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Online Degrees in Computer Science


Article Sources
  • A.S. Computer Science, Franklin University,https://www.franklin.edu/degrees/associates/computer-science, accessed October 2018
  • Applied Computer Science, Undergraduate Certificate, Indiana University,https://online.iu.edu/program/indiana-applied-computer-science-undergraduate-1515523342671, accessed October 2018
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, Colorado Technical University,https://www.coloradotech.edu/degrees/bachelors/computer-science, accessed October 2018
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, University of Florida Online,https://ufonline.ufl.edu/degrees/undergraduate/computer-science/, accessed October 2018
  • BS in Computer Science, Southern New Hampshire University,https://www.snhu.edu/online-degrees/bachelors/bs-in-computer-science, accessed October 2018
  • Chapter 3: Postsecondary Education, Digest of Education Statistics, 2016 (NCES 2017-094) U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2018 https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d16/ch_3.asp
  • Computer and Information Research Scientists 15-1111.00, National Center for O*NET Development, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/15-1111.00, accessed October 2018
  • Computer and Information Research Scientists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-and-information-research-scientists.htm, accessed October 2018
  • Computer and Information Technology Occupations, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook,https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm, accessed October 2018
  • Computer Science Online, Associate in Science Degree Program, SUNY Ulster,https://www.sunyulster.edu/academics/credit_programs/computer_sci_online, accessed October 2018
  • Computer Science, Associate of Science in Computer Science, Salem University,https://www.salemu.edu/degrees/associate-computer-science/, accessed October 2018
  • Computer Science, Master of Computer Science (M.C.S.), Colorado State University,https://www.online.colostate.edu/degrees/computer-science/, accessed October 2018
  • Computer Systems Analysts, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook,https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-systems-analysts.htm, accessed October 2018
  • Database Administrators, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook,https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/database-administrators.htm, accessed October 2018
  • Certificate in Computer Science, Department of Computer Science, University of Regina,http://www.cs.uregina.ca/UndergradProgram/programs/certificate.html, accessed November 2018
  • Doctor of Computer Science - General, Colorado Technical University, https://www.coloradotech.edu/degrees/doctorates/computer-science, accessed October 2018
  • Doctor of Computer Science (D.Sc), Atlantic International University, https://www.aiu.edu/Doctor-of-Computer-Science.html, accessed October 2018
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science, Northcentral University, https://www.ncu.edu/programs-degrees/doctoral/doctor-philosophy-computer-science#gref, accessed October 2018
  • IT Industry Outlook 2018, CompTIA, 2018, https://www.comptia.org/resources/it-industry-trends-analysis
  • Master of Science in Computer Science, USC Viterbi School of Engineering, USC Online, https://online.usc.edu/programs/computer-science-ms/, accessed October 2018
  • Rebooting Jobs: How Computer Science Skills Spread in the Job Market, Burning Glass Technologies, 2017, https://www.burning-glass.com/wp-content/uploads/rebooting_jobs_2017.pdf
  • The 9 Top-paying Computer Science Jobs, Northeastern University, 2017,https://www.northeastern.edu/graduate/blog/top-paying-computer-science-jobs/
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Computer Science, Thomas Edison State University,https://www.tesu.edu/heavin/undergrad-certificates/computer-science, accessed October 2018
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Computer science degree programs offer a versatile technical credential, with applications in the world of IT, software development, scientific research and development, and beyond. The sheer variety reflects growing opportunities in careers requiring a computer science degree which include software developers and computer and information research scientists. In 2017, nearly 5.4 million individuals worked as technology professionals across the U.S. economy.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that individuals working in the field of computer science should be able to find creative solutions to solve computer problems by "thinking out of the box," and have an analytical thought process in order to interpret complex data.

An online computer science degree program can help you develop these skills, whether you are setting off on your career as a recent high school grad, a career changer or are simply looking to develop your skills in computer science. The flexibility offered by online programs can suit individuals with family, work or other commitments or professionals looking for a career change.

The ability to work with and analyze data — any kind of data, in any industry — is increasingly linked with computer science skills.

The sections below outline common professions within the computer science field and their related duties.

Database administrator

  • Creating, administering and maintaining databases according to employer needs
  • Ensuring databases operate smoothly, are backed up and remain secure
  • Modifying database structures as needed and updating them when necessary

Computer systems analyst

  • Studying and installing computer systems for an organization to help them work efficiently
  • Designing and implementing new computer systems or customizing existing ones
  • Training end users and writing instruction manuals

Computer and information research scientists

  • Studying and solving a host of computing problems for various industries
  • Inventing new computing methods, tools and languages
  • Exploring computing issues, conducting research and publishing their findings in academic journals

There are numerous specialized career paths available under the general umbrella of computer science, and some have a slightly brighter outlook than others. The BLS projects employment for computer and information technology occupations to grow at a rate that is 13 percent faster than the average for all occupations. In fact, these occupations are expected to add over half a million jobs by 2026! According to CompTIA, a leading tech association, nearly 4 in 10 U.S. IT firms in 2017 reported having job openings and have been actively recruiting candidates for technical positions

The following table lists the occupational outlook for professions related to computer science along with their job openings, average salary, total employment and job outlook using data from the BLS:

Career
Employment
(2017)
Average Salary
(2017)
Projected Job Growth
(2016 - 26)
Software Developers, Applications849,230$106,71030.5%
Information Security Analysts105,250$99,69028.4%
Computer and Information Research Scientists27,920$119,57019.2%
Web Developers125,890$74,11013.1%
Database Administrators113,690$89,05011.5%
Software Developers, Systems Software394,590$111,78010.8%
Computer Systems Analysts581,960$92,7408.8%
Computer Science Teachers, Postsecondary32,230$91,5908%
Source: 2017 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2016-26 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

Choose a degree that can help you meet your career goals

An associate degree may help you obtain entry-level positions in the field of computer science while a bachelor's of computer science degree is often a prerequisite for business-related positions in technology. A master's degree in computer sciences may suit individuals who wish to enter the field of computing research or for high-level positions in the field of computer sciences.

Take a look at the education level most web developers have:

Web Developers
Education Level Required & Percentage of Respondents
Postsecondary certificate
17%
Associate
17%
Bachelor's
46%
Source: 2018 Occupational Information Network (O*NET), U.S. Department of Labor, onetonline.org
More than 20% of career track jobs (jobs that pay at least $15/ hour) value coding skills.

What can I expect to learn in an online certificate program?

Online computer science certificate programs can give students an overview of different computer science principles and introduce them to emerging technologies in the field. Students may also be able to choose electives based on their areas of interest and the particular focus of the online computer science program. Students may want to consider mathematics and statistics, economics, and administration as part of their elective courses as these subjects may complement the certificate program adding to their skill sets .

Typical duration: Up to one year of part-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: Students can learn to solve computing problems, learn a programming language and design algorithms. Coursework may include:

  • Fundamentals of web development
  • Computer architecture
  • Fundamentals of computer science concepts
  • Fundamentals of software project management

Possible electives: Data mining; computer programming languages; artificial intelligence; computation of scientific applications

What can I do after earning a certificate?

According to a report by Burning Glass Technologies on the impact of computer science skills on jobs, even basic training in computer sciences can support a range of job market functions like building websites or solving financial data problems.

An online certificate in computer science may allow you to obtain entry-level positions. Jobs you may be eligible for are:

  • Help desk technical support
  • User support specialist
  • Visual basic developer
  • Multimedia developer

What can I expect to learn in an online associate degree program?

Online associate degree programs in computer science can offer a versatile introduction to the IT field, and typically focus on as hands-on practice in computer applications for the business environment. Programs are usually designed to help students develop a broad skill set in technology platforms, databases, graphical applications, spreadsheets, and operating systems.

Typical duration: Up to two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: You may find these courses in your curriculum:

  • Computer architecture and organization
  • Principles of computer organization
  • Database management systems
  • Object-oriented programming
  • Programming languages: principles and practice

As a part of your online computer science degree program, you may need to complete a practicum.

Possible electives: Math; CSC, CIS, engineering; natural science

What can I do after earning an associate degree?

Associate degree programs in computer science may work as a stepping stone toward a bachelor's degree or help you obtain entry-level positions as a:

  • Programmer analyst
  • Systems analyst
  • Data analyst
  • Software developer
Sixty-two percent of the fastest-growing skills are computer science related.

What can I expect to learn in an online bachelor's degree program?

The coursework for an online bachelor's degree program in computer science covers a range of topics and can give students the opportunity to build a varied skill set.

Typical duration: Up to four years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: The curriculum generally focuses on programming languages, mathematics, data structures, logic and computation, and computer architecture. Students can learn design, development, support and management of hardware, software, and systems integration. Courses may include:

  • Problem solving in computer science
  • Introduction to Structured Query Language (SQL)
  • Mobile programming
  • Introduction to computer security
  • Computer platform technologies

You may have to complete a practicum as a part of your program requirements.

Possible electives: Software engineering; security risk management; machine learning; scripting for the web

What can I do after earning a bachelor's degree?

Many employers prefer candidates to have at least a bachelor's degree for business-related positions in technology. Potential occupations include:

  • Business intelligence analyst
  • Computer programmer
  • Computer systems analyst
  • Database administrator
  • Information security analyst

What can I expect to learn in an online master's degree program?

Online master's degree programs in computer science explore advanced computer science topics so that students can gain in-depth knowledge of current issues and advancements in technology.

Typical duration: Up to two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: Bachelor's degree in computer sciences or a related subject

Typical coursework: Students can usually take courses in diverse topics in computer sciences and may also be able to choose an area of concentration. Coursework may include:

  • Analysis of algorithms
  • Fault-tolerant computing
  • Machine learning
  • Software testing and analysis
  • Introduction to computer graphics

You may have to complete a master's thesis as a part of your program requirements.

Possible electives: Foundations of artificial intelligence; web technologies; database systems

What can I do after earning a master's degree?

A master's degree in computer sciences can allow you work in a range of different industries in high-level management or research positions. Occupations and/or titles you may be able to pursue are:

  • Computer and information research scientists
  • Software Development Engineer (SDE)
  • Security engineer
  • Software Development Engineer, Test (SDET)

What can I expect to learn in an online doctoral degree program?

Students interested in doctoral studies in computer science may choose from two types of degree programs. Both are academically equivalent and provide an intensive, research-based curriculum.

  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) — this is the most common doctoral degree in computer science.
  • Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) — students may choose a specialization in applied computer science.

Students of online doctoral degree programs in computer sciences can expand their expertise in areas of computer science of their choosing.

Typical duration: Five to seven years of full-time study

General prerequisites: Master's degree in computer science or related field; bachelor's degree with a certain amount of work experience in the field

Typical coursework: You may find the following courses:

  • Testing of integrated circuits and systems
  • Compilers
  • Computer vision and image processing
  • Current topics in computer science and information systems

You may have to pass a set of comprehensive exams covering both core topics and individual areas of expertise before you advance to Ph.D. candidacy.

Dissertations: The second half of a computer science doctoral program is spent working on dissertation research. Dissertations are based upon original research and should help contribute to the world of computing. Once the topic is approved by a faculty committee, the dissertation begins with in-depth, exhaustive research and concludes with an oral presentation and defense of the work. The project showcases investigative research and analysis skills learned throughout the program.

What can I do after earning a doctoral degree?

A Ph.D. in computer science may lead to a development or management role in an industry or an academic career.

DBA programs can help prepare graduates for both leadership and technological roles. Potential jobs you may be eligible for are:

  • Geospatial information scientists and technologists
  • Search marketing strategists
  • Document management specialists
  • University professor

Specializations

The BLS estimates that job openings in the computer sciences field will likely come from the increased use of cloud computing, the collection and storage of big data, and information security. Evolving technology has also given rise to new computer science specializations. Specializations you may be able to find include:

  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • Big data analytics
  • Cybersecurity and information assurance
  • Enterprise information systems
  • Parallel computing
  • Software engineering
  • Systems software

Accreditation

The Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) is the main professional accrediting body for computer science programs. Specialized programmatic accreditation demonstrates that the program offers quality education that meets or exceeds the standards set by professionals in the field.

Attending an accredited online computer science degree program can also be a prerequisite for receiving federal funding, scholarships or grants, if you meet qualifying factors. Additionally, most universities only accept credits from accredited institutions or programs making it an important factor to consider if you plan to continue with your education.

Certifications

Professional certifications in the field of computer sciences may not be mandatory, but they can serve to demonstrate your expertise in a particular aspect of the field. Some companies may also require their employees to have certifications in the products they use. The Institute for the Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP) offers the following certificates:

  • Certified Computer Scientist
  • Computer Science Associate
  • Certified Computing Professional

Employment Statistics

Computer and Information Research Scientists

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Scientific Research and Development Services
  • Software Publishers
  • Federal Executive Branch
  • Computer Systems Design and Related Services
  • Equipment and Supplies Merchant Wholesalers
States with the highest level of employment
  • California
  • Virginia
  • Maryland
  • Texas
  • Washington
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
  • Huntsville, AL
  • Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA Metropolitan Division
  • Boulder, CO

Computer Programmers

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Computer Systems Design and Related Services
  • Software Publishers
  • Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services
  • Other Information Services
  • Scientific Research and Development Services
States with the highest level of employment
  • California
  • Texas
  • New York
  • Illinois
  • New Jersey
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA Metropolitan Division
  • Bellingham, WA
  • San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA Metropolitan Division
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
  • Huntsville, AL

Computer Systems Analysts

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Computer Systems Design and Related Services
  • Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services
  • Monetary Authorities-Central Bank
  • Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing
  • Software Publishers
States with the highest level of employment
  • California
  • Texas
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Virginia
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA Metropolitan Division
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
  • New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division
  • Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA
  • Danbury, CT

Web Developers

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Other Information Services
  • Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services
  • Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services
  • Sound Recording Industries
  • Computer Systems Design and Related Services
States with the highest level of employment
  • California
  • New York
  • Texas
  • Florida
  • Washington
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA Metropolitan Division
  • San Rafael, CA Metropolitan Division
  • Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA Metropolitan Division
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
  • Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Division

Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

There is a severe need for qualified professionals in the computer sciences industry, so it follows that there are several scholarships and grants targeting aspiring computer science professionals. Some scholarships you may find are:

Other resources for aspiring computer scientists

Article Sources
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