The 15 Best Online Computer Science Degree Programs 2015-2016

best-online-computer-science-degreeWhile there are a continually growing number of ways to get your programming chops up to date online (moocs, tutors, forums, other learning platforms), sometimes you just need a good old fashioned degree. Sometimes it just takes all the support, the time, effort, and late nights going through school to get to your goals. But not everyone can attend traditional classes. Luckily, there are a growing number of online bachelor’s degrees in computer science, information technology, and information management systems. There are also tons of specializations and certificates, with some of the most promising being in cyber security as well as mobile development. Below we’ve ranked a good portion of the online bachelor’s degrees in CS and related disciplines. They’re ranked by the rank of their larger institution, coupled with the number of online CS related offerings they supply.

Note: this ranking looks at the overall offerings from an institution in the field of computer science, including undergraduate, graduate, and certificate level offerings.


  • Flexibility-Granting Components (1/3): the number of flexibility granting components, including prior experience credit, self-paced learning, accelerated courses, and number of specializations.
  • Academic Quality of School (1/3): the academic quality of the school as determined by a broad range of measures including dedication to support services, class size, financial aid, and prestige.
  • Affordability (1/3): the estimated out-of-state (if applicable) tuition per credit hour for the program.

Featured Online Computer Science Programs


1. Pennsylvania State University

This 48th ranked national research university also offers Penn State online through its “world campus.” Their online bachelor of science in information sciences and technology requires 125 credits, with a cost of $535 per credit for instate, and $579 per credit out-of state. The same faculty members teach Penn State’s respected on-campus program teach online classes. Successful graduates of the online program will also receive the same diploma that all Penn State graduates receive.

Penn state recommends their program for those who have never completed a four-year degree and work in IT, those who wish to expand employment opportunities, or those with a degree who want farther IT credits. They note that “in the IT profession, continued learning is key to advancing your career” and thus an online degree from Penn State can in many ways be a refresher course, or put you up to date with recent CS developments.

  • Number of CS Academic Programs: 12
  • Degree Levels: Associates, Bachelors, Masters, Certificate

2. North Carolina State University

North Carolina State is the tied for 95th ranked national research institution, and for those who can’t make it to traditional classes, offers a undergraduate certificate in computer programming. The certificate is for working professionals, is relatively cheap (at $4,662.00 for NC residents and $8,946.00 for non-residents), and conveniently doesn’t require an application. Potential certificate earners must simple pass CSC 16, Introduction to Computing to be eligible for the program. Other required courses include elements of calculus, programming concepts, discrete math, C and software tools, computer assembly and assembly language, concepts and facilities of operating systems, and data structures. The entire program consists of 24 credits. At a maximum of 6 credits per semester for non-degree-seeking students, the proposed course of study takes a minimum of 4 semesters to complete.

  • Number of CS Adacemic Programs: 8
  • Degree Levels: Bachelors, Masters, Certificate

3. Florida State University

Florida State University is tied for 95th ranked national research institution, and offers both a BA and a BS in Computer Science online. Both degrees are the equivalent of advanced standing degrees, taking approximately two years to complete coursework after the initial 60 credit hours (non-major prerequisites) are met. Both degrees offer the same diploma and curriculum as on-campus options. Focal points of the major include programming, database structure, computer organization, and operating systems.

  • Number of CS Academic Programs: 7
  • Degree Levels: Bachelors, Masters, Certificate

4.Oregon State University

This 138th ranked national research institution offers a unique B.S. in computer science available online that may be structured in 1-4 year increments. As a post-baccalaureate degree, students only take courses required for the major, and don’t have to retake prerequisites, classes for a minor, and so on. The Cost per credit hour is $431, and there are sixty credit hours in the program. This leaves the total cost of attendance at $25,860, whether the program takes 1 or 4 years to complete (barring price changes from year to year). Online students receive the same degree as traditional program students, are offered many of the support services included in a traditional college experience, and provided with courses developed by the exact same faculty as the traditional degree provides. The program takes full advantage of its professional nature by focusing on career development through projects, as well as providing company recruiting news. Web development, operating systems, mobile and cloud software development, and data structures are some of the highlights of the program.

  • Number of CS Academic Programs: 5
  • Degree Levels: Bachelors, Masters, Certificate

5.Champlain College

Champlain College is a 14th ranked regional college that offers an online computer science certificate programs, A.S., and B.S. degrees in software development, all with a focus on career centered projects. Four certificates are available, including focuses on C++ programming, Java development, Software Development, and a Visual C# programming certification. Champlain’s career outlook page notes the increasing need for all software developers, and most specifically in the cyber-security and mobile/handheld device space, both of which can be entered, particularly through the bachelor’s degree programs. Whatever option you choose, classes are offered entirely online and in 7-week denominations to accelerate progress.

  • Number of CS Academic Offerings: 31
  • Degree Levels: Associate, Bachelors, Masters, Certificate

6.Regis University

This 29th ranked regional college offers the only fully-online B.S. in computer science accredited by the Computing Accrediting Commission of ABET, one of the most prestigious accrediting bodies for computer science. For those who wish to complete even more education, a master’s in computer science is also available, and may be completed at an accelerated pace in conjunction with the B.S. (also, saving money). Regis’ undergraduate program prepares students to work in the areas of computer architecture, object-oriented analysis and design, software engineering, and operating systems. Per credit hour tuition is identical to the on-campus program at $460 per credit hour. This leaves the cost of the entire program at $58,930 (all prices staying the same through the duration of the program). Related certificates include specializations in information system security, and E-security.

  • Number of CS Academic Programs: 28
  • Degree Levels: Associate, Bachelors, Certificate

7.University of Illinois Springfield

UIS Logo Dome
This 36th ranked regional institution has quite large online bachelor’s and master’s offerings in computer science. Three specializations in library and information science, computer security, and information systems are available in the form of certificates. Tuition per credit hour is relatively cheap at U-Illinois Springfield, at $298.50 per credit hour. Especially when the core program requirements are only 36 credit hours. Graduates from this program at U-Illinois, Springfield have been successful going into research, advanced degrees, and working on application-oriented positions in business, industry, education, and government.

  • Number of CS Academic Programs: 10
  • Degree Levels: Bachelors, Masters, Certificate

8. Cal State University

This 68th ranked regional university offers a B.S. in computer science and information technology held entirely online. In this particular program, computer science courses focus more on the theory of computing, while information technology classes focus on more practical aspects. Core courses include computing mathematics, various programming languages, problem solving, and various aspects of network communication. Besides establishing a strong foundation in the proper theories of computing and computer science, Web and mobile application development are focused on for hands-on projects. Tuition is subject to change, but available through contact links on this page.

  • Number of CS Academic Programs: 6
  • Degree Levels: Bachelors, Masters

9.Old Dominion University

This unranked national research university offers a B.S. in computer science for the moderate per tuition hour rate of $299-$314 (depending on if you attend from Virginia or out-of-state). The degree is mathematically and scientifically intensive, offering a strong theoretical basis as well as a number of hands on projects. For students who have already taken prerequisites, the program drops from 120 credit hours to 71, including 18 core courses and 3 electives. For students with no undergraduate work completed, the +ODU program allows students to complete a large portion of their program at select community colleges then transfer in.

  • Number of CS Academic Programs: 11
  • Degree Levels: Bachelors, Masters, Certificates

10. Trident University

This unranked national research university offers an online B.S. in computer science, as well as online B.S. and M.S. in information technology management. The B.S. in computer science requires 14 core courses as well as 3 electives or concentration courses (totaling 120 credit hours). Concentrations include cyber security, network administration, and personal concentration. Potential electives include web engineering, databases, knowledge management, and a number of other disciplines. Tuition may be variable but may be checked at the tuition calculator here.

  • Number of CS Academic Programs:3
  • Degree Levels: Bachelors, Masters

11. University of Maryland, University College

This unranked regional college offers online bachelor’s, master’s, and certificates in information technology and computer science, all of which are designed with input from current large employers. This job-centered education continues through certifications from the DHS and NSA as to the quality of information assurance education at University of Maryland (University College), as well as the potential to garner certification as a Microsoft IT Professional, Cisco Certified Network Associate, and CompTIA. Slightly related majors include computer networks and security, cybersecurity, digital media and web technology, information systems management, and software development and security. For residents of Maryland tuition per credit hour is particularly moderate at $266 an hour, while nonresidents of Maryland have to fork out $499 per credit hour (military members pay the least at $250 per credit hour).

  • Number of CS Academic Programs: 30+
  • Degree Levels: Bachelors, Masters, Certificates

12. Mercy College

This unranked regional institution features one of the lowest private tuition rates in the nation, as well as a fully online B.S. in computer science program. The program is a full 120 credit hours, with 60 in general education requirements, 47 in core major components, and 13 in electives, however, up to 75 credits may be transferred from a two-year institution, or 90 from a four-year institution. Current focal points of the program include programming in C++, Java, software engineering, computer architecture, operating systems, and computer networking. Real-world, team-based projects help to prepare students with job ready experience, and the curriculum is updated yearly to keep up with present trends in computing.

  • Number of CS Academic Programs: 4
  • Degree Levels: Bachelors, Masters

13. Strayer University

This regionally unranked university system offers online programs in information systems and information technology that are centered on job related knowledge, and allow for progress at the students pace. A number of concentrations are available for both degrees, for information systems these include: computer forensic management, enterprise data management, IT project management, technology management, cybersecurity management, homeland security management, software engineering management, and geographic information systems management. For information technology the following concentrations apply: cyber security technology, database technology, digital forensics technology, internet working technology, programming technology, mobile programming technology, enterprise security technology, networking technology, and web development technology. Transfer of credits from other institutions may also be used at Strayer to cut down on time and cost to degree.

  • Number of CS Academic Programs: 4
  • Degree Levels: Associates, Bachelors, Masters

14. National University

National University is an unranked regional college with an online B.S. in computer science and an eye towards sending students to grad school or finding employment at graduation. Learning objectives of the program include object-oriented programming, data structures and algorithms, operating systems, computer communication networks, software engineering, computer architecture, mathematics, statistics, and the natural sciences. A transition program in which students are sent directly to National University’s M.S. in computer science is also available and can accelerate time to an advanced degree. Cost per quarter unit is $394, and a wider range of costs can be seen here.

  • Number of CS Academic Programs: 10
  • Degree Levels: Associates, Bachelors, Masters

15. Western Governor’s University

Western Governor’s University offers accelerated and flexible online programs for a B.S. in information technology. The program is for those who can commit 15 hours a week or over, who are already working in IT, who have experience already but need credentialing, or students who wish to earn their first degree in information technology. For students with an associate’s degree of equivalent, the course of study only takes 2 years, for students with no college credits 4-5 years is the average program length. Tuition is affordable compared to most other programs at $2,890 per six-month term. This means that if you accelerate through courses more quickly, the overall cost of attendance drops. A generous transfer policy allows for this process to be accelerated even farther (a 2-year time to degree only costs $11,000!). Four specializations including programs for network administration, security, software, software development, and a master’s in IT are also available.

  • Number of CS Academic Programs: 10
  • Degree Levels: Bachelors, Masters