A bachelor’s degree in computer science prepares undergraduates for technical computing careers. Typical courses include programming, data analytics, networking, cybersecurity management, and cloud computing solutions. The degree leads to in-demand technology careers with high salaries like software development, for which the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 22% growth from 2019-2029.
Although an online bachelor’s in computer science holds promising salary potential, degree-seekers may prioritize affordability to avoid excessive debt after graduation. A cheap online computer science degree might include low per-credit tuition rates, accelerated options, and financial aid opportunities.
Why Get an Affordable Bachelor’s in Computer Science?
In addition to tuition, a degree’s affordability depends on your salary-to-debt ratio after graduation. Therefore, prospective students may want to consider future employment prospects when pursuing a degree. An online bachelor’s in computer science is a popular choice, leading to several possible high-paying careers.
Opting for a specialization gives students the skills and experience necessary for their chosen career, potentially boosting future job prospects. Online computer science degrees may offer concentrations in security, information systems analysis, mobile computing, and software development.
Computer science programs are ideal for students who possess the skills required for tech industry-related jobs. Computer science majors may exhibit strengths in problem-solving, mathematics, data analysis, and technical computing. Graduates have strong programming, designing, and testing skills.
Computer science degrees typically consist of 120 credits with courses in programming, software engineering, computer networking, physics, and mathematics. Applicants should expect to submit high school transcripts with their application. Learn more about top computer science degrees on our ranking page.
Why You Should Earn a Computer Science Degree Online
The convenience and success of online learning has led higher learning institutions to create more distance education classes and programs. In the 2018 fall semester, 16.6% of posttertiary degree students enrolled exclusively in online courses.
In addition to its convenience, an online program may also save students money. Public schools may charge lower in-state tuition rates for online out-of-state learners. Distance learning allows students to complete courses remotely, avoiding housing and transportation costs. Asynchronous online courses also allow students to continue earning money while pursuing their degree.
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How Can I Pay for a Computer Science Degree Online?
Tuition for online computer science degrees vary significantly. One factor depends on whether a school charges online learners the lower in-state tuition rate regardless of residency. Some programs also include separate online fees that further raises net costs.
Schools may also charge additional program-related fees. Textbooks can contribute to an increase in overall costs. Students should consider using various financing options to help pay for their computer science degrees. The following financial aid sources are common:
- Loans: Loans provide funds that borrowers must pay back. The federal government offers student loans for qualified students, while other loans may come from private lenders or financial institutions.
- Work-Study: Work-study programs allow students to earn money for tuition and other educational expenses through a part-time job. The Federal Work-Study Program grants funds to students attending one of the 3,400 colleges and universities.
- Grants: Grants gift funds to eligible students and do not require repayment. Usually, grants go to students with demonstrated financial need, but some grants may also require students to qualify academically or athletically.
- Scholarships: Scholarships provide students with funds that do not require repayment. Often merit-based, scholarships may have specific requirements for applicants, including maintaining a minimum GPA or experiencing a financial, social, or personal hardship.
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Scholarships for Computer Science Students
Scholarships can help students pay for their online degrees. While not an exhaustive list, the scholarships listed below specifically assist computer science students.
Discover the Best Scholarships
Generation Google Scholarship
Google welcomes students in the United States or Canada to apply for the Generation Google Scholarship. The scholarship emphasizes academics, leadership, and diversity when considering applications. Applicants must be accepted or enrolled full-time in a bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. program at an accredited institution.
Award: $10,000 USD; $5,000 CAD
Admiral Grace Murray Hopper Scholarship
Offered by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), this scholarship honors Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, a computer programming pioneer. SWE awards the scholarship to three freshman students in computer science or engineering annually. People who identify as female pursuing a degree from an ABET-accredited institution may apply.
National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) Foundation STEM Scholarship
High school seniors pursuing a STEM-related field may apply for the NSHSS Foundation STEM Scholarship. Applicants must submit at least one teacher recommendation, a resume, a transcript, a headshot, a 500-word personal statement, and a list of STEM activities for consideration.
Making Cheap Online Computer Science Degrees Even Cheaper
Tuition is one of many costs associated with higher education. Students also foot the bill for textbooks, equipment, and school fees, all of which can increase program costs. The following list offers cost-saving tips for students pursuing computer science degrees online.
- Textbooks and Equipment
- Textbooks and equipment, such as headphones or a laptop, constitute some of the highest expenses for online students, aside from tuition. Renting textbooks and equipment can cost less than buying them. Rentals allow you to pay installment fees instead of paying up front, making payments more digestible.
- Program Length
- Some computer science online programs have accelerated options for students looking to graduate ahead of schedule. Accelerated programs sometimes have a program cost rather than a per-credit cost. This fee structure can make the accelerated program more affordable than a standard program with per-credit tuition.
- Class Size
- Public schools generally have lower tuition rates and higher student-to-faculty ratios than private schools. This may result in less personalized instruction and longer response times from instructors.
- School Accolades
- Industry-leading employers may hold prestigious schools in higher regard than other schools. Prestigious institutions often have regional accreditation, notable faculty, and exceptional reputations. While choosing a school with minimal accolades might prove more affordable, it may impact job opportunities after graduation.
- Included Costs
- A school may advertise a cheap online computer science degree, but it could have hidden costs. Programs do not always note the cost of proctored exams, field work, and required materials on their websites. Speak with a program advisor before applying to take note of all required costs when considering different programs.
Will Getting My Online CS Degree Pay Off?
As of December 2020, student loan debt in the U.S. has reached $1.71 trillion. Students may wonder if pursuing an online bachelor’s in computer science merits going into debt.
Fortunately, the tech industry’s continuous growth paves the way for many high-paying careers. The BLS reports that computer science graduates can pursue jobs with median annual salaries of $91,250. These occupations include information security analysts, software developers, or computer and information systems managers. For more salary information, students can review school websites for alumni employment records.
The BLS reports that computer science graduates can pursue jobs with median annual salaries of $91,250.
To determine if earning computer science degrees online might pay off, you can also calculate your potential return on investment (ROI). You can calculate this by dividing your monthly student loan payments by your expected monthly salary.
The lower your salary-to-debt ratio, the higher your potential ROI. You can use this figure when comparing tuition costs and salary information from different programs.
Jobs for Computer Science Graduates
Computer science online program graduates have several potential career options as computer and information research scientists, software developers, and information security analysts. Find job details below, including salary and job outlook data from the BLS.
Professional Organizations for Computer Science Students
Students may join professional computer science organizations to network during or after graduation, opening doors to potential career opportunities. Consider joining one of the following organizations as you complete your online bachelor’s in computer science:
Association for Computing Machinery
An international organization with nearly 100,000 members, ACM combines the voices and knowledge of industry researchers, educators, and professionals. The organization focuses on incorporating diversity, ethical computing, and technical aptitude into the computer science industry. Members can access networking opportunities, professional development, and learning resources.
International Association for Computer Information Systems
Founded in 1960, IACIS provides educational opportunities to computer science professionals and educators. Its journals publish cutting-edge research and industry-related articles. IACIS members also receive an invitation to an annual conference with presentations, research discussions, and networking opportunities.
Association for Women in Computing
Since 1978, AWC has linked women in the computer science industry to mentoring, networking, and continuing education opportunities. Members may join one of six local chapters in the U.S. or participate independently to receive membership perks, including scholarships, skill-building activities and resources, and leadership opportunities.
Choosing the Best Affordable Online Degree in Computer Science
It’s crucial to consider more than tuition costs when choosing a program. Students should ensure that the institution or computer science program holds accreditation. Accredited schools and programs prove their commitment to academic excellence and earn recognition from other schools and employers. Attending an accredited school qualifies students for federal financial aid opportunities and allows for credit transfer between institutions.
Students should also consider a school’s extracurricular activities, alumni network, and career resources. The best online programs offer digital resources, including online libraries, virtual clubs, and remote networking events, to enhance the learning experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does an online BS in computer science cost?
The cost of an online bachelor’s in computer science degree varies across schools. In-state learners typically have lower per-credit tuition rates than out-of-state learners.
Are there scholarships available for computer science majors?
The computer science field continues to rank as one of the most in-demand industries. Therefore, many tech companies and organizations offer scholarships to computer science majors. Check with your school’s financial aid office to learn about potential scholarship opportunities.
Is a computer science degree online worth it?
The best online computer science degrees provide learners with the tools necessary to enter in-demand technology careers. Some of the highest salaries are in computer science occupations, such as software development and computer information analysis, making this degree worth the time and cost.
What jobs can I get with an online bachelor's in computer science?
An online bachelor of computer science opens doors to several careers. Web developer, software developer, systems analyst, health information technician, and information security analyst are among the potential job titles for graduates.
How much does a computer scientist make?
The BLS indicates that computer and information research scientists earn a median salary of $126,830. Several other computer science careers earn between $77,000-$116,000 annually.
Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Computer Science Programs 2021
Columbus State University
The most affordable option for a Masters of Science in Computer Science goes to Columbus State University, a public university located in the city of Columbus and a member of the University System of Georgia.Columbus State University has been regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools-Commission on Colleges.
Columbus State is also the only school on the list who has its own separate school of computer science, the TSYS School of Computer Science. Like other programs on this list, CSU offers three different specializations: Information Assurance; Modeling and Simulation; and Software Development.
For students hoping to specialize in Information Assurance, CSUs MSCS has been accredited by the National Security Agency as a Center for Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education. Their program also gives students two options for the completion of their degree, a traditional thesis option and a non-thesis option that requires more coursework and examinations.
Georgia Southern University
Georgia Southern University is a public doctoral-research university and member school of the University System of Georgia. It is located in Statesboro in the Southern part of the state. GSUs programs have won a number of awards for affordability and the university was also named in the 2011 U.S. News and World Report as the fourth most popular university in the country.
GSUs MS in Computer Science is one of only a handful of computer science degrees in the country that specialize in data and knowledge systems. This is a subfield of computer science that gives students a one-up in the professional world. Some of the skills graduates will acquire include Speech and Visual Recognition; Data Mining; and Data Warehousing.
Those applying should know that GSUs online MSCS has the fifth highest rated program in terms of admissions selectivity, so those hoping to apply there would be wise to have a backup school in case they are not accepted into GSUs program. Georgia Southern has been regionally accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges.
Old Dominion is a large public research university, one of the largest in the state of Virginia. In the 1990s Old Dominion pioneered an innovative distance learning program that broadcast course content by satellite to partnering community colleges in Virginia, Arizona, and Washington state as well as to large military bases throughout the world.
While content is now delivered online, students still have access to these resources, making ODs Masters of Science in Computer Science especially attractive to students in those three states as well as to military service members and their families. This degree consists of a rigorous curriculum with classes like Computers in Society; Object-Oriented Programming and Design; Principles of Programming Languages; Advanced Data Structures; and Algorithms.
Another attractive feature of their MSCS is that it offers three options for completion of the degree: the coursework-only option that ends with a final comprehensive exam, an option for a final project, or a more traditional Masters thesis option. Old Dominion is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools-Commission on Colleges.
University of Massachusetts Online
The University of Massachusetts is the public university system of the state of Massachusetts with five campuses, the oldest and largest of which is in Amherst. It is recognized in the 2015 Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings as being among the top 100 universities worldwide. It is also one of the countrys best funded universities, which allows it to spend generously on research and development.
UMass Onlines MS in Computer Science is an outgrowth of the research of their faculty and its electives focus primarily on software systems and development. It is designed to be completed in four semesters. The program presents students with the best and most current content while also enabling students to be self-learners, an invaluable skill in a field marked by rapid and constant change. Classes include Paradigmatic Software Development; Software System Design; Database Design; and Advanced Bioinformatics.
UMass online programs are unavailable to people residing in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Maryland, and Minnesota because of legislation particular to those states. The UMass system is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Capitol Technology University
Capitol Technology University is a very small university in Laurel, Maryland. The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning classifies CTU as a special focus institution and their educational scope encompasses the fields of engineering, computer science, information technology, and business. In spite of its small size, CTU has earned recognition for its online degree programs from U.S. News and World Report, ranking #15 for student engagement and #43 in student services and technology.
Their online platform combines synchronous learning in which students participate in live lectures and also asynchronous programs that allow students to participate whenever it is convenient. The synchronous content is recorded and stored for students who cannot attend the lectures at the time they are offered. A sampling of classes includes Algorithms; Computer Language Design; Designing Intelligent Systems; and Multithreaded and Distributed Programming.
Their MS in Computer Science is broken into 10 classes (30 credits in total): 4 required courses, 4 electives, and 2 courses focusing on a capstone project. Capitol Technology University has been regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.