COMPUTER SCIENCE Online 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.


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.

ScoreStudent/ teacher ratio Financial aidCost more
1 Florida Tech University Online 99.279:1 95%

Florida Tech’s online platform is intended to immerse students in a balance of work, family and school life. The program’s offerings of streaming lectures, online discussions, chat rooms, email between students and faculty, video lectures and online support create chances for students to learn through diverse means. The school’s computer information systems bachelor’s program provides students an opportunity for professional development in theory, design and analysis of operating systems, testing, maintenance and information technology management to prepare them for the constantly changing field of technology. Faculty will equip students with the knowledge they need to understand project management, database administration and electronic commerce.

2 Regis University 98.818:1 98%

Data Sciences, Software Engineering and Databases Technologies are three of the eight graduate-level degrees offered through Regis University Online. The school also has five bachelor degrees that complete the College of Computer and Information Sciences. Most notably, the Bachelor of Science in Business Technology Management is a hybrid course that combines business, information technology and management into one degree. The option of completing the two levels of degrees, bachelor’s and master’s, in tandem is available on a student-by-student basis. Classes begin during the spring, summer and fall terms exclusively. Courses are offered in five and eight-week formats.

3 Northeastern University 98.0213:1 77%

Courses at Northeastern University cover critical technology areas such as traditional programming and programming for the web, networking, database and information security. Students can choose between two different tracks to reach a degree in Bachelor of Science in Information Technology, dependent on prior schooling. The first option can be completed in four years full-time or seven years part-time. Courses are offered in 12 or six-week formats. The second available option is accelerated, meaning that a degree can be earned in 18 months. This fast-track program is offered to students who have completed an associate degree or equivalent credits.

4 Northwood University 97.5612:1 100%

A bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Management is offered at Northwood University. The program is available to transfer students only. As a part of the Adult Degree Program, a Prior Learning Assessment can be requested. The assessment allows an accelerated completion of 30 semester hours to entering students with prior experience and expertise in the field. In addition, course schedules are flexible to accommodate student needs. Dual majors are available and can be completed in four years through compressed sessions that are offered exclusively during the summer or outside the regular semester.

5 Lawrence Technological University 97.3311:1 86%

Lawrence Tech’s online Bachelor of Science in Information Technology completion degree was designed to encourage active student engagement and curriculum flexibility. In addition to the required courses in the major, Tech’s online students can select from among 27 elective credits focused on the degree along with another 15 electives of their choosing in general education. Online degree concentrations in Software Applications, Infrastructure and Systems Design further enable technology students to refine their degree to suit their career aspirations. Online students attend virtual classes and complete assignments using Lawrence Tech’s Blackboard Learn system. LTU has been offering on-campus courses in technology since 1931, and online since 2006.

6 University of Illinois at Springfield 96.0013:1 96%

Two options are open to technologists seeking to gain or extend their industry knowledge, application and design firsthand experience at the University of Illinois at Springfield. Online Bachelor of Science degrees are conferred in Computer Science and Information Systems Security. The school encourages new students to discuss their studies prior to class registration. Two semesters of Java programming are required to graduate. These semesters are part of the degree's overall 120 credit hours. Video is used so that instructors can illustrate computer science procedures to students. Joint agreements that the school has with other colleges allow eligible students to transfer credits to partner schools and complete the degree online or in a classroom environment.

7 Lewis University 95.9613:1 99%

Students at this private Catholic university can complete their Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science through an accelerated online program designed for working adults. The curriculum covers programing, cyber security, networking and problem solving. Students also study how to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to draw insights from big data. One of the program’s most innovative aspects is the Lewis University Computer Science Cloud, or LUCSCloud. The cloud allows students to access virtual machines online, at any time, so they can gain hands-on experience without having to attend a lab. Courses are eight weeks long, with small, highly interactive classes.

8 Liberty University 95.1718:1 95%

Liberty University’s online Bachelor of Science degree programs in Information Technology and in Information Systems prepare students for a broad range of specializations in the field. The online Bachelor of Science in Information Systems allows students to focus their undergraduate education on one of six specializations including accounting information systems, data analysis, information assurance, network or project management, and business intelligence. Liberty’s online Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degree program offers students specializations in gaming design, web/mobile computing, security and data networking, healthcare informatics, application and database development. Students can also shorten their time to completing the degree by transferring prior school credits or credit for real-life experience.

9 Granite State College 95.1111:1 70%

To contribute to a growing field of competitive administrators and system analysts, Granite makes available a Degree Completion Pathway option, for which students must already possess an associate’s degree, for participants to specialize in programming or technology management. The option allows students to become proficient in the basics of software, networking and databases, demonstrate their critical thinking abilities and knowledge of information technology to contribute to expanding industries and identify the needs of current technology users and communicate those needs through computer hardware and software. Courses are offered in a variety of formats – online, evening and hybrid.

10 Pennsylvania State University-World Campus 94.9817:1 68%

Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology has over a dozen degrees and certificates that can be earned online, most of which cater towards students with previous experience in IT. Degree modifications are offered. For example, The Integration and Application (ITINT) is designed to create a more team-focused approach to online coursework. Courses are asynchronous in design, allowing students to decide when to take a class based on their personal schedule. A typical course runs for 12 to 15 weeks and, if a three-credit undergraduate class, will require approximately eight to 12 hours per week outside class for readings and assignments.

11 Capitol Technology University 94.9612:1 100%

The program at Capitol College is a hybrid traditional and online degree: the first two years are completed traditionally and students have the option to complete their last two years online. Degree programs in information technology are cyber and information security and management of cyber and information technology. Cyber and information security professionals are in high demand as more and more business is done online, making society more vulnerable to cyber attacks and hacking. The coursework provided by Capitol College prepares students for the CompTIA Security Certification and the SSCP Certification, giving them the necessary credentials to obtain jobs upon graduation.

12 Jones College-Jacksonville 94.707:1 50%

At Jones, students have the option of participating in programs on campus and online, but for those seeking a virtual education to become Web developers, computer network support specialists, software designers or programmers, they can engage in courses offering practice experiences. This includes electives. An hour-long orientation to the school and program properly grounds students to the school and the endeavors they will undertake in their academics. Faculty and administrative staff work to provide online students the supervision they need through assignments, tests and other communications to ensure as much interaction as possible. Upon completion, students will be fully ready to begin their career in an entry-level position.

13 King University Online 94.3912:1 92%

King’s information technology program offers three different emphases designed to help students obtain their administrative or management goals on their path to a technical career, and these areas include cyber security, network management and programming. The program offers a chance to create a portfolio that demonstrates the participant’s development in project management, problem solving, policy consultation, research methods in technology and information technology plan development. The 48-hour major can be finished in 16 months or less. The overlying objective is to provide a foundation and the resources to address the growing needs of individuals and businesses adapting to changing technologies.

14 Campbell University 94.1316:1 100%

Campbell University offers two different Information Technology degrees in their online bachelor degree program: Information Technology Security - Management and Information Technology Security - Security. Offering two separate degrees allows Campbell University to offer a wider range of courses, reaching a more diverse student population. With the Management degree, students learn programming languages and database management, as well as networking and telecommunications. The Security degree provides the same coursework, along with information security and countermeasures. Both degrees provide students with myriad opportunities to obtain lucrative jobs in their field upon graduation.

15 King University Online 94.0213:1 100%

King’s information technology program offers three different emphases designed to help students obtain their administrative or management goals on their path to a technical career, and these areas include cyber security, network management and programming. The program offers a chance to create a portfolio that demonstrates the participant’s development in project management, problem solving, policy consultation, research methods in technology and information technology plan development. The 48-hour major can be finished in 16 months or less. The overlying objective is to provide a foundation and the resources to address the growing needs of individuals and businesses adapting to changing technologies.

16 City University of Seattle 93.777:1 64%

At City University of Seattle, students can choose from five different Bachelor of Science tracks: programming, systems development and engineering, technology management, information technology, and cybersecurity. Each program provides an in-depth look at the technologies and capabilities required to manage a business today. Graduates of City University of Seattle go on to pursue high powered careers in a variety of tech-related fields, including programmers, software designers, information systems management, and chief information security officer. With the cybersecurity track, students can also choose to pursue a criminal justice degree with an emphasis in cyber forensic investigation.

17 University of Minnesota-Digital Campus 93.6817:1 77%

Careers that professionals taking the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities online Bachelor of Science in Information Technology Management could enter include computer networkers, programmers and IT supervisors and managers. How to use standard computer language to design applications, abilities to build reports, manage staff and develop policies and procedures that protect clients and organizations' data and privacy are types of skills that students acquire. MyU is a secure program that the school uses to deliver classes and student registration and performance records. Electronic textbooks, streamed videos, recordings and campus email make classes interactive.

18 Minot State University 93.6513:1 91%

The online Management Information Systems Bachelor of Science degree program at Minot State University combines theoretical and practical training to equip graduates with leadership skills to manage new, re-fit, design, and maintenance IT programs at the organizational level. Program graduates have learned critical thinking and analytical skills/procedures to detect and remedy enterprise-wide MIS problems. Minot’s online Bachelor of Applied Science in Business Information Technology degree program prepares students to tackle business issues with information systems, enterprise architecture, management-IT department communications, and top-down strategies. They also are trained to effectively lead cross-functional teams. Undergrad IT degree concentrations also include related courses in marketing, communications, spreadsheet applications and business fundamentals.

19 East Carolina University 93.0217:1 73%

East Carolina University offers a Bachelor of Science in Information Technologies. Students generally complete their first two years of general education requirements at community college and then finish the remaining two years online at ECU, where they also take some foundational coursework, including Art Appreciation and American History. From there, students move into the Information Technology core courses, which include electronic information processing, financial information systems, legal environment of business, among others. The degree also includes an internship component that provides students with hands-on experience that will lead to career opportunities upon graduation.

20 University of Massachusetts Online 92.7518:1 88%

Introduction to online learning is offered at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst with a demo course. Navigating discussion forums, locating and uploading assignments, reviewing the syllabus and keeping up with calendar events are activities in the course demo. Bachelor of Science in Information Technology majors take 120 credit hours of classes in programming, general education, electives, database implementation and information security. Registration is handled online through the Student Information System. After logging into UMass Online, adults can start finding class projects and tapping into Blackboard data. Operating on a semester basis, the school may not accept applicants living in all states.

21 Robert Morris University 92.7415:1 100%

The Information Systems and Technology program at Robert Morris University has tracks for both bachelor and master-level students, all of which are accessible online. The Bachelor of Science in Cyber Forensics Info Security is one of the primary undergraduate courses offered. Classes are run in eight-week formats. There are six starting points per academic school year, two in the fall, two in spring and two in summer. Online classes can be started during any one of these six options. Students are expected to participate in class activities five of seven days a week.

22 University of Massachusetts-Lowell 92.3418:1 90%

Umass Lowell's bachelor in information technology is available both entirely online, and in an online/on-campus hybrid format. Available subjects of study include areas like database management and programming, with courses covering topics like Java, UNIX systems and Linux. The university has more than 15 years bringing online courses to students, and classes are presented in such a way as to ensure virtual students can maintain close contact not only with their professors, but with their peer group as well. Academic advisors and student support staff are available to all online student via phone or email communication.

23 Tiffin University 92.1418:1 98%

Real time experience working with computer applications in development, analysis and operational environments is a point of emphasis with Tiffin University's online Bachelor of Science in Information Technology. Instructors teach students how to understand and work with common applications built by organizations like Microsoft and CISCO. Each class runs for seven weeks. There are 27 information technology credits and 21 systems administration credits in the 121 credit hours degree. Authentication using a login and password to access MyDragon, a school online portal, is needed. Moodle houses class information and is reached through the My Classes portal.

24 Northwood University 92.0713:1 96%

A bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Management is offered at Northwood University. The program is available to transfer students only. As a part of the Adult Degree Program, a Prior Learning Assessment can be requested. The assessment allows an accelerated completion of 30 semester hours to entering students with prior experience and expertise in the field. In addition, course schedules are flexible to accommodate student needs. Dual majors are available and can be completed in four years through compressed sessions that are offered exclusively during the summer or outside the regular semester.

25 Arizona State Univeristy Online 91.7623:1 91%

Earning an online Bachelor of Science in Information Technology from Arizona State University - Tempe provides students with all the benefits of attending a top university while also providing them with the convenience of completing classes on their schedule. With an Information Technology degree, students will have advanced skills in designing and maintaining websites, managing complex network systems, and work with interactive media solutions. Students can choose from three tracks, each one leading them down a lucrative career path. Classes start on a rolling basis, so students can begin the program when it’s most convenient for them.

26 Murray State University 91.0216:1 99%

At Murray State University, the focus of the online Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems in strictly on business computing. CIS students are prepared in applying current technology and theory to solve business problems. Core courses with business IT applications in the major include accounting marketing, and management, complementing the computer programming curriculum. Graduates are expected to know the methodologies used to assess enterprise-wide systems, review the organizational business requirements, recommend changes or upgrades, and communicate the best solutions to managers. Other online bachelor programs at Murray State include degrees in telecommunications system management and business administration.

27 Washburn University 91.0214:1 92%

Technology administrators work in several industries, including nuclear, medicine and manufacturing. Among technologists careers are computer network architect, computer programmer, software developer and computer research scientists. The later role generally requires a doctorate degree. Washburn University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Technology Administration that takes about two years to complete for students possessing an Associate's degree. There are 18 core credit hours built into the program. The administration component is made up of 15 credit hours. MyWashburn connects students with campus computers, school calendars, account information, school policies and technological support. Prior technology experience could help with virtual lab work. Email communications are a primary way that students and instructors ask and respond to questions.

28 University of North Carolina at Pembroke 91.0015:1 92%

The core of the Bachelor of Science in Applied Information Technology at the University of North Carolina Pembroke is computer programming. The university allows students to transfer general education credits into the program, reducing the time that it takes to complete the 120 credit hour degree. Program segments are core courses, general education, electives, associate degree and track requirements. There is a Distance Education department that responds to student inquiries about navigating online portals. Getting started with online classes requires adults to create a Braveweb account. It is through Braveweb that financial aid and register for classes. Lab sessions are administered online.

29 North Carolina A & T State University 90.9416:1 95%

North Carolina A&T University takes an interdisciplinary approach to their online program. This means that graduate and undergraduate students can pick and choose which computer-related courses they want to compile to build a degree that meets their career goals. The university partners with outside entities and institutions, such as Indiana State University, to offer resources for online students. These tools include a comprehensive library, which is accessible online. Courses are available in standard semester-style formatting. The computer science program is still growing, with new course offerings and available degrees being added annually.

30 Saint Leo University 90.8115:1 94%

Saint Leo University is accredited with the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE). Computer-related degrees focus on leadership and critical thinking skills. Programs, including an online master’s degree in Cybersecurity and a bachelor’s in Computer Information Sciences, have six start dates spread throughout the calendar year. The school year itself consists of fall, spring and summer semesters. Each semester is divided into two sub-terms, meaning that all online courses are taken in eight-week formats. A 10-step online e-book is offered to prospective students to prepare for the online curriculum.

31 Old Dominion University Online 90.3220:1 82%

All levels of degrees in computer science can be achieved through Old Dominion University online, from a minor to a master’s. In addition, degrees in specialized areas, such as computer engineering, are also available. A standard bachelors degree in computer science requires 120 credit hours, 30 of which can be completed outside the university prior to entry. Candidates for the degree of Master of Science in Computer Science have three distinct paths to choose from: course-only, a mix of courses and a major project and, finally, a thesis-focused track. All online courses through this option offer flexibility in scheduling.

32 Northern Arizona University-Extended Campuses 90.0619:1 83%

Through the Extended Campuses program, Northern Arizona University offers four computer science degrees, all of which are bachelor-level programs. To be admitted into the program, prospective students must meet university admission standards as well and complete a Readiness Assessment. After admittance, pre-tests allow students to demonstrate competency and fulfill course prerequisites. The Computer Information Technology degree is one of only a handful of programs at Northern Arizona University that includes a self-paced option, called Personalized Learning. When Personalized Learning is selected, the degree is formatted to allow students to complete credits with no set classes. Instead, coursework is entirely online and customized to fit the student’s schedule.

33 Tennessee State University 89.9715:1 98%

Students who have previously completed general education requirements may enroll in Tennessee State University's online Bachelor of Science in professional studies, with a concentration in information technology. Online students are given the same counseling and supportive service as their on-campus counterparts, including career development, library services and access to Smarthinking, the school's 24/7 online tutoring services. The school uses a variety of multimedia technology to bring classes to students all over the country via programs like Desire2Learn and VOIP calls, and offers students entering its virtual programs a special eLearn student orientation. This orientation helps students prepare for success in online programs by taking students through the skills, study habits and discipline needed to take on distance learning.

34 Middle Georgia State College 89.5120:1 91%

The B.S. in Information Technology at Middle Georgia State University is offered entirely online or in a hybrid format mixing campus visits with virtual instruction. The School of Information Technology created the program to offer online students career skills training across the IT realm, including curriculum in software development, networking, cybersecurity and forensics, information assurance, gaming and digital media. Students must complete upper-level technology core courses totaling 60 hours. Entering students taking 30 credits each year can complete the degree in four years. Senior-year students must complete a capstone research project to qualify for graduation.

35 Central Washington University 89.2319:1 85%

Central Washington University provides students with a flexible online program in Information Technology and Administrative Management. Students who choose this degree path can concentrate in cybersecurity, administrative management, and retail management and technology specialization. CWU recommends a computer related associate degree for admission into the cybersecurity track of the program. Once students complete their degree, they are prepared to get jobs in fields such as store management, retail IT, merchandise buying, and entrepreneurship.

36 Wilmington University 88.9414:1 87%

Computer system breaches have increased the demand for skilled computer security specialists. Defined security areas that Wilmington University's Bachelor of Science in Computer and Network Security include encryption, computer viruses, cryptography and systems administration. Exam and classroom performance cannot fall below a C- to qualify for graduation. Students who earn a 2.5 GPA or higher could qualify to participate in the community co-op program. WebCampus is the system that gets students and instructors into Blackboard, registration, program details and campus email. Textbooks are retrieved from the bookstore and library. Through the electronic library, students also download academic papers and peer reviewed materials.

37 Hodges University 88.9314:1 99%

Hodges University builds options into its curriculum for students wanting to specialize in a particular area of computer information technology. They can enter a networking or software track while choosing a Selected Studies component that would consist of technology and information systems classes that provides a foundation in the liberal arts and introduce them to various business concepts. Students can work toward different certifications in different computer systems, such as A+ and Linux+. Hodges offers the option of taking classes on campus, fully online or through the school’s Upower format, an online self-directed competency option once students have completed core classes.

38 Mercy College 88.0918:1 95%

This non-profit liberal arts college’s online computer science degree provides a combination of theoretical and practical training. The curriculum is revised regularly, so students receive a leading-edge education in all facets of the field. Courses cover programing languages, networking, computer architecture, operating systems, and computer engineering. Graduates come away with skills that can be applied across computer science and related professions, such as developing and analyzing software, creating secure networks, and solving real-world problems through mathematical models. Online classes can be accessed at any time from any location, via the Blackboard learning management system. In addition to coursework, academic advising, career services and a detailed orientation are available online. Full-time students can graduate in four years.

39 Columbus State University 87.9917:1 93%

Columbus State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology through their Turner College of Business, giving students a dual program in IT and business. Students use knowledge, theory, and hands-on application to learn and support their eventual employment in the IT field. With a dual foundation in IT basics and business basics, students become even more attractive to potential employers, making it easier to get internships and jobs when the time comes. Not only do students learn essential IT skills, but they also learn important interpersonal and communication skills that enable them to deal with people from all walks of life in the future.

40 Regents Online Campus Collaborative 87.9718:1 99%

At Austin Peay State University, students can complete their Bachelor of Professional Studies - Information Technology concentration in just 120 hours; Austin Peay allows students to take general education courses at their home university or online at any Board of Regents approved university. The Information Technology concentration provides students with a range of courses, both computer related and not, to give them a diverse education. There is also an International Context component that introduces students to topics like law, politics, or the political economy abroad.

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.

Online 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.

Online 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.

Online 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 career goals. The curriculum often 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. Online programs at the two-year level reside mostly at community colleges or for-profit online schools. Each prospective student should research options thoroughly to ensure the online degree meets his or her needs. For more information, visit our page on online associate degrees in computer science.

Online 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. Read through the following page to learn more about online bachelor’s degrees in computer science.

Online 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 many online master’s programs include computer architecture, database management, parallel processing, information security and software design specifications. The added skills and knowledge gained through graduate studies can enable quicker entry into advanced technical positions or business analyst. However, with so much variation between programs, it’s important to research thoroughly to ensure all potential higher educational options meet a student’s college and career goals in full. For more data and information about CS at the graduate level, read through our page dedicated solely to online master’s degrees in computer science. The page also contains a ranking of colleges with stand-out online master’s in the major.

Online PHD Degree (8+ Years)

Online 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 or completing a well-researched project 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. To see the full spectrum of advanced degrees in the field, as well as colleges that offer online learning options, read our new page focused exclusively on the online PhD in computer science.


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.

Frequently Asked Questions:Online Computer Science Degrees

Are online computer science degree programs accepted by employers?

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

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

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

Are online computer science degree programs accepted by employers?

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

What types of computer science degrees are available online?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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