Online Associate Degrees in Computer Science

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Earning an online associate degree in computer science is often the first educational step for someone exploring a future in computers and technology. This two-year credential helps students cultivate the background knowledge, skills and formal training required for many entry-level computer science careers or for a bachelor’s degree in CS. Compared to traditional, campus-based programs, online programs offer students more flexibility, which is a must for those trying to balance life and work outside of the classroom. This guide offers a thorough rundown of online associate degrees in computer science, including detailed information about the degree itself, how it works online and the various ways students can pay for their education: scholarships, grants and financial aid.

Online Associate Degrees in Computer Science: An Overview

Earning an online associate degree in computer science allows the graduate to explore entry-level opportunities in the field. Associate degree requirements vary from school to school, although most programs include initial programming and networking classes as well as other basic requirements.

Major-area requirements of an associate degree in computer science include calculus, database management, programming and data structures. These core classes allow students the develop a solid background needed to be successful in the workforce, and the ability to continue their education, if they choose, with a bachelor’s degree or beyond.

Example Curriculum

Below is an example of what a course schedule for an associate degree in computer science might look like. Classes vary depending on program requirements and specializations at individual colleges.

Year 1 Overview
Introduction to Computer Science & Programming Students learn key concepts in computer programming and write their own computer programs.
Object-Oriented Programming This course offers a conceptual and practical introduction to imperative and object-oriented programming, demonstrated by Java.
Introduction to Assembly Language Programming In this introductory class, students learn computer organization, programming techniques, and address input/output, hardware architecture, and more.
Year 2 Overview
Data Telecommunications & Computer Networks Students focus on top-down orientation as it relates to networking technologies.
Discrete Mathematics This class teaches students to understand and use abstract structures, which are the backbone of computer science. It introduces logic, proofs, sets, relations, and more.
Applied Calculus Students in applied calculus learn how to interpret it in various forms, including numerical, graphic, and algebraic.

Student profile: Ralph — Associate degree in computer science

Ralph recently graduated from high school and has always tinkered with computers as a hobby. He’s interested in a career in computers, but isn’t sure about the job prospects or exactly where he should begin. After some research, Ralph found that he would have many more job opportunities and a higher salary with an associate degree in computer science than with just the background knowledge he had from teaching himself. Ralph he took the time to find a local, affordable college that allowed him to attend classes online while still working at a local electronics store.

Do Associate Degrees Mean More Money?

Many jobs require at least some post-secondary education to even be considered for the position. An associate degree in computer science offers the opportunity to earn more than someone without a formal education. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, workers who hold an associate degree earn, on average, $7,000 per year more than those with a high school diploma alone. Not only that, the unemployment rate is about 30 percent lower for those with an associate degree. The table below shows some of the most popular computer science jobs that and the entry-level salary at both a high school diploma and associate degree level.

Career Entry-Level Salary with High School Diploma Entry-Level Salary with Associate Degree
Computer Support Specialist $27,930 $34,930
Web Developer $55,500 $62,500
Computer Programmer $28,500 $35,000

Scholarships for Computer Science Associate Degree Students

Students fresh out of high school with little or no work experience can find paying for college tricky. Those interested in an associate degree in computer science can find myriad scholarship opportunities, no matter where they earn their degree.

AFCEA Cyber Security Sponsors – Students pursuing a degree in cyber security, cyber attack, computer science, information technology, and more may apply for this scholarship.

Alice L. Haltom Educational Fund – In association with ARMA International, the Alice L. Haltom Education Fund offers scholarships to students studying information management.

ANS Undergraduate Scholarship – The American Nuclear Society offers scholarships to students preparing for careers in nuclear science and technology.

Education Portal Computer Science Scholarship – Offered by Education Portal, students pursuing an associate degree in computer-related fields are eligible for this award.

Electronic Document Scholarship Foundation – Scholarships are awarded to promising students who are working toward an associate degree in information technology and are based on financial need.

Catching The Dream MESBC Program – Formerly known as the Native American Scholarship Fund, this scholarship is available for high-potential Native American students in math, engineering, computers, and more.

Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Scholarships – Numerous scholarships are available through Advancing Hispanic Excellence in Technology, Engineering, Math and Science, the educational foundation of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.

Collegiate Inventors Competition – The National Inventors Hall of Fame awards scholarships to students with an interest in invention, science, engineering, technology, and other creative inventors.

AACE International Competitive Scholarships – AACE International offers academic scholarships to full-time students pursuing a degree in computer sciences and other areas. Application deadlines are February 15 annually.

AISES Intel Scholarship – American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher and are studying computer science, computer engineering, and other related areas are eligible for this scholarship.

The Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship – This scholarship is designed to support women in technology. Scholarships are awarded on the strength of each candidate’s academic background and demonstrated leadership. The application deadline is January 6 annually.

Jim & Anna Hyonjoo Lint Scholarship – This program is intended to help further the education and career development of those interested in international affairs and counterintelligence.

Xerox Technical Minority Scholarship – Awards ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 are granted to minority students in technical disciplines.

EDSF Board of Directors Scholarships – Students pursuing careers in computer science and engineering are eligible for EDSF scholarships and are selected based on scholastic achievement, an application essay, community service, and more.

Regional Scholarships

ACM Scholarship – Presented by the South Alabama School of Computer and Information systems, this scholarship goes to a student within the CIS program.

AK Steel Foundation STEM Scholarship – This scholarship allows students in the greater Cincinnati area the opportunity to pursue a degree in computer science.

Oregon NASA Space Grant Consortium – The OSGC offers scholarships to students attending member colleges in the area of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.

Thomas G. Labrecque Smart Start Scholarship Program – Offered to graduating high school seniors from across New York City, this scholarship offers education, work-related, and financial benefits.

JSU Alabama Power Scholarship – Students majoring in a business-related area are eligible for this scholarship offered through Jacksonville State University.


Paid and unpaid internships are a great way to gain more job-related experience, making you more marketable after graduation.

Central Intelligence Agency – Undergraduate students pursuing a degree in a computer-based field are eligible for this internship, which gives interns experience working on technical solutions using both proprietary and commercial hardware and software.

Explore Microsoft – With 12-week summer internships designed specifically for college underclassmen, Microsoft’s program exposes students to software development and encourages them to pursue degrees in computer science.

Google Engineering Practicum Internship – Designed for students beginning their college careers, interns get experience in software, skills-based training, and professional development.

AAAS Entry Point – This internship identifies undergraduate and graduate students with disabilities and recommends them for paid summer programs. Mentoring and assistive technology is available as the program facilitates the entry and advancement of individuals with disabilities.

National Space Grant Consortium – This program is designed for students pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Lewis’ Educational Research Collaborative Internship Project – This is a unique paid college internship program conducted at the NASA Glenn Research Center for rising college students studying a STEM degree.

NASA Goddard – Internships align with Goddard and its industry and university partners for high school, undergraduate, and graduate students.

USRA – Paid internships are available to students in several technology-focused disciplines, allowing interns to learn through an engaging, hands-on experience.


An associate degree in computer science is a good opportunity to improve marketability and begin a career based in technology. Not only can an associate degree open more employment doors, but potential jobs typically pay more for those with a degree. The research presented here can help potential students weed through the red tape and find an associate program and scholarship opportunities to get started.

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