Guide to Online Bachelor’s in Computer Science Degree Programs

Earning an online bachelor’s in computer science can help set you on the path to pursuing a variety of roles in the field. Completing your coursework online may give you time to work at your current job and have the flexibility to take classes on your own schedule.

This guide features important details about earning a BS in computer science, including admissions requirements and specializations.

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What Is an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science?

Computer science is the study of computers, including computational theory, hardware and software design, algorithms and the ways humans interact with technology. A computer scientist is someone who employs these core ideas to create programs that solve some sort of problem.

A bachelor’s degree in computer science lays the foundation for students to grow their knowledge within computer programming and apply it to real-world business situations down the road. Areas of focus within these programs may include topics such as data science, cybersecurity engineering, software engineering, web development and more.

With computers as ubiquitous as electricity, computer science is one of many fields that you can explore from any location—be it a high-tech university lab or the comfort of your bedroom. Some online computer science degree programs may deliver lectures live, and others offer recorded lectures so you can watch whenever you like, allowing for more flexible learning. Some schools may use a combination of the two.

An online computer science bachelor’s degree can offer students a curriculum that closely emulates the day-to-day experience in the life of a real computer scientist from anywhere in the world.

How to Choose the Best Online Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science for You?

There are a number of factors to consider when exploring online computer science bachelor’s degree programs. They may include:

  • Course schedule: Will you still be able to fulfill your work and home duties while taking these classes?
  • Prerequisites: Do you have the required prerequisites? If not, do you have to spend time and money to take them?
  • Cost: Can you afford an online BS in computer science? Do you need financial aid? If so, can your school provide it?
  • Grades, academic record and test scores: Do you have the required GPA and test scores to get into the school?
  • Accelerated programs: Depending on a number of factors, you may want to earn your degree as fast as possible. Some programs offer accelerated online computer science degrees, or fast-track programs, which take less time than the traditional four-year degree.
  • Accreditation: You may want to ensure that you’re looking at a program that offers an accredited online computer science degree. There are 60 institutions that accredit individual programs, which are reviewed for quality by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the U.S. Department of Education (USDE).
  • The school’s track record: Do the school’s graduates get high-quality computer science jobs upon graduation? Are there internship opportunities?
  • School reviews: What have alumni and current students said about the school?
  • Teachers: Do the teachers have solid degrees and resumes?
  • Student body: Will you be able to collaborate with other students? Are there people of similar ages and backgrounds who attend the school?

Once you answer some of these questions, you may begin applying to programs. Remember that just because a school has excellent marketing doesn’t mean that it’s the right place for you. You’ll be spending a substantial amount of time and money to earn your degree, so you want to make sure the particular school and program are a good fit.

List of Online Bachelor’s in Computer Science Programs

Ready to look into a bachelor’s in computer science online? There are a number of programs available. Some universities offer online-only programs while others have physical locations where you can earn your degree. The following are universities across the United States that offer online programs.

Sponsored School

Earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science from Simmons University.

Write software, create websites, and develop new technology in a computer science BS program that fits your lifestyle.

  • Join live, online courses designed and led by expert Simmons faculty.
  • Complete interactive coursework at your own pace between classes.
  • No SAT/ACT Required


Computer Science Undergraduate Admissions Requirements

Each online bachelor’s degree in computer science program has its own set of admissions requirements. Common requirements may include:

  • A high school diploma or GED.
  • A minimum GPA. Some schools ask for at least a 3.0, but lower GPAs may be accepted depending on the program’s requirements.
  • ACT or SAT scores: Schools may want to see a minimum score on either of these tests and will sometimes advertise the average score online.

Additionally, some programs may ask that you complete prerequisites or show that you have volunteer or work experience in the computer science field.

BS in Computer Science Curriculum

A number of BS in computer science programs require candidates to complete 120 credits to earn their degree and include core classes in mathematics, physical sciences and computer systems. Be sure to check with your desired school to confirm credit requirements. Common course requirements are in computers, mathematics, physical sciences and English.

The curriculum for an online computer science bachelor’s degree might also include the following courses:

  • Foundations of Computer Science
  • Algorithms and Data Structures
  • Introduction to Machine Learning
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Privacy and Technology
  • Cryptography
  • Mathematics for Computer Science
  • Data Structures
  • Computer and Network Security
  • Computer Networks
  • Operating Systems
  • Programming Languages

This is just a sampling. Your individual program may have different specialties available. Depending on your school and its offerings, you may choose to delve into different related topics and graduate with a more specialized degree.

Some specializations include:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Software Engineering
  • Game Design
  • Computer Graphics
  • Networks
  • Data Science
  • Information Security
  • Programming Languages
  • Theory

It all depends on what area appeals to you and where you see yourself excelling. For example, if you want to build web pages, then you may want to learn programming languages like Python, JavaScript, HTML and Ruby. On the other hand, if you’re more interested in the visual design of websites, you may consider becoming a UX designer or web designer.

If you want to help businesses collect information to deliver an improved customer experience, then studying data science might be useful. And if you want to safeguard organizations against hackers and protect servers and websites, you may consider seeking out a specialization in information security.

You may end up getting a general online bachelor’s degree in computer science and then taking additional graduate courses, or you could obtain an internship or job in your specialty. Either way, you don’t have to know what you want to do with your degree before starting classes. You can learn what you like as you go.

What Can I Do With a Computer Science Bachelor’s Degree?

Someone pursuing a BS in computer science has a wide variety of career options available to work toward—from web design to data analysis to application development. Some of those can even have sub-fields of study within them.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for computer scientists in 2020 was $126,830. There are other computer science jobs to consider, and earning potential for each one varies.

For those who already have a BS in computer science, your education doesn’t have to stop with undergraduate studies. Furthering your education by pursuing a master’s degree in computer science can allow you to specialize in one or two specific areas in the field.

Computer Systems Analyst Jobs

Computer systems analysts help solve problems in a variety of industries. An analyst stays up to date with trends that affect a company’s technology investments, and they might install new hardware and software and then train colleagues to use it.

Learning about emerging technologies that threaten to challenge the status quo, computer systems analysts work diligently to holistically understand how their company’s business operates and how it could improve. They may collaborate with IT workers.

As of May 2020, the median annual pay for computer systems analysts was $93,730, according to the BLS.

Information Security Analyst Jobs

Information security analysts arm themselves with knowledge necessary to prevent data breaches and cybersecurity attacks. They do this by anticipating, monitoring and investigating potential infringements on an organization’s computer networks and systems.

Employing a host of technical skills, information security analysts bolster their company’s cybersecurity by installing firewalls and encryption programs, keeping important software up to date and advising IT staff on how to enhance their current security solutions. Analysts use and manage proprietary intrusion detection systems to diligently monitor networks for suspicious traffic.

According to the BLS, the median annual wage for information security analysts was $103,590 in May 2020.

Software Developers

The primary purpose of software developers is to write code, which, once compiled, becomes an application (or “program”) that enables users to perform some intended function.

These applications can take many different forms. Modern devices and networks run on an operating system, which is itself a program developed by computer scientists using an advanced assembly language. The web browser you’re using to read this is a computer program that takes web code, such as HTML or JavaScript, and turns it into a functioning website for users to view. Video games are just programs that take inputs from the user and output video to a screen and sound to an audio source. The list goes on.

The median annual salary for software developers was $110,140, according to 2020 BLS data.

Computer Architect Jobs

Computer architects, also referred to as network engineers, create and implement computer information networks such as local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs) and Intranets. They’ll often spend time upgrading hardware as needed to support their organization’s new computer networks and researching new technologies for future use.

According to 2020 data from the BLS, the median annual salary for computer network architects was $116,780.

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science Programs FAQ

Let’s examine some of the commonly asked questions surrounding BS in computer science degrees, the time they take to complete and more.

Can I earn a bachelor’s in computer science online?

Yes, it is possible for students to complete an online program to earn their bachelor’s degree in computer science. They are accredited the same way, offer the same degree certification and generally include much of the same coursework. Learning online simply offers you the opportunity to work with a more flexible schedule at a pace that works for you. In some cases, you’ll even see the same live lectures as on-campus students, but you’ll attend virtually.

How long does it take to earn an online BS in computer science?

Generally speaking, an undergraduate degree takes four years to earn. However, some programs offer accelerated learning. While most courses would take place over 15- to 17-week terms, accelerated courses may cut this time down to four or eight weeks of more fast-paced work.

Is computer science an IT degree?

Computer science and IT degrees have a lot of overlap, but there are differences in how knowledge is applied in graduates’ work. Computer science involves the creation of applications and programs and has a higher emphasis on the theories that make these processes possible. IT, on the other hand, is much more focused on the successful implementation and use of computer programs—often requiring those within the field to interact with people and businesses.

Are computer science degrees in demand?

According to data from the BLS, there are several career paths within computer science that require only a bachelor’s degree at the entry level and are projected to grow in the coming years.
Information security analysts have a job growth outlook of 33% through 2030, which is much faster than average. The 2020 median pay for these workers was $103,590 per year. Web developers and digital designers have a projected job growth of 13% through 2030, which is faster than average. The 2020 median pay for web developers was $77,200 per year. Software developers, quality assurance analysts and testers have a growth outlook of 22% through 2030, which is much faster than average. In 2020, the median pay for these types of positions was $110,140 per year.

Last updated in March 2022