Online Computer Science Degrees

Online schools make it possible to earn a computer science degree while you work. A degree in this field may help you get a job in the tech field, finance field, and many other fields. You can hold roles in positions from a software engineer to an IT manager.

An online computer science (CS) degree looks at information and the technology used to process it. You may study theories and methods of calculation. Also, hardware, software and the ways that both are used to solve real problems.

There are online degrees for CS majors at all levels. From bachelor’s to master’s and PhDs. At each stage, you may tailor your studies to your own interests. Whether this means learning how to program games, engineer a data base, do research or design systems.

Bachelor’s in Computer Science

An online bachelor’s degree in CS may lead to a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS). Often, the BA provides breadth while the BS is more in depth in one area of computer science. Both may serve as the entry point to most IT and CS jobs.

Based on which online school you go to, most programs entail about 120 credits. This may be done in about 4 years for a full time student. You won’t study the same topics in every program. But for a typical BS, expect some classes in applied math. Course work might also cover a range of programs, languages and applications. Here are a few courses you might take:

  • Python, Java and C++
  • Operating Systems
  • App Development
  • Software Testing
  • Data Mining Basics

You may also find online schools with a specific area of focus. Computer security and software engineering are popular areas at this level.

Cost is another variable. For an in state college, tuition is about $6,478 while out of state is $31,584 and on the rise by 2.68% per year. Since these are averages, some online schools may cost less (or more).

Master’s in Computer Science

An online master’s degree in CS is usually a Master of Science (MS). It’s often the next step for computer science professionals who want to go for a manager role or carve out a career niche. For instance, an online MCS is the entry point for computer science research and some InfoSec jobs.

Next, a typical masters degree in CS entails from 30 to 36 credits. This can be done in about 2 years or less if you take a full time course load. If you are working and only able to study part time, it can be done in 3 to 5 years. The courses are less broad than in a bachelor’s program too. You may take courses like:

  • Graphics/HCI
  • Software Engineering
  • Cloud Computing
  • Scientific Computing
  • High Performance Computing

While laying this broad frame work, you may also go into more advanced areas. These often pertain to data mining, statistics and modeling. To cap things off, you may also have a capstone course and final project.

How much does a master’s in CS cost? The average cost of a master’s degree from a public college is $11,617 per year. This means you will be able to find online master’s programs that are both easier to afford and more expensive.

PhD in Computer Science

An online PhD in CS is a research degree. It is a terminal degree and builds on prior knowledge and skills. Since professors must have their PhD, it is often the degree of choice for those who want to teach. Also, many large companies and research labs have upper level positions for PhD grads.

If you are in pursuit of a PhD in CS, it can be done in about 4 to 5 years. Many programs entail from 72 to 90 credits and involve independent research. Because of their focus, a large part of a PhD program is about research methods. For example, how to craft and test a theory, or analyze and present data.

PhD students put these findings in a dissertation. It usually contains an original theory that contributes to the CS field. As such, it is a way to author and publish as well as show yourself as a thought leader. In other classes, you may build wide and deep subject matter expertise in these areas:

  • Human Computer Interaction
  • Software Engineering
  • Machine Learning
  • Robotics

You may also find online schools with specific areas of focus. These may serve as anchor points for your own research. Big Data Analytics and Cyber Security and Information Assurance are a few.

Since working on a dissertation can be very hands on, even online schools may require brief residencies. This will help with your teaching skills in a classroom. They may also involve time in the lab, being able to meet with your research mentor or things like this.

What can I do with an Online Computer Science Degree?

An online CS degree may pave the way to a wide array of in demand jobs. Today’s economy values the skills of people who know how to create and improve software. Also, the demand for computer scientists isn’t only in Silicon Valley!

Here are 7 careers you can pursue with an online CS degree:

  1. Software Developer
  2. Entry level IT Manager
  3. Entry level Computer Hardware Engineer
  4. Computer Programmer
  5. Entry level Computer Systems Analyst
  6. Database Administrator
  7. Network Administrator

There are many career choices with a master’s in CS. Many use their advanced skill sets to pursue roles in one of these 7 careers:

  1. Director of IT
  2. Chief Technology Officer
  3. Computer and Information Research Scientist
  4. Senior Hardware Engineer
  5. Computer Network Architect
  6. Computer Analyst/Consultant
  7. Information Security Analyst

Yet other careers may be open if you have a PhD in CS. There’s a growing need for computer science teachers in colleges. You might also lead research for the gov’t, a private company, or at a college. Some major companies also put PhD holders in director roles.

Is an Online Degree in Computer Science worth it?

An online CS degree may get you ready for many in demand tech jobs. Ones with higher than average salaries and room for you to climb the ladder. Innovative software is crucial to business, health care and cyber security. This is fueling growth for many CS jobs, especially software developers.

According to BLS.gov, the job market for software developers is ripe with potential. Employment is on the rise to 2026 by 24% which is much faster than the average for all occupations. It is even higher (31%) for app developers.

Based on where you work as a software developer, you might earn an annual salary of $103,620. In 2018, the lowest 10% of all workers earned less than $61,660 and the highest 10% earned more than $161,290.

Computer Science Degree Jobs & Salary

OccupationAverage SalaryJobs
Web Developer$74,110125,890
Software Developer$106,710849,230
Computer Systems Analyst$92,740581,960
Database Administrator$95,050113,690

Top States for Jobs as a Web Developer

State Jobs Annual Mean Wage
CA 21,150 $84,270
NY 11,900 $82,360
TX 7,920 $71,340
FL 6,930 $62,290
WA 5,640 $92,260

Computer Science Degree Courses

In a typical online CS program, you may take a blend of core topics, electives, hands on labs and a capstone. But course programs are different at each online school and for each level of study. If you are going for a bachelor’s degree in CS, here are some online classes you might take:

  • Operating Systems
  • Mobile Web App Development
  • Cloud Computing Basics

Most bachelors programs use these core classes to build your knowledge and technical skills. This often means studying things like how to program, algorithms and data structures. Through these classes, you might learn about Java, C++, OpenGL, Octave, and MATLAB.

Apart from being taught the methods, you may also learn how to apply them. This can mean learning how to create 3D worlds. Or how to develop animated characters and use special effects.

You may also study the theory, science, and math behind modern computing. In looking at these areas, you might learn to apply logic and math. As such, by the end of your program, you may be able to design, develop and verify secure computing systems.

You may also learn to design and use computational tools. This work often hones your skills in being able to think things through and being able to solve problems. While learning the basics, you may also co create a study plan. You might do this by choosing an area of focus. Each area of focus involves a cluster of courses. These help you gain skill sets for specific careers. There are many different ones to think about and to scout online schools for such as:

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Security
  • Mainframe Computing
  • Cloud Computing Basics
  • Software Development

Take a closer look at some of the online CS classes below.

Intro to Software Engineering

Software engineering course aims to teach students to develop software within the desired goals of the business or project. Students who take this intro course may learn secure coding. They may also learn software reverse engineering. Many will focus on user experience. This includes in areas of both design and development. This course may be a concentration. Those who wish to work as a software engineer may seek out this course.

Information Systems

The focus of an info systems course is to provide an understanding of security and networking. This may be a concentration for some students in the computer science field. They may learn computer system security. Many may learn cyber security as a foundation course. Computer networking is another common focus area for this. Some schools teach industry best practices. There may be a focus on security planning, too.

Programming Languages

Many students earning a BS in computer science may use this course to get started. It could offer knowledge of different industry regulations. Students may also learn about coding in various languages. They may learn how to secure and use these systems properly. The goal is to help students to develop a functional program using various types of programming languages.

Data Analysis

Data analysis is an important computer science course for modern students. The focus is on getting, using, and understanding data from various points. Structured database environments are often one of the course concepts many programs offer. Data validation may be another. Some programs offer enhanced and emerging tech in this field. Many focus on creating databases and using industry tools to use data.

How long does it take to get an Online Computer Science Degree?

A full time student often needs about 4 years to earn a bachelors degree in CS online. Some online schools also offer degree completion programs. These enable you to transfer credits (possibly up to 90) from an associate’s degree. As such, you may earn your degree in as few as 18 months.

Moreover, a master’s degree in CS may take about 2 years. Many schools offer part time programs, knowing that online students may work full time. So it may take between 3 and 5 years, with some schools setting time limits.

If you enter a PhD program for computer science, it can take you 4 to 5 years. Or fewer if your program accepts transfer credits. But, because one needs to finish a dissertation, some students may need longer.

University Level of Degree # of Credits Required Starts Per Year Minimum Months to Complete
Rasmussen College Bachelors (degree completion) 90 Multiple 18
University of Maryland Bachelors 120 Every 8 weeks 48
Oregon State University Bachelors (B.S. Postbaccalaureate) 60 4 24
Capitol Technology University Masters 30 Every 16 weeks 24
Syracuse University Masters 30 Multiple 15
Aspen University PhD 60 Multiple 25
Northcentral University PhD 54 Multiple 39

15 Online Computer Science Degrees

There are many online schools for a CS degree. Here are 15 online colleges that offer them.

  1. Franklin University
  2. University of North Dakota
  3. DeVry University
  4. Western Governors University
  5. National University
  6. Capitol Technology University
  7. University of Illinois Springfield
  8. Drexel University
  9. Frostburg State University
  10. Columbia University
  11. Colorado Technical University
  12. Aspen University
  13. University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
  14. University of South Dakota
  15. North Central University

FIND AN ONLINE COMPUTER SCIENCE DEGREE

Let’s take a closer look at the online CS degrees that these 15 schools have to offer. 

1

Franklin University

BS in Computer Science

Fully Online


This program is 124-semester credits and may take under 4 years to complete. It provides a solid base in software development.

You’ll study a wide range of languages and how to apply them. Using Java technology, you may work on building industrial and reusable software parts. Other courses include:

  • Coding & Testing
  • Web Application Development
  • Database Management

Tuition and Fees: 
Undergrad $9,577
Grad $16,080
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$5,612

Average Net Price:
$18,684

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, recognized student veteran organization, dedicated point of contact & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Higher Learning Commission

2

University of North Dakota

BS in Computer Science

Fully Online


This program entails 120 credits which may be done in 4 to 5 years. Apart from a solid set of math courses, you may learn to create web and mobile apps.

The program also has students analyze imagery and data from manned and unmanned aircraft systems. A few courses are:

  • UI Design
  • Algorithms and Data Structure
  • Computer Architecture

Tuition and Fees: 
Undergrad $15,895
Grad $19,958
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$5,212

Average Net Price:
$15,374

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, recognized student veteran organization, dedicated point of contact & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Higher Learning Commission.

3

DeVry University

BS in Software Development

Fully Online


This program is 124 credits and may take 4 years + 2 months, or less. It covers the methods and tools to create software apps. You’ll also learn how to manage and analyze data.

Other basic topics include operating systems, how to program and learning about hardware. Plus, there are 3 ways to tailor the degree to career goals through a focus:

  • Big Data and Analytics
  • Web and Mobile App Development
  • Software Design and Programming

Tuition and Fees: 
Undergrad $17,798
Grad $17,562
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$4,838

Average Net Price:
$27,689

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, recognized student veteran organization, dedicated point of contact & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Higher Learning Commission

4

Western Governors University

BS in Computer Science

Fully Online


This program consists of 34 courses. Since WGU lets students move through material they already know, many students can complete their degree in 6 to 36 months.

The full course covers many key topics. You may gain skills in logic, data structures, AI and business.

  • Business of IT – Project Management
  • Natural Science Lab
  • Network and Security Foundations

Tuition and Fees: 
Undergrad $6,670
Grad $7,790
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$2,635

Average Net Price:
N/A

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, recognized student veteran organization, dedicated point of contact & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Distance Education Accrediting Commission, Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

5

National University

BS in Computer Science

Fully Online


This program consists of 180 quarter credits and may be done in about 4 years. There is also BS in Computer Science/MS in Computer Science (BSCS/MSCS) Transition Program.

The program melds academics with real world projects. You’ll study the following areas:

  • Software Engineering
  • Computer Architecture
  • Computer Communications Networks

Tuition and Fees: 
Undergrad $13,320
Grad $15,480
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$5,026

Average Net Price:
N/A

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, recognized student veteran organization, dedicated point of contact & member of SOC.

Accredited:
WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). The BS in Computer Science is accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET.

6

Capitol Technology University

MS in Computer Science

Fully Online


This program consists of 30 credits and comes in 16 week formats. It gives instruction on how to design and use modern computer based systems.

Your study includes languages, wireless tech, PDAs, data science security. Plus, there are other areas like:

  • Information Architecture
  • National Security
  • Advanced Computer Science

Tuition and Fees: 
Undergrad $26,308
Grad $11,466
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$13,491

Average Net Price:
$21,816

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, recognized student veteran organization, dedicated point of contact & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Their BS in Computer Science is accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET.

7

University of Illinois at Springfield

MS in Computer Science

Fully Online


This program consists of 32 credits (8 courses). It focuses on software. You’ll study how to design, analyze, and implement software programs.

Apart from 400 and 500 level courses, there is also a research aspect to the program. Students choose their own topics which might include:

  • Computer Programming
  • Data Structures and Algorithms
  • Digital Forensics

Tuition and Fees: 
Undergrad $21,338
Grad $18,176
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$9,322

Average Net Price:
$10,733

Military Programs:
Credit for military training, recognized student veteran organization, dedicated point of contact & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Higher Learning Commission

8

Drexel University

MS in Computer Science

Fully Online


This program entails 45 credits and there is an option to complete a thesis. It stresses both theory and practice. This means you will study core topics while also learning about the latest tools.

Students choose a range of 600 and 700 level topics to fulfill the breadth and depth needs. Plus, there is a full menu of core topics. Some of these relate to areas like computation, algorithms and game theories. Others draw from main themes like:

  • Intelligent Systems
  • Programming Systems
  • Computer Systems

Tuition and Fees: 
Undergrad $54,516
Grad $36,021
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$23,740

Average Net Price:
$36,727

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, recognized student veteran organization, dedicated point of contact & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

9

Frostburg State University

MS in Computer Science

Fully Online


The program consists of 10 online courses or 30 credit hours. One may enter the program without a CS background by taking 2 extra courses.

Students can choose from two areas of focus: Database and General Concentration. Each one involves a set of core courses and a choice of elective. These provide depth to the core areas in:

  • Advanced Data Structures and Algorithms
  • Web Development and Programming I/II
  • Software Engineering

Tuition and Fees: 
Undergrad $23,510
Grad $12,790

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$7,344

Average Net Price:
$13,980

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, recognized student veteran organization, dedicated point of contact & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

10

Columbia University – NYC

MS in Computer Science

Fully Online


This is a 30 credit program. The courses place equal weight on theory, math and computer technology. Students have 5 years to complete their MS.

Students in the program follow a plan of study in one of 8 tracks. They can also choose a custom track. Three of these choices are:

  • Computational Biology
  • Natural Language Processing
  • Vision, Graphics, Interaction and Robotics

Tuition and Fees: 
Undergrad $61,788
Grad $49,968
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$41,752

Average Net Price:
$21,220

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, recognized student veteran organization, dedicated point of contact & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

11

Colorado Technical University

Doctor of Computer Science

Online with Brief In-Person Residency


This program entails 100 credits and some students need as few as 3 years to complete it. While there is a dissertation, CTU integrates the process into the study plan.

Course work covers current themes in computer and information systems and many research topics. You may choose a general track or your own area of focus in:

  • Big Data Analytics
  • Cybersecurity and Information Assurance
  • Enterprise Information Systems

Tuition and Fees: 
Undergrad $12,529
Grad $14,321
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$4,270

Average Net Price:
$15,478

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, recognized student veteran organization, dedicated point of contact & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Higher Learning Commission

12

Aspen University

Doctor of Computer Science

Fully Online


This is a 60 credit (20 course) program. Some students complete their program within 40 months.

The study plan pairs research courses with doctoral writing and tech management. Along with these, there are many core courses in AI, systems metrics and others like:

  • Discrete Math for Computer Scientists
  • Computer Ethics
  • Economics and Business Theory

Apart from the courses, students take an exam and work on a dissertation.

Tuition and Fees: 
Undergrad $3,920
Grad $4,140
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$2,784

Average Net Price:
$14,492

Military Programs:
Credit for military training, recognized student veteran organization, dedicated point of contact & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).

13

University of Minnesota

PhD in Computer Science and Engineering

Fully Online


This is a 55 credit program for either a bachelor’s and/or master’s degree. It consists of 3 parts: research, courses and thesis prep. The courses build both depth and breadth of knowledge in many areas. Among them:

  • Machine Learning
  • Software Engineering I/II
  • UI Design

Since the PhD in CS is a degree in research, it requires a final dissertation. Therefore, you can show your own original and innovative research.

Tuition and Fees: 
Undergrad $33,325
Grad $28,845
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$9,087

Average Net Price:
$16,691

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, recognized student veteran organization, dedicated point of contact & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Higher Learning Commission

14

University of South Dakota

PhD in Information Systems

Fully Online


This is a 55 credit program which you might enter with a bachelor’s and/or master’s degree. It consists of 3 parts: research, courses and thesis prep. The courses build both depth and breadth of knowledge in many areas. Among them:

  • Machine Learning
  • Software Engineering I/II
  • UI Design

As the PhD in CS is a degree in research, it requires a final dissertation. In it, you can show your own original and innovative research.

Tuition and Fees: 
Undergrad $12,807
Grad $12,637
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$5,302

Average Net Price:
$17,354

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, recognized student veteran organization, dedicated point of contact & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Higher Learning Commission

15

North Central University

PhD in Computer Science

Fully Online


This program entails 60 credits. Students have 7 years to complete their degree though many finish the program in 83 months.

The study plan takes an applied approach to computer science theory and research. You’ll explore current topics and tools while working on your dissertation. Many of the courses are core, but you may also select a few of your own. Some key topics are:

  • Computer Networks
  • Data Mining
  • Cyber Security Management

Since the PhD in CS is a degree in research, it requires a final dissertation. Thus, you will be able to show your own original and innovative research.

Tuition and Fees: 
Undergrad $25,090
Grad $10,200

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$13,719

Average Net Price:
$21,598

Military Programs:
Dedicated point of contact for support services for veterans, military service members, and their families.

Accredited:
Higher Learning Commission.

*Unemployment Earnings.  Sources for school stats and data include the NCES and IPEDS.