Compare the Best Online Computer Science Degree Programs

Degree Overview

Computer science is a complex and multifaceted field with a hand in just about every part of modern life, making computer science degrees some of the most versatile and useful degrees that institutions offer.

With strong market demand and above-average career prospects, computer science degrees are particularly attractive to students who are interested in technology, enjoy creative problem-solving, and prefer a mix of team and individual work.

Most colleges and universities have computer science programs, but if you’re going to invest in studying computer science at an institution of higher learning, it’s worth it to find an institution that best suits your educational goals, needs, and budget.

Below are some great options for institutions with good computer science programs, with a healthy mix of schools with prestige, quality instruction, and budget-friendliness. Compare the schools below and thoroughly research the key factors that matter to you in your education.



Western Governors University

Location: Online (based in Salt Lake City, UT)

Fastest time to graduation: 19 Months

Acceptance rate: 100%

Graduation rate: 50%

Cost of attendance: $7,452.00 per year

Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Admission requirements

  • Application form
  • Official high school/college transcripts
  • Nonrefundable application fee of $65

Unique offerings

  • Competency-based education; charges by the term rather than by the credit so students can graduate faster and control the total cost of their degree
  • Known for excellent distance learning
  • Awarded for high performance

Columbia Southern University

Location: Online (based in Orange Beach, AL)

Cost of attendance: $5,533.00 per year

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges


Capella University

Location: Online

Fastest time to graduation: 12 Months

Acceptance rate: 100%

Cost of attendance: $14,148.00 per year

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Admission requirements

  • Application form
  • Official high school/college transcripts
  • Nonrefundable application fee of $50
  • English proficiency
  • Must meet FlexPath requirements (talk to program advisor for details)

Unique offerings

  • The FlexPath system enables students to take as many courses as they desire in each 12-week billing session
  • Flat-rate tuition fee per session
  • No courseroom discussions
  • Students can set their own deadlines

Southern New Hampshire University

Location: Online (based in Manchester, NH)

Graduation rate: 54%

Cost of attendance: $15,380.00 per year

Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education


University of Phoenix

Location: Online (based in Phoenix, AZ)

Graduation rate: 28%

Cost of attendance: $19,282.00 total (%tuition_2% per year or %tuition_3% per credit)

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission


Colorado Technical University

Location: Online (based in Colorado Springs, CO)

Graduation rate: 27%

Cost of attendance: $24,143.00 total (%tuition_2% per year or %tuition_3% per credit)

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission


Walden University

Location: Online (based in Minneapolis, MN)

Acceptance rate: 100%

Graduation rate: 27%

Cost of attendance: $24,240.00 total

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Admission requirements

  • Official transcripts
  • Applicable test scores
  • Completed online application
  • List of transfer credits

Purdue University Global

Location: Online (based in West Lafayette, IN)

Graduation rate: 27%

Cost of attendance: In-State is $10,125.00 per year, Out-of-State is $14,436.00 per year

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

FAQs About Computer Science Degrees

How Much Does a Computer Science Degree Cost?

The cost of your computer science degree depends on many factors. First and foremost being the tuition that your chosen school charges. Some schools charge as little as $6,500 in annual tuition, while others can soar upwards of $55,000 a year before books, room and board, and other expenses.

The length of your program (2 years? 4 years? 6 years?) is also a determining factor, as well as how often the school charges tuition and fees. Do you pay by the credit hour or by semester? Another consideration is financial aid. There are scholarships offered for just about anything you can think of, from your high school academics or ACT/SAT scores, to socioeconomic background, and more. Additionally, FAFSA can help you qualify for Pell Grants and other programs that can reduce your overall cost of education.

To truly determine the cost of your computer science degree, you’ll need to evaluate your particular situation, taking your needs and goals into account. When you’ve found the right school for you, multiply the total of your tuition, fees, book costs, and living expenses by the number of terms it will take you to obtain a degree, and then subtract how much financial aid and scholarships can cover. The total you are left with will put you in the ballpark of the true overall cost of your education. If necessary, your college’s academic advisor should be able to help you run these numbers, as well as make additional considerations about your education.

What Courses Will I Take in a Computer Science Degree Program?

Although the exact names and requirements of the courses will vary widely between institutions, Computer Science Majors can expect to take classes in topics such as:

  • Programming Languages
  • Calculus
  • Algorithms
  • Data Management
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Architecture
  • Data Logic
  • Computer Theory
  • Device Utilization
  • Network Fundamentals
  • Operating Systems
  • Statistics
  • Electronic Design
  • Files and Databases
  • Design Physics

What Can I Do With a Computer Science Degree?

There are a wide variety of positions available to computer science professionals, and depending on your precise areas of study and experience, you might be able to qualify for them. Computer science majors can acquire positions as varied as:

  • Software Developer
  • Software Engineer
  • Data Scientist
  • Web Developer
  • Software Tester
  • Systems Analyst
  • Product Manager
  • Full-Stack Developer
  • Database Administrator
  • Front-End Developer
  • Network Architect
  • App Developer
  • etc.

What Other Degrees are Related to Computer Science?

Other majors that are adjacent to computer science that students might also find interesting:

  • Information Technology — Focuses on the use of computer theory to help solve a variety of business problems, encompassing data security, information management, and automation.
  • Computer Programming — Focuses on the application of programming languages to produce programs and computerized processes.
  • Software Engineering — A solid grounding in the production and use of software, as well as its application and integration with the engineering process, working in tandem with other hard sciences like physics, biology, and mechanical and electrical engineering.
  • Cybersecurity — Focuses on security measures and protections used to keep digital systems safe from external and internal threats.
  • Artificial Intelligence — Studies the methods and applications of creating programs and devices that can learn independently from a programmer or user’s explicit instructions, processing data, and producing outputs that might be unexpected from a human observer.
  • Data Science — Studies the gathering, organization, and analysis of data sets with high complexity.
  • Systems Analysis — Focuses on how computer systems are built, how they behave, and the ways in which they interact with each other.

Why Get a Degree in Computer Science?

In addition to extrinsic motivators like salary and career prospects, your personal interests and personality can often be good indicators of whether or not studying computer science is a worthwhile pursuit. Below are some reasons — both external and internal — why you may want to consider a career in computer science.

Degrees with High Demand

Computer science is a booming field and it’s only expected to keep growing for the foreseeable future. Because computers and devices that use them impact just about every facet of our modern lives, nearly every company needs talent with a computer science background. Students considering a computer science major can be well assured that their studies will give them an advantage in a job market where their skills are in demand.

Mix of Collaboration and Individual Work

Depending on your role, computer science careers can offer a nice mix of solitary work (spending time alone, chipping away at a program) and teamwork (reviewing code as a group and brainstorming clever solutions to problems). If you find that you like a little of both collaboration and self-driven work, computer science is a great field to consider, as both aspects of working life are present in these kinds of careers in varying amounts depending on the company and particular role.

Regardless of personal preference, a good programmer should do what they can to develop skill and experience in both working styles, allowing them not only to figure out which is more conducive to their personal workflow but also to ensure that they have the capacity to do either should the need arise.

Puzzles and Problem-Solving

As a field, computer science is particularly attractive to those who enjoy working on puzzles — any kind of problem-solving, logic-oriented activity. You should find it satisfying and stimulating to tease out creative solutions from complex problems.

Variety of Specialties

With computers used in just about every industry and with countless applications, the world of computer science is vast, and there is plenty of room for specialization. While there are industry standard coding languages, and certain things that stay the same regardless of where you are, many organizations still need people with rare talents and skill sets. That means that there are a surprising amount of niche markets hidden within the computer science landscape.

To take best advantage of this, make an effort to study particular industries that fascinate you, and gain a thorough understanding of the unique challenges those fields face, as well as how computer science is currently used — and how it might be used — to solve those challenges. Learn a variety of coding languages and probe their strengths and weaknesses for addressing certain kinds of problems. This knowledge will make you an invaluable asset to any organization that is seeking your specialties.

Well-Paying Careers

Jobs in the computer science realm are renowned for their above-average pay. For example, a software developer, one of the most common computer science roles, can expect to earn anywhere from $50,000 to $110,000 a year, with a median salary of about $73,000 a year.

However, it’s not advisable to simply join the computer science field just because the pay is attractive. Computer science is a complex area of study, and though you don’t necessarily need to be a genius to grasp the techniques and principles, it takes a particular type of mind to thrive and find consistent fulfillment from it. Many students have been convinced by the potential salary to start down the road to a computer science career, only to find that computer science doesn’t intrinsically satisfy them.

If you’re unsure of whether computers and coding are right for you, it’s possible to try some free online courses and independent study to get your bearings and see if you find the work engaging before you invest in a computer science degree program.