Few industries or sectors don’t use technology extensively, from finance and banking to retail and commerce. Knowledgeable computer scientists are in high demand by hiring managers.
You can earn degrees in computer science at any level, from an associate to a doctoral, and as you advance in your education, you will find a range of areas in which to specialize. Doing an online program may save time and money while providing a flexible schedule that works for many busy individuals.
The Different Types of Online Computer Science Degree Programs
Associate in Computer Science
Your first step in computer science may be an associate degree. This two-year degree gives you the primary building blocks for a career in technology. To apply, you will need a high school diploma and may need to submit ACT or SAT scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal essay. You will take courses in programming, software development, computer architecture, and other topics to give you the foundational training for IT positions. Generally, your classes will cover a broad range of topics rather than focusing on a single specialty. However, you may still have the opportunity to study areas of particular interest to you.
An associate degree in computer science prepares you for entry-level positions as a web developer, computer programmer, systems manager, or other technology-related positions in business and industry. You can also choose to continue your education by applying for a bachelor’s degree program to earn your undergraduate degree in computer science.
Bachelor’s in Computer Science
A bachelor’s degree in computer science will open many doors for you professionally. If you begin your higher-ed journey following high school, your bachelor’s degree will take roughly four years if you attend school full-time. If you already have an associate degree, you can earn your bachelor’s in half that time. At the bachelor’s level, you will focus on topics that interest you, such as game design, cybersecurity, or artificial intelligence. In your final two years of school, you will likely be able to choose electives in these or other areas to help determine where you’d like to focus in your career.
Many bachelor’s programs require students to participate in internships or other practical training experiences, and you may need to do a capstone project before you graduate. Your career options for a job in computer science are broad. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a bachelor’s degree qualifies you for entry-level jobs as a computer network architect, programmer, computer systems analyst, or web developer. Many of the jobs open to you have excellent salary expectations. For example, a software developer with a bachelor’s degree earns a median salary of $109,020, while a database administrator earns a median pay of $101,000.
Master’s in Computer Science
An online master’s degree in computer science qualifies you for jobs with a higher level of authority and knowledge or leadership positions. To be admitted to a master’s degree program, you may need to submit your GRE scores and will likely have to have a minimum GPA in your undergraduate program of 3.0 or higher, depending on the school you are applying to. You may also need to submit letters of recommendation and an essay that indicates your proposed area of specialization.
With a master’s degree, you can take on management positions, research, or work in specific areas or industries. Your professors will assume that you have a good basic knowledge of computer science, and they will expect you to pick a concentration that includes areas such as robotics, game development, or information research science. You may qualify for jobs with six-figure salaries with a master’s degree. An information research scientist, for example, makes a median salary of $131,490, according to the BLS.
Ph.D. in Computer Science
A Ph.D. is the last degree in computer science, and it qualifies you for positions of the highest responsibility, from university professor to CEO of a software company. To enter a Ph.D. program, you will need a bachelor’s degree in computer science and possibly a master’s. You must submit letters of recommendation and GRE scores and have a good grounding in at least one focus area.
If you can attend school full-time, you can expect your doctoral degree to take four or five years. Most programs require you to write a dissertation or thesis or perform an extensive hands-on project to graduate. Depending on the focus of your program, you may also take courses in business ethics and leadership or higher-level courses in the subject areas in which you are focusing — such as chemistry or media.
Positions open to you include research positions in science or health care and management positions in the business world. At this level, you may also become a tenure-track faculty member at the college or university level. You may work in rapidly growing fields such as data analytics or artificial intelligence or pursue a public service or government career.
How to Succeed in an Online Degree Program
Online degree programs are increasingly popular and are now accepted by hiring managers and HR professionals. Offering increased flexibility and time and money savings, they are a popular option for students, especially adult learners with multiple demands on their time. Here are a few tips for succeeding with your online degree program.
- Develop a good relationship with the admissions counselors when you apply to a program. They can be an invaluable resource for answering questions and explaining procedures.
- Ensure that your chosen school offers the support services you may need, such as the option for tutoring assistance and an office of career services that will aid you in your job search.
- Take the time to fill out the FAFSA and research scholarship options thoroughly. In addition to school and government funding, scholarships and loans may be available from organizations and businesses.
- Build a schedule and stick to it. If you combine your education with work responsibilities or have family commitments, especially young children, your time will be a precious resource. It will take self-discipline and realistic goals to manage your multiple priorities.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Most professors have online office hours to help their students succeed. You will also find support staff at most institutions, from helpful librarians to caring counselors, who can guide you through challenging situations.
Interested in another degree instead?
Learn more about online degrees, their start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.