Most Affordable Online Computer Science Degrees 2021

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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.

Learn About the FAFSA

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.

  • 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

    Apply

  • 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.

    Award: $1,500

    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.

    Award: $1,000

    Apply

Discover the Best Scholarships

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.

  • Computer and Information Systems Manager

    Also known as information technology (IT) managers, computer and information systems managers plan and manage IT responsibilities within an organization. Professionals may advance to leadership positions, such as chief technology officer, with an advanced degree and several years of experience.

    Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in computer science.
    Job Outlook (2019-29): +10%
    Median Annual Salary: $151,150

  • Software Developer

    Software developers complete the end-to-end process of planning, designing, creating, and testing computer software. While some software developers work as independent contractors for multiple businesses, others collaborate with large IT teams within one organization.

    Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in computer science or software development.
    Job Outlook (2019-29): +22%
    Median Annual Salary: $110,140

  • Information Security Analyst

    Information security analysts monitor, troubleshoot, and protect an organization’s computer network. Some organizations seek candidates with an industry-recognized certification, such as CompTIA cybersecurity analyst, in addition to a bachelor’s degree.

    Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in computer science or programming
    Job Outlook (2019-29): +31%
    Median Annual Salary: $103,590

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

  1. Florida International University
    Location

    Miami, FL

    Tuition

    $9180

    FIU's affordable computer science degree confers a BA. Core courses include computer programming and technology in the global arena. Learners can customize their degree by choosing from several electives.

    FIU Career and Talent Development (CTD) advisors help enrollees select a minor or second major. They also help students develop interviewing and networking skills. New students create a Handshake account to access these and other services, such as one-on-one advising appointments. Other CTD resources include free resume-writing software.

    First-year applicants submit high school transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. FIU does not require test scores from transfer applicants with at least 60 undergraduate credits. Florida residents pay the most affordable tuition. Eligible incoming learners receive $2,000 in automatic academic scholarships.

  2. University of Illinois at Springfield
    Location

    Springfield, IL

    Tuition

    $10733

    UIS offers an online computer science program. Students can complete the 120-credit degree in four years. Courses cover the foundations of computer science. Learners explore programming languages and Windows network administration. The program focuses on information systems security.

    UIS supports enrollees with virtual library resources, including e-books and databases. Some university librarians specialize in computer science and help learners with original research. Learners who need help with coursework can register for a free online tutoring session.

    Applicants need an associate degree and a 2.0 undergraduate GPA. They must also complete prerequisites in calculus, finite mathematics, and Java programming. Prospective students must submit a statement of purpose. Online students pay the same tuition regardless of residency. Incoming learners with a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA receive a $1,000-$8,000 annual scholarship.

  3. Oregon State University
    Location

    Corvallis, OR

    Tuition

    $18625

    OSU offers an affordable computer science degree that requires 180 credits. Learners can complete the program entirely online. The curriculum includes courses in databases, network security, and computation theory. Enrollees show their project management and engineering design skills in a three-term cumulative capstone.

    OSU's Career Development Center (CDC) provides VMock, a virtual resume-critiquing service. Other virtual tools include Focus2's career assessments and Handshake. Learners can make an appointment with a CDC career advisor to start researching jobs and graduate programs. Local enrollees can also attend on-campus career fairs.

    OSU accepts up to 135 transfer credits and reviews applications four times annually. First-year applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA. All online enrollees pay the same tuition. Students can explore more than 1,500 institutional scholarships through the ScholarDollars search engine.

  4. DePaul University
    Location

    Chicago, IL

    Tuition

    Unconfirmed

    Students seeking a degree in computer science from DePaul need at least 30 transferable credits. Graduation requirements include Python for programmers, discrete mathematics, and a sophomore lab in applied computing. Students complete a capstone in their final semester. They create a product they can use in their graduate school or job application portfolio.

    DePaul's BlueStar online system tracks learners' academic progress. Low grades and other issues trigger an alert to students, professors, and advisors. Enrollees can use appropriate services, such as tutoring.

    Applicants need a minimum 2.0 undergraduate GPA. They also need prerequisites in Java or C++. Full-time enrollees pay a flat tuition rate. Nearly 95% of incoming learners receive an institutional scholarship. New students need only submit FAFSA results to apply.

  5. Colorado State University-Global Campus
    Location

    Aurora, CO

    Tuition

    Unconfirmed

    CSU-Global offers an affordable computer science degree. The program prepares learners for many industry certifications, including Oracle certified associate. Coursework covers logic and design. Learners also study information systems analysis and design. Students can complete an optional concentration. Options include organizational leadership or project management.

    CSU-Global offers Career Navigation Services (CNS) to help students write a resume, develop interviewing skills, and find a job. CNS career coaches work with learners during 50-minute sessions. These meetings help students research job market trends and compare career paths.

    New courses start every month. CSU-Global considers applicants who passed the GED exam. Students with professional experience can graduate sooner by earning credit by exam or taking prior learning assessments. The university does not charge out-of-state tuition or student fees. Learners who maintain a minimum 3.7 GPA receive the Academic Excellence Scholarship.

  6. Regis University
    Location

    Denver, CO

    Tuition

    Unconfirmed

    Regis offers an affordable computer science degree to learners worldwide. The accelerated program requires upper-division courses in distributed systems and ethical leadership in computer science. The 120-credit curriculum also features an optional internship in computer science.

    Online students receive the same student services as their on-campus peers. These services include 24/7 IT support, equity and inclusion resources, and mental health counseling. Regis provides many career-preparation tools through Handshake. Learners who need personalized advice can attend virtual drop-in hours at the Center for Career and Professional Development.

    Applicants submit official transcripts, a resume, and an essay. Prospective students receive a decision within three business days. Regis charges all enrollees the same per-credit tuition. Students can apply for federal Pell and TEACH Grants to pay for their degree in computer science.

  7. Lewis University
    Location

    Romeoville, IL

    Tuition

    Unconfirmed

    Lewis' online computer science program runs asynchronously. Students can complete coursework at any time. The degree's eight-week courses include object-orientated programming and ethical issues in computing. Enrollees can specialize in software engineering or computer infrastructure.

    Students can begin a job hunt by consulting Lewis' job-planning guide. They can also take a FOCUS2 career assessment. Online learners use Big Interview software to hone interviewing skills and review resume and cover letter guides. Learners can also explore links to job boards and outside career-planning resources.

    Lewis recommends but does not require essays or recommendation letters. Some applicants may also qualify for a standardized test waiver. Learners with computer science work experience can earn credit through Lewis' prior learning assessments. Nearly 100% of undergraduates receive financial aid. Some institutional scholarships award full tuition.

  8. Liberty University
    Location

    Lynchburg, VA

    Tuition

    Unconfirmed

    Liberty offers an affordable computer science degree that requires 120 credits. Most students complete the program fully online in 3.5 years. Coursework covers advanced programming and studies in information security. Graduates may work as computer network architects or web developers.

    Liberty employs academic advisors who work exclusively with online enrollees. These advisors help students explore majors, plan course loads, and select a minor or second major. Online learners can also access webinars and a 24/7 IT help desk.

    Applicants need a minimum 2.0 high school or undergraduate GPA. Liberty accepts up to 90 transfer credits. Active-duty service members receive a tuition discount. Learners can submit FAFSA results to apply for institutional scholarships and federal grants.

  9. Point Park University
    Location

    Pittsburgh, PA

    Tuition

    Unconfirmed

    Students earning Point Park's degree in computer science take accelerated eight-week courses. They can transfer up to 90 credits. Enrollees complete courses in networking and security, data structures, and advanced programming. Learners can choose from three concentrations, including software development.

    The school's Professional Career-Readiness Center offers Handshake, networking events, and internships. Learners can also explore a guide covering U.S. and state government jobs. These services help 80% of recent graduates find a job or enroll in a graduate program.

    Applicants need a minimum 2.0 high school or undergraduate GPA. Students with a lower GPA may receive conditional admission by submitting supplementary materials or interviewing with an admissions counselor. All enrollees pay the same tuition. New students submit FAFSA results to apply for institutional aid.

  10. Central Methodist University-College of Graduate and Extended Studies
    Location

    Fayette, MO

    Tuition

    Unconfirmed

    Students pursuing CMU's affordable computer science degree can earn a BA or BS. Required courses in the BS program include webpage design and computer and information security. Enrollees complete a thesis they can use when applying to a job or graduate school. Students can double-major in computer networking.

    CMU's advisors recommend the latest internships and cooperative learning experiences. Other academic resources include the Writing Center. Library Services provides online learners with a specialized handbook, resource videos, and interlibrary loan access.

    First-year students need a minimum 2.5 high school GPA or 2250 GED score. CMU uses a 2.0 GPA cutoff for transfer credit. The school also assesses incoming learners' class ranks. First-year students with excellent standardized test scores may qualify for a $4,000-$12,000 automatic scholarship. CMU also provides financial aid to transfer students with a minimum 2.75 undergraduate GPA.

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