Online Degrees in Computer Programming

Because computers are such an integral part of both our personal and professional lives, it's hard to imagine our current world without them. Computer programmers are charged with writing and testing computer and software application code to ensure that every system runs smoothly. Students who graduate with computer programming degrees can be found working in a variety of industries, including computer systems design, software design, manufacturing, financial services, and more. Writing and testing code does not always require an office setting. Thus, some computer programmers might work remotely or even from home.

How to Choose the Right Computer Programming Degree

For students who are interested in computers, computer software, and computer applications, a computer programming degree may be a great fit. Computer programmers should be detail oriented and possess excellent analytical and troubleshooting skills. They must also be able to concentrate on highly technical information for long periods at a time. While seeking a computer programming degree, students can expect to take courses in computer science, information technology, advanced mathematics, English composition, software development, and database systems.

To earn entry-level employment as a computer programmer, most employers require job applicants to hold a bachelor's degree in computer science. Some hiring managers may consider applicants with an associate degree. Online degrees in computer programming range from the associate level to doctoral programs. Listed below are the various levels of computer programming degree programs, along with potential career outcomes for each:


Length of Completion

Potential Careers

Associate in Computer Science

Associate degrees typically take up to two years of full-time study to complete, often in preparation for a bachelor's program.

Computer Programmer, Web Developer

Bachelor's in Computer Science

These programs typically take four years of full-time study to complete.

Computer Programmer, Software Developer, Computer Hardware Engineer, Computer Network Architect, Database Administrator, Network or Computer Systems Administrator

Master's in Software Design and Programming

Master's degree programs take up to two years of full-time study after completion of a bachelor's degree.

Computer and Information Systems Manager

Ph.D. in Computer Science

These programs take three to four years of study after earning a bachelor's degree. A master's degree may be a prerequisite for enrollment.

Computer and Information Research Scientist

As computers and computer applications continue to expand their reach into our professional and personal lives, employment opportunities in many computer-related fields continue to grow. Graduates with degrees in computer programming may be exceptionally well prepared to meet the demands of this growing marketplace.

Before selecting a specific computer programming degree program, students should consider how long the program will take to complete. As noted, most specializations related to computer programming will require a four-year degree. Prospective students should keep this in mind as they consider their educational options. However, those interested in careers such as web development may find gainful employment with a two-year degree.

What to Expect in a Computer Programming Program

Students who pursue a degree in computer programming can expect to take both general education courses and courses designed to meet the needs of their specialization. While computer programming positions require a thorough understanding of computers and certain coding languages, computer programmers must also possess sharp analytical and problem solving skills. In many cases, these skills are learned through general education courses such as mathematics.

Although the curriculum will vary by degree type and school, core courses for a computer programming degree program usually include:

  • Computer Science I, II, and III
  • Hardware/Software Support
  • JAVA Programming
  • Database Design and Administration
  • Web Development and PHP
  • Programming with C#
  • Visual Basic Programming
  • Software Development with Python
  • Discrete Mathematics for Computers
  • Fundamentals of Networking
  • IT Architectures
  • Systems Analysis
  • Software Design and Testing
  • Intro to Project Management
  • Foundations of Business
  • Calculus
  • English Composition

Computer Programming Degree Specializations

As the computer industry continues to grow, so too do employers needs for computer programmers with specific skill sets. Some specializations within the field include:

  • Software Application Programming
  • Systems Administration
  • Database Administration
  • Network Architecture
  • Systems Security
  • Hardware Engineering
  • Web Development

Certain specializations require knowledge of specific coding languages. Students should keep this in mind while pursuing their degree. Focusing on their intended career may help them take the proper elective courses and learn the most important computer languages required for each specialization. Additionally, computer programmers may be required to be certified in certain coding languages or for vendor-specific products.

Benefits of an Online Degree in Computer Programming

Online degrees programs are often a perfect fit for aspiring computer programmers. Just as writing and creating computer code can be done from anywhere, the same can be said for learning how to create code. In addition, general education requirements are heavily theory based and easily taught in an online setting. Since students are studying computer applications, a web-based classroom is a natural way for computer programming students to learn.

Students pursuing a computer programming degree online can take advantage of state-of-the-art technologies which combine the flexible nature of online education with many of the benefits of a traditional campus experience. Students learn by ""attending"" video lectures, using online reading materials and texts, and completing their assignments via web-based learning management systems -- all at a time which is convenient for them. Video chat, message boards, and email have also made communication with professors and classmates easier than ever.

With 24-hour access to most learning materials, students seeking online degrees in computer programming can complete their coursework at a time of their choosing. Online learning provides a flexible atmosphere that is particularly beneficial for adults and those with family or work commitments. Current technologies and learning systems have made earning an online degree accessible for anybody with an internet connection.

Careers in Computer Programming

The skills learned in a computer programming degree program translate to many different positions within the growing computer and technology industry. Keep in mind that programming and development jobs often overlap in the modern work environment. Thus, graduates holding a computer programming degree have a variety of career options available to them. Working conditions vary by industry type, specialization, and job title.

The chart below highlights some possible career paths for computer programming graduates, along with relevant wage and employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Average Salary
Expected Job Growth
(2014 - 2024)
Software Developers, Applications794,000$104,30030.5%
Web Developers129,540$72,15013.1%
Software Developers, Systems Software409,820$110,59010.8%
Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Online degrees in computer programming help prepare graduates for a variety of different positions in the computer and software programming fields. The right degree program often depends on an individual student's career goals. Although entry-level employment may be obtained with a two-year degree, most employers prefer to hire candidates with at least a bachelor's degree in computer programming or a related field.

To learn more about online degrees in computer programming, or get information about a specific program, check out any of the schools listed below.

Computer and Information Research Scientists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-and-information-research-scientists.htm
Computer and Information Systems Managers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/computer-and-information-systems-managers.htm
Computer Hardware Engineers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/computer-hardware-engineers.htm
Computer Network Architects, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-network-architects.htm
Computer Programmers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-programmers.htm
Database Administrators, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/database-administrators.htm
May 2015 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm
Network and Computer Systems Administrators, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/network-and-computer-systems-administrators.htm
Software Developers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm
Web Developers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/web-developers.htm

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