shapiro Library, including checkout privileges, copies of articles from the library’s print collection and research help.

Score: 89.73
Student-teacher ratio: 41:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Utah

The College of Information Technology administers Western Governors University's computer science bachelor degree programs. Specific computer science degrees conferred by the university are the Bachelor of Science in Information Technology, Bachelor of Science in Information Technology-Network Administration, Bachelor of Science in Information Technology-Security and Bachelor of Science in Information Technology-Software. There is also the Bachelor of Science in Information Technology-Health Informatics, Bachelor of Science in Information Technology-Business Technology Management and the Bachelor of Science in Software Development.

Graduation criteria generally requires that students earn 122 credits. Adults taking online courses should expect to spend about 15 hours a week per course to complete assignments and to study. If students already have an associate's degree in computer science, they can meet graduation requirements within two to two and a half years. It takes freshmen between four and five years to graduate. The programs cover core courses such as:

  • Network Fundamentals
  • IT Applications
  • Database Fundamentals
  • Operating Systems
  • Data Structures and Object Oriented Design

Resources that Western Governors University provides distance learners include access to the Microsoft IT Academy, student portal, mentor, web based tutorials and video conferencing. Other tools include online student communities, digital simulators, and campus email.

A high school diploma or GED is required to graduate. Minimum age accepted for applicants is 16 years old. Applicants must also interview with an enrollment counselor before they are accepted into the university.

Score: 89.67
Student-teacher ratio: 12:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Maryland

At Capitol College, there are seven online bachelor's degree programs available within the field of computer science:

  • Computer Engineering: Designing the technology of the future, these bachelor's degree students can specialize in microcontroller system development, programmable logic architectures, or computer design.
  • Computer Engineering Technology: While the computer engineering degree covers technology, these students gain a balance of hardware and software.
  • Computer Science: As a survey of technology education, this program deals with hardware, software, networking, databases, and analytics.
  • Cyber and Information Security: With technology as a cornerstone of modern society and digital crimes on the rise, this degree program educates students on how to secure precious data.
  • Management of Information Technology: Bringing a balance of business and technology, this program strives to equip students with skills to bridge the gap between tech and industry.
  • Software Engineering: From ATM machines to cell phones to air-traffic controls, these students learn to create the software which runs the world.
  • Web Development: With the belief that the Internet touches every part of modern life, students will gain in-depth knowledge about websites, network security, database management, and computer programming.
Score: 89.52
Student-teacher ratio: 18:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Maryland

The University of Maryland – University College offers an extensive variety of online computer science programs. These programs allow students to remotely earn their bachelor's degree in the computer-related major of their choice. Additional perks to the UMUC online program include:

  • Academic and career advising
  • Access to an online library
  • Online writing feedback
  • 24-hour tech support
  • Tutoring and mentoring
  • Job search assistance

The standard computer science program will empower students to apply logic and mathematics to the design, development, and verification of high-performance computing systems. The more specialized major in Computer Networks and Security will allow graduates to design, implement, and administer wide-ranging networks to satisfy organizational goals. UMUC also offers an Information Systems Management program, developing students' abilities to oversee the process of designing and implementing high-performance information systems.

UMUC offers other highly focused computer science majors. Software Development and Security gives graduates the skills they need for a successful career in secure programming and application security, involving multiple programming languages and relational databases. A major in Cybersecurity trains future professionals in the protection of data assets, with techniques, policies, operational procedures and technologies to thwart attacks on information systems.

Score: 89.41
Student-teacher ratio: 16:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Kansas

Washburn University's online computer science bachelor degree programs are administered through the school's Computer Information Sciences Department. The school offers two computer science programs: a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Information Science.

Both degrees require students to complete 124 credit hours of coursework. Core courses associated with the curriculums include:

  • Contemporary Programming Methods
  • Database Management Systems
  • Introduction to Structured Programming
  • Computational Intelligence
  • Networked Systems

Students at Washburn are required to complete a capstone project and a seminar. They must also take English, mathematics, social science courses, general education humanities, and one foreign language in order to graduate.

Applicants need a high school diploma or GED. High school GPAs affect accepted college entrance exam scores. For example, if a student has a 3.0 high school GPA, that student would need to earn at least a 16-18 on their ACT exams. Students transferring from other accredited colleges or universities need at least a 2.0 GPA.

Washburn delivers its online programs through MyWashburn, where new online computer science students will complete orientation. Via MyWashburn, students will also have access to their courses and assignments. Other tools that Washburn University uses to deliver distance learning degree programs include Desire2Learn, StudyMate, and Respondus. Information technology specialists are available to assist students should they have difficulty logging into online tools.

Score: 89.38
Student-teacher ratio: 20:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Oregon

The Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech) offers an online bachelor's degree in Information Technology. While many participants are IT professionals looking for career advancement, the program is open to college freshmen as well.

Online learners can specialize in applications development, business/systems analysis, or health informatics. While most of the coursework is the same between specializations, each offers several unique courses, including:

  • Applications development: comprehensive languages, advanced database applications programming
  • Business/systems analysis: current topics in information technology, Lean/Six Sigma management
  • Health informatics: health care systems and policy, total quality in health care

Transfer credits are accepted from other accredited institutions, and often serve as the foundation or core courses needed for the degree. Transfer students then take specialized classes in IT at Oregon Tech. Online students may also take all of their courses at Oregon Tech, including core curriculum.

Most online classes at Oregon Tech are asynchronous, so students can participate and complete coursework at any time that they choose. Some classes also use the Collaborate web conferencing program to allow live help and office hours chosen by the professor. These sessions are typically optional and may be recorded so that students can review them if unable to attend live.

Score: 89.29
Student-teacher ratio: 17:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Georgia

Online students can earn a Bachelor of Science degree in information technology at Columbus State University. Students gain hands-on experience, application, and theory to begin or further their careers in the technology field.

The 123-credit degree is delivered completely online through CougarVIEW, CSU's online course management system. Here, students can access course materials, supplemental readings, discussion threads and communicate with instructors and peers.

Online classes at CSU follow the same term schedule as traditional on-campus programs and are the same length as regular classes. The online bachelor's in information technology is approved for learners in all 50 states. Potential students who are unsure about whether online learning is right for them can take the SmarterMeasure assessment, which gauges one's readiness for distance learning.

Score: 89.12
Student-teacher ratio: 11:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Michigan

Located near Detroit, Lawrence Technological University was the brainchild of Henry and Edsel Ford who helped found the school more than 80 years ago in a former Model T factory. Today, it is recognized for programs in engineering, science, applied technology and architecture. Of course, students don't need to live near Detroit to take advantage of Lawrence Tech's programs. In 2006, the university began placing some of its degree programs online, and Lawrence Tech Online now offers 11 undergraduate and graduate degree choices.

The school's online Bachelor of Science in Information Technology is a degree completion program for those who have an associate degree in IT or a related field, or have achieved junior level status in an IT program. The degree is available in three concentrations:

  • Systems design
  • Infrastructure
  • Software applications

Students can expect 27 credits of focused electives as well as 15 credits of general electives. Coursework includes project management, systems analysis, database design and information systems analysis among other subjects.

While content delivery is asynchronous, allowing students to work on courses at any time, Lawrence Tech recommends individuals log in at least once a day. Classes may include 15 minutes of lectures, and online students should expect to participate in at least one group project as part of their degree program.

Score: 89.06
Student-teacher ratio: 23:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Florida

As a part of the Florida College System, Indian River State College has spent the last 50 years working to making higher education more accessible. It is one of only 13 schools nationwide selected to participate in the Achieving the Dream program, which seeks to increase the number of students receiving a post-secondary education.

While Indian River State College offers more than 150 degree and diploma programs, only a small number are currently available online through the school's virtual campus. For those interested in computer science, there is an online bachelor's degree in information technology management and cyber security. This degree completion program has specific prerequisites, and students must have already earned their associate degree before applying. The two-year completion program includes the following courses among others:

  • A+ Certification Training
  • C++ Programming
  • Advanced Operating Systems UNIX/Linux
  • Systems Analysis and Design
  • Network Security & Cryptography

Indian River State College offers fall and spring semesters as well as two summer sessions. Online students work through the Blackboard Learning Management System, which can be accessed through the college website. The system provides course materials, grades, discussion boards, quizzes and more. Online courses are nationally certified by the organization Quality Matters.

Score: 88.78
Student-teacher ratio: 26:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Florida

Daytona State College offers two technology-related online offerings as part of its 2 + 2 model for degree completion programs. The prerequisite for these bachelor's degree programs is an associate degree with a GPA of 2.5 or an equivalent level of education. An online bachelor's degree is available in information technology, with courses in subjects such as network security, digital forensics, databases, programming, information systems, operating systems and web systems.

An online degree completion program in engineering technology has an optional emphasis on electrical engineering, which covers topics such as microprocessors, photonics, lasers, digital circuits, computers and programmable logic controllers. The university also has certificate programs including computer programming, information technology administration, web development and cybersecurity.

Students can complete online programs at Daytona State with few to no campus visits, depending on the course. They access learning materials through Falcon Online, Daytona State's learning management system. This is where they communicate with instructors and fellow students, download course content and supplemental reading materials, submit assignments and access student support resources.

Daytona State's online programs are designed for non-traditional students, who should expect to display the responsibility needed for self-paced studies. Online students have access to additional resources to help them throughout their program, including online library access, tutoring and academic support, counseling and advisement, and other support programs.

Score: 88.77
Student-teacher ratio: 17:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Ohio

As one of eight campus locations, Kent State University at East Liverpool is part of one of the nation's largest regional higher education systems. Students in East Liverpool have access to Kent State Online, the university's virtual campus. Individuals interested in online studies in computer science can inquire about the Bachelor of Technical and Applied Studies degree. The degree is available as a generalist credential or in the following concentrations:

  • Computer Technology Application Development
  • Computer Technology Applied Computer Security and Forensics Technology
  • Computer Technology Internet/Multimedia
  • Computer Technology Networking

Courses are scheduled on a semester basis with fall and spring start-times. There are two shorter summer learning sessions as well. The bachelor's degree in technical and applied studies requires a minimum GPA of 2.0 for 120 credit hours, of which 36 hours are dedicated to university core requirements. Beyond the required capstone course, subjects for the major include applications of technology management software, organizational communication and technical writing.

Kent State Online uses the Blackboard Learn system to administer online classes. The web-based system works with Firefox, Safari and Chrome browsers while Blackboard Collaborate is intended for use on mobile devices, too.

Score: 88.06
Student-teacher ratio: 14:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Delaware

Wilmington University offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer and Network Security for undergraduate computer science majors. Graduates of the program possess skills to track and avoid malware, perform computer and network security functions, work with encryption technology and assess potential threats including corporate fraud and data breaches. Jobs that graduates could fill include security analyst, security administrator and certified information system auditor.

Minimum grade allowed per course is a C-. Students who earn below a C- in a course must retake it. A total of 120 credits are necessary to complete the program. Up to six credits can be completed via a co-op assignment.

Curriculum includes:

  • Introduction to Computer Hardware and Operation
  • Operating System and Computer Systems Security
  • Advanced Network Management
  • Protecting Your Network Firewall and Perimeter Security
  • Introduction to Programming with Python

Up to 75 credits could be transferred from another accredited college or university. Freshmen must have a high school diploma or GED. Online support services include WilmU Online, Blackboard, Navigator and online tutoring.

Score: 87.56
Student-teacher ratio: 11:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: California

National University offers online bachelor's degrees in digital media design, computer science, information systems, and information technology management.

The digital media design degree is a Bachelor of Arts program that focuses on digital entertainment, interactive design, and game projection. Students learn to create interactive content including custom graphics, animation, audio, and video elements.

The computer science degree is a Bachelor of Science program. Course content centers on object oriented programming, operating systems, software engineering, computer communication networks, and more. Both technical and design skills are emphasized as important elements of a successful IT career.

The information systems degree is a Bachelor of Science program that focuses on the connection between business and technology. Students learn how to implement information systems in a variety of fields, including health care and criminal justice.

The information technology management degree is a Bachelor of Science program that combines technology expertise with business and management principles such as consulting, marketing, and customer support. Graduates can find careers in information desktop management and administration; database management systems development, administration, and support; and network management and support.

These programs are fully online, with no on-campus time required. Distance learners at National University can also complete a minor online in computer science, information technology, or technology.

Score: 87.31
Student-teacher ratio: 13:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Pennsylvania

At Penn State University's World Campus there are two online bachelor's degree programs available for IT professionals: a Bachelor of Science in Information Sciences and Technology, and a Bachelor of Science in Security and Risk Analysis, Information and Cyber Security Option.

Information Sciences and Technology: This degree is designed both for working IT professionals and for career changes who do not have an IT background. Students can choose to specialize in Information Technology: Integration and Application to learn more about how to support organizational functions, project management, and teamwork through the use of IT.

Security and Risk Analysis, Information and Cyber Security Option: This degree teaches students how to design secure systems, analyze risk, and mitigate and manage cyber attacks. It is designed for working or aspiring professionals in data security, cyber intelligence, cyber crime prevention, and related fields.

All courses in these programs are asynchronous. Students can participate and review course materials at any time, without logging in at a specific day or time. Online tools used to facilitate learning include chat, video conferencing, phone calls, email, social media, and bulletin boards. Each course begins with a detailed syllabus of assignments and course material, so students are able to plan their work and study schedules with advance notice.

After graduating, students of Penn State's World Campus receive the same degree as Penn State's on-campus students, with no indication that the degree was earned online.

Score: 87.21
Student-teacher ratio: 23:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Georgia

Middle Georgia State College (MGA) offers a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology program that can be completed fully online.

Classes for the IT bachelor's program cover a variety of areas, including core classes in English, history, and science, and major-related courses such as application development, networking essentials, and web development. All IT-related courses are given by MGA, while core classes may be offered by MGA or other schools in the University System of Georgia. All courses in Middle Georgia State's online program follow the same curriculum and have the same rigor as on-campus classes.

Students can choose to concentrate in the following areas:

  • Information Assurance and Security
  • Network Technology and Administration
  • Software Development
  • Gaming Design and Development
  • Integrated Digital Media Design
  • Digital Forensics

The program is 120 credit hours, composed mostly of three-credit courses. Students can take up to 18 credits each semester; however, a more typical course load for a full-time student is 15-16 credits for the Fall or Spring semester and 6-8 credits for the Summer semester. Up to 40 credit hours can be earned by the successful completion of the CLEP and DSST exams, and credits can be transferred from other accredited institutions.

Score: 84.08
Student-teacher ratio: 12:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: California

Brandman University's online degree programs blend live professors and archived content for a learning experience that is both functional and flexible for students. The computing technology bachelor's programs focus on the latest knowledge and practices offering students an education that they can apply to real-world business situations. Brandman's online degree programs rely heavily on the basics of business world skills: effective written and oral communication, probability and data analysis, and technology problem solving.

The online Bachelor of Science in Computing Technology is offered in three degree concentrations: business systems administration, information technology and project management.

Students pursuing the business systems administration specialization learn to create, evaluate, and facilitate network systems, keeping digital security in the forefront. Information technology students hold to professional ethics and standards while understanding and communicating the economic impact on informational technology. The project management concentration focuses on designing, creating and managing computing technology projects through quality assurance and project management skills.

Students in all three concentrations take courses that include macroeconomics, statistics, leadership, and team building.

Score: 82.90
Student-teacher ratio: 23:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Oregon

Oregon State University – Cascades (OSU)'s Ecampus offers many online degree programs, including a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. This is a post-baccalaureate program for students who already hold a bachelor's degree and would like to earn another in computer science.

Since all program participants have completed their first bachelor's degree already, there are no required core courses in this program. Unlike a traditional bachelor's degree, all coursework in this 60 credit online program is centered on computer science. The program can be completed in one year for full-time, non-working students. Working professionals are urged to spread out their classes on a two- or three-year track.

The program covers all of the fundamental topics of computer science, including programming, software engineering, computer systems and networking, databases, usability, and mobile and web development.

Students can begin the program in the summer, fall, winter, or spring semesters. Upon graduation, students receive the same diploma as their on-campus peers, with no indication that the degree was earned online.

OSU offers an Ecampus course demo online for students interested in pursuing a degree via distance education. Other services for online students include remote access to OSU libraries, counseling, the OSU computer helpdesk, free tutoring, disability access services, and career services.

Score: 82.52
Student-teacher ratio: 20:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: New Jersey

Thomas Edison State College – an institution designed for adults – offers online programs for those interested in computer science and information technology. Students access classes through the myEdison online course management system, exclusive to TESC. The courses are guided by mentors across a 12-week timeline, culminating in a proctored final exam at a location near the student. Each course requires students to log in a certain number of times per week (three on average). TESC offers alternatives to traditional class time for earning credits through selected technical certifications, testing, courses at other regionally accredited institutions or Prior Learning Assessment (PLA).

Thomas Edison State College's online degrees in the field of computers and technology include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Applied Science and Technology degree in Information Technology
  • Bachelor of Science in Applied Science and Technology degree in Electronic Systems Engineering Technology

The information technology degree targets the skills and knowledge needed in various computer-related professions. In a curriculum that totals 120 credits, the required courses include computer architecture, C++ programming, data structures, operating systems, database management, software engineering, network technology, management information systems and project management. The corollary requirements cover subjects such as college algebra, statistics, chemistry or physics, and an introduction to computers.

Score: 80.05
Student-teacher ratio: 26:1
Career Counseling: Yes
State: Colorado

Colorado State University's Global Campus offers several completely online bachelor's degrees, including a degree in management information systems and business analytics. Students with specific career goals can specialize in one of 25 concentrations, including business fundamentals, information technology operations and intelligence, healthcare informatics, cyber security, information technology management, and homeland security.

CSU-Global also offers an online bachelor's degree in information technology. In this program, students gain skills in programming and technology troubleshooting and become highly knowledgeable in various technologies in order to prepare for professional certification exams. Online learners can also add a specialization area to their program. While it is not required, CSU-Global does note that the additional experience is an ideal way to gain an education that is tailored to one's personal interests. The school offers 22 different specializations for its information technology program, including business administration, cyber security, and data management and analysis.

All of CSU-Global's classes are fully online, and distance learners have access to all student resources in the CSU system. New terms begin every month for the accelerated 8-week courses, all of which are offered every term. Classes are delivered asynchronously, allowing students to view class materials at any time of the day or night. Tutors are also available 24 hours a day and global students receive career services to help find employment after graduation.

About the Author

Michael Hoffman A graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara College of Law, Michael Hoffman nurtured his love for research and writing while a practicing attorney in Los Angeles. Now a freelance journalist, Michael researches and writes on a variety of college and career-related topics, including public health, law and computer science.

Expert Sources & Partners

Walker M. White, PhD. Director of the Game Design Initiative at Cornell

Department of Computer Science

Cornell University
Frank Pfenning, PhD. President’s Professor of Computer Science

Head, Department of Computer Science

Carnegie Mellon University
Wei Zhang, PhD. Associate Professor

Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering College of Engineering

Ohio State University
Sunil Probhaker, PhD. Professor and Department Head

Department of Computer Science

Purdue University
Ronald A. Metoyer, PhD. Associate Professor

School of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science

Oregon State University
Douglas Hart, PhD. Professor, Information Technology

Chair of the Information Technology Department Program Coordinator for the M.S. in Software Engineering School of Computer & Information Sciences

Regis University
Richard L. Blumenthal, PhD. Professor, Computer Science

Program Coordinator for B.S. in Computer Science College for Professional Studies

Regis University

Why Computer Science?

Computing forms the backbone of high tech and countless other industries, offering computer science students their choice of fast-growing fields to explore. Creative and analytical minds are needed to design and maintain websites, networks and systems ranging from customer portals to corporate intranets to back-end business operations.

Computer science graduates can join today’s thought leaders tackling challenges on the cutting edge of research and technology. Global innovations in commerce, education, entertainment and other domains have created diverse employment opportunities for computing specialists. The extent of academic programs and specializations could result in information overload, so this page takes a structured approach to related degrees and career paths.

CS Degrees by Subject

Computer science covers a wide range of sub-disciplines, each with numerous degree options and career paths available to respective students and graduates. Use the following menu to learn more about one or more of these fantastic CS fields on the rise.

CS Degrees by Level: Where to Start

Before diving into one of the numerous computer science programs, it’s wise to evaluate factors like available time and finances, certainty about future plans, and level of skills and technical experience. Students with questions about career goals, or with a basic knowledge of computing, could pursue an associate degree at a community college or other institution. Those with a clear plan for the future often opt for a four-year degree program. A bachelor’s degree could lead to a wide variety of technical roles, as shown below, or to further studies.

Graduate programs in computer science and related subjects groom students for highly technical fields that combine disciplines, as in health informatics. A growing trend toward professional specialization creates in-depth programs such as a master’s degree in statistical computing with an emphasis in data mining. Certain positions require doctorates, for example, teaching and research in four-year colleges and universities.

Computer science grads can consider in-demand occupations like the following. These top professions are listed with typical qualifications and degrees that employers prefer. Also shown are 2013 salaries, calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with the job growth projected for 2012-2022. This list can serve as a launch pad for research into these careers.

Associate Degree (2+ Years)

Two-year degree programs in computer science attract students who are seeking a fast track into the workforce, planning to transfer to four-year colleges or exploring different specializations in order to clarify their goals. The community college curriculum introduces workhorse programming languages like C, with options to study the development of mobile and web-based applications. Students also gain a technical foundation for a user support role, one of the expanding occupations discussed below (ordered by expected growth rate).

Web Developer

Salary range: $33,320 – $110,350
Growth rate: 20%

Web developers build Internet sites for online retail, enterprise operations, non-profit groups, social media and more. Websites serve as e-business cards for partners and clients and digital storefronts for customers. Using tools such as HTML, XML, JavaScript and Cascading Style Sheets, developers create the code underlying a website, considering visual appearance, site architecture, usability and performance. Web designers work with management, sales, marketing, public relations and other departments.

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Computer Support Specialist

Salary range: $29,260 – $86,110M
Growth rate: 17%

Support specialists offer high-tech trouble-shooting in a range of different environments, from government agencies to industries like telecommunications and computer manufacturing. User support specialists provide customer service for the public, often from call centers, or work in a company’s information technology (IT) department helping other employees. Computer network support specialists focus on issues with data and communications networks.

Social Science Research Assistant

Salary range: $18,250 – $67,780
Growth rate: 15%

Research assistants harness their knowledge of computer science and statistics to make sense of huge amounts of information. From surveys or lab projects, they gather, analyze and manage scientific data. They work with social scientists in research and development settings or academic environments, as paid staff rather than student assistants.

Post-Secondary Vocational Education Instructor

Salary range: $27,940 – $85,120
Growth rate: 12%

Working in public and private institutions, these technical educators provide career training at a level above high school but below bachelor’s degree studies. Some occupational education instructors have professional experience in addition to a two-year degree, for example, an A.S. in computer system engineering technology. Qualifications for teachers vary by subject, school and state.

Computer Programmer

Salary range: $43,640 – $123,490
Growth rate: 8%

Coders use their familiarity with programming languages to transform software designs into computer-readable instructions. For some employers, the level of education matters less than skill and specialized knowledge. Programming talent is sought after in industries like software publishing, health care and insurance. Programmers work alone or in teams, often communicating electronically with remote colleagues.

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Bachelor’s Degree (4+ Years)

Four-year degree programs cover the application of mathematical and algorithmic theories and principles in the design of electronic systems, components and software programs. Students on the baccalaureate track often have a goal in mind, whether it’s a rewarding career or advanced studies at the graduate level. A bachelor’s degree represents the minimum qualification for several occupations related to computer science, but each field has its own requirements. For example, a graduate interested in geographic information systems might need a specialized certificate. For management and high-level roles, employers frequently look for work experience in addition to a degree. Explore the following careers available to bachelor’s degree students in CS.

Computer Systems Analyst

Salary range: $50,290 – $125,460
Growth rate: 25%

Computer systems analysis zeroes in on the information technology (IT) used by a specific organization. Analysts take into account factors such as user requirements, workflow and IT capabilities. After evaluating the existing technical infrastructure, analysts suggest efficiencies and improvements. This occupation requires an understanding of a specific field like banking or health information management. Analysts work with managers and IT departments, and they may also train employees on new systems.

Applications Software Developer

Salary range: $55,770 – $143,540
Growth rate: 23%

Software developers invent applications targeting specific purposes, from online marketplaces to entertainment apps for mobile devices. Applications range from the small scale to the enormous, as in databases constructed to meet the needs of specific companies. Some developers need not only in-depth familiarity with programming languages but also knowledge of an industry and its operations, for example, financial transactions or health informatics.

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Systems Software Developer

Salary range: $63,140 – $150,760
Growth rate: 20%

Systems software designers generally find employment with computer and electronics manufacturers, working on teams to develop new technology. The products in development include operating systems for uses ranging from computers to smartphones to cars. These developers may also invent a system’s interface, such as a graphical user interface that permits a human to control a computer.

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Computer & Information Systems Manager

Salary range:$76,420 – $156,560+
Growth rate:15%

Computer science leadership positions range from top-level executives to technical supervisors who oversee day-to-day work in the trenches. Entry-level managers may provide guidance for teams of hardware engineers or software developers, while project managers work with technical and non-technical staff. Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) manage the computing infrastructure for giant corporations. A bachelor’s degree can lay the groundwork for managerial ambitions, along with experience.

Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Salary range: $45,270 – $117,150
Growth rate: 12%

Network administrators manage communications networks, while system administrators keep an organization’s IT infrastructure running smoothly and securely. Sys admins are in charge of equipment ranging from servers to desktop workstations to mobile devices. Admins work with IT managers and staff, computer network architects and other employees. Some companies outsource data storage networks to cloud service providers, but admins are still needed in broad-ranging industries. In addition to computer science, students interested in this occupation can take subjects like computer engineering or electrical engineering, computer networking and systems design.

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MASTER’s Degree (6+ Years)

Master’s degree programs appeal to students aiming at professional goals as well as those preparing for doctoral programs. The curriculum at each school varies, but one online master’s program includes computer architecture, database management, parallel processing, information security and software design specifications. The added skills and knowledge gained through graduate studies may enable quicker entry into advanced technical positions or business analyst roles like those described below.

Market Research Analyst

Salary range: $33,490 – $114,250
Growth rate: 32%

Market research analysts use sophisticated statistical methods to advise companies on marketing and business plans. They evaluate data on consumer trends and competitor strategies to devise proposals for introducing and pricing new products. Analysts share ideas with clients and managers, and they may also gather opinions from the public. A computer science degree is common in this data-focused field, and a master’s degree is often preferable for higher-level positions.

Operations Research Analyst

Salary range: $42,070 – $130,210
Growth rate: 27%

Operations research analysts help executives and management solve problems and create data-driven strategies in fields like finance, government and manufacturing logistics. They often work with a multidisciplinary team of industry specialists. Analysts take advantage of quantitative methods, statistical software programs and data modeling packages to monitor an organization’s processes and find potential improvements. Many applicants for this specialty have a master’s degree in a subject such as computer science.

Computer Network Architect

Salary range: $53,920 – $145,700
Growth rate: 15%

Network engineers and architects create blueprints for data communication networks, and they design patches for existing infrastructure in response to security threats. Network architects analyze usage to predict organizational needs, often working with managers and CTOs. Given the extensive knowledge involved, employers require at least a bachelor’s degree and may prefer graduate studies in business information systems.

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Database Administrator

Salary range: $43,720 – $120,990
Growth rate: 15%

Database administrators (DBAs) manage vast amounts of data collected in different industries, such as banking transactions, retail chains’ customer records or medical clinics’ patient insurance information. To maintain database performance and security, DBAs rely on their study of information assurance and data warehousing. Some work with management and IT staff to develop new databases. As organizations trend toward “big data” they may prefer DBAs with a specialized master’s degree, according to the BLS.

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High School Computer Science Teacher

Salary range: $37,230 – $86,720
Growth rate: 6%

Computer science teachers prepare lesson plans and practical exercises to instruct students in computing theories as well as the use of computer software applications. High school teachers spend time not only with students but also fellow teachers and school administrators. Employment at public schools requires studies beyond a bachelor’s degree: depending on the state, teachers need post-graduate training resulting in a license or a single subject credential to teach computer science at the secondary level.

PHD Degree (8+ Years)

PhD programs in computer science lead to a terminal degree, the highest available degree in this discipline. Doctoral candidates gain in-depth research skills through writing and defending an original dissertation in an area of their choice. The broad scope of PhD studies could include computational theory, distributed operating systems, cryptography, software engineering, compiler design and construction, interactive computer graphics, web search engines and more. Applicants for these intensive programs are driven by dreams of a college professorship or a position conducting advanced research.

Information Security Analyst

Salary range: $50,430-$138,780
Growth rate: 37%

In a networked world, these professionals play an important role in protecting organizations. They examine existing IT systems and propose security measures, including fixes for vulnerabilities. In industries like finance and cloud computing services, they serve as in-house staff or consultants. Security analysts cooperate with network administrators and computer systems analysts, and they often report directly to CTOs or IT managers. Due to the wide-ranging expertise needed, some employers opt for candidates with graduate degrees.

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Geoscientist

Salary range:$48,890 – $187,199
Growth rate: 16%

Geoscience, the study of the earth’s physical elements, uses advanced technology like computer modeling, data analysis and digital mapping. Geoscientists depend on specialized software packages as they perform field work and lab research, and computer science grads who also study geology can aim for this profession. Working in industries such as government or oil and gas extraction, these scientists share their research with clients and coworkers.

Computer & Information Research Scientist

Salary range: $61,300 – $158,800
Growth rate: 15%

In fields such as business, medicine and science, computer and information research scientists use computing to analyze and solve problems. They improve on current technologies or develop innovative computer algorithms to address specific needs. Many work for the government, hardware and software design firms, academic institutions or R&D labs, where they team up with other experts in their area of research.

Data Mining Specialist

Salary range: $61,300 – $158,800
Growth rate: 15%

Working with massive datasets, these information scientists leverage their academic background in computational statistics. To meet requests from management, they design algorithms and software for data analysis in specific environments. They propose data-supported strategies in areas like public policy, science, business intelligence and medical information management.

Post-Secondary Computer Science Teacher

Salary range: $37,190 – $137,810
Growth rate: 13%

Post-secondary computer science instructors develop class plans and materials to teach the theoretical and practical applications of this discipline. Additional responsibilities often include research and academic publishing. Most of these teachers work at colleges and universities, with a smaller number employed at community colleges and trade schools. College professors regularly interact with students, teaching assistants, department colleagues and administrators.

When Online Learning Makes Sense

As individuals spend more time with on-screen and dual-screen activities, the Internet becomes a logical environment for education as well. Sharing information online comes naturally to most computer science students, and if not, it’s a vital skill to master. Web literacy is a hiring criterion in many industries dependent on networking for their outward-facing presence and internal communications. Online schools could not exist without technological advances, and they offer students a chance to develop hands-on tech savvy.

Computer science programs cover the same principles, whether delivered online or in the classroom. Online studies investigate object-oriented programming, data structures and discrete mathematics, offering the chance to apply theory in practice through web-based labs. Opportunities for e-learners rival those at brick and mortar colleges, with an array of student support services from online tutoring and career counseling to 24-7 tech support. Distance learning does not imply isolation, as online colleges incorporate social media channels in addition to video-conferencing and chat features.

Online students gain exposure to electronic communications, including the technology and “netiquette” to support remote teamwork. As they interact online with peers and faculty, computer science students learn a key skill for the distributed work groups common in high-tech companies. Web-based computer science programs often put students in contact with professors and classmates in other countries, which can help to develop cross-cultural understanding for an ever-shrinking global economy.

An obvious advantage for online studies pertains to the flexible scheduling compared to on-campus classes. Some accredited online programs in computer science offer short terms of about two months, rather than a full semester, with multiple start dates throughout the year. Certain elements of a program may occur at set times, depending on the mode of content delivery, but other features are accessible when convenient for students. Customized class schedules allow students to plan out a manageable load for academics and other responsibilities. Balancing a part-time job with online studies can serve multiple purposes, reinforcing personal finances and building work experience and a record of successful time management that could impress hiring managers.

Accreditation

Colleges voluntarily obtain accreditation to demonstrate that their academic offerings meet standard benchmarks for the quality of curriculum and instruction. Accrediting agencies operate independently of the government, so students should check that these bodies are approved by the U.S. Department of Education (DoE) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Colleges may have institutional accreditation from regional or national associations as well as accreditation for a specific program, which typically comes from a specialized organization. For example, one PhD program in business administration with an emphasis in information systems holds accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

Computer science programs generally seek accreditation from ABET, an organization recognized by CHEA. At colleges and universities around the world, ABET accredits applied science, computing, engineering and technology programs. Only programs at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree level can apply to ABET. CSAB, a participating member of ABET, plays a central role in the accreditation process for computer science, information systems, software engineering and information technology programs.

Students should examine the accreditation status of any computer science program, whether web-based or traditional. ABET uses the same criteria when evaluating on-campus, online and hybrid degree programs, and it has accredited a select number of fully online programs. Online colleges may also gain accreditation from agencies focused on distance learning, such as the Distance Education and Training Council, which is recognized by the DoE and CHEA.

Finding the Right CS Program

Prospective computer scientists analyze multiple factors that affect the choice of a degree program. Budget and time constraints influence the mode of study they select, for example, online vs. on-campus. Career goals narrow down the search for appropriate programs, whether focused on computer science for research or for applied use in industry.

Once aspiring students compile a short list of colleges, they need to verify accreditation credentials, which relate to potential transfer of credits and eligibility for financial aid. After crunching all this data, it’s time to get human input by interviewing an institution’s current students and admissions counselors. All this effort should be worthwhile when students dive into stimulating class discussions and projects, followed by varied professional opportunities after graduation.

Computer Science Degrees on the Cutting Edge

Computer science never sleeps. No matter which time of day or night, someone, somewhere, is coding a new app, designing a new cloud server, or creating software for the next generation of self-driving automobiles. This continued push for the future makes computer scientists a valuable commodity on the job market, with private and public tech companies always on the look out for today’s (and tomorrow’s) best and brightest. But how do the tech-talented get there? Some follow traditional educational programs, such as database administration or computer networking. Yet more and more students are finding non-traditional degree paths, which continue to open new doors in new disciplines. See which degrees lie on the cutting edge of computer science.

Data Science and Big Data

At or near the top of almost every expert list of cutting edge computer science fields are data science and the closely related subject of big data. Generally speaking, data science relates to the extraction of knowledge from collected data. “Big data” refers to the collection, storage and analysis of extremely large volumes of data, typically on a scale of terabytes (10 to the 12th power) and petabytes (10 to the 15th power). The recent explosion of data science stems from the explosion of data collection and storage. According to the School of Information at the University of California at Berkeley, 90 percent of the world’s data has been created in the last two years.

It’s hard to overestimate the implications of this massive data collection trend. The challenge in the near future and beyond will be to discover the means by which these staggering amounts of data can be processed and converted into real, practical knowledge used to improve the lives of individuals and the world as a whole. Hence, the creation of a brand new breed of CS professional: the data scientist.

“As I see it, there have been three major stages in the history of computer science. The first sixty years, from the 1930′s to the 90′s, were about ‘computers as computers.’ The second stage, from the 90′s to today, were about ‘computers as networks.’ Now, and I project for the next ten years, it will be about ‘computers as data centers,’ that is, about data processes and the ‘big data’ problem.”

- Wei Zhang, Ohio State University

Education

The big data revolution has been so sudden and its effect so large that academia and business have been caught off-guard. The unfortunate result is a problem finding professionals trained to handle and extract knowledge from the rising mountain of collected data. This has led to a mad rush, at least by academic world standards, to fill the education gap. Newly created data science degree programs and courses are appearing at a healthy clip, but not fast enough to keep pace with demand.

Students interested in a future in data science have two primary choices: Enroll in one of the rare degree programs designed specifically for data science, or choose a program in a closely related field (information technology, information analytics or informatics) and focus as much as possible on data science and big data courses. Data science and related major degree programs are available on every level mostly from major universities and a few smaller colleges. Online data science degree options remain limited, but there are some, such as UC Berkeley’s Master of Information and Data Science program.

Job Opportunities

As mentioned, there is a rapidly growing demand for trained data scientists across the employment spectrum. Industries hiring data scientists include business and finance, e-commerce, government, healthcare, telecommunications and social networking. Some of the companies currently hiring data science professionals include Facebook, PayPal, Google, Trulia, Autotegrity, Intuit, McGraw-Hill and Capital One. Job titles in the data science field often contain the word “analytics,” such as chief analytics officer , director of marketing analytics and chief scientist-predictive analytics applications.

Given the newness of the field, salary figures specific to data science can be hard to come by. With the current high demand for data science professionals, graduates with a bachelor’s degree in data science may attract offers at the upper levels of the computer science field. National median annual salaries for computer scientists are currently in the neighborhood of $80,000 to $90,000. Master’s and doctorate degree holders may do even better.

Software Development

Software development may not seem a likely choice for a “cutting edge” computer science list. It’s a broad subject, it’s not exactly a new field, and just about everyone has heard of it. But most of our experts believe there’s a rapidly growing need for new software in all facets of CS, including mobile applications, web programming, software repositories and countless others. Wherever computers become more integrated into the daily activities of human beings, a strong need for software development should be close behind.

Education

While many schools offer certificate and associate degree programs, software developers typically possess, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. On the bachelor’s level, software developers usually earn their degrees in computer science, software engineering or a related subject such as mathematics. Nearly all bachelor’s degree programs require at least four years of full-time study, but some accelerated programs exist, as well. Software development courses lend themselves well to distance education. Public universities and private colleges have extensive collections of programs in software development, both real-time and self-paced in delivery.

Students interested in continuing on to graduate school will find a variety of master’s- and doctorate-level programs. These research-oriented degrees are becoming so popular that a number of prestigious universities have created specific institutes to target this academic niche. For example, Carnegie Mellon University has established an Institute for Software Research within its School of Computer Science.

Typical degree courses in software development may include the following:

  • Software design
  • Software assurance
  • C# development
  • iOS software development
  • Java software development
  • Android software development
  • Graphics programming
Job Opportunities

As you might expect, software engineers and computer programmers are in demand by businesses and other organizations of every type and size, and not just those that fit strictly under the heading of computer technology-related companies. The top employers for software developers, however, remain tech-focused companies with well-recognized names such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Oracle and Microsoft, as well as many that may be less familiar, like Sparc, Kony and Zurple. Remember, though, there are probably thousands of potential employers for skilled software developers.

The range of titles for software development professionals is as broad as the field itself. Common titles that job seekers may encounter:

  • Software developer
  • Software architect
  • Software engineer
  • Computer programmer
  • Application architecture and development consultant

Other more specific titles include computer game developer, systems programmer, e-business software developer, and dozens of others. According to BLS projections, job growth in the field should increase by 22 percent between 2012 and 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. National median annual wages for software developers, systems software in May 2013 were slightly over $100,000, while software developers, applications earned over $92,000 during the same period.

Security and Privacy

You need only turn on the television and watch the evening news to understand the serious nature of security and privacy issues in the virtual world. As stated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security: “Our daily life, economic vitality, and national security depend on a stable, safe, and resilient cyberspace. We rely on this vast array of networks to communicate and travel, power our homes, run our economy, and provide government services.”

The subject of computer security and privacy encompasses issues on every level, from a citizen’s need to protect personal information, such as bank accounts and social affiliations, to national and international macroeconomic and industrial concerns. It is no surprise, then, that our experts have indicated computer security (also known as cyber security or information security) as another of today’s cutting edge computer science fields.

Education

Successful cyber security professionals will likely need to earn at least a bachelor’s degree in cyber security or information security, although some may manage with an associate degree and several years of experience. Those who possess graduate-level education may find more demand for their knowledge and skills, especially those with a doctorate degree.

Degree titles in the field include cyber security, information security, computer forensics and others. For example, Regis University offers a closely related Master of Science in Information Assurance degree. There are several undergraduate and graduate degree programs to choose from, including some available fully online. Certificate programs and computer science degrees with cyber security specializations are also very popular. It is important to make sure that, whatever program is chosen, it’s accredited by a U.S. Department of Education-recognized agency.

Examples of courses for computer security degree programs include:

  • Foundations in Cyber Security
  • Ethics in Information Technology
  • Digital Forensics in the Criminal Justice System
  • Security Policy Analysis
  • Network Security
  • Prevention and Protection Strategies

Students should expect to devote a minimum of four years to the completion of a bachelor’s degree program. Master’s students will commonly add on two additional years of study, while those seeking a doctorate can expect to spend as many as eight years total on their post-secondary education.

Job Opportunities

Computer security and privacy issues arise in every corner of the digital world, and that means information security professionals can be found just about everywhere. Government at all levels, businesses and non-profit organizations need expert advice in securing their data resources. Top employers in computer security include Cisco Systems, BAE Systems PLC, Computer Sciences Corporation, Intel, Lockheed Martin, Symantec, Raytheon, Hewlett-Packard and the National Security Administration.

According to the BLS, salary potential and the job outlook for the computer security field is positive. May 2013 statistics indicate a national median annual salary for information security analysts of $88,590, with some industry sectors (such as finance and insurance) trending higher. Job outlook predictions in the field are strong, with the BLS forecasting 37 percent growth between 2012 and 2022.

“Along with a solid background in mathematics, students need a well-rounded education, including the ability to write well. Also, you need to be a problem solver and be comfortable with not knowing up front the answer to a problem.”

- Ronald A. Metoyer, Oregon State University

Cloud Computing

Remote computing (also referred to as cloud computing) is another upward-trending area of computer science. It’s closely related to data science because it merges elements of other related fields such as IT, networking and wireless communications.

As with other trending fields, the boundaries of the topic are a bit fuzzy and definitions for remote computing vary. “In the cloud” has become a popular term, but what does it actually refer to’ In simple terms, cloud computing relates to increasing the capabilities and capacities of digital consumers by converting computing from a product-based to a service-based technology – in other words, providing computing applications remotely and taking advantage of the consequential economies of scale. Remote computing allows individuals, businesses and other organizations to avoid upfront infrastructure costs and adjust their computing capacities more efficiently to suit their current and ever-changing needs.

Components of remote computing include SaaS, utility computing, web services, managed service providers, Internet integration and many others. As a relatively new cutting edge subject, remote computing’s future is a bit unknown, but it is certain to be an important area of focus going forward.

Education

The selection of specifically designated remote or cloud computing degree programs is relatively limited at this time, although education offerings should grow over the next several years . Students seeking to enter the remote computing field should consider earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science or, if available, one in software engineering. Online undergraduate programs in computer science are somewhat plentiful and offered by public universities and private colleges alike. It is recommended that bachelor’s degree students seek out courses that correspond to the information technology, data science and remote computing fields where possible.

Graduate degree programs with remote or cloud computing majors are also limited today. Some colleges and universities incorporate remote computing into broader degree programs, such as San Jose State University, which offers a Master of Science in software engineering with an emphasis in cloud technology and virtualization. Students may expect to spend the typical four years of full-time study on a bachelor’s degree program and an additional two years to complete a master’s degree. Students considering degrees in the field beyond a master’s will likely opt for a PhD program in computing or information sciences.

Job Opportunities

Although specific statistics regarding remote and cloud computing job opportunities are difficult to come by, a look at the numbers related to computer science and information technology employment may provide a good idea of where cloud computing is heading. National median annual salaries can be expected to fall within the $70,000 to $90,000 range with job growth between 20 and 25 percent over the coming decade, according to the BLS. Top employers for remote and cloud computing professionals include well known companies like Google, Amazon, AT&T and Microsoft, as well as less recognized names like SoftLayer, Rackspace and Salesforce.com. Job titles for remote computing specialists predictably have the word “cloud” in them and include the following:

  • Cloud software engineer
  • Cloud developer
  • Cloud network engineer
  • Cloud product manager

User Interface Design

Just a few decades ago, the only people interacting with computers were information technology professionals and hobbyists (in other words, the original computer geeks). It turns out that those folks were pioneers. Today, of course, humans from every walk of life, employed in every occupation, and enjoying every sort of leisure activity, interact with computing devices.

The continuing challenge of human-computer interaction (HCI) professionals is to develop systems that are “user-friendly” for all types of people, a challenge more difficult than one might first think. The reality is that human beings all think and learn differently – apply different cognitive processes or mental models in interacting with their environment, other individuals and their computers.

Consumers continue to lament that designers and manufacturers of digital devices ignore ease-of use issues. HCI is about much more than simply making computing more user-friendly, however. It’s serious business. Given the all-pervasiveness of digital integration into our daily lives, poor user interface design can, and has, led to all sorts of problems. Nuclear energy and aviation are just two fields where human-computer interaction failure has resulted in disaster. Therefore, user interface design and HCI remains a hot topic within the broader field of computer science.

Education

The education environment for the HCI field is surprisingly robust, with plenty of undergraduate and graduate programs to choose from. Those planning a career in HCI will need to earn, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree in either a broadly designated computer science major or in one of the few undergraduate degree programs directly related to HCI. In most cases, students can wait until their master’s program to specialize in HCI.

Fortunately, HCI graduate degrees are available from many traditional colleges offering both on-campus and online degree programs. For example, Iowa State University offers a Master of Science in Human-Computer Interaction fully online. Other more traditional programs include bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in HCI that can be earned through Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute.

Titles of courses found within some HCI degree programs may include:

  • Computer Graphics and Geometric Modeling
  • 3D Visualization of Scientific Data
  • Cognitive Engineering
  • Advanced Learning Environments Design
  • Design and Ethics

As with most college degree programs, a bachelor’s degree will typically require four years of study, while master’s programs in HCI will add another two years to a college career.

Job Opportunities

Estimates regarding salaries and job outlook for HCI professionals seem to fall in line with those for other cutting edge careers. HCI and UI median annual salaries come in at an estimated $61,000 per year, according to PayScale.com. However, salaries can increase rather significantly with education and experience. For example, user interface engineers, a step above UI designers, earn a reported $76,000 annually.

Companies hiring HCI graduates include Electronic Arts, Apple, Microsoft and a variety of computer game designers and manufacturers. Any company involved in the touch screen, application interface and video game markets is also on the lookout for HCI-skilled workers. HCI-related job titles include:

  • iOS developer
  • Interaction designer
  • UI/UX architect
  • User experience designer
  • Web developer

“The ‘smart grid’ is another hot topic today. The use of data science and information technology in the conservation and efficient production of energy resources will continue to be an important area of interest.”

- Walker White, Cornell University

Robotics

The average citizen may hear the word “robotics” and envision a machine of some kind, vaguely in the shape of a human being in a space suit, awkwardly lumbering along a laboratory corridor. In that case, the average citizen couldn’t be further from the truth.

Robotics, more realistically defined, concerns all types of mechanical or virtual devices that are designed, constructed and used to perform tasks traditionally performed by humans. Robotic machines often employ systems and sensors to mimic the human senses, including sight, sound and touch. Robotic devices are used in any number of industries, particularly those involved in manufacturing. They have also proved to be of tremendous benefit in performing tasks in hazardous situations, such as those involving removal of toxic materials and explosive devices.

Two good examples of current real-world robotic applications are drones and self-driving automobiles. Most people are aware of the revolutionary use of drones in military conflicts around the world. Drones performing work in the civil context, though, is just around the corner. And don’t be surprised if, in the not-too-distant future, the car passing you in the fast lane has an empty driver’s seat.

Education

While a few community colleges and for-profit schools may offer associate degree programs in the field, serious students interested in a career in robotics may wish to seek out and complete at least a bachelor’s degree program. Some students may choose to continue on to graduate school with a possible detour for a few years of work experience in between. Many colleges and universities offer both traditional and distance learning bachelor’s programs in robotics or robotic engineering. However, earning an undergraduate degree in electrical or mechanical engineering, or the more general computer science major, is also acceptable.

If a student intends on furthering his or her education, graduate degrees specializing in robotics should be relatively easy to find. Programs consist, not surprisingly, of a blend of mechanical and electrical engineering courses with computer science classes. Course subject areas include control systems, sensors and navigations systems, robotic simulations and machine learning, with course titles such as Computer Vision, Mechatronics and Autonomous Mobile Robots. Online degree programs can also be located, although many require some on-site course study. Again, not surprising given the tactile nature of the subject.

Job Opportunities

The salary projections and job outlook for robotics engineers depends on how you approach the profession. For instance, the BLS includes robotics engineers under the broader heading of mechanical engineers. From that perspective, one might conclude that job growth for robotics professionals will be sluggish over coming decade with just a 5 percent increase. Other industry experts, however, predict healthier job prospects in the field.

Estimated salaries for robotic engineers also fall somewhere between median annual salaries for mechanical engineers and computer scientists ($80,000 to $90,000).

Businesses hiring robotics-skilled workers include major manufacturers in the auto and aeronautics industries, as well companies like Dyson, Elbit Systems, Autonomous Solutions, Amazon, 3D Robotics, Bosch and Caterpillar. Job titles in the field include:

  • Controls engineer
  • Automation engineer
  • Robotics engineer
  • Electro-mechanical technician

Artificial Intelligence [Machine Learning]

Here’s another subject that was brought up as a separate issue by several of our experts, yet is closely tied to a number of other topics, particularly data science and robotics. Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the theory and practice of computers in the performance of tasks commonly requiring human intelligence like visual perception, speech and language recognition, problem solving, and decision making. AI might be best summed up by the definition of the late computer scientist John McCarthy as “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines.”

This is easier said than done, however. Initial excitement in the early stages of AI were quickly tempered with the realization that computers only know what they have been explicitly told, resulting in “the common sense knowledge problem.”

Machines have not done well in passing what is known as the “Turing Test.” Devised by Alan Turing, often called the “father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence,” the Turing Test questions a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior that is indistinguishable from that of a human. While great strides have been made over the past several years (IBM’s Watson technology, for example), AI still has a long way to go before machines routinely pass the Turing Test and therefore it remains a cutting edge area in computer science.

Education

Professionals in the AI field typically start out by completing a four-year bachelor’s degree program in computer science, information technology or electrical engineering. There are a very limited number of distance learning degree options specifically in AI (one example is a Bachelor of Science in Information Technologies-Robotics and Artificial Intelligence offered by Southern New Hampshire University). Most students interested in AI will proceed on to graduate degree programs, where the AI options are more abundant.

Top schools offering graduate degree programs in AI include MIT, Stanford University, Carnegie Mellon University, Johns Hopkins University, Georgia Tech and others. Virtually all major colleges and universities with computer science programs offer courses in AI, including every one of our expert’s institutions. Common course titles for AI master’s degrees include:

  • Human Computer Interaction
  • Data Mining
  • Natural Language Processing
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computational Intelligence
  • Machine Learning

Master’s degree programs in AI will typically require two to three years of study in addition to the four years typically necessary for earning a bachelor’s degree. Doctorate degree programs in AI are surprisingly few, but where they are available, students should expect to devote anywhere from six to eight years total in their postsecondary education.

Job Opportunities

Jobs in the artificial intelligence field often come with titles that don’t explicitly indicate an AI specialization (like software developer or software engineer), so make sure to read the job description carefully. Others do indicate an AI connection, such as user experience designer, UI programmer and android engineer. Top employers for AI professionals include the usual suspects like Microsoft, Apple and just about any computer game company you can think of. Graduates may also want to contact the companies listed above under in this guide’s robotics section. There’s one other big employer of AI workers: the U.S. government.

The BLS includes AI professionals under the broader heading of computer and information research scientists, for whom job growth estimates come in at 15 percent between 2012 and 2022, slightly under estimates for computer occupations in general, but substantially higher than those for all occupations. National median annual salary estimates for the same group are encouraging at $102,000 for 2012 significantly better than for all computer occupations combined ($76,270).

“Get better at math. A solid foundation in math makes the difference between those students who must continue to take classes in new subjects and those who can learn on their own.”

- Walker White, Cornell University

Scholarships

The majority of scholarship opportunities for students interested in the above-discussed cutting edge subjects can be found under the broad “computer science” heading. There are easily hundreds of need-based and merit-based scholarships offered to computer science and STEM-subject degree seekers, many of which are available to distance learning students. Some of the most popular are listed below: