Online Computer Science Degree

Why Pursue an Online Computer Science Degree?

If you are fascinated by computers, pursuing an online computer science degree may be your path to a satisfying career. Depending on your interests, a degree in computer science and engineering could lead you into software or systems software development, hardware engineering, database administration, network administration or systems administration.

It's natural to be excited and nervous about the idea of earning an online computer science degree. Since we know you have lots of questions about going back to school online, we have written this quick, easy-to-read "Mini-Guide to an Online Computer Science Degree" to help give you all the facts and information that you need to learn about computer science, and to make the right choice for you.

What does studying a computer science degree online mean?

  • "Computer science prepares students for the broad career title of computer scientist. This career consists of a wide range of professionals who design computers and the software programs that run them." [v]

  • "The rapid spread of computers and information technology has generated a need for highly trained workers to design and develop new hardware and software systems and to incorporate new technologies. These workers—computer systems analysts, database administrators, and computer scientists—include a wide range of computer specialists. Job tasks and occupational titles used to describe these workers evolve rapidly, reflecting new areas of specialization or changes in technology, as well as the preferences and practices of employers." [vi]

What can you potentially earn with an online computer science degree?

While potential earnings will always vary from state to state and company to company, as reported by the BLS, a few salaries you may achieve with a computer science dgree may be:
  • Computer hardware engineer: $98,810i
  • Computer software developer: $90,530ii
  • Network or systems administrator: $69,160iii
  • Database administrator: $73,490iv

How can I tell if a computer science degree is right for me?

Think about an online computer science degree if:

  • You enjoy surfing the Web and continually learning about developments in computing technology.
  • You know that SCSI is actually pronounced skuzzy.
  • You maintain your own blog or personal Web site.
  • You have a natural curiosity about how electronic devices work and building your devices or programs.
  • You like solving logic puzzles like Sudoku, or playing computer and video games.
  • You enjoy answering others when they ask, "Do you prefer to use a Mac or a PC? Which is better?"
  • Friends and family seek your help when their computers need maintenance.
  • You actually know what the phrase "Boolean logic" refers to.
  • You could easily name five programming languages off the top of your head.
  • You know the story behind "Lenna," the classic test image.

We asked Brendan Martin, Founder of learndatasci: What can you do with a computer science degree besides programming?

"In data science, there's a lot more to do than programming. You will spend most of your time wrangling data for processing. After analysis, you'll also be creating visualizations, arranging meetings with key decision makers, and presenting your findings."

Brendan Martin

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Brendan Martin. Founder of learndatasci

What other degrees besides online computer science degrees should I consider?

If you're not sure about pursuing a degree in computer science, consider these fields of study instead:

  • Computer Engineering: Pair the fields of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, focusing on the integration of hardware and software, and designing computer systems for use in other systems. Online Computer Engineering Degrees

  • E-commerce/E-business: Learn how technology and business concepts can connect by using the Internet; have a better grasp of hardware and software and how it can be applied to expand a business. Online Social Media Degrees

  • Graphics and Animation: Blend modern technology and artistic creativity using industry-relevant tools; learn the techniques and skills necessary to utilize digital media equipment and software. Online Graphic Design Degrees

  • Software Engineering: Learn how to design, develop, construct, and test complex software systems in order to provide solutions to meet specific needs. Online Software Engineering Degrees

  • Web Design and Interactive Media:Utilize e-business marketing strategies in creative web design; learn how to integrate elements such as animation, audio and video using the latest software and applications. Online Web Design Degrees

What concentrations exist for computer science degrees?

Many colleges and universities will allow you to choose a specialization — a focused area of study — within an online computer science degree program.

  • Computer Programming: Learn a variety of programming languages and how they are structured for software development and maintenance such as debugging to meet the needs of the user or client.

  • Information Security: Heighten awareness of the current threats to information security and how to implement protective solutions and disaster recovery plans.

  • Information Systems: Focus on how human beings solve problems, and then apply technology to that process. Create, produce, and execute information technology that will meet the organizational or business expectations and requirements.

  • Information Technology: Know how to integrate computer systems, networks, hardware, and software to improve and apply that knowledge to support business and communications processes.

  • Networks/Distributed Systems: Build on existing knowledge of distributed computing systems; learn effective and successful ways to design and produce a system that can bridge users and resources with the best results.

  • Systems Engineering: Learn how to integrate knowledge of business with technical needs by knowing how to analyze individual projects and their overall impact of an entire operational process.

What courses will I take in a computer science degree?

While the exact curriculum requirements will vary among schools, here is a partial list of some of the courses you might take as a computer science student:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Basic Concepts of Computing
  • Compilers
  • Computer Animation and Graphics
  • Computer Language Engineering
  • Data Structures and Programming
  • Design and Analysis of Algorithms
  • Formal Languages and Automata Theory
  • Introductions to Databases
  • Operating Systems
  • Principles of Database Design
  • Programming and Problem Solving
  • Programming Languages
  • Project Management
  • Robotics
  • Security in the Information Age
  • Software Engineering
  • Statistics
  • User-Interface Programming

What skills will I learn while pursuing an online computer science degree?

When you have completed your online computer science degree, you will likely have gained many of the following skills and competencies:

  • Assess and evaluate new and emerging technologies and developments in the field of computer science
  • Be conscientious of the ethical responsibilities computing professionals must uphold
  • Be flexible and adaptive in a field that changes frequently and rapidly
  • Design a component, process or complete system that meets all the needs of the user or client
  • Function and work within a multi-disciplinary team environment
  • Have the ability to properly debug and test various programs
  • Have strong problem solving capabilities; working through difficult situations with patience and determination
  • Know how the field of computing affects society and the global community
  • Maintain an awareness of current issues that emerge in the industry
  • Understand how hardware and software interrelate and the ways in which they are dependent entities
  • Understanding and ability to apply mathematic, scientific, and computing knowledge to various real-world scenarios

What kind of employers hire computer science degree holders?

As a career-oriented major focusing upon the interdependence of hardware, software, and people within a professional business context, computer and information sciences majors are needed in virtually all industries, but especially:

  • Banks and financial institutions
  • Colleges and universities
  • Computer or software vendors
  • Consulting firms
  • Corporate communications departments
  • Design studios
  • Online retailers

[i] [ii] [iii] [iv] [v] [vi]