20 Best Computer Science Associate Degree Online Programs [2021 Guide]

Home » 20 Best Computer Science Associate Degree Online Programs [2021 Guide]

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If you’re interested in breaking into one of the numerous tech companies that practically run our economy, earning your computer science associate degree online can help.

Computer Science Associate Degree Online

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An associate in computer science can help your resume stand out from the resumes of self-taught programmers with no formal education and can potentially get you more pay.

Computer Science Associates Degree Programs

A number of accredited universities now offer an associate’s degree in computer science online. In addition, you can also choose to focus your studies on computer programming or software development.

You can choose the degree field that most interests you to jump to that section of the guide:

While these online computer science degrees may seem similar, they each have differences that set them apart from one another.

Computer Science

computer programmer getting his associates in computer science

An associate’s in computer science is probably the most general, all-encompassing of the three. Usually, the curriculum for this degree program includes a 50/50 mixture of coursework and hands-on work in the computer lab.

Towards the end of the program, you might be placed into an internship with a local company or corporation. This may be required of you even if you’re taking an online program.

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In addition to general education courses, much of the focus will probably be on learning about database management, data structures, algorithms, information technology (IT), data analysis, and software development. You will likely focus on learning the different programming languages and how to put them into practice as a programmer as well.

This degree can help you obtain a broad overview of the entire computer science field. Potential jobs after earning this degree include IT technician, computer programmer, systems analyst, and computer support specialist.

Computer Programming

computer programmer working on her computer

Computer programming degree programs are typically similar to computer science degree programs, but they tend to be less generalized and more focused specifically on computer programming. If you know you eventually want to pursue a career as a computer programmer, software engineer, or programming analyst, this degree might give you more relevant information to those fields.

If you already have a basic knowledge of using software, networking, HTML, or basic programming, you could potentially do very well in this program. Courses for this degree typically cover these skills, as well as other basics, such as advanced programming languages (C++, JavaScript, CSS, Java, and more), how to create web pages, and how to create object-oriented programming.

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Like a computer science degree program, a computer programming degree program typically requires a mixture of coursework and lab work. You may also be placed in an internship so you can use what you’ve learned in a real-world setting.

Earning this degree can help you learn how to write and design code for not only computers but also tablets, smartphones, and other electronic devices.

Software Development

software developers thinking while working on his computer

Of the three degrees we’ve listed, the software development degree is probably the most specialized. There are usually elements of the other two fields in software development programs. For instance, you’ll probably learn quite a bit about computer programming.

For the most part, though, your classes will likely be primarily dedicated to learning how to design, create, and test new operating systems and software.

Most people who get this specialized degree go on to become software developers or engineers. Others find jobs in the fields of database administration, systems analysis, and systems software engineering. Most colleges have this in mind when they design their curricula for their software development programs.

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That’s why there is usually such a heavy emphasis on programming and software development courses.

Other classes you might be required to take are ones on scripting, web development foundations and applications, ethics in technology, applied statistics, applied probability, networking and communications, critical thinking and logic, and IT.

Can You Make More Money with an Associates in Computer Science?

Computer Programmer working in the office

In addition to having a better chance of getting a job with an associate’s degree than a diploma, most companies also pay people more if they have some type of degree. This means that even if you could get a job without any formal education, you’d likely be paid less than those with degrees working around you.

According to a recent study conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, people with associate’s degrees make on average approximately $17,500 more than people with the same jobs who only have a high school diploma.

Computer Science Careers & Salaries

Computer Science Careers & Salariesf

In addition to those listed above, there are many other jobs you could potentially be eligible for simply by earning your associate’s degree in computer science or a related field.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are a number of lucrative careers in the computer science field. Here are few potential careers along with their average annual salaries:

Careers Annual Median Salary
Computer and Information Systems Managers $151,150
Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers $110,140
Computer Systems Analysts $93,730
Network and Computer Systems Administrators $84,810
Computer Support Specialists $55,510

Because so many industries are moving online, the demand for people with computer science degrees is growing rapidly, and to fill the need, many employers are paying employees well.

Some employers may require additional education or work experience to qualify for some of these jobs, but you may be able to qualify for certain entry-level computer science careers with just an associate’s degree in computer science.

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Curriculum for an Online Associate Degree in Computer Science

Curriculum For an Online Associate Degree in Computer Science

Whether you decide to pursue a degree in general computer science, computer programming, software development, or another closely related field, there’ll probably be some overlap in the courses. Towards the end of a degree program, classes tend to get more specific to the program’s specific focus.

At the beginning of the program, though, many of the same classes will likely be required for all programs.

Some of the most common classes that are required are:

  • Intro to Computer Programming: This class helps students begin building foundational knowledge for their computer science program. It typically includes an overview of the different programming languages and the process of programming and provides opportunities for some limited hands-on experience.
  • Intro to Operating Systems: This course gives students a broad overview of the most common operating systems, how to use them, and how to make them work together.
  • Intro to Software Development: This is another fundamentals class that teaches students the basics of software development. This class is designed to give students a firm foundation upon which to build advanced developing skills.
  • Database Fundamentals: This is often one of the most important classes students take early on in their degree programs. It is designed to provide students with the understanding and basic skills needed to build databases and use them effectively.
  • Computer Networking Fundamentals: This course teaches students internet fundamentals. It explores how the internet works, how computers communicate via the internet and localized networks, and how to maintain the connections.
  • Programming II, III, etc.: These are core curricula for any computer science degree. Each level of these programming classes builds more and more upon foundational information, with the ultimate goal of making students skilled, proficient programmers.
  • Programming Languages: There are many different programming languages out there, and a good computer programmer must have at least a passable understanding of them all. This class helps give students that understanding.
  • Pre-Calculus or Discrete Mathematics: The field of computer science includes a lot of math, so you’ll likely have to take multiple math classes up to and including Pre-Cal and Discrete Math.
  • Web Design and Development: This course teaches students the basics of designing, building, and maintaining websites for private or commercial use.
  • Intro to Statistics: This is a basic statistics course. In it, students should learn the basic concepts of statistics and probability and how to apply them to software design and computer programming.

These are a few of the basic courses most computer science students are required to take. Each is a foundation that can help you build stronger and more advanced skills.

Educational Paths after Graduating with an Associate’s in Computer Science

The great thing about earning your associate’s degree in computer science is that it can help you go straight to work in a field that often pays quite well, but just because you start working doesn’t mean you have to stop your education.

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An associate’s in computer science can help you go on to earn your bachelor’s degree.

Bachelor’s in Computer Science

game developers working together to develop a game

A computer science associate degree typically transitions easily into a bachelor’s program for the same field. Most of the classes required in a computer science bachelor’s program should build off the classes taken in a computer science associate degree program.

A bachelor’s degree can help open up job opportunities for you at a higher level or potentially allow you to be paid more for the job you’re already doing. Some additional jobs that may be pursued with a bachelor’s degree in computer science are management positions in all the above careers, game developer or designer, cyber security analyst, forensic computer analyst, and IT director.

Bachelor’s in Computer Engineering

hardware engineer fixing computer parts

Another potentially easy transition would be entering into a bachelor’s in computer engineering degree program. The classes taken for this degree should build off of the associate-level classes but will likely have a more specific focus. The curriculum for this degree will likely include classes on circuits, microelectronics, computer architecture, logic design, signal processing, and digital design.

This degree may allow you to do many of the same jobs as those listed above but for potentially higher pay. Additionally, you might also be qualified for such jobs as digital gaming programmer, lead mobile app designer, IT consultant, hardware engineer, head systems analyst, or testing engineer.

Bachelor’s in Information Technology

computer systems administrator checking the server room

The transition from an associate in computer science to a bachelor’s in information technology might not be quite as smooth as some of the others, but it may still be a pretty easy move. The focus for this degree is typically more specialized in the internet and information technology (IT) fields.

You’ll likely take many different IT and information systems classes, as well as courses on cyber security, programming, networking, project planning and implementation, and troubleshooting technology.

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These classes can help prepare you for many of the jobs listed already, but a bachelor’s in information technology can give you many more potential job options as well. These include network and computer systems administrator or manager, information security specialist, analyst, or manager, director of cyber security, or lead network architect.

Accreditation for Computer Science Associate’s Degrees

Accreditation for Computer Science Associate's Degrees

Technically, there are three types of accreditation—regional, national, and programmatic. The most widely recognized of these is regional accreditation. There are seven regional accreditation agencies that can accredit schools. They are:

If your school has accreditation from one of these agencies, your degree will be more recognized by employers in the U.S. and your credits will be more likely to transfer to other colleges.

Computer Science Program Accreditation

Computer Science Program Accreditation

Programmatic accreditation is also an acceptable form of accreditation for computer science degree programs. With programmatic accreditation, specific degree programs, not entire schools, are accredited. Programmatic accreditation for computer science programs is done through ABET, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.

ABET has four main commissions that provide accreditation to computer science and related fields. These four commissions provide accreditation for programs based on the main focus of the degree program. They are:

  • Applied and Natural Science Accreditation Commission (ANSAC)
  • Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC)
  • Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC)
  • Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission(ETAC)

To become ABET accredited, a program that falls under one of these particular fields applies for ABET accreditation. The ABET then sends in professionals from one of the four commissions to evaluate the program. If the program meets or exceeds all of the requirements for accreditation, they then receive ABET accreditation.

While not as prestigious to some as regional accreditation, ABET accreditation is widely accepted among employers in the tech and computer communities.

Computer Science Professional Organizations

computer programmers collaborating on a project

After earning your bachelor’s degree in computer science, there are a few professional organizations you may be able to join, such as:

These organizations can help you keep up-to-date with the most innovative technology and desired skills.

Financial Aid

Financial Aid for computer science degree student

If you’re looking for financial aid opportunities, you’re probably considering student loans. Those are one option but not the only option.

If you’re in good standing with the U.S. Department of Education and haven’t defaulted on any loans, you can apply for a Federal Pell Grant that doesn’t ever have to be repaid as long as it isn’t misused. Some financial aid advisers refer to it as “free money!”

You can apply for both the Pell Grant and federal student loans by filling out the FAFSA. If you’re eligible for student loans, it is beneficial to try to take out subsidized loans as opposed to unsubsidized loans if possible because the repayment options for those are better.

Banks and private loan companies are other options. Grants don’t have to be repaid, but loans do, so it is important to borrow responsibly.

Computer Science Scholarships

computer science degree student searching for scholarships online

Scholarships are another great form of financial aid because they, too, are usually considered “free money” that doesn’t need to be repaid. You may find scholarships on your college’s website under a “financial aid” or “how to pay for college” tab. These are known as school-specific scholarships.

There are often scholarships given away in communities by churches, community organizations, credit unions, and even private businesses, so it can be beneficial to make sure you exhaust all your local options for scholarships as well.

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Luckily for you, as a computer science (or related) student, there are also scholarships designed specifically for your major. Many of these will be listed on sites like those mentioned above, but we’ve taken the liberty of providing you with a list of a few here.

Scholarships are a great way to help pay for your college education and may save you thousands of dollars. If you’re serious about going back to school to pursue your bachelor’s degree in computer science or a closely related field, you can apply for all these scholarships and more.

computer programmers working in the office

Can You Get a Job with an Associates Degree in Computer Science?

Yes, many people get jobs with just an associate’s degree in computer science. There are many computer science-related jobs available to those with only an associate’s degree, many of which pay quite well.

How Much Can You Make with an Associates Degree in Computer Science?

Your potential salary will depend on what you do with your degree once you’ve earned it. The average range, though, is between $30,000 and $40,000 a year (Center on Education and the Workforce), with some jobs paying more and some less.

software developer thinking in front of computer

Is an Associate Degree in Computer Science Worth It?

Yes, an associate degree in computer science is worth it for many professionals. In the computer and information technology field, jobs are projected to grow at a rate of 11% in the next 10 years (Bureau of Labor Statistics), much faster than the average for all sectors. Common careers in this field include computer support specialists, network and computer systems administrators, computer systems analysts, and computer programmers.

A computer science associate’s degree may give you access to jobs not available to people with only high school diplomas.

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The potential increase in both career opportunities and salary is enough to make an associates degree in computer science worth it for many students.

What Classes Are Needed for an Associates Degree in Computer Science?

There are many different classes you’ll have to take to earn your associate’s in computer science. There’s typically a heavy math component, so you’ll likely take Algebra, Pre-Cal, Statistics, and Discrete Math.

Other common course topics include computer programming, software development, web development, programming languages, cyber security, and networking.

Universities Offering Online Computer Science Associate’s Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Anne Arundel Community College

Anne Arundel Community College

Anne Arundel Community College began educating students in 1961. Today, Anne Arundel assists more than 50,000 students in obtaining vocation certifications, continuing education credits, and associate degrees a year. AACC offers traditional classroom settings, online learning, and weekend and night classes.

Recognized for excellent academics and community programs, AACC serves as a public facility for all ages.

  • AS in Computer Science

AACC is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Bucks County Community College

Bucks County Community College

Established in 1964, Bucks County Community College provides a multitude of vocational certifications and associate degree programs. Students interested in career development or college transfer credits often turn to Buck County Community College for a flexible and affordable educational option.

This public community college gives students the opportunity to attend both online and in-person classes.

  • AS in Computer Science

Bucks County Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Community College of Baltimore County

Community College of Baltimore County

The Community College of Baltimore County, in Maryland, opened in 1998 and has grown into a public college that serves students from around the globe. CCBC strives to provide students with a higher education that can help them achieve personal and career advancement.

Students at CCBC have the opportunity to earn associate degrees in arts or science, workforce certifications, or technical training.

  • AS in Computer Science

Community College of Baltimore County accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Cowley College

Cowley College

Cowley College is a public vocational school that has been serving the state of Kansas since 1922. Students at Cowley College have access to more than 70 program majors for Associate in Arts, Associate in Science, Associate in General Studies, and Associate in Applied Science degrees. Cowley College also awards vocational certifications.

Cowley gives students the opportunity to study either online or on campus.

  • AS in Computer Science

Cowley College is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Faulkner University

Faulkner University

Operating as a Christian private school since 1942, Faulkner University combines a rigorous academic curriculum with a spiritual liberal arts foundation to help students gain educational, personal, and career advancement.

Students at Faulkner University can earn associate, bachelor’s, or graduate degrees. Popular programs at Faulkner University include Computer Science, Technology, and Education.

  • AS in Computer and Information Science

Faulkner University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Georgia Military College

Georgia Military College

Georgia Military College is a public liberal arts college that is open to all members of the community. Opened in 1879, Georgia Military College now has 15 campuses and a dynamic distance learning program.

Awarding a variety of associate degrees in art, science, and applied science, GMC also has bachelor’s degree programs in applied science.

  • AS in Computer Science

Georgia Military College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Georgia State University

Georgia State University

Georgia State University is an esteemed research academic institution that began in 1913. GSU enrolls more than 50,000 students from countries around the world every year. Georgia State University is a public school that provides an assortment of associate, undergraduate, and graduate degree programs that are rich in research and technology.

  • AS in Computer Science

Georgia State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College began in 1963 as a public technical school in Indiana. ITCC offers many 2 year degrees in arts, science, and applied science and vocational certifications. It is known for its excellent programs in computer science, business, technology, and nursing.

  • AS in Computer Science

Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Jamestown Community College

Jamestown Community College

Commenced in 1950, Jamestown Community College is a public liberal arts school that works to assist students in building their academic profiles. Offering a range of associate degrees, most credits earned at Jamestown Community College can be transferred and used as the first two years of a bachelor’s degree when transferred to a 4 year university.

  • AS in Computer Science

Jamestown Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Monroe Community College

Monroe Community College

Opened in 1961, Monroe Community College offers public education to more than 40,000 students annually. Not only does MCC provide a variety of associate degrees, but they also allow students to achieve industry-related vocational certificates. Allowing students access to online learning is one more way that MCC strives to meet every student’s needs.

  • AS in Computer Science

Monroe Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Montgomery College

Montgomery College

Montgomery College, in Rockwell, Maryland, was established in 1946 and serves its region by attending to public educational needs. Serving students across three campus locations and through an online learning platform, Montgomery College has an array of associate degrees and vocational and technical training.

MC has programs in business, the arts, education, computer science, and more.

  • AA in Computer Science and Technologies – Computer Science

Montgomery College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Ocean County College

Ocean County College

Ocean County College has been dedicated to public education since 1964. OCC has a variety of credit and non-credit courses that serve students of all ages. Non-credit courses are open to both kids and adults. OCC has many associate degree programs for adults looking for career advancement or hoping to transfer to a 4 year college.

  • AAS in Computer Science
  • AS in Computer Science

OCC is accredited by Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Rogers State University

Rogers State University

Rogers State University is a public educational institute that opened in 1909. Offering more than just a traditional class setting, Roger State University has online learning opportunities for students hoping to earn an associate or bachelor’s degree. RSU has an array of programs, including Business Administration, Healthcare, Computer Science, and Education.

  • AS in Computer Science

Rogers State University is a member of and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

South Texas College

South Texas College

Established in 1993, South Texas College works to provide quality public education to thousands of students every year. With five campuses and several other learning centers, South Texas College has more than 100 associate degree programs and vocational certifications in various academic areas.

STC also has paths to several bachelor’s degrees.

  • Associate’s in Computer Science

South Texas College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Stark State College

Stark State College

Opened in 1969, Stark State College offers one of the most inexpensive public-school tuitions in its area. It has hundreds of associate degree options and vocational training programs for students looking to move forward in their academic and career goals.

Business, Engineering, and Computer Science are a few examples of majors that are offered at SSC.

  • Associate’s in Computer Science and Engineering Technology

Stark State College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

SUNY Ulster

SUNY Ulster

SUNY Ulster started in 1961 and is a community college in the New York public college system. Students attending SUNY Ulster are able to take part in internships, co-ops, and other hands-on learning opportunities while gaining associate degrees in over 60 areas of study.

Vocational and technical certifications are also available as non-credit courses at SUNY.

  • AS in Computer Science

SUNY Ulster is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

Thomas Edison State University

Thomas Edison State University

Looking at public education through a different lens, Thomas Edison State University has been exploring new ways to assist students in earning a higher education since 1972. With over 100 areas of study that lead to associate, bachelor’s, and graduate degrees, TESU gives students the opportunity to complete their degrees virtually and on self-paced timelines.

  • ASNSM in Computer Science

Thomas Edison State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Tompkins Cortland Community College

Tompkins Cortland Community College

Tompkins Cortland Community College was established in 1968 as a public school for adults and is now a leader in campus sustainability. Offering vocational certificates and associate degrees in an assortment of academic majors, TCCC helps students worldwide reach their educational dreams.

Innovation and technology are incorporated into each academic plan at TCCC.

  • AS in Computer Science

Tompkins Cortland Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Vincennes University

Vincennes University

In 1801, Vincennes University was the first college opened in the state of Indiana. As a public school, VU brings quality education into each associate and bachelor’s degree program they offer. VU serves students throughout the nation through online and campus-based learning. Serving military members is an essential aspect of Vincennes University.

  • AS in Computer Science

Vincennes University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Weber State University

Weber State University

Weber State University opened in 1889 and is rooted in the values of the Mormon Church. As a public educational institution, Weber State University gives students several paths to achieve associate, bachelor’s, or graduate degrees. With over 100 program majors, WSU works to support each student in their academic endeavors.

  • AAS in Computer Science

Weber State is regionally accredited through the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Getting an Online Associate’s Degree in Computer Science

computer programmer working on his computer

If you want access to jobs beyond those you could get with a high school diploma or want to be paid more, enrolling in an online associate’s computer science degree program may be the way to go.

With many online classes being affordable and convenient and financial aid being easier to find, there’s likely never been a better time to enroll in an Associate of Computer Science program.

Still not quite sure about your degree choice? You could look into what it takes to earn an associate’s in information technology online and compare them to see which is the best fit.

Ready to start your journey?
Jordan Meeks
WRITTEN BY
Jordan Meeks
Jordan is pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Policy and earned her Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management and her Bachelor's in Business Administration. Jordan's research focuses on adults returning to college and online degree programs.