Online Computer Science Degree

Online Computer Science Degree

Online computer science degrees are the newest and most flexible way to get a technology degree. Computer science is a growing field, and opportunities for new graduates are everywhere. Thanks to the internet, it’s now possible to get a degree without commuting.

Online degrees are beneficial to thousands of people who can’t (or don’t want to) relocate for the best education. These high-quality programs share the same curriculum with proven in-person courses, providing the same benefits without the hassle. With Online Degree Hero, you’ll learn how to get a computer science degree online, along with everything you need to know about online degrees. 

This page contains the basics of online courses in computer science. Here, you’ll learn about the world of online education. Additionally, we’ll cover the basics of computer science degrees, degree types, accreditation, and postgraduate degree options.

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Here are some basic facts about online CS degrees and the computer science field as a whole.

According to Glassdoor, the average salary for computer science professionals is $99,050 per year in 2020.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the computer and information sciences career field will grow 16% between 2018 and 2028.

Over 41,000 computer science degrees were issued in 2017 alone.

According to the NCES, 32.9% of undergraduate students take at least some online courses. Among them, 13.3% took exclusively online courses.

What Is an Online Computer Science Degree?

An online computer science degree itself is no different from a typical CS degree. Computer science degrees are worth the same regardless of how students complete their education. Fundamentally, an online computer science degree program is just that—a degree earned online. Online computer science programs usually cover the exact same curriculum as in-person courses and often feature live, instructor-led classes.

Online Computer Science Degree Benefits

The benefits of an online degree are numerous, especially in the computer science field. Students who intend to work remotely gain the most from an online degree program, as they learn to manage their time and be productive without supervision. Additionally, online courses give workers the opportunity to pay their way through college. Some online computer science programs offer flexible schedules, which allow students to work full-time or attend to other obligations without adjusting their schedules. 

Computer science is a booming career path with rapid growth and high salaries. There are numerous career paths to choose from with a computer science degree, and each offers unique opportunities in the field.

Computer Science Salary: $86,370
Computer Science Job Growth: 16%

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top computer science careers are growing much faster than average. The BLS predicts the field will grow 16% over the next decade, far outpacing the occupational average of 5.2%.

Computer science associate’s degrees are a great first step to a technology career. Degree holders have an advantage in the economy, and outperform high school graduates in the workforce. These benefits tend to increase if students pursue higher education, such as a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree.

As the number of computer science graduates increases, opportunities in the workforce are filled. However, as the chart above indicates, the number of jobs available far outnumbers the amount filled. Even with a stark increase in graduates over the last decade, there’s still and enormous (and exponentially increasing) demand for fresh talent in the field.

In short, computer science is a future-proof career field that’s worth considering. Computer science salaries are high, and opportunities are plentiful. An associate’s in computer science is an excellent way to test the waters and see if an IT career is right for you.

Computer science certifications are the next step in a successful tech career path. With the help of a computer science AS degree, you can prepare for and pass numerous certification exams and give your resume a spectacular boost. Plus, certifications aren’t just useful for finding a job; you can get certified after hiring and advance within the company. Certifications for computer science tasks can open the door to wide range of career possibilities, and expand your technical skills to a professional level. Here, we’ll go over six of the most valuable certification programs for networks, operating systems, cybersecurity, communication, and product support.

Cisco is a major supplier of communications equipment for businesses across the world, especially in the United States. If you live in a town with office buildings, chances are you’ll find Cisco equipment inside. To service its massive customer base, Cisco offers a certification program for individuals looking to install, maintain, and repair these systems. Cisco Certified Network Associates also provide customer support.

Network+ certification from CompTIA is an asset to any computer science degree holder. This globally-recognized certification is designed for people with network and internet communications training. The certification allows you to work with large-scale networks, and prove your qualifications to prospective employers.  The examination takes roughly 90 minutes to complete, and costs $319 total.

This certification should speak for itself. Apple offers a certification program for people looking to work with and troubleshoot its products. ACA certification also equips professionals with the skills they need to help businesses set up Apple-based infrastructure, and help employees train with and understand the product they’re using.

CompTIA offers A+ Technician certification programs for anyone looking to work in the tech industry. CompTIA’s A+ program is one of the most comprehensive certifications available, and covers everything from data management to cloud computing. The program is designed to cover all of the essentials of working in a modern IT environment, with an element of security mixed in as well. Companies like Intel and HP accept this certification.

Today, system security is more important than ever. Cybersecurity analyst positions also offer great salaries. CISSP certification is an excellent way to gain the qualifications necessary for one of these prestigious positions. CISSP is a global certification that leads the pack in the cybersecurity industry. If you want to become a cybersecurity professional, a CISSP certification is highly advisable.

Apple doesn’t corner the market on OS and brand certifications, as Microsoft also offers a similar program for professionals. This certification covers desktop and system infrastructure, cloud computing, messaging, communication, Microsoft data, and business intelligence among other things.

Computer Science Degree Jobs

There are many types of jobs available to computer science graduates. Below, we included a list of the most common positions available to people who hold a computer science degree. Many of these jobs are also available for people who have computer science training.

Computer Scientist

Computer science is the general occupation of the field, and many jobs with the title are available. Students who become computer scientists will work on numerous tasks that vary widely between employers. 

Computer science job responsibilities include programming, analysis, wireframing, system administration, troubleshooting, debugging, and other highly specialized computer-related tasks. In the United States, computer science is one of the most popular coding careers.

  • Computer Science Salary: $99,050
  • Computer Science Jobs Available: 41,760

Software Developer

Software developers focus specifically on coding and programming. These professionals use their knowledge of high-level programming languages to create and maintain software programs. Software developers work for numerous corporations; and occasionally from home.

Software developer job responsibilities include programming, outlining, creating applications, repairing (debugging) broken code, and solving various digital problems. Software developers, software engineers, and programmers make up a large portion of the tech industry.

  • Software Developer Salary: $76,526
  • Software Developer Jobs Available: 74,238

Data Scientist

Data scientists manage large amounts of data, which is extremely important in today’s information economy. These professionals earn some of the highest salaries in the industry, and perform some of the most complex tasks on a daily basis. 

Data scientist job responsibilities include managing databases, creating databases, interpreting large data sets, analyzing information, and turning raw data into usable information. At the end of the day, data scientists are responsible for helping companies make sense of their data.

  • Data Scientist Salary: $113,309
  • Data Scientist Jobs Available: 23,923

Computer Hardware Engineer

Computer hardware engineering is the most hands-on computer science field. These professionals are trained in computer science and various forms of electronic engineering. They must understand the physical and virtual characteristics that make computer work.

Computer hardware engineer job responsibilities include building computers, designing electronic devices and components, creating plans, upgrading existing hardware, and more. This profession is ideal for ‘builders’ who enjoy working with and creating physical devices.

  • Computer Hardware Engineer Salary:  $89,641
  • Computer Hardware Engineer Jobs Available: 19,520
TitleMedian SalaryEntry-Level SalaryMid-Career SalaryLate-Career Salary
Computer Scientist $99,050$68K$100K$134K
Software Engineer$92,046$63K$92K$134K
Hardware Engineer$89,641$70K$90K$115K
Database Administrator$78,779$59K$79K$107K
Data Scientist $113,309$83K$113K$154K
Web Developer$68,524$44K$69K$111K
TitleMedian SalaryLate-Career Salary
Web Developer$68,500$111,000
Software Developer$76,500$107,000
Computer Support Specialist$48,600$70,000
Systems Administration Specialist$64,800$93,000
Data Scientist$113,300$154,000
Information Technology (IT)$84,800$125,000
Network Administrator$63,000$85,000
Help Desk Technician$41,800$58,000
Support Analyst$69,00$95,000

Online College Accreditation

Accreditation is the system which gives college programs legitimacy. Colleges and universities earn accreditation by covering universally-agreed-upon standards for certain topics and following predetermined rules. Accreditation keeps schools in-check and ultimately ensures that students receive the best education possible. Plus, graduates from accredited programs have learned what the industry expects, and are qualified to perform the job that they trained for. Here’s how accrediting works and the most common types of online degree accreditation. 

National Accreditation

Students searching for online degrees will run into national accreditation a lot, and there’s no need to shy away from it. However, many people don’t realize that most universities are regionally accredited, not nationally accredited. Here are some of the most common types of nationally accredited programs:

  • Online-only (or mostly online) colleges and universities
  • Arts programs
  • Religious Colleges and Training 
  • Special degree programs

A degree from a nationally accredited university is valid, but transferring credits to regionally accredited universities could be challenging. That said, many schools employ admissions staff who are trained to deal with the process.

Nationally accredited programs are designed for students seeking an education or certification in a specific field, such as theology or music. Agencies such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges certify schools that meet certain requirements. Nationally accredited schools (and programs) generally don’t transfer to regionally accredited universities.

Regional Accreditation

Most public universities are regionally accredited by one of several accrediting agencies. Degrees from regionally accredited universities are the most common, as the majority of well-known schools have this certification. Regional accreditation agencies include:

  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Higher Learning Commission
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Learning
  • New England Commission of Higher Learning
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • WASC Senior College And University Commission 

These accreditation agencies and commissions certify that colleges and universities are ‘legitimate’ in simple terms. Students who graduate from accredited institutions earn valid degrees. If your school isn’t regionally or nationally accredited, your degree might not be valid.

Students seeking an associate degree in computer science should attend a regionally accredited school. Four-year universities also use this accreditation system, which makes transferring credits possible. Each region (Western States, Middle States, New England, Southern, among others) is governed by an accrediting organization.

Students looking for an AS, MS, or BS in computer science (online or otherwise) first need to be accepted into the college or university offering the program. Admissions requirements vary between schools, though the general materials required to gain entry into a college program are roughly the same in most places. Here’s what you need to know about online computer science degree admissions.

Community College Admissions

Community colleges have the least stringent requirements for admission. These colleges generally only require applicants to present a high school diploma or GED (general education development) certificate. Community colleges sometimes offer programs to earn a GED while attending class, which is beneficial to many people who didn’t earn a high school diploma.

University Admissions

University admissions are much more complex than community college admissions. To get into a four year college, students must first present a high school diploma or GED. Additionally, students must complete some form of standardized test for college admission, such as the SAT or ACT. For some prestigious colleges, students often need letters of recommendation from teachers, bosses, and (in some cases) high-ranking public servants. 

Graduate School Admissions

Graduate school admissions is different from undergraduate admissions in a few key ways, but the two share similarities. First, students must complete an undergraduate program and decide what they want to study or specialize in. Then, students present their college transcripts (with GPA), along with standardized test scores designed specifically for graduate programs. Each school varies, and some additional information will likely be necessary to land a spot in a graduate program.

Online computer science degree costs vary depending on school, program type, and other factors. Students should research tuition pricing carefully, as online courses may be under an entirely different category. For example, some schools only charge a single rate for online students, as opposed to in-state and out-of-state tuition. 


Scholarships are the best and (arguably) the easiest way to save a significant amount of money on tuition costs. Today, there are thousands of scholarships available for all kinds of students. Anyone who is considering applying for an online computer science program should apply to multiple scholarships.

Student Loans

Student loans are a common way to reduce the college barrier-to-entry. Due to the unfathomably high cost of tuition in this day and age, students often need to take out loans just to attend college. Student loans are available from a wide range of sources. It’s essential to use caution when applying for student loans, and familiarize yourself with the terms. Remember, most student loans are not forgivable through bankruptcy. 

Most schools don’t offer a dedicated data science master’s degree program. That may change sometime in the future, but for now, students must choose another program in most cases. The most common are software engineering and computer science. To give you a better idea of what to expect during a data science master’s program, here are some of the top courses taken by data scientists:

Computer Programming

Computer scientists must understand computer programming. As a CS graduate, you’ll be expected to know more than some basic programming with HTML and JavaScript. Most computer science students will study advanced computer programming languages.


Computer science students often study data, databases, and data processing. This is necessary due to the data-influenced economy of the 21st century, and especially helpful for students who want to become data scientists.


Networks are an important part of computer science, and students will certainly study them during their college years. However, some schools don’t offer much practical knowledge; instead, they focus on systems and theoretical operations.


Most STEM students study mathematics to some degree. And while computer science students won’t spend as much time learning mathematics as mechanical engineering students, they’ll likely spend more time on the subject than most other students.


Communications are more of a skill than a course of study in this case; but essential nonetheless. Computer science graduates must be able to communicate effectively in a work environment, so any study of English and communication is beneficial.

Online Computer Science Degree Types

There are many types of online computer science degrees available. Online undergraduate degrees are the most common, but some schools offer distance learning for advanced degrees as well. Online students have the most flexibility in lower degrees, especially those offered by well-known public universities. Here are the three most popular online computer science degree options.

Computer Science Online Associate’s Degree

An associate’s degree in computer science is usually the first step for students who don’t want to jump right into a four-year university. Community colleges offer introductory courses to prepare students for an entry-level IT position, or for a computer science bachelor’s degree program. Online associate’s degree programs take around two years to complete.

Computer Science Online Bachelor’s Degree

Many well-known institutions now offer online computer science degrees. In fact, computer science is often one of the first programs offered by universities when they roll out online learning. Attendance requirements vary between colleges, but most institutions allow students to complete the entire degree program online. Nonetheless, some schools occasionally require students to attend in-person classes to complete projects, labs, and other assignments.

Computer Science Online Master’s Degree

After earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science (or a related field), students can pursue additional education at a graduate school. Online grad schools for technology students offer a uniquely flexible opportunity to earn a high-level computer science master’s degree. At this point, students often choose a specialization (such as systems or data science). Master’s degree programs take 1.5 to 2 years to complete.

Computer Science Professional Organizations

Joining a computer science professional organization can help jump-start your career and keep you up-to-date with the latest industry trends. Membership sometimes comes with additional perks, such as access to a strong peer network, coaching, job opportunities, and employment workshops. Computer science degree students benefit from mentoring opportunities in professional organizations.

The Association for Women in Computing, founded in 1978, is a computer science professional organization catered directly to women in tech. This organization provides a strong network, education opportunities, and support for female computer science professionals though its system of nationwide chapters.

The Association for Information Science and Technology is a popular choice for computer science graduates.  This organization offers an enormous amount of resources to technology professionals, and covers everything from jobs to legal information.  Additionally, the Association for Information Science and Technology welcomes current computer science students.

The Computing Research Association is a top organization for computer science professionals seeking networking opportunities and more. Additionally, the CRA offers opportunities and resources for computer science students and researchers, thereby delivering an all-in-one destination for the field. The organization focuses on technology, leadership, and networking.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology, or ITE for short, is a multinational professional organization for engineers and technology professionals in over 150 countries.  With over 160,000 current members, the ITE is one of the most popular and diverse professional organizations for students with a computer science degree.

The IEEE Computer Society is a technology-focused organization for software engineers, web developers, and all kinds of computer science professionals.  The IEEE Computer Society hosts dozens of annual conferences on some of the coolest technology developments, including virtual reality, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and security.

The Association for Information Systems is a premier computer science professional organization with chapters located all around the world. This organization hosts conferences, offers career support, provides educational webinars, and gives computer science workers access to a vast global professional network.

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