Are you fluent, or hope to become fluent, in complex software languages? Do you envision yourself designing, implementing, and managing systems? Are you equally happy to work by yourself, hammering out code, as you are to collaborate with a team of developers and designers?
Then an advanced degree in computer programming may be just for you!
What kind of Master’s in Computer Programming degree should you get?
While each of these programs ensure you a sturdy foundation in computer programming fundamentals, such as design and languages, they each vary a bit in emphasis and structure.
For example, while some schools provide broad-based degrees in computer science that allow you to specialize in programming, others focus solely on software design and implementation.
Furthermore, some of these programs operate through coursework-only models. Meaning, you’ll take several rigorous courses without having to present a thesis or capstone project. These are great options for those of you who aren’t interested in research. And for those who are, many of these affordable programs are also research-focused, requiring a thesis to graduate.
Whichever program offers the best fit, know that all of these degrees can be completed fully online.
Online education is both a flexible and affordable way to advance your education and career. For that reason, be sure to check out College Choice’s Most Affordable Schools for an Online Graduate Degree.
What can you do with a Master’s in Computer Programming?
There are many opportunities for someone with an advanced degree in computer programming. Whether you want to work by yourself, designing efficient and innovative systems, or with a team to create a great product for your company, a Master’s degree in Computer Programming will help you get there.
Graduates from the programs below, for example, have gone on to secure rewarding, high-paying careers in:
- Software Development
- Computer Systems Analysis
- Database Administration
- Network Systems Management
- Web Development
- And much more
How much money do people make with a Master’s in Computer Programming?
With an advanced degree in computer programming you are on your way to a lucrative, stable career.
Software Developers with a master’s degree, for example, make on average $78,100 a year. However, that number leaps up with years of work and management experience. Principal Software Engineers make upwards of $134,870 a year.
Not only is the pay good, but so is the outlook. The need for those with an advanced degree in computer programming is always on the rise. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the need for software developers to grow an astounding 24 percent in the next few years.
What are the requirements for an online Master’s in Computer Programming?
A Master’s in Computer Programming will take between one and two years to complete, with most programs averaging closer to two years. In the first year of your program will gain a foundation in programming principles while being introduced to the wider world of computer science.
Then in your second year you will have the opportunity to take specialized classes that pertain specifically to your interests and career goals. These classes may cover everything from compilers to game and simulation development, user interface experience, and software architecture.
Finally, some of these programs require an internship, thesis, or capstone research project in order to graduate. We’ve been sure to note these.
What are the most affordable online Master’s in Computer Programming degrees?
Though some of these programs are offered through huge research universities and others through smaller polytechnic colleges, they all share one thing in common: they are the most affordable online computer programming degrees in the nation.
To determine the most affordable computer programming graduate degrees, we first looked at all programs across the nation that offer the degree online. From there we examined tuition and credit hours rates to determine those with the best value.
After such exhaustive research we found that these degrees are not only the most affordable but some of the best ranked too!
See our rankings methodology page.
Average Net Price: $6,349
Bellevue University specializes in innovative, returning learner education. It is based in Bellevue, Nebraska but has one of the best online schools in the nation. More than 10,000 students attend Bellevue.
At Bellevue University, when you earn your online MS in Computer Information Systems you will have the opportunity to specialize in software development. Additionally, you will learn how to build, integrate, and manage complex computer technologies. Some of the classes you’ll take at Bellevue include:
- IT Strategy and Policy
- Cloud Computing
- Survey of System Development
- Software Development
Bellevue is one of a kind in its mission to provide open access education to all U.S. citizens. The University is therefore known for its affordability, its student-centric approach to education, and for being market focused.
California State University, Fullerton
Average Net Price: $8,170
The Fullerton campus within the 23 member California State System is the largest with its enrollment of more than 40,000 students. Offering more than 200 academic programs at all degree levels, CSUF is a research-based university.
CSUF’s College of Engineering and Computer Science offers a Software Engineering graduate program that is both affordable and online. This STEM-designated program can be finished in as few as 17 months. It teaches students software standards such and implementation and management of processes. But you will also learn crucial aspects to programming such as legal and ethical issues, communication technique, and research methodology. Students have graduated and become:
- Project Managers
- Computer Programmers
- Software Developers
Just last year U.S. News & World Report recognized CSUF as a top national university. It also named the school one of the nation’s “most innovative” institutions. Furthermore, CSUF is known for its diversity and for being among the top colleges to graduate underrepresented students.
West Virginia University
Average Net Price: $10,814
West Virginia University is located in Morgantown with other campuses located throughout West Virginia. It is a research-based university with more than 28,000 students. WVU provides nearly 200 academic and professional degree programs.
WVU offers a Master’s in Software Engineering program that can be completed fully online. This is primarily a part-time program specially designed so you can study from home and at your own pace. And with rolling admissions, you can jump in at any time. Core courses include:
- Software Project Management
- Software Analysis and Design
- Validation and Verification
- Software Evolution
Dozens of Rhodes, Goldwater, and Truman Scholars have attended WVU. Designated an active research university by Carnegie, WVU is also nationally ranked by Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, and more.
The University of West Florida
Average Net Price: $11,175
The University of West Florida is located in Pensacola. It is part of the wider State University System of Florida and is known for its research activities, facilities, and contributions. Nearly 13,000 students attend UWF.
UWF’s Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering offers a MS in Computer Science degree that can be paired with a specialization in Software Engineering. In this program you will focus on the process, specification, analysis, design, verification, and validation of software management. Classes include:
- Software Engineering Foundations: Java Programming
- Software Engineering Process
- Database Systems
- Software Design
UWF is a well ranked and highly regarded university. Not only is it counted among the best colleges in the southeast by The Princeton Review. It is ranked a “Best College” by Money Magazine.
Florida Atlantic University
Average Net Price: $11,303
Florida Atlantic University is located in Boca Raton, Florida with additional campuses throughout the state and a highly regarded global campus too. FAU is a member of the State University System of Florida and home to over 30,000 students. Organized into ten colleges, FAU offers more than 180 degree programs.
There are two ways to study computer programming and computer science at FAU. You can enroll in the non-thesis track, which requires more coursework, or the thesis track which ensures you graduate with a portfolio, project, or paper in hand to show future employers. Both tracks allow for considerable customization with an advisor. Core courses include:
- Data Structures and Algorithm Analysis
- Computer Operating Systems
- Stochastic Models for Computer Science
- Introduction to Microprocessor Systems
U.S. News & World Report consistently includes FAU on its annual “Best Colleges” rankings. The university is known not only for its academic strengths but its high retention rates, its financial resources, affordability, graduation rates, and more.
University of Michigan-Dearborn
Average Net Price: $11,322
The Dearborn member within the prestigious University of Michigan system specializes in engineering, computer science, and management programs. With around 10,000 students UM Dearborn offers around 130 degree programs. It is a public research university located just 30 miles from the larger Ann Arbor campus.
What better (and more affordable) place to earn a computer programming degree then from an elite engineering school such as UM Dearborn’s? This MS in Computer and Information Science program combines theory and technical skills to prepare you for a professional career in software design, development, and management. You can even specialize. UM Dearborn offers over half a dozen concentration areas, such as:
- Information Systems
- Data Management and Analytics
- Systems Software
- Software Engineering
UM Dearborn’s College of Computer Science and Engineering is considered among the best in the country. Likewise, its graduate programs and the University as a whole are regionally ranked. Students at UM Dearborn also benefit from having access to all the same resources, events, and services as the larger Ann Arbor campus.
Columbus State University
Average Net Price: $11,596
Columbus State University is located in the Georgia city of the same name. It is part of the broader University System of Georgia and is thus a known hub for research activity. Nearly 8,000 students attend Columbus State.
At Columbus State you will evaluate various types of simulation paradigms, designing and creating your own, and producing solution to real-world problems. The university offers an MS in Applied Computer Science degree with concentration in Software Development. Through this program you will manage, measure, design, implement, and test systems. Graduates have gone on to acquire jobs as:
- Software Architects
- Web Developers
- Game and Simulation Developers
- Network Managers
The Columbus State campus is home to a vibrant research scene. For example, campus houses two renowned facilities: the Omnisphere Theater, a planetarium, and the Mead Observatory. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university among the best in the South.
Average Net Price: $11,693
Purdue University is a public research university based in West Lafayette, Indiana. It is a flagship university that provides more than 200 degree opportunities to its 40,000 students. Purdue boasts a prestigious reputation as a member of the Big Ten Academic Alliance.
Purdue’s online MS in Computer Science degree provides concentrated focus in programming through its online learning program. You can enroll in either the thesis or non-thesis track, and you can work closely with an advisor to uniquely design your own plan of study. However you create your academic experience, Purdue’s coursework covers a range of topics, including:
- Networking and Operating Systems
- Software Engineering
- Computational Science and Engineering
- Programming Languages and Compilers
Purdue is obviously known for its academic excellence, but its research activity and contributions have fostered equal attention. Purdue maintains close alliances with the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the U.S. Departments of Defense, Energy, and more.
University of Florida-Online
Average Net Price: $11,976
The University of Florida is located in Gainesville and enrolls more than 55,000 students. It is, hands down, one of the most elite universities in the state of Florida. UF is comprised of 16 colleges and schools and has another 150 research centers scattered across campus.
Through the UF Edge online learning campus you can earn either a Master of Engineering or a Master of Science in Computer and Information Science and Engineering. At UF you will not only earn your degree from a prestigious university, but you will graduate fully equipped to design, implement, and manage complex softwares. You will graduate ready for a career in:
- Software Application Development
- Computer Systems Analysis
- Database Administration
- Web Development
Though UF is strong in many areas of research and education, its most prominent programs are in engineering, computer science, agricultural science, and ecology. And as a whole the university is nationally ranked by Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Washington Monthly, and many more.
University of Maryland University College
Average Net Price: $12,483
The University of Maryland University College is located in Adelphi, Maryland. UMUC is a mammoth university with more than 68,000 students on campus and 90,000 students served worldwide. There are more than 120 academic programs offered at UMUC, spanning all degree levels.
UMUC offers an Information Technology Master’s Degree with Software Engineering Specialization. This 36 credit program will teach you the ins and outs of building large, complex systems. Once you complete your core courses in systems architecture, IT project management, and systems analysis, you will take specialization classes in:
- Relational Database Systems
- Software Verification and Validation
- Usability Engineering
- User Interface Implementation
UMUC is one of the world’s largest distance-learning universities. In fact, its online programs are often well-ranked by U.S. News & World Report, among others. And the university is ranked first for its service to military vets by The Military Times.
East Carolina University
Average Net Price: $12,817
East Carolina University is a public, research-driven university. Located in Greenville, North Carolina, it was originally founded as a teacher’s school. However, today ECU is comprised of over a dozen colleges and professional schools where more than 30,000 students are enrolled.
At ECU not only will you become an expert in computing systems and methods, you’ll also learn the algorithms, tools, and testing concepts necessary for efficient designs. East Carolina University’s MS in Computer Science degree fully equips you for a career in academia, the private sector, or research. In fact, you’ll graduate ready to become a:
- Software Engineer
- System Architect
- Computer Programmer
- Web Developer
Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, and Washington Monthly each praise ECU for its academic excellence and vibrant research activity. In addition to ECU’s academic accolades, the university is also known for its commitment to student vets. It even won the Patriot Award.
North Carolina State University
Average Net Price: $13,066
North Carolina State University is located in Raleigh. A highly regarded land, sea, and space-grant institution, NC State is a leader in research and part of the Research Triangle, along with Duke and UNC in Chapel Hill. Approximately 32,000 students attend NC State.
For those seeking a flexible degree program based only on coursework and without a required thesis or comprehensive exam, NC State is the way to go. They offer an online MS in Computer Science degree where you can specialize in programming. Even more, the course work for this online program is nearly identical to what students receive on campus. Classes include:
- Computational Applied Logic
- Numerical Analysis
- Operating Systems
- Artificial Intelligence
A flagship university, NC State is well ranked by Forbes, the Academic Ranking of World Universities, U.S. News & World Report, and many more. It is home to several esteemed scholarship programs as well as special initiatives such as the Master of Global Innovation Management.
North American University
Average Net Price: $13,103
North American University is located in Houston, Texas. It specializes in business administration, computer science, and education programs with interdisciplinary study among those subjects encouraged. NAU offers both undergraduate programs as well as master’s degrees.
At NAU you can earn an MS in Computer Science in as few as 16 months. Whether you want to specialize in computer networks or software engineering, NAU not only gives you a foundation in programming fundamentals, but many ways to implement the applied aspects of computer science. Students have graduate from NAU and gone on to become:
- Computer Programmers
- Database Managers
- Web Designers
- Project Coders
Because of NAU’s unique areas of focus, it has earned a reputation for providing strong coursework in business and programming. In fact, Business Insider ranked NAU as one of the top 10 best schools for coding.
Georgia Institute of Technology
Average Net Price: $13,340
Georgia Institute of Technology is located in Atlanta and is part of the wider University System of Georgia. Organized into six colleges, Georgia Tech specializes in STEM degrees, though they also offers programs in design, business, and the liberal arts.
One of the top 10 best CS programs in the nation (according to U.S. News & World Report), Georgia Tech’s program offers four specializations: computing systems, interactive intelligence, machine learning, and computational perception and robotics. However you choose to specialize, at Georgia Tech you will gain a foundation in programming through courses such as:
- Advanced Operating Systems
- Data and Visual Analytics
- High Performance Computer Architecture
- Computer Networks
Georgia Tech is designated an active research university known for its contributions across the STEM fields. For example, The Georgia Tech Research Institute houses over 40 percent of the school’s research efforts. Finally, the university is ranked among the top 10 best public schools in the nation.
University of West Georgia
Average Net Price: $14,285
Located just west of Atlanta in Carrollton, the University of West Georgia is a public school. It is research-driven, a member of the University System of Georgia, and it is organized into seven distinct colleges and schools. Around 13,000 students attend WGU.
At UWG you can earn an online MS in Applied Computer Science degree. This is an ideal program for those who want to allocate their graduate studies to hands-on applications. Indeed, UWG students focus on information technology and its applied knowledge and skill sets. Courses include:
- Database Systems I and II
- Software Development I and II
- Web Technologies I and II
- Program Construction I and II
The University of West Georgia is consistently named one of the “Best Southeastern Colleges” each year by The Princeton Review. Likewise, it is ranked among the top 10 best schools in the state of Georgia.
University of Idaho
Average Net Price: $14,787
Idaho’s oldest public school, the University of Idaho is located in Moscow. It is a flagship, land-grant university that offers more than 150 academic degrees. And it is known for its research contributions, most notably across the STEM fields.
The University of Idaho offers a fully online computer science graduate degree that readies students for careers in coding, programming, and design. Jump into either the thesis or non-thesis track. Both will teach you the foundations of computer science theory and application. Courses cover:
- Evolutionary Computation
- Computer Architecture
- Programming Language Theory
- Compiler Design
The University of Idaho is a Public Ivy, meaning it is comparable to the private Ivy Leagues. Not surprising then, UI is nationally ranked by Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Payscale, The Princeton Review, and Washington Monthly, among others.
Old Dominion University
Average Net Price: $15,218
Located in Norfolk, Virginia, Old Dominion University is a public research university. Though it also has a number of satellite campuses based around the region as well as a highly regarded online learning program. Around 25,000 students attend ODU.
ODU Online offers an MS in Computer Science degree that covers everything from bioinformatics to data mining, digital libraries, software engineering, networking, and more. There are three ways to complete this program: through the courses-only model, the project-based model, or the thesis model. All will prepare you for a career as:
- Cyber Security Analysts
- Software Engineer
- Web Developer
- Systems Analyst
Old Dominion is home to some of the best, most vibrant research facilities. For example, campus houses the illustrious Virginia Modeling, Analysis, and Simulation Center. The Center for Advanced Engineering Environments as well as the Research Center for Bioelectrics are also on the ODU campus.
Dakota State University
Average Net Price: $15,375
Dakota State University is a public school based in Madison, South Dakota. It is organized into four colleges that offer degrees in business and information technology, cyber science, education, and the arts and sciences. Around 4,000 students attend Dakota State.
For an applied CS program look no further than Dakota State. This program emphasizes practical applications while building upon theoretical foundations. You will take five required courses while tailoring the rest of the degree to suit your area of specialization. In fact, Dakota allows students to either formally specialize in Cyber Operations or to create a personally customized concentration. The core courses are:
- Design and Analysis of Computer Algorithms
- Structure and Design of Programming Language
- Operating Systems and Parallel Programming
- Theory of Computation
- Machine Learning Fundamentals
With its specializations in technology, business, and management, Dakota State University is known for being a tech-centric school. Students are encouraged, sometimes even required, to use tablets. And the curriculum is heavily integrated with computer programming. DSU has even brought virtual reality technology into the classroom.
New Jersey Institute of Technology
Average Net Price: $15,406
The New Jersey Institute of Technology is the state’s leading STEM university. It is located in Newark and was founded by local industrialists and inventors. Today NJIT offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate programs to its 12,000 students.
At NJIT you can earn an online MS in Computer Science degree that will introduce you to the latest, most cutting-edge concepts and applications in programming. This degree can be earned in under 20 months and was developed with working professionals in mind. You can even specialize in a range of areas, including:
- Databases and Data Mining
NJIT is a highly decorated school with many rankings and recognitions to its name. Not only is it nationally and globally ranked, but its engineering and programming departments are specifically renowned. NJIT also has been praised for its affordability and return on investment.
Georgia Southern University
Average Net Price: $16,121
Offering an impressive 140 undergraduate and graduate programs, Georgia Southern University is a public university located in Statesboro, Georgia. It has nearly 30,000 students and is comprised of eight colleges. Though strong in many areas, GSU is most known for its business, tech, and engineering programs.
The online MS in Computer Science degree at Georgia Southern University integrates theory with practical skills. Meaning, you will equally focus on real-world case studies and projects as you will on computer science concepts such as database management, artificial intelligence, and web systems. Graduates have gone on to become:
- Computer Systems Analysts
- Database Designers
- Computer Programmers
- Software Developers
Georgia Southern University ranks highly and often. Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger’s, Issues in Higher Education, and many more all praise GSU for its academic excellence as well as its affordability. In fact, each year GSU lands on their respective “Best Colleges” and “Best Values” lists.
Colorado State University
Average Net Price: $16,232
A flagship university, Colorado State University is located in Fort Collins, Colorado and is known as a major research institution. CSU is home to more than 33,000 students who are enrolled in one of CSU’s eight colleges and schools.
At Colorado State University you will become proficient in everything from networking and security to parallel computing, software engineering, and systems design. This online computer science program has resulted in a job placement rate of 70 percent for its graduates. Classes include:
- Object-Oriented Design
- Parallel Programming
- Computer Networks and the Internet
- Software Product and Process Evaluation
CSU’s engineering school, the first of its kind in Colorado, is ranked as among the best in the country. Further, the computer science and engineering departments have contributed widely to many areas of research. The Princeton Review, Business Week, Consumers Digest, and the National Science Foundation all praise CSU’s STEM programs.
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Average Net Price: $16,242
The University of Minnesota’s main, flagship campus is located in the Twin Cities. The university is organized into nearly 20 colleges and schools, through which 50,000 students are enrolled. A research-based university, UMN is known for its research in the areas of engineering, programming, economics, environmental science, and more.
The MS in Computer Science degree from UMN is coursework focused. Meaning, this program will immerse you in programming concepts and theory without requiring research projects. Such a model makes the UMN program ideal for those who want to advance their career within industry. Some of the classes you’ll take online through UMN include:
- Computational Aspects of Matrix Theory
- Modern Cryptography
- Introduction to Compilers
- Wireless and Sensor Networks
UMN is one of the top producers of Nobel Prize winners in the U.S. It is a Public Ivy ranked among the top 100 universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Globally well-ranked too, UMN is lauded by the likes of Times Higher Education, U.S. News, ARWU, and more.
University of Louisville
Average Net Price: $16,249
The University of Louisville offers around 150 academic programs to its 22,000 students. Organized into a dozen schools and colleges, U of L is part of the Kentucky State University System. It is a leader in the areas of medicine, engineering, business, and more.
The University of Louisville offers a fully online MS in Computer Science degree through its renowned J.B. Speed School of Engineering. This is a perfect program for those who maybe don’t have a technical background in engineering or computer science. U of L will get you up to speed, introducing you to the fundamentals in software, analytics, and programming. Classes include:
- Computer Networks
- Software Engineering
- Artificial Intelligence
- Distributed Systems
U of L is nationally ranked by Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, and Washington Monthly. On top of its academic reputation, U of L is perhaps best known for its tuition reimbursement programs.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Average Net Price: $16,683
The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign is the flagship university within the wider UI System. UIUC provides more than 150 academic programs through its 17 schools and colleges. Around 50,000 students attend UIUC.
The MS in Computer Science degree at UIUC is among the best in the nation. This is a non-thesis, non-research degree designed to advance the current, professional careers of its students. You will have the option to specialize in an area of your personal interest and passion, in addition to completing the UIUC core. Coursework includes:
- Architecture, Compilers, and Parallel Computing
- Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
- Theoretical Computer Science
U.S. News & World Report, Times Higher Education, and Forbes, among others, rank UIUC among the top 50 universities in the world. UIUC is strong in many areas, including in the humanities and fine arts. But its engineering school is among the top five best in the world.
Average Net Price: $16,695
What better place to earn a programming degree then from Silicon Valley’s darling, Stanford University. Stanford is a world-renowned leader in STEM research and one of the best schools in the country. Indeed, U.S. News & World Report ranks it fifth in the nation. More than 16,000 students attend the university.
Though last on our list, it’s hard to argue with a Stanford degree. Their MS in Computer Science program is a balanced combination of math and theory foundations, computer systems, and artificial intelligence. At Stanford you will also be able to specialize in one of ten areas, which includes everything from software theory to human-computer interaction. Online classes include:
- Operating Systems and Systems Programming
- Introduction to Databases
- Introduction to Computer Graphics and Imaging
Needing little introduction, Stanford is well-ranked in nearly every conceivable category. Located in tight proximity to the Silicon Valley, Stanford maintains close connections with innovative business and tech leaders. Therefore, its research strengths are in engineering, entrepreneurship, and programming, among many others.