If you want an intellectually stimulating tech job that can ultimately net you nice a six-figure salary — or close to it — you won’t hurt your odds by earning a computer science degree.
With career paths that include software developer, computer hardware engineer, computer network architect, information security analyst, and many more, you might find out that a computer science degree can be your ticket to gainful employment in the white-hot tech space.
Payscale's 2019 College Salary Report shows that computer science graduates pulled in an average of $68,600 USD in early career salary and an average of $114,700 USD in mid-career salary.
Previously, it was necessary to physically attend an institution of higher learning to earn an undergraduate degree in any discipline. But you can now earn your degree online from the comfort of your own home…or from wherever else you wish to roll up your sleeves and study.
What you’ll find as you start researching online degree options for computer science is that there is a lot to choose from. (Read What is the difference between computer science and information and communications technology (ICT)?)
Before checking out a list of 5 of the top online Bachelor of Science (BS) in Computer Science (CS) degrees, it makes sense to first look at what representatives from some of these institutions had to say.
What Makes a Winning Online Degree Program?
Dr. David A. Gaitros, program director for the Computer Science Department at Florida State University’s Panama City Branch Campus, said that his institution offers students an online BS in CS degree that is ABET-accredited. ABET, which stands for Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, offers accreditation for post-secondary institution programs in engineering technology, computing and other areas.
“The program here is very scalable,” he said, adding that many graduates go on to work at industry giants like Microsoft and Facebook. “What we think is important about the distance learning program is that in today’s society schedules are very, very important. The ability for someone to physically locate to a school is becoming much more restrictive.
“People’s schedules are important. They can’t always attend classes at a specific time, at a specific location. Our program is geared towards the person that has the time but maybe not the flexibility to attend classes. I think that’s going to be key in the future for college education.”
It’s also important that students look for online degree programs that are as rigorous and thorough as any degrees they would pursue in an on-campus learning environment.
According to Evangeline Cummings, the University of Florida’s assistant provost and director of the University of Florida Online, students need to look for an online BS in CS degree from an institution that has high academic standards.
In fact, she notes that only around 30% of students who apply to the university’s computer science programs actually receive a letter of acceptance.
“A degree from the University of Florida has a valuable impact on your resume and on your credentials,” said Cummings. “Our computer science program is actually quite difficult to get into. So what that represents is a strong value signal to your current and future employer about your capacity, your aptitude for really challenging and rigorous work, and your ability to excel and set yourself apart in your peer group.”
Students thinking about studying computer science at the University of Illinois might be interested in knowing that the institution is recognized as a National Center of Academic Excellence by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency.
“This designation brings a lot of opportunities and benefits to our students,” says Dr. Sviatoslav Braynov, department head and associate professor, Computer Science Department, University of Illinois at Springfield. “They’re eligible for federal stipends. There are some benefits when it comes to finding jobs."
“Another reason for students to come and join our program is our tuition rates are relatively low compared to other institutions. And at the same time, the quality of teaching is high…There’s no difference between online and on-campus. The same professor who teaches the on-campus section teaches the online section for our students.”
5 of the Top Online Computer Science Degree Programs
Here’s a list of 5 of the best online options when you want a BS in CS degree. These aren’t the only programs worth your consideration, so do your research to find the right option for you.
1. Florida State University
Florida State University's Office of Distance Learning offers a BS in CS degree that is designed to give students a systems view of computing. The school explains on its website that students will become adept at programming in Assembly Language, C and C++.
On another note, the school also offers a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in CS degree. However, it is neither accredited by ABET nor by the Computing Accreditation Commission. And a BA in CS degree won’t give you enough of a computer science theory background to prepare you for graduate work in computer science.
2. University of Florida
UF Online offers a BS in CS degree through its College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Citing U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics research that shows that work opportunities in computer jobs are poised to climb at a rate of 22% through this year, the school says its computer science degrees ensure students are ready. It adds that job opportunities post-degree include programmer, software engineer, computer systems analyst, researcher and more.
3. University of Illinois at Springfield
With its BS in CS degree, students will get a firm grasp of fundamental skills and core theories. The University of Illinois at Springfield says that students, after they graduate, will be equipped to take on different career opportunities in the computer science and IT spaces. Career opportunities include database administrator, computer programmer, network architect, software engineer and more.
4. Old Dominion University
According to Old Dominion University’s website, its program will introduce students to everything from experimental techniques to engineering methodology. It adds that graduates will be well prepared to take any of a wide range of computer science positions in the workforce.
5. Oregon State University
Oregon State University actually offers an online postbaccalaureate (postbac) CS program that is ideal for people who not only have already earned a BA in another discipline, but also have strong math skills. Students can take this postbac even if they haven’t previously earned a BS in CS degree.
Do Your Research and Get to Studying!
Whether you’ve just finished high school and are preparing for post-secondary school or you wish to transition to another career after having already earned a degree, you might want to consider a BS in CS degree. Plenty of well-paying and intellectually stimulating career opportunities await after you’ve put in the hard work and completed the requirements. Good luck!