Computer Science is the fastest-growing field worldwide. With jobs ranging from software and website development to network management and data analysis, computer science is an incredibly broad field that is growing at an amazing rate. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that computer science jobs will increase by 15% by the year 2022. Getting a degree in computer science is one of the first steps to getting your foot in the door of this career field. With so much of the field pertaining to technology and the Internet, an online computer science degree may actually be one of your best options.
About an Online Computer Science Degree
Due to the nature of the field, computer science classes lend themselves to the format of online courses incredibly well. For example, with many computer science classes on a traditional campus, you may be doing the exact same work as an online student would be, you would just be in a classroom as opposed to your home.
Students hoping to pursue an online computer science degree online have a wide array of options when it comes to programs and institutions. Florida Tech University’s Online option can be taken entirely online, with degree options ranging from certificates to doctoral degrees. Other programs, like those focused on the hardware aspects of computer science, may offer both hands-on and online classes, which allow students some experiences that a 100% online option may not.
Online Computer Science Degrees Offered
Like many fields, students interested in computer science can pursue various levels of degrees offered online as well as specialize in a particular area of the computer science field.
For students who already have a Bachelor’s degree but are interested in furthering their education, a certificate program is a great option. With less of a time requirement than a full Bachelor’s, Associate’s degree or graduate degree, certificates typically take around 8 months and allow working individuals a chance to learn new skills that can lead to promotions or career changes.
Associate of Science in Computer Science
An Associate’s degree in computer science is perfect for people looking to get into the workforce quickly or as a first step before transferring to a four-year institution. The courses tend to cover the basics of building software as well as general computing and technology. Some programs also offer web and mobile development courses. If you are not sure what you would like to specialize in, an Associate’s degree is a great place to start as you will get to learn a little about a lot of topics.
Bachelor of Science or Art in Computer Science (B.S., B.A)
The most common degree conferred to those studying computer science is the B.S. or B.A. The particular classification will depend on the school and which bodies have accredited the programs. A Bachelor’s degree in computer science is a four-year degree that is based on the mathematics and algorithms behind computers and information systems. Courses generally cover software design, development, and testing, as well as hardware, information systems, and computer networks. Students choose an area of specialization based on their career goals.
Master of Science in Computer Science (M.S., M.C.S)
This is an academic degree awarded by many–most–colleges and universities. It usually requires the completion of a thesis and allows graduates to apply for a Ph.D. program.
Getting your Master’s in computer science will allow you to specialize even further within your field. A Master’s in computer science is generally much more math and theory-centric than a Bachelor’s degree. Some programs even accept certificates earned post-Bachelor for credit toward a Master’s degree.
Doctorate of Computer Science (Ph.D.)
This is an academic degree that is mostly related to the research or application of computer science and information systems. Generally, it’s the highest degree in the computer science field. Students pursuing a Ph.D. in computer science are most likely to be interested in pursuing a research or teaching position, although some students do go on to careers in the private sector.
Online Computer Science Programs and Fields of Study
There are many fields within computer science that students can choose to pursue.
In this field, you’ll apply mathematics, science, and technology principals to engineer software solutions for various problems. This could involve developing mobile phone applications, writing computer algorithms, managing databases, or creating software to control autonomous vehicles.
Digital crime is constantly becoming more and more sophisticated. Fighting and defending against online crime requires a deep knowledge of computer science. For students interested in a fast-paced, ever-changing field, computer forensics provides the perfect option. Graduates can expect to work with a national or local law enforcement agency.
The world is constantly becoming interconnected and global business relies on a vast network of computers. As a computer science graduate going into a career in computer networking, you will be maintaining and improving computer networks that keep everything moving smoothly.
One of the fastest-growing fields of computer science, web developers are responsible for building and maintaining websites and applications. They need to be good critical thinkers, problem solvers and have an intense attention to detail as many web applications are used by hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people.
Managing and securing data is a momentous task that requires extensive and very specific skills and knowledge. That’s why this field is growing so quickly. In a world that is increasingly powered by data–everyone from Target to Facebook uses data to analyze and understand their customers’ behavior–the need for people who can set up and maintain these systems is rising incredibly quickly.
Information Technology (IT)
With responsibilities related to databases, development, networking, and engineering, information technologists are somewhat of a “jack of all trades” within the computer science field. Since IT positions exist within any company, business or organization that uses any kind of technology, there is some mobility within the field.
What to Look For in an Online Computer Science Program
If you’re considering getting an online computer science degree, careful research into programs and institutions is incredibly important.
Here are some things to consider:
Is the program accredited? If so, by whom? Program accreditation is incredibly important when looking into any type of higher education. Investigating the accrediting body to find out their reputation within schools and employers is a good way to be sure that the program you are considering is reputable as well. A regionally accredited program is actually often more reputable than a nationally accredited program.
It is no secret that college is expensive. Online schooling can often offer a lower cost than traditional schooling but that doesn’t make it cheap. Take a good look at your finances, any costs you may incur (tuition, books, etc.), and any financial aid options that you have. Making an informed decision about this aspect of school will make your life easier in the long run.
Computer science courses vary slightly by area. Make sure the program you are looking into will help you reach your ultimate goal. If you are not sure what area you would like to specialize in, look for a program with a broad selection of classes. You can also speak with an advisor to get a better feel for the program’s course selection and expectations.
Skills / Experience
What kind of work experience or specialized skills will you need to get to your ultimate career goal? Computer science is an interesting field because a lot of the hands-on work can be done online. Still, many employers are looking for work experience. Do your research and see if your program offers internship or research opportunities.