How Long Does It Take To Get a Computer Science Degree? [2021 Guide]

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How long does it take to get a computer science degree? The answer may not be nearly as long as you’re thinking, but you have options.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Computer Science Degree

An Associate degree typically takes half the time of a Bachelor degree. If you want to speed up your Computer Science degree, consider taking online classes.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Computer Science Degree on Campus?

computer science degree students studying in university library

If you’re planning on going the more traditional on-campus route, computer science degrees can usually be earned in four years, assuming you’re a full-time student. A full-time, on-campus student takes between 12 and 15-course hours – four or five classes – each semester.

After your first two years, you’ll likely be awarded your Associate of Science in Computer Science. However, if you want a degree that further prepares you for the workforce, you’ll need to keep going for another two years to receive your Bachelor of Computer Science degree.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Computer Science Degree Online?

Computer Science Degree student studying on her computer

The other option is to take classes online. This could mean taking online classes at a university on a semester schedule with a similar time-frame as the above-mentioned one.

However, some schools now offer accelerated courses for a computer science degree online . These courses are set up differently than regular semester courses, with a “semester” course running for only eight weeks before moving onto another eight-week “semester.”

Most universities offer the option to take either two or three classes each eight-week course, giving you either six or nine credits each term. There are six eight-week terms a year, meaning you’ll achieve either 36 or 54 credits a year, depending on how many classes you took.

Learning via accelerated courses means you have to work at a much quicker pace than with normal semesters, but if you work hard, you can succeed. You’ll also finish your degree much faster. Assuming you take three classes each term, with accelerated courses, you could potentially earn your Bachelor’s in a little over two years.

Associate’s in Computer Science Degree Requirements

computer programmer working on his computer

The specific requirements for obtaining an associate’s degree in computer science will differ from college to college, with different colleges having different course requirements. However, there are some basics that’ll remain the same.

Here’s an example of what an associate level computer science curriculum might entail:

  • English comp courses – Basic English/writing classes.
  • At least two math classes including college algebra and statistics.
  • Two science courses, at least one with a lab.
  • Two social and behavioral science classes. These could include sociology, economics, anthropology, etc.
  • Some type of class to improve your critical thinking skills.
  • One art/music/theater elective.
  • Public speaking or its equivalent.
  • A “learning” course which teaches you how to use the library and databases to write papers.
  • At least two general electives.
  • At least 24 hours worth of computer science-specific courses, such as programming, database management, cyber security and more.

You will, of course, have more computer science-related courses than anything.

Is It Hard to Get a Computer Science Degree?

computer science degree students doing their activity in computer room

Achieving a degree in computer science is no harder than getting a degree in anything else. If you’re determined and willing to work hard, you should be able to achieve your goals with little trouble.

Depending on your strengths, you’ll probably breeze through some courses and have to work a little harder in others. For instance, students good at math should have no trouble with the algebra and calculus classes, and if you already have an interest in computer science, the computer-related subjects shouldn’t be a problem either.

Other classes may present a challenge, but that’s nothing that can’t be overcome with hard work and perseverance.

What GPA Do You Need for Computer Science?

GPA You Need for Computer Science

Just like the specific courses for computer science degrees differ at each university, so, too, do the GPA requirements. However, most colleges require at least a 2.0 to be accepted into the computer science program.

However, higher GPAs are preferable. Some computer science programs are highly competitive, and only a few individuals are chosen for them each semester. The higher your GPA, the more likely you’ll be selected to enter the program. Higher GPAs can sometimes lead to scholarships, as well.

Should I Get a BA or BS in Computer Science?

BA or BS in Computer Science

Despite what many people think, you can get a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science as well as a Bachelor of Science. The two degrees are similar in most respects. The main differences come in the classes you have to take to achieve each one.

BS in Computer Science

The BS degree is a science degree. The coursework on this track is more STEM-oriented. You’ll have to take more higher-level math classes, such as calculus II and discrete mathematics. Probability and computational classes will also probably be required.

BA in Computer Science

The BA degree is on the humanities/liberal arts track. You’ll take most of the same computer-science classes, but you won’t have to take as much math. Instead, you’ll be required to take extra classes in electives and the humanities courses.

Most employers don’t prefer one degree over the other since all the basic computer-science coursework is covered in both.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Computer Science Degree?

Cost to Get a Computer Science Degree

There are many factors that go into pricing computer science degrees. First of all, every university is going to be different when it comes to tuition and fees. A quick check on CollegeCalc.com provides you with a list of schools in each state that offer degrees in computer science, and the total costs range anywhere from $17,000 to $76,000.

Furthermore, the price for your degree will vary depending on other factors, as well.

For example, on-campus classes are often – but not always – less expensive than purely online courses. If you choose to go to a university within your state of residence, that’s also going to cost less than having to pay out-of-state tuition at a school in another state. Public universities will most likely cost less than private ones.

What Can You Do With a Computer Science Degree?

Computer Science Degree Salary

The job market for people with computer science and other computer-related degrees is booming right now, meaning you have a ton of options after graduation. In addition, earning an online post baccalaureate in computer science will help you gain the edge over other candidates pursuing this field.

Three of the most popular jobs are:

  • Computer Programmer – Writing code for various computer programs, testing software and working out bugs.
  • Software Developer – Developing new software programs for specific computer tasks.
  • Web Developer – Building, creating and regularly updating websites for various companies.

Software Engineer working in a cafe

Other potential jobs include:

  • Information/Data Analyst
  • Software Engineer
  • Computer Support Specialist
  • IT Specialist
  • Computer Hardware Engineer
  • Computer Network Architect
  • Cyber Security Engineer

All these jobs pay well, are very rewarding, and ultimately make an associates in computer science worth it.

Computer Science Degree Salary

web developer working on his computer

Here are some of the most common jobs for people with computer science degrees along with their average yearly salaries:

Careers Average Annual Salary
Computer and Information Systems Manager $142,530
Computer and Information Research Scientist $118,370
Computer Hardware Engineer $114,600
Computer Network Architect $109,020
Software Developer $100,690
Cyber Security Engineer $93,815
Computer Programmer $84,280
Data Analyst $75,448
Web Developer $64,970
Computer Support Specialist $51,470

Salary depends on more than just education though. You also need to take experience, job performance, industry, and location into account.

Certifications Following a Computer Science Degree

Computer Support Specialist analyzing server in a data room

One of the great things about working toward your Computer Science degree is you can also work towards various certifications in the field. You should always earn as many certifications as possible because more certifications could mean more job opportunities.

We recommend trying for the following certifications:

Even when employers don’t require you to have specific certifications, it’s still impressive to list them on your resume anyway. You never know. One single certification might put you ahead of someone else being considered for the job.

Accreditation for an Online Computer Science Degree

nice-looking university campus

The first thing you want to check out when deciding on a college is that college’s accreditation, both as a school and in the computer science program. Accreditation is imperative. Without accreditation, your degree is practically useless.

A school with regional accreditation is one that meets both regional and national standards of education. Receiving a degree from an accredited program of study means your degree is both academically and professionally reputable and should be respected by employers as a “real” degree.

Also, check out whether your school’s computer science program is accredited by ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology). This should lend even more weight to it.

Financial Aid for a Bachelor’s in Computer Science Online

FAFSA website

As long as your computer science program is being offered by a real, accredited university, there are plenty of options out there for financial aid. First of all, you’ll want to see if you’re eligible for a federal Pell Grant or Direct Stafford loan. Find out by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

If you qualify for a Pell Grant, that’s $6,195 a year you don’t even have to pay back! If you qualify for a loan, as well, that’s an additional $5,500, but you’ll have to pay loans back, so be sure to borrow responsibly.

There are other loan options available through banks or credit unions, but again, that money must be paid back, so never borrow more than you need.

Bachelor’s in Computer Science Online Scholarships

In addition to Pell Grant and loans, there are tons of scholarship opportunities available to you as well. Each college or university usually has its own in-house scholarships, whether they’re merit-based (earned by grades/GPA/ACT/SAT scores), talent-based (earned through sports, music, dance, etc.) or something else.

You can also search for local community- and faith-based scholarships available in your area. There’s often a lot of money to be found there that’s overlooked by people. You’d be amazed at the amount of money out there that remains unclaimed each year.

Is a Degree in Computer Science Worth It

Is a Degree in Computer Science Worth It?

Yes, a degree in Computer Science is worth it. If you have any interest at all in computers, programming, cyber security or any other aspect of computer science, then a degree in computer science is absolutely worth the time and money it takes to earn it.

With the median salaries for computer science-related fields generally starting out around $50,000 or higher, that is good money for coming straight out of college. And, with the number of scholarships and the amount of federal grant money available to help you pay for college, you could potentially earn a very lucrative degree at little cost to you.

Finally, the availability of accelerated courses means you can earn your degree quicker than ever before and move directly into the workforce. There’s never been a better time to pursue a degree in computer science, so start researching universities today and find a program that’s right for you.

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.