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A computer programming degree prepares graduates for careers in computer programming, software development, and other high-paying fields. Many tech careers offer high salaries and strong growth potential. By choosing an online computer science degree from an affordable college, students can save money while advancing their career and increasing their earning potential.

During a computer programming degree, undergraduates study programming languages like Java, C++, and Python. They also learn about database management, cybersecurity, and software development. Some programs offer concentrations in in-demand areas like mobile application programming and game programming.

After graduating with a computer programming degree, professionals pursue opportunities in software application programming, mobile app development, and game development.

This page introduces prospective students to the common courses, concentrations, and capstone requirements offered in online computer science degrees. This page also covers computer programming salaries and job opportunities. This information helps prospective students make informed decisions about their education.

The following list ranks the most affordable online computer programming degrees.

Top 10 Most Affordable Online Bachelor's in Computer Programming

Ranking School Program Location Average Net Price
1 Bellevue University Software Development (BS) Bellevue, NE $9,635
2 Western Governors University Software Development (BS) Salt Lake City, UT $6,670
3 Fort Hays State University Computer Science (BS) Hays, KS $12,420
4 Southwestern College Computer Programming (BA) Winfield, KS $22,966
5 Baker College Computer Science with Computer Programming concentration Flint, MI $12,877
6 Champlain College Software Development (BS) Burlington, VT $38,577
7 Davenport University Grand Rapids, MI Computer Science (BS) $17,169
8 Hodges University Naples, FL Computer Science (BS) $18,686
9 Limestone College Computer Science (BS) Gaffney, SC $23,881
10 Husson University Integrated Technology (BS) Bangor, ME $18,417

Online Bachelor's in Computer Programming Overview

An online bachelor's degree in computer programming trains students in common computer programming languages. Majors also learn to write and test code for computer applications and software programs. During a computer programming degree, learners study programming languages like Java, Python, and C++. In addition to building technical knowledge, computer programming majors build analytical thinking and problem-solving skills.

During a computer programming degree, undergraduates may complete an internship or capstone project to build career-ready skills. An internship strengthens professional skills and connects students with experienced programmers in their field. Capstone projects often emphasize research skills, teamwork, and programming management abilities.

Programmers work with software developers and engineers to create code for new programs. Some programmers create models and flowcharts to organize the code. Programmers must consider user interfaces, database management, and operating systems when creating programs. They also test applications and programs to identify bugs and correct any mistakes in the code.

A bachelor's degree in computer programming prepares students for in-demand careers in the technology sector. Jobs in Software as a Service (SaaS) offer strong growth potential. Programmers who specialize in SaaS applications design code that works on multiple platforms. Some programmers specialize in fields like business, healthcare, or accounting.

Computer programming majors pursue opportunities in lucrative fields. For example, computer programmers earned a median annual salary of over $86,000 in 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), while software developers made a median annual salary of nearly $106,000. The degree also leads to opportunities as database administrators, who earned a median annual salary of over $93,000 in 2019, according to the BLS.

Programmers can showcase their skills through professional certifications. Many organizations offer certification in programming languages or programming products. Some employers prefer to hire candidates with certification.

Common Bachelor's in Computer Programming Courses

  • Computer Programming

    In introductory programming courses, students learn a common programming language like Java or Python. They learn about algorithms, problem-solving, and data organization. Coursework may also cover programming theory and techniques like testing and debugging.

    In advanced programming courses, learners may study additional programming languages like the C programming languages, JavaScript, Ruby on Rails, and Swift. Computer programming courses provide foundational training for advanced courses in the major by teaching students the languages used in software development and mobile app programming.

  • Database Application Programming

    This course introduces students to database models and programming languages that use databases. Programming majors learn to install and configure tables, populate them with data, and query databases. They also study the process of building user interfaces and applications to access databases.

    Students learn how to use programming languages to interact with databases and develop web applications to access databases. This course prepares undergraduates for careers in database and applications programming.

  • Algorithms and Data Structures

    During this course, students learn about the theory behind algorithms and their application in addressing computational problems. Possible topics include algorithms used for sorting, string processing, and searching. Students also learn strategies to improve algorithm efficiency.

    Many courses on algorithms and data structures incorporate hands-on activities to build career-ready skills. Students may write code to implement an algorithm concept or demonstrate mastery of a technique.

  • Cybersecurity

    Many online computer science bachelor's programs incorporate courses in cybersecurity to introduce students to information security. Coursework explores fundamental cybersecurity concepts like data encryption, security policies, and data breaches. Students also learn about legal and ethical concerns in cybersecurity and the process of responding to cyberattacks, including threat analysis, vulnerability assessment, and penetration testing.

    This course prepares graduates for careers as information security analysts and cybersecurity programmers.

  • Cloud Computing

    This course introduces students to cloud service models and infrastructure migration approaches. Students also learn about cloud infrastructure services, common cloud vendor platforms, and configuring cloud services. Coursework may also cover the broader role of cloud computing in the IT industry.

    During this course, students may develop cloud computing applications and learn how to create new services using the cloud.

Bachelor's in Computer Programming Concentrations

Computer programming students can build advanced skills in a programming field by completing a concentration during their online computer science degree. For example, a concentration in mobile applications provides additional training in mobile app design, while a game programming concentration prepares graduates for careers in game development.

Concentrations

Operating Systems During this concentration, students take courses in operating systems programming and learn common programming languages used in operating systems like C and C++. A concentration in operating systems prepares graduates for careers as systems software developers and systems programmers.
Applications Many computer programmers create code for software applications. A concentration in applications teaches students how to program applications -- such as internet browsers, word processing programs, and business management software -- to perform desired functions. This concentration prepares learners for careers as applications programmers.
Game Programming A concentration in game programming trains computer programming majors in writing code specifically for games. Coursework may cover mobile gaming, common gaming programming languages like Java, and skills needed in the game development field.
Mobile Applications Programmers who specialize in mobile applications learn to create code for applications used by smartphones and other mobile devices. A concentration in mobile applications introduces students to common mobile app programming languages like Java, Python, and HTML5. Majors also learn about mobile app development.
Databases Databases store information and keep it secure. A concentration in databases trains students in database programming and database management. Students often also learn about cybersecurity, common database programming languages, script and query writing, and other tools needed for careers in database programming.

Bachelor's in Computer Programming Requirements

Before enrolling in an online computer science bachelor's program, students must meet that program's requirements. First, applicants must gain admission to the college or university. In general, prospective undergraduate students need a high school or GED diploma and ACT or SAT scores to gain admission. Many schools set minimum GPA and standardized test score requirements. Applicants who do not meet these thresholds can sometimes receive conditional admission.

Schools may also require letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and other supplemental materials. Applicants with prior college experience should also provide college transcripts. Many schools offer a transcript evaluation to determine transfer credits.

After enrolling, prospective computer programming students must meet prerequisite requirements for the computer programming major. In many programs, requirements include introductory courses in Java and Python. Programs may also require coursework in mathematics, computer science, and research methods. In some programs, students must earn a minimum GPA in prerequisite courses to enter the major.

Computer programming majors must then complete graduation requirements within the major. These requirements often include coursework in computer programming, database applications, mobile applications, and operating systems programming.

Many computer programming majors also include a capstone course in which learners apply the knowledge they have gained throughout the program. During the capstone, students may design a program that requires applied research, a feasibility study, and revisions.

In addition to taking courses in their major, computer programming students also complete general education requirements. These courses, which typically include courses in humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, strengthen the critical thinking and analytical skills needed for computer programming jobs.

After meeting all general education and major requirements, students earn their online computer science degree.

Computer Programming Software

  • Text Editors

    Computer programmers use text editors to write and organize their code. Programmers working in any programming language rely on text editors to create a first draft of their code and perfect it. Common text editors include Vim, Notepad++, Sublime Text, and Atom.

    Text editors support multiple programming languages, including Python, Java, C++, and Ruby on Rails. Some text editors work best with a certain operating system. Notepad++, for example, works with Microsoft Windows. However, many text editors work on multiple operating systems and offer customizations and plugins.

  • Operating Systems

    An operating system manages a computer or device, including computer hardware resources like the battery and applications that run on the device. Programming students may work in different operating system environments, including Linux, macOS, Unix, and Microsoft Windows. They must also understand common mobile operating systems like Android and iOS. Most operating systems use C and C++ as their programming languages.

  • Debugging Tools

    Computer programmers rely on debugging tools to identify errors in their code and correct them. A small coding problem can crash a system or keep a program from running as designed.

    Computer programming majors learn about the bug testing and debugging process. Depending on their program, they may use many different debugging tools to identify bugs in software and programs. For example, programming students may use GDB, an open source debugging tool, or dbx, a debugger used in many Linux and Unix operating systems. Programmers working in a Windows environment may also use the Windows debugger, also known as WinDbg.

  • Databases

    Computer programmers use databases to store files and information for projects. During an online computer science degree, undergraduates learn how to use different databases to organize their code and other information.

    Programming courses introduce students to common databases like Oracle, a popular database written in C, C++, and Java. Programmers may also use MySQL, an open source database used by many tech companies like Google and Facebook. Other database management systems include Microsoft SQL Server, Teradata, and IMB DB2.

Most Affordable Online Computer Programming Degrees 2020

Bellevue University

Founded in 1966, BU boasts an alumni network of over 50,000 students across the globe, many of whom completed their degrees online. Among the university's online offerings is a bachelor of science in software development.

The BS in software development is one of the school's best online bachelor's degree options. The four-year, 127-credit degree requires 36 major credits and nine Kirkpatrick Signature Series credits, a set of required credits that include courses in American vision and values, freedom and responsibility, and tradition and change. Students also have 55 elective credits to specialize their computer programming education.

BU offers 24/7 tech support and library services to online students. Classes are no larger than 24 students, and programs follow a cohort format.

Western Governors University

A group of U.S. governors worked together to create Western Governors University in 1997. Intended to be a university that provides affordable education to modern students, WGU primarily offers online courses and programs with select in-person courses in some cities.

Aspiring computer engineers enroll in WGU's online software development degree. Students complete 34 courses in the program, unless they have transfer credits, to develop a general software development understanding. The asynchronous format allows degree-seekers to complete course material on their own time. The program takes up to four years to complete, though full-time students can complete the degree in less time. The degree culminates with a capstone project.

Learners who know material for a specific course can test out of the course and earn the credits. WGU charges a per-term tuition rate regardless of how many courses students take.

Fort Hays State University

FHSU enrolls over 15,500 students, 7,000 of whom study through the virtual college, and graduates boast a 96% job placement rate.

Best for students interested in a career in IT, the BS in computer science comprises 120 credits, nearly half of which are elective credits. The online computer science bachelor's program features courses in data structures, foundations of computing, and a seminar during the final semester of the program. Some of the courses have credit by exam options. Students can transfer in most of the credits needed to graduate.

Recent high school graduates must submit a high school transcript with a minimum 2.0 GPA and ACT or SAT test scores when applying. Despite being a state school, FHSU offers the same flat per-credit tuition rate to all online students.

Southwestern College

Southwestern College provides various professional studies programs in high-employment fields. While students can attend courses at the Wichita, Kansas, campus, many prefer to complete entire programs online.

The bachelor's degree in computer science preps learners for various computer-related roles where skills in Java, HTML, and XHTML are necessary or helpful. Students must earn 124 credits to complete the program, which they can complete asynchronously. At least 30 of the credits must be completed through Southwestern College.

When applying, students must submit all official transcripts, including military certification and training. Southwestern College charges a per-credit tuition rate with a reduced rate for military members. To graduate, students must earn a 2.0 overall GPA.

Baker College

Originally founded to offer Owosso, Michigan, residents with an affordable and flexible way to earn a college degree, Baker College now offers many of its flexible programs online. While all courses follow rigid start and end dates, students complete their coursework asynchronously.

The BS in computer science with a concentration in computer programming constantly receives an updated curriculum to follow the ever-changing field of programming. The curriculum currently requires 121 credits, 76 of which are in the major and 18 in the concentration. Students must complete two three-credit work experience courses that require a combined 300 hours of work experience over 20 weeks. Aside from the work experience, students take courses entirely online.

Upon graduating, most students begin a career in IT, though some continue on to earn a master of science in information systems. Transfer students can transfer up to 90 credits toward the degree.

Champlain College

Champlain College is a small, private school based near Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vermont. The college also runs campuses in Montreal, Canada; Dublin, Ireland; and online through Champlain College Online.

Champlain College Online has almost three decades of online education experience, offering programs like the bachelor's in software development entirely online. This asynchronous program uses accelerated seven-week courses with two courses per semester and three semesters per year. Several required courses take 15 weeks to complete. Full-time students studying year-round can complete up to 18 courses per year, though many students study part time and continue working.

The software development degree requires 120 credits and covers various applications, platforms, and programming languages. Students can also earn a certificate in four different programming languages before graduating. Graduates find positions at some of the largest corporations as computer programmers, analysts, and software engineers.

Davenport University

Founded in 1866 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Davenport University focuses on preparing students for future careers. The university's method works as roughly 95% of graduates find a position in their field within six months of graduating.

DU's online BS in computer science prepares students for a career in technology by offering three specialty options: artificial intelligence, gaming and simulation, and computer architecture and algorithms. Students must pick a specialty and have the option to add a math minor. Before taking any specialty courses, DU requires students to complete all core courses. In total, students complete 120 credits. The program culminates with a capstone course.

Transfer students can bring in previous credits and must submit previous college transcripts when applying. Students with professional computer science experience and a relevant certification could earn credits. Despite being based in Michigan, out-of-state students who study online pay a lower per-credit tuition rate than online Michigan residents.

Hodges University

Hodges University is a small school with just 1,289 students, 182 of whom study entirely online. The university offers many degrees entirely online or in a hybrid format with some courses at the Naples or Fort Myers campuses in Florida.

Hodges offers three online computer science degrees in computer information technology, software development, and cybersecurity and networking. Each leads to specific careers and certifications, though all students learn important skills including ethical hacking, web design, and database management. All three options require 120 credits to graduate, though some options allow for more elective courses.

Computer science students can complete in-program industry certifications including A+, Cisco Certified Network Associate, and Linux+. Each program prepares students for a career in IT, though some graduates choose to earn a graduate certificate to increase their employability.

The university created its online programs for learners who continue working while earning their degrees. Students complete courses through Canvas.

Limestone College

Limestone College is a private, non-denominational Christian college that welcomes students from all backgrounds. While the college dates back to 1845, the virtual campus educates a significant portion of Limestone's student body. The virtual campus uses entirely online and hybrid courses with students completing some coursework in the evening at campuses across South Carolina.

The BS in computer science with a concentration in programming provides students with the foundations necessary for an IT career. Students complete 120 credits, including 46 computer science credits. The computer science portion of the degree culminates with a capstone project where students complete a project related to their desired career. The degree covers topics including programming, architecture, and security.

As a private school, Limestone students do not receive in-state tuition. However, 95% of Limestone's students receive financial aid. Limestone students can also enroll in an accelerated MBA program while completing their bachelor's degree.

Husson University

Based in Bangor, Maine, Husson University has educated New England students since its founding in 1898. While many of the degrees are now online, Husson emphasizes the importance of gaining real-world experience.

Thanks to the digital nature of the field, the BS in integrated technology - software development degree offers students real-world experiences entirely online. The program allows for up to 90 transfer credits, and transfer students can complete the 122-credit program in as little 12 months. Full-time students with no previous college experience complete the degree in four years. Some required courses students complete include database design, trends in IT, and workflow management.

Applicants must submit high school or college transcripts along with ACT or SAT test scores. Husson charges the same per-credit tuition rate for all students. The integrated technology degree uses hands-on curriculum to increase students' employability.

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