It’s no secret computer science has become one of the most popular majors for college students all over the world. What used to be a mysterious, niche discipline is now considered a foundational science with many real-world applications.
With the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting 21 percent job growth for software developers thorough 2028, it makes sense that related degree programs in computer science are rising in popularity. Plus, a career in computer science is a good fit for many different types of people, from the practical to the creative to the introverted or extroverted.
With this rise in computer science degree popularity, online programs have been gaining steam as the convenience of remote learning becomes increasingly relevant. Students don’t have to relocate, they can learn at their own pace, finish their education faster, and often, they can save money. Furthermore, accelerated online programs offer the added benefit of efficiency if you are gunning to get started in the field sooner rather than later.
Benefits of an Accelerated Computer Science Degree
If you’re looking to fast-track your education and professional life, you may not want to go through a traditional four-year bachelor’s degree program. As higher education continues to be disrupted by nontraditional online programs, the options for degree programs have grown. More colleges and universities are offering accelerated online computer science programs. While in a traditional classroom, a single class could take up to 16 weeks, accelerated online program classes are only six to eight weeks long.
Accelerated programs will also give you more bang for your buck. While a traditional four-year bachelor’s degree could cost close to $200,000, an accelerated online program could start at about $9,500.
Choosing an online program has limitless benefits, especially when it comes to flexibility and cost. So, if you’re interested in a degree in computer science, be sure to consider all of your options. Don’t worry, there are tons of programs to choose from with different strengths and concentrations. We’ll get to some below.
Computer Science Degrees Explained
Though this article will focus mostly on bachelor’s degrees, there are several other degree options out there if you’re considering online computer science programs. Besides the Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science, you can also get an associate’s degree or a post-bac degree in computer science.
The associate’s degree is a good starting point while a bachelor’s degree is a more traditional 120-credit degree program. A post-bac (post-baccalaureate) is meant for students who already have a bachelor’s degree in something else but want to gain a new set of skills and knowledge in another discipline. Though they are most common for students looking to eventually go to medical school, they are also offered in other technical fields like computer science.
Computer Science Degree Requirements
No two programs are exactly alike but any computer science program is going to have the same basic course requirements. You will have to take programming courses to learn programming languages like Java, C++, and more. You also have to study math, so be open to seeing some calculus course requirements as well. Some other common requirements include AI, computer science theory, algorithms, operating systems, computer architecture, and data management.
Computer Science Degree Curriculum
Every online accelerated computer science degree program is going to have slightly different curriculum requirements and course offerings. Nonetheless, here is a list of some of the most common requirements:
- Data Structures and Analysis
- Computer Programming
- Computer Science Ethics
- Operating Systems
- Ethics in Computer Science
The more flexible the program, the fewer strict curriculum requirements you may have and the more specialized you may be able to become. But remember, some computer science fundamentals are key in helping you build a strong foundation.
Computer Science Degree Specializations and Concentrations
While some programs are broad and flexible, others are more defined and specific. You should consider whether you want to specialize in software engineering, computer programming, or information technology, for example. Some programs even have specializations in niche areas of interest like game development.
If you want to become a web developer or database administrator, there are programs out there for you and they don’t have to take the traditional four years to complete. To help you out with your programs and school research, we’ve put together a list of some of the top programs out there below to help you get an accelerated computer science degree online.
But first, let’s touch upon what you should consider when researching which program may be right for you.
Researching Computer Science Degree Programs
When choosing a degree program in computer science, remember there are other education options if you are interested in a career in technology. From coding bootcamps to other specialized non-degree courses, you can gain certain skills outside of a traditional degree program. If you’re looking for a solid academic foundation though, we’re here to help with some ideas on how to approach your research of accelerated online degree programs.
Rankings on online degree programs don’t always match traditional school rankings. Though some top-ranked universities also offer top online programs, some lower-tier schools are also starting to offer top online degree programs. Cost, flexibility, student services, academic advising, and accreditation often influence these rankings (and they influence our school rankings below and should influence your research).
Computer Science Degree Flexibility
The flexibility of an online accelerated computer science degree program is one of its biggest draws. Imagine being able to sink your teeth into the world of computer networks and software engineering without having to quit your day job. Better yet, imagine being able to log in to class from anywhere and in most cases, imagine being able to study on your schedule.
Want to attend one of the top programs in the country but live on the opposite coast? No problem. When starting your programs and school search, remember to consider how flexible the degree program is. If the program includes pre-recorded lectures and self-paced classes, you can be confident you’ll have all the flexibility you need to balance your degree program with all your other obligations.
Computer Science Degree Cost
When researching programs and schools, the cost is arguably one of the most important factors when deciding if a program is right for you. If you’re considering a program’s ranking, remember that affordability and cost-benefit usually influences that ranking. The higher the ranking, the higher the cost-benefit results of that particular program.
While you’re considering affordability and cost in degree programs, also consider the investment. The program’s cost is an investment in a highly lucrative career in the computer science field. The average salary for someone with a bachelor’s degree in computer science is $86,000 per year. The highest end of the pay scale for careers in computer science is in software engineering, with an average annual salary of over $138,000.
Computer Science Degree Accreditation
Accreditation is one of the most important control measures for higher education today. When a college or university isn’t accredited, its degree programs might be less valuable. Understanding whether or not the cost of a degree is worth the investment can often be left up to the institution’s accreditations.
Accreditation is like certification of the school’s standard of instruction. Without that certification, you may not get what you’re paying for. Accreditation also facilitates the transferring of credits between schools and ensures that your undergraduate work will be relevant if you eventually apply to more advanced degree programs. Most schools are accredited by regional accrediting bodies and those regional institutions are accredited by the Department of Education. As you’re doing your research, you can check accreditation status at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
Top 5 Accelerated Computer Science Degree Programs
As you research your higher education options for computer science, consider the added benefits of an accelerated degree online: high flexibility, reasonable cost, and quicker rate of completion. Also consider that different programs will have different entry requirements and pre-requisites, ranging from standardized tests to associates degree credits.
To get a sense of the types of degree programs out there, here is a list of the top five accelerated computer science degree programs online:
This is a post-bac program, which means it’s designed for students who already have a bachelor’s in something else. The university offers four different program start-dates throughout the year for optimal flexibility.
This post-bac program in applied computer science is also intended for students who already have a bachelor’s in a different subject. If students already have course credits in computer science, they can transfer up to 15 credits to the 45-credit post-bac degree program. Similar to the Oregon State program, UC Boulder also offers three annual start-dates to choose from.
This online BS in computer science offers concentrations in computer programming, database technology, and mobile application software engineering.
This online BS in computer science is as flexible as can be. Students work with academic advisors to create a personalized career completion program.
This degree program is an adult-accelerated Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. Incoming students can receive college credit for prior experience working in coding or programming software.
Now that you know which program to choose, you may be wondering what your career prospects will look like upon graduation from a computer science degree program. This degree can lead to many career paths and we’ll list some below.
Computer Science Degree Job Prospects
Computer science is a great starting point when it comes to the broader tech field. Here’s a shortlist of some of the jobs you can dip your toes into after completing an accelerated computer science degree online.
A web developer creates everything you see on the web, including this website. They make sure a website has the structure it needs to function on multiple devices. They may also work with UX design.
This one is exactly what it sounds like. If you like data and have a knack for interpreting it, this might be an excellent path for you. Maintaining databases, especially complex ones, requires prioritizing security and integration.
Information Technology Specialist
IT specialists work with the everyday complexities of basic technology. If you enjoy teaching, this field would allow you to informally teach as you help others who are less technically skilled than you.
A software engineer builds programs using one or more of the many computer languages out there. Because of the vast variety of different kinds of software currently available, this line of work promises to never get dull.
An online accelerated computer science degree is an excellent investment if you want a broad and solid academic foundation. If you can’t wait to get started with a career in the tech field, accelerated degree programs are a great option.
Accelerated tracks make sense especially if you’re making a career shift and you are eager to get started in a new field. Considering cost and flexibility, there is no doubt that accelerated online programs are the most efficient, cost-effective way to gain an advanced degree in computer science.
As you embark on your programs and school search and read about featured programs and schools, remember to consider accreditation and ranking. Whether your dream is to become a web developer or a database administrator, a computer science degree program will set you up with the key academic foundations to help you get there.