Online Computer Education

April 30, 2014

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Computer science consistently rates among the top majors that pay you back, according to PayScale, an online salary database. High earning potential, low unemployment rates and a range of career options for graduates make it one of the most popular bachelor’s degrees.

Online bachelor’s programs in computer science must adapt to rapidly changing technology to ensure students are learning coding languages and skills that will still be relevant when they complete their degrees.

Students learn to work with software, hardware and the network that both elements run on. Course work is heavily theoretical, analytical and mathematical in nature, and prospective students should be prepared to study complex topics.

Course Work

Example courses
Data structures and algorithms
Systems programming languages
Software engineering
Computer systems security
Discrete mathematics

Core classes

Most online computer science bachelor’s degree programs can be completed entirely online. Course work for an online computer science program often includes classes such as:

• Introduction to operating systems

• Database management

• Programming in various technical languages

• Object-oriented programming and design

• Computer systems and architecture

• Computers in society

The field of computer science is rooted in mathematics, and thus many core courses in a computer science degree program use mathematical concepts. Students often take advanced mathematics courses to supplement their technical skills. Math courses may include number theory, linear algebra and differential equations.


Some online computer science bachelor’s degree programs may require applicants to complete prerequisite course work prior to enrollment. These courses may include calculus, programming and physics.

Job Outlook and Salary

Median salaries*
Network and computer systems administrator $73, 000
Computer programmer $74, 000
Computer systems analyst $80, 000
Computer network architect $91, 000
Software developer $93, 000
Computer and information systems manager $121, 000

*per the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook

Jobs in the field typically have a high earning potential. The starting salary for computer science graduates was about $60, 000 during the 2013-2014 academic year, while the midcareer salary was about $102, 000, according to PayScale, an online salary database.

Potential jobs

Computer science graduates can choose from a range of jobs that include developing computer programs, managing networks and maintaining databases.

For software developers, employment is expected to grow 22 percent through 2022, much faster than the average growth rate for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Another rapidly expanding field is computer systems analysis. Systems analysts help organizations design, create and improve their information systems. Applicants with both technical and business skills are likely to be the most desirable to employers, who are expected to create about 128, 000 jobs through 2022, according to the BLS.

Potential employers

Many computer science professionals work directly for technology companies, but other areas where computer science graduates find employment include:

• Finance and insurance

• State and local government

• Manufacturing

• Educational services

Graduates can also look for opportunities in the health care field since many providers are moving to electronic medical records and other technical systems, according to the BLS.


Computer science graduates can enhance their marketability with an industry certification. Certification programs are typically short-term and students are trained in a specific product, skill or programming language. Certifications offered by tech companies such as Microsoft and Cisco are popular.

Professional associations

Professional associations for tech professionals typically offer members benefits such as career services, professional development and access to research publications. The IEEE Computer Society, the Association for Computing Machinery and the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence are a few of those organizations.

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