Perhaps you have a strong background in science, mathematics, or technology. Maybe you want to make a difference in the world by designing computer programs for people in remote areas.
Whatever your passions might be, a computer science degree could provide you with the training necessary to pursue them. No matter where you live or what your background might be, a computer science degree is well within reach for each and every student.
Getting started can be tough, though. With so many degrees out there to choose from – and so many colleges that offer high-profile programs in computer science – sifting through all of the options can be downright overwhelming. However, know this: a computer science degree is a sound investment that will serve you well personally, professionally, and economically as you move forward into your future career.
What kind of computer science degree should you get?
If you already work in the field of computer science, you might have an idea of what features matter most to you. While you don’t necessarily need a master’s degree in computer science to succeed in the industry – many companies hire professionals who only possess entry-level experiences and undergraduate degrees – a graduate degree in the discipline can certainly help you get a leg up on the competition.
Look for the computer science degree that has the features that matter most to you. Whether you want to focus on a specific area of the discipline, such as software development, cybersecurity, or bioinformatics, there is a program out there for everyone. A good graduate degree will be one that allows you to progress through the curriculum at your own pace, learning from peers and professionals in both theoretical and hands-on learning environments as you do so.
Most importantly, the best computer science degree should mesh with your current life goals, commitment, and budget. Let’s face it, earning a degree of any kind can be expensive, and that’s never truer than when you have to leave your current employment in order to pursue advanced education. Luckily, an online degree offers automatic affordability because it removes the need to leave your home to attend classes.
There are thousands of schools in the United States that offer high-quality programs in computer science, reducing the stress of relocation and juggling classes around your already-busy schedule. If you’re not sure about whether an online computer science degree is the right choice for you, make sure you take a look at our list of the Most Affordable Online Colleges. This will give you a better idea of all the inexpensive programs you should be checking out.
How much money do people make with a degree in computer science?
Earning a degree in computer science isn’t easy, but trust us – it’s well worth your time and investment. A master’s degree in computer science enhances your earning potential considerably, making it possible for you to earn in excess of $134,000 each year. Even those new to the field earn high salaries of around $95,900 each year.
Plus, these jobs are in high demand. As more companies add to the network infrastructure and programming capabilities of their organizations, they need qualified professionals to implement, monitor, and tweak these systems as required. In addition, many companies are in the process of shifting their manual operations to digital ones, meaning there is a higher demand for computer science professionals to carry out these tasks.
As a result, jobs in the computer science industry are expected to grow by a whopping 11% before 2028. Not only is this growth well over the national average, but it’s representative of both the public and private sectors – it’s also yet another great reason why you should pursue an affordable online computer science degree.
What are the requirements for a degree in computer science?
Each school has different requirements for admission to computer science programs. While some universities do not require prerequisite coursework or previous employment in computer science, others like to see an undergraduate degree that is at least somewhat related (for example, anything in the STEM field).
In addition, you will be expected to have strong skills in mathematics, technology, programming, operating systems, and communication. The GRE is often required, as are letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and occasionally an application fee. While you are enrolled, you will take a variety of rigorous classes in concentrated areas like network architecture, computational theory, and software engineering. Many computer science degrees have strong research components as well.
What are the best degrees in computer science?
Finding the best and most affordable online computer science degree can be a real struggle. And figuring out how you can afford a college education – especially if you are already working – amidst all of life’s other expenses can be stressful. Luckily, College Choice is here to help.
While not every school will fit the bill for every single student, College Choice believes that there is a perfect school out there for everyone. The best degree in computer science will be one that works with your life circumstances in mind – instead of against them. It will help you develop into a poised, professional computer scientist in no time.
You should look for and apply to programs that are taught by attentive faculty members with lots of experience in the field. A degree that offers hands-on learning experiences, either through practicums, research projects, or cooperative learning experiences is also ideal. Otherwise, the best programs in computer science might simply be the ones that work the best for your schedule and budget.
Not sure where to start? We’ve narrowed down your search into the ten most affordable online computer science degrees. We think these schools are some of the best around, but if you’re interested in learning more about how we make our decision, you should take a few seconds to check out the College Choice methodology page. Here, we will give you more information about how specific schools make the final cut.
Don’t wait any longer. The most affordable online computer science degree is out there waiting for you – all you need to do is apply.
Average Net Price: $6,349
A private university located in Bellevue, NE, Bellevue University opened its doors and 1966 and has been breaking down boundaries for students ever since. Focused on providing quality adult education and educational outreach programs, this school has a student population that consists of 80% of students that are older than the age of 25. Over 10,000 students are enrolled in a variety of hands-on, industry-relevant programs. The Master of Science in Computer Information Systems at Bellevue recognizes the pivotal role that computer science professionals play in a world that is becoming more technical every day.
Think you have what it takes to succeed at Bellevue? The Computer Information Systems program is offered both on-campus and online. It encourages students to look at the business needs of stakeholders, giving them the experiences necessary in the selection, development, and management of computer technologies. Students are taught by faculty with extensive experience in both business and industry. Three concentrations are available: Databases, Security, and Software Development. Required courses for all concentrations include:
- Survey of System Development
- IT Strategy and Policy
- IT Infrastructure
- Management and Design of Database Systems
- Cloud Computing
This affordable degree has the same tuition regardless of whether you choose to study on-campus or online. Requiring 36 credit hours of study, the program has a low tuition rate of just $585 per credit hour. The university also has similar online programs in Cybersecurity, Data Science, Business Analytics, and more. Degrees are offered in an accelerated, cohort-based format. In addition to offering bachelor’s degrees that are among the top ten in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report, the school offers a variety of high-profile graduate and doctoral degrees.
California State University-Fullerton
Average Net Price: $8,170
A public university founded in 1957, California State University, Fullerton is regarded as one of the Best Regional Universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report. Offering more than 50 undergraduate degrees and 50 master’s programs, the school offers exceptional degrees in business, economics, education, and nursing. The programs in technology are quite impressive too. Among the most popular and career-relevant degrees at the university are those in computer science. The Masters of Science in Software Engineering at California State University is housed within the College of Engineering and Computer Science.
This affordable degree is designed for professionals who are already working in the field of computer science and wish to enhance their skills in software engineering. It covers industry standard and international standard models involved in software process assessment, software requirements, architectural design, testing, project management, and more. Students gain important skills in things like scheduling, project planning, and implementing test process. Required classes include:
- Software Verification and Validation
- Software Maintenance
- Systems and Software Standards and Requirements
- Software Measurement
- Modern Software Management
Although this program admits new students in the fall, it is one of the most convenient programs of study for online learners. Class sizes are small, hosting an average student-to-faculty ratio of just 24:1. Courses are offered both synchronously and asynchronously and are guided by an industry-supported curriculum. With ten courses or 30 units of online instruction required, this program is also incredibly affordable. Tuition starts at around $5,000 per semester, and there are multiple need- and merit-based financial aid options available.
West Virginia University
Average Net Price: $10,814
West Virginia University, located in Morgantown, WV, was founded in 1867 and has a large undergraduate enrollment of 21,155 students. Offering an impressive array of majors – over 200 different doctoral, bachelor’s, master’s, and professional programs – the school is a leader in providing top computer science degrees. The Master of Science in Software Engineering at West Virginia University is one of the fastest-growing programs of its kind.
Requiring 33 total credit hours and 11 courses, this program is offered part-time and entirely online. It’s designed for the working software engineering professional and includes evening courses in the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. It also works to actively connect students with instructors and peers through diverse learning technologies and opportunities for live discussions. The program admits students during the fall, spring, and summer terms and is taught by leading industry executives and experts as well as tenured research faculty. Required classes include:
- Software Project Management
- Software Analysis and Design
- Software Verification and Validation
- Software Evolution
- Object-Oriented Design
This affordable program starts at just $669 per credit hour, with a total resident and non-resident cost of just $22,077. Financial aid is available, with all students encouraged to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to determine their eligibility for state funding and university scholarships. Each student is also supported in his or her degree progression by enrollment coaches and personal academic advisors.
University of West Florida
Average Net Price: $11,175
The University of West Florida is located in the idyllic Pensacola, FL, but you don’t have to be studying in the sunshine state in order to benefit from the many features this school has to offer. Having awarded over 100,000 degrees from 70 different majors, the school offers small class sizes and some of the most personalized attention from the country’s most dedicated professors. The Department of Computer Science at the University of West Florida offers both Bachelor of Science and Master of Science programs in Software Design and Development, Cybersecurity, and Computer Science. The Computer Science master’s is one of the best in the country.
Not only is the Computer Science degree accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET, but it’s also designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. A highly competitive degree, the program offers a flexible, innovative curriculum that combines state-of-the-art computing technologies with the theoretical foundations of the discipline. It gives students skills in areas like algorithmic programming, advanced computational methods, and more. Sample classes include:
- Foundations: Computing Essentials
- Foundations: Programming Essentials
- Foundations: Data Structures & Algorithms Essentials
Although this degree gives students the option to specialize in either Software Engineering or Data Science, other concentrations may be pursued with the approval of a faculty advisor. Concentrations allow students to conduct research in a specific area but do not actually appear on the diploma. This degree can be completed entirely online or in a face-to-face format, with courses offered online via video-conferencing tools. The degree has affordable tuition rates starting at just $384 for in-state students. Eligible students may also be able to apply for payment plans or short-term loans to allow them to defer payment at the beginning of the semester.
Florida Atlantic University
Average Net Price: $11,303
A public university dedicated to providing higher educational opportunities to all students, Florida Atlantic University has six different campuses that are strategically positioned along 150 miles of gorgeous coastline. The Department of Computer and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Florida Atlantic University has two options for a Master of Science in Computer Science: a non-thesis option requiring a minimum of 30 credits and a thesis option requiring 30 credits plus a six-credit thesis.
Regardless of the pathway chosen, this degree provides students the option to develop a customized plan of study that is adapted to each individuals’ learning goals and interests. Students can also specialize in certain areas of research, such as Cybersecurity and Big Data Analytics. Although most graduate courses are available remotely, offered via live streaming and downloadable lectures, some classes and examinations must be taken on campus or at an approved testing center. Required courses include topics like:
- Computer Operating Systems
- Design and Analysis of Algorithms
- Structured Computer Architecture
- CAD-Based Computer Design
- Stochastic Models for Computer Science
Florida Atlantic University offers steep discounts to online learners, with even more cost savings for students who reside within the state of Florida. Tuition rates start as low as $369 per credit hour. All students, regardless of residency, also have access to superior support services like online tutoring, library services, disability access, and career services. Ranked as one of the Top Public Schools by U.S. News & World Report, Florida Atlantic offers small class sizes with a low student-to-faculty ratio of just 21:1.
University of Michigan-Dearborn
Average Net Price: $11,322
Located in Dearborn, MI, the University of Michigan-Dearborn is a public university that was founded in 1959. With a total undergraduate enrollment of 7,185, this school has majors in over 60 different fields of study as well as master’s degrees in 30 different high-demand areas. The Computer and Information Science program at the University of Michigan-Dearborn is not only affordable and convenient, but it also includes high-quality instruction and academic support.
Designed for busy working professionals, this program contains courses that are scheduled during the late afternoon and evening hours. This allows most students to complete their degrees through part-time study, accessing their courses on campus, online, or through a combination of both formats. Learners have access to a wide variety of computing resources like local area networks and the Game and Multimedia Environment Laboratory. Students will take four courses from two of seven different concentration areas. Available concentrations include:
- Computer Graphics
- Computer Networks and Security
- Software Engineering
- Web Computing
- Geometric Modeling and Game Design
This program requires 30 semester hours of required coursework. Classes are broken down into core, concentration, and cognate courses, all of which students must take before moving on to either a project option or the thesis option. The university has a unique tuition billing program to make the cost of attendance incredibly affordable, too. Students can save money by taking more than 12 credits each semester. Although tuition is only $480 per credit hour for 1-12 credits, the 13th credit and beyond is just $105 per credit hour. These impressive savings can really reduce the cost of attendance over the duration of a student’s degree.
Columbus State University
Average Net Price: $11,596
Columbus State University is a public university that was founded in 1958. Located in Columbus, GA, the school offers distinctive programs in education, arts, nursing, business, and more. Part of the University System of Georgia, the school enrolls over 8,200 students in a wide variety of degree programs. The Turner College of Business and the TSYS School for Computer Science work in harmony at Columbus State University to produce an exceptional Master of Science in Applied Computer Science.
This interdisciplinary program is not only business-oriented and grounded in the practical applications of the discipline, but it also includes the potential to pursue three constraints beyond the traditional curriculum. Options include Modeling and Simulation, Cybersecurity, and Software Development. All students are required to complete 34 hours of study for the thesis option, although learners who pursue the exit course – which consists of an exit survey and comprehensive examination – can finish up in just 30 credit hours. Required classes include:
- Survey of Modeling and Simulation
- Advanced Algorithms
- Object-Oriented Development
- Introduction to Cybersecurity
Graduates from this program are highly successful, going on to pursue jobs as software engineers, web developers, game programs, and more. Ranked as one of the top Public Schools in the state by U.S. News & World Report, the school has a student-to-faculty ratio of 17:1. Tuition is highly affordable, with in-state rates at less than $8,000 per semester. Multiple financial aid opportunities are available, too, with 72% of students receiving some kind of need-based financial aid or merit-based scholarships.
Purdue University-Main Campus
Average Net Price: $11,693
Purdue University’s main campus is located in West Lafayette, IN. This public university was founded in 1869 and has a total undergraduate enrollment of 32,672 students. Comprised of 13 colleges and schools, most of which serve both graduate and undergraduate students, the university also has multiple graduate and professional programs. The Master of Electrical and Computer Engineering program at Purdue University is an affordable, convenient option for candidates wishing to pursue high-profile careers in computer science.
Learners may choose between thesis and non-thesis degree options while completing their degrees. A 30-credit hour degree, this program offers six specializations within the Electrical and Computer Engineering discipline. Each student will work closely with his or her advisor to develop a personally tailored plan of study that meets his or her career goals and educational needs. The curriculum is incredibly flexible and is one of the few of its kind that allows learners to take time off from their studies if needed. Online courses are offered in topic areas such as:
- Automatic Controls
- Communications & Networking
- Fields and Optics
- Microelectronics & Nanotechnology
- VLSI & Circuit Design
This degree has a solid reputation and is consistently ranked within the top ten master’s programs in the discipline by U.S. News & World Report. Designed for working engineers, it gives all students the foundational skills necessary to succeed and lead in a global technology environment. Tuition is affordable, with a one-credit course starting at just $1,348. Tuition is charged at a flat rate per course instead of by credit hour. The school offers multiple financial assistance options, such as loans, educational benefits for veterans, and more.
University of Florida
Average Net Price: $11,976
With a main campus in Gainesville, FL, the University of Florida was originally established in 1853. Although the online campus is much newer, it has quickly established an equally prominent reputation for producing qualified, career-ready graduates. The Department of Computer and Information Science and Engineering at the University of Florida Online, housed within the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering, offers multiple Master of Science degrees. Among them is the reputable Master of Science in Computer Science.
Requiring 12 graduate core credits, six master thesis research credits, and twelve other graduate-level credits, this degree consists of 30 total credit hours of study. Learns will take traditional classes in computer science but may also take up to six credits outside of the department with approval from the Graduate Affairs Committee. Candidates will take three of the following five courses:
- Computer Architecture Principles
- Distributed Operating System Principles
- Programming Language Principles
- Computer Networks
- Advanced Data Structures
Within six months prior to graduation, all students will take an examination to assess their career readiness. Students who select the thesis option will not need to complete another examination, but in some cases, an oral review may be required. This degree serves as an excellent pathway to the similar Ph.D. program offered by the University of Florida, or as a terminal degree for aspiring computer science professionals. Tuition is highly affordable, with rates starting at just $3,876 per semester for online learners.
University of Maryland-University College
Average Net Price: $12,483
The University of Maryland-University College is a public university that was founded in 1947. This school is large, with a total undergraduate enrollment of 47,253 students, yet nearly 86% of all of its classes are smaller than 20 students. This close-knit learning environment fosters collaboration and myriad opportunities for hands-on experiences. These opportunities span across disciplines, too: the Information Technology Master’s degree with a Software Engineering Specialization is the perfect choice for aspiring computer science professionals.
36 total credit hours are required for completion of this program, which allows for up to six transfer credits. All classes are available online, with some offered in a hybrid format as well. The degree prepares learners with the software development skills they will need for high-profile careers, including design, software methodology, and coding. Students will study topics like aspect-oriented programming, object-oriented programming, and leadership skills. Required and specialization classes include:
- Computer Systems Architecture
- Information Systems Analysis, Modeling, and Design
- Information Technology Project Management
- Modern Software Methodologies
- Relational Database Systems
This degree is one of the best at preparing students for meaningful work in the implementation of large software engineering projects. The degree emphasizes hands-on preparation and exposes students to real-life tasks such as completing the development of corporate-sponsored projects, building software products, and evaluating user interfaces. Online students also have access to on-campus clubs and organizations such as the Computing Club, an organization that can help connect students with opportunities for additional learning as well as permanent employment. Tuition is affordable, too, with rates starting at just $480 per credit hour. Over 100 need- and merit-based scholarships are also available.