Do you like to build things? Are you interested in an in-demand career that utilizes your STEM skills while also having a creative element? Whether you’re an aspiring code monkey, a casual xkcd reader, or simply have a passion for computers, you may be a good fit for an online bachelor’s degree in computer programming.
Given the nature of computer programming, earning a degree online makes sense. You’ll be working with computers in your future career, so you might as well also use them to pursue your education — while taking advantage of a cost-effective and convenient method of learning. The online environment puts you in the driver’s seat, often allowing you to complete work at your own pace from anywhere with an internet connection.
With all this in mind, not all online computer programming degrees are created equally — so this guide is here to help. Read on to learn how to find a program with the course content, student support, and opportunities for growth that will set the stage for a profitable future.
Bachelor’s Program Spotlights: Computer Programming Degrees Online
The first step is identifying a few stellar schools, and you’ll find that many different computer programming online bachelor’s programs out there. But each one is different — from courses offered to opportunities for independent projects, course format (synchronous vs. asynchronous classes) to practical considerations like cost and accreditation. The following spotlights offer a few particularly strong online computer programming bachelor’s degrees for your consideration. Take a look, and remember to do your research and factor in your own goals, needs, and circumstances before you apply.
Baker College, a private college offering online courses that are either synchronous or asynchronous depending on your preference, offers a 120-credit online Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Computer Science with a concentration in Computer Programming. Students in this program will not only learn the fundamentals of computer science and programming — including popular programming languages like Java and Python — but also will complete a senior project and 150 hours of for-credit, in-course work experience. Financial aid is available, including Baker’s own grant opportunities for students.
- Cost: $435/credit
- Location: Online; campus in Owosso, Michigan
- Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
Arizona State University, the flagship public university in Arizona, educates aspiring computer programmers through its BS in Computer Science through ASU Online. Students will receive a math-based, foundational education in computer science and programming, including the principles of software engineering, programming languages, and the ethics of computing. The goal of the degree is a balance of both technical knowledge and conceptual frameworks, with topics ranging from data structures and algorithms to ethics and information assurance. You’ll also complete a capstone project before graduating. Online tuition is fixed regardless of residency status, and financial aid is available.
- Cost: $689.83/credit
- Location: Online; campus in Tempe, Arizona
- Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
Herzing University, an accredited private university based in Wisconsin, offers rolling admissions to its 120-credit, 32-month online BS in Computer Programming. This program is designed for flexibility, with daytime or evening classes available for working students and access to state-of-the-industry virtual labs for all students. At the conclusion of this program, you can choose between completing a capstone project or relevant internship for the practical portion of your degree. Career support is also available, both during your degree and upon graduation, and online students have access to tutoring and academic advising via video.
- Cost: $515/credit
- Location: Online; campus in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
Classes for Your Computer Programming Online Degree
As part of your research for your prospective online bachelor’s in computer programming, it’s a good idea to know what the day-to-day coursework of your degree might look like. While every program is different and many have opportunities for electives, below are a few classes you’ll likely take as part of your core studies. Remember, in addition to courses like those described below, you may also be working on a capstone project or for-credit internship as part of your degree requirements.
Computer architecture is a term in computer science referring to the structure of computer systems and how the component parts and processes interact with each other. As a computer programmer, you’ll need to know software languages, digital design logic, and tactical aspects like designing a processor. Depending on the class, you may be learning the foundational basics of computer architecture, or you may be diving into much deeper detail.
Python is one of the most popular programming languages used in web development and data analysis. Python has been around for over 30 years, yet it’s still one of the most fundamental computer languages. Students will undertake hands-on coding exercises using common data structures, write custom functions, and read and write to files.
A professional programmer will need to be able to test their code to make sure that it’s running smoothly and to fix any bugs that they encounter along the way. In a software testing class, you will learn how to put your program through various stress tests, both from the front and back ends. This course may also offer an introduction to UX (user experience), and it will likely be where you first learn how to fix the bugs that your rigorous testing reveals.
Networking essentials is a concept that’s important in programming and related fields like IT support. In computer science, networking refers to the way that different, interconnected computing systems communicate, exchange data, and share resources with each other through a system of rules, referred to as communications protocols. In the context of programming, it’s important to know the fundamentals of networking, as your career will likely see you working on projects that span multiple interconnected systems.
As a programmer, you’ll most likely be working with other teams — each with their own defined roles — in the context of a larger project. It’s important that you are able to communicate efficiently and accurately with your colleagues, which is why it’s important to learn technical writing. In this course, STEM meets the humanities as you learn the writing skills necessary to communicate highly technical concepts to other knowledgeable people in the field.
Job Outlook: Careers and Salaries with an Online Computer Programming Degree
An online bachelor’s degree in computer programming can be a gateway into the highly lucrative, fast-paced world of tech. You’ll find that your degree makes you eligible for a variety of technical and software-related roles, and the opportunities continue to grow as you gain more professional and real-world experience. Below, find three common job titles that graduates of this degree program pursue, along with salary estimates.
Job #1: Computer Programmer
It may seem obvious, but an online bachelor’s in computer programming can put you in a great position to become a computer programmer — a position that can be the backbone of developing any kind of digital product or service. As a programmer, you’ll be writing the code that turns designs made by software developers and engineers into a usable product, whether that’s a new app or a data analysis program. Computer programming can be a well-paid field, with the average programmer in 2021 earning $93,000 per year according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Job #2: Quality Assurance Analyst
The knowledge you gain in your bachelor’s in computer programming online — computer programming skills, coding, and the ins and outs of any given program — can help you become a quality assurance (QA) analyst. As a QA analyst, you will be running tests on different types of software to ensure that they are running smoothly, troubleshooting bugs and resolving points of confusion in software operation. As a QA analyst, expect to earn a rewarding salary — the average in 2021, per the BLS, was $109,020 per year — and at 25% projected growth in the next decade, the field is expanding rapidly.
Job #3: Computer Systems Analyst
Computer systems analysts are sometimes referred to as systems architects. This is a role that can combine your knowledge of programming and computer science with business and management, as computer systems analysts study an organization’s existing computer structures and then design procedures that can improve them. Your goal will typically be improved efficiency, though systems can also be improved through bug fixes and more. This is a well-paid career, with a BLS average salary of $99,270 per year in 2021, and faster-than-average growth potential at 9% in the next decade.
How Much Does an Online Computer Programming Degree Cost?
The cost of an online bachelor’s in computer science is often significantly less than an on-campus program, particularly as you will not need to move to campus, and you may also be able to work full-or-part-time while you study. Beyond that, however, costs can vary significantly, depending on whether your school is public or private, whether your online degree offers in-state tuition to all students regardless of state of residency, availability of any scholarships, and more. Here are just a few examples of the varying costs of online computer programming bachelor’s degree programs:
|School||Cost Per Credit||Number of Credits|
|Oregon State University||$409||180 (quarter credits)|
|Southern New Hampshire University||$330||120|
|University of Maryland Global Campus||$318 (in-state)/ $499 (out-of-state)||120|
|Western Governors University||$3,985/6-month term, regardless of number of credits you take||123|
What Should I Look for in an Online Computer Programming Degree Program?
As you’re exploring different online bachelor’s programs in computer science, you’ll want to consider a few different factors before you apply. Here are key points to research when deciding if a particular school may be right for you:
It’s important to have a plan to pay for your degree. Check the degree costs of any school you’re considering — and research if you’re eligible for in-state tuition, need- or merit-based aid, and whether you’ll be able to transfer credits from AP classes or any other college experience. All of these will impact your total costs.
“Quality” can mean different things to different people. So check multiple sources, including other students’ experiences with the program, its reputation in rankings tables, what kind of faculty will be teaching you and your access to them, and more. Remember, even a program with a high table ranking can be lacking in quality in areas you care about.
The faculty who teach you will have a major impact on your student experience. Not only is it important that your institution has experienced faculty with strong knowledge of their field, it can also be vital that the faculty are skilled and experienced as teachers. Check on student forums and teacher-ranking sites to get opinions from people, but also review professor CVs and faculty info on college websites.
It is critical that your program is accredited. Accreditation by a recognized third-party accrediting body means your program meets certain standards, and that your degree will be recognized as legitimate by employers and postgraduate programs. Check online to see your school’s national, regional, or programmatic (if applicable) accreditation status.
What format your classes are in will impact your experience in significant ways. Some classes are synchronous, others asynchronous, still others self-paced. Which option is the best fit for you will depend on your own circumstances (specifically, what kinds of personal, professional, and family obligations you have), as well as your individual learning style. So consider these factors carefully when looking into different programs.
Questions to Ask About Computer Programming Online Degree Programs
Here are six of the most pressing questions, according to our readers.
Are online bachelor’s degree programs in computer programming fully online?
Online bachelor’s degree programs in computer programming can typically be completed 100% online. One of the advantages of studying computer programming is that the vast majority of work is done from your computer, which makes it ideal for online study. You may need to complete a capstone project or internship as part of your degree, but this can typically be completed online and will not require traveling to campus.
What does the admissions process look like for this degree?
The admissions process for your online bachelor’s in computer science will generally be a fairly standard bachelor’s degree admissions process. You will need to complete an application, usually online, and provide transcripts from your high school and any previous college studies. You may also need to provide an essay or personal statement, letters of recommendation, and SAT/ACT scores depending on your school — check their individual admission requirements.
How long does it take to complete a bachelor’s degree in computer programming online?
Typically, an online bachelor’s in computer programming takes four years to complete. However, some schools offer accelerated programs that can be finished more quickly, and if you enter the program with previous credits (such as from community college or AP classes) you may also be able to graduate early. Part-time programs, when offered, may take longer to complete due to the lower time commitment to your classes per week.
What academic and career support services are available to online students earning their bachelor’s degree in computer programming?
Academic and career support for online students, as with in-person students, varies significantly from school to school. Many schools with online degree offerings will have an academic advisor assigned to every online student, as well as optional resources such as peer-to-peer tutoring, career counseling, and mental health support via video services. Check with your college about the various resources offered to online bachelor’s students in their institution.
What are some of the technical requirements of earning an online degree in computer programming?
As an online bachelor’s student in computer programming, it’s vitally important that you have a working laptop, preferably a relatively new and long-lasting one, and reliable high-speed internet connection to attend classes and complete assignments. In addition, you may need specific software programs, and your college may have further recommendations/advice (including whether a Mac or PC is best suited for the program).
Can I work while pursuing an online computer programming degree?
It’s entirely possible to work at a paid job while pursuing your online computer programming bachelor’s degree. You likely won’t have to relocate, so if you’re currently employed, students can usually continue in their jobs. Some programs are specifically designed for working students, offering asynchronous classes with evening and weekend options. The degree of flexibility in online programs does vary, so be sure to research expectations before choosing a school.
Other Degree Options in Computer Science
If you are still unsure which path in computer science you want to take, look at these other bachelor’s degree options: