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Earning an accelerated computer science degree online can save you time and money, ensuring that you can begin to look for that dream job as quickly as possible. Earning your degree online offers flexibility that on-campus programs can’t match, and it’s an especially good option for individuals who work full- or part-time, as well as those who have family commitments, such as caring for children.

In this article, we’ll take a look at how accelerated degree programs work and review some of the jobs you will be qualified for with an online computer science degree.

How Do Accelerated Degree Programs Work?

Accelerated degree programs, sometimes called fast-track or condensed programs, can be found in both bachelor’s and master’s level programs. They allow you to earn your education in less time than a standard degree program.

They do this using several tactics:

  • You may take a higher number of credits each semester than usual. For example, if a regular full-time student schedule is 15 credit hours, you might take 18 credit hours.
  • Your courses may be condensed into a shorter, more intensive time span. For example, a course that would typically take 16 weeks might be condensed into longer classes that only meet for eight weeks.
  • You may also take classes during summer months, on weekends, and during holiday periods to accelerate your education. This can be challenging for some students, who need time to rest after an intensive semester of classes.
  • You may be able to earn credit for prior learning assessments (PLA). Programs such as CLEP (College Level Examination Program) allow you to take low-cost exams in foundation topics such as management, chemistry, or communications. If you pass, you test out of needing to take that course as part of your program.
  • Another option for accelerating your degree is to attend a school that accepts real-life experiences—such as prior work in your field or military experience—instead of taking courses on topics you are already conversant about.

As you can see, accelerated programs require a high level of dedication, good time management skills, and the ability to study efficiently in order to succeed. They’re not for everyone, but they can help you earn your degree in as little as half the time it would normally take.

Applying to an accelerated online program is not any different from applying to a regular on-campus program. You will need to submit materials, including letters of recommendation, a resume or CV, a personal essay detailing why you wish to enter the program, and your college’s application. Be aware of deadlines—if you miss one, it could cost you your place in the program.

Also note that you will want to submit the free application for federal student aid, or FAFSA. This document will help you earn all the scholarship, grant, or loan funding you are entitled to, both from the government as well as school-based aid.

What Can You Do with a Computer Science Degree?

The computer science and information technology industry encompasses many possible occupations. Depending on your interests and focus while in school, you may be interested in some of the following jobs.

Computer/information research scientist

Computer and information research science is one of the most creative and lucrative areas in the IT industry. Computer and information research scientists design innovative uses for new and existing computing technology. Entering the field may require a master’s degree, which you can earn in an accelerated program. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for this position is $131,490 a year. The job outlook is very positive: the BLS predicts that there will be a 21 percent increase in the number of positions available by 2031. The largest employer of computer and information research scientists is the federal government, which employs about 31 percent of the people in this field. Many scientists collaborate with engineers or other specialists, and most of them work primarily online.

Computer systems analyst

Positions for computer systems analysts generally require a bachelor’s degree, and they pay a median salary of $99,270 a year, according to the BLS. The field is growing at a rate of nine percent annually, which is faster than average. Computer systems analysts study an organization’s computer systems and design ways to make them more effective and efficient. About 44,500 openings for computer systems analysts are projected for each year over the coming decade. These IT pros may work directly for an organization, or they may be contractors or independent consultants. The largest employers of systems analysts are computer systems design firms, with finance and insurance organizations also hiring many of them.

Computer network architect

Computer network architects design and build data communications networks, including local area networks, wide area networks, and intranets. Most positions in this area require a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field and may also ask for several years of experience in a related occupation. Some positions may call for an MBA in information systems. The median salary for a computer network architect is $120,520 a year. The job outlook is positive, with the BLS indicating an increase of four percent over the next decade, which is as fast as the average for all occupations. About 11,800 openings for computer network architects are projected each year on average.

Computer programmer

Computer programmers write, modify, and test code and scripts that allow computer software and applications to function properly, according to the BLS. They earn a median pay of $93,000 a year and can enter the field with a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field. Most programmers specialize in one or more programming languages, and some jobs may require certification in a particular language. Unfortunately, the job outlook for programmers isn’t as rosy as it is for most other IT positions, with the BLS predicting a ten percent decline in the number of programmers needed over the next decade. Despite this, there should still be roughly 9,600 job openings for computer programmers each year.

Our Research

This list features some of the best online accelerated computer science degree programs in the country. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions.

We evaluated each school’s program on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, and reputation. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Next, we compared this comprehensive list of the best online accelerated computer science degree programs to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications, such as U.S. News & World Report, to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

Read More about Computer Science Degrees

The 50 Best Online Accelerated Computer Science Degree Programs

Best Accelerated Online Computer Science Programs Badge 2024
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Franklin University
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Lewis University
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Charleston Southern University
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Oregon State University
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City University of Seattle
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Austin Peay State University
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Baker College
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University of Illinois Springfield
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Columbia College
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Concordia University
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Dakota State University
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Depaul University
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Davenport University
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Saint Leo University
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Florida State University
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Fort Hays State University
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Herzing University
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Lamar University
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CSP Global
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Limestone University
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Southern New Hampshire University
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Mercy College
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National University
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Pace University
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Park University
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Regis University
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Regent University
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Southeast Missouri State University
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Troy University
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University of Florida
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Auburn University
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University of Arizona
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University of Maryland Global Campus