Computer Science Degree and Career Guide

computer science degree

Computer science is a field that deals with the study of computers and computer systems. Although many people believe that computer scientists, computer engineers, and electrical engineers are linked together, that’s not necessarily true. While electrical and computer engineers’ study and work with hardware and electrical components, computer scientists study software and software systems. If you are looking to study computer science, much of this learning can now be done through online degrees.

This includes the development, design, theory, and application of software and software components. The various areas of concentration they study include:

  • Computer systems
  • Computer networks
  • Game development
  • Vision and Graphics
  • Security
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Programming languages
  • Software engineering
  • Theory of computing
  • Human-computer interaction
  • Database systems
  • Numerical analysis

Potential for Good Wages

Computer science jobs typically offer very good wages even for entry-level jobs. The higher wages typically come with higher degrees, but they can all become lucrative jobs. Computer scientists earned an average annual wage of $131,490 in 2021 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).


Various Career Opportunities

Earning a computer science degree, regardless of the degree level, prepares students for a variety of job opportunities. The computer science field spans many industries, increasing even more career options.


Good Job Growth

The BLS reports that computer and information technology jobs are expected to grow 15 percent between 2021 and 2031. More than 682,000 computer-related jobs are expected to open by 2031.

Computer science deals with many elements and components. While programming is a big part of computer science, it’s only one of many. Computer scientists create and assess algorithms to help them not just study the computer’s performance but also solve problems with the hardware and software.

They study computer systems, design applications for handheld devices, and work with security issues. Computer science is a very vast field that covers many areas of a computer and its components.

Individuals who want to study computer science can earn computer science degrees at every level from associate degrees to advanced degrees. The degree level a student chooses generally coincides with the individual’s career goals.

You can read our further analysis on if computer science is a good major here.

Associate Degree in Computer Science

An individual interested in working in an entry-level position in computer science often finds an associate degree to be the perfect choice. The associate degree is a two-year program that teaches the basics of computer science and prepares them to work in this field. It can also be the starting point for a career in computer science.

Students can join the workforce immediately after graduation or advance to a bachelor’s degree program. Graduates of this program may find work as IT help desk technicians, computer programmers, network support specialists, and systems analysts to name a few. There are many computer science associate degree programs offered online.

Computer Science Associate Degree Online

Southern New Hampshire University offers an online associate degree in computer science that offers multiple start dates, low tuition, and allows students to complete it at their own pace. Course topics include computer programming, operating systems, system analysis, data structures and algorithms, and software development. SNHU also offers associate degree programs in information technology and cybersecurity.

Franklin University
A.S. in Computer Science

Franklin University has a 100 percent online associate in a computer science program that requires completing 64 credits and allows transfer credits. Students can choose from six- or 12-week classes. FU also offers an associate degree in cybersecurity. This program, which includes computer courses and general education courses, can be completed in slightly over a year.

Lake Superior State University
Associate of Science in Computer Science

Lake Superior State University offers an online computer science associate degree program that can be completed in less than two years. The 62 required credits include courses in information technology, computer networks, computer programming, and statistical methods as well as some general ed courses.

Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science

Bachelor’s degree programs are typically four-year programs that prepare students for a variety of computer science career opportunities. Students learn advanced computer science topics like computer problem solving, advanced computer programming, computer algorithms, python programming, information technology, computer security, and networking.

Graduates of bachelor’s degree computer science programs may find work as computer programmers, web developers, information security analysts, and computer and information systems managers. Many colleges offer online computer science bachelor’s degree programs.

IT and Computer Science Degree Programs

Grand Canyon University has several 100 percent online bachelor’s degree programs in computer science majors, including cybersecurity, information technology, software development, software engineering, and computer programming. These programs offer affordable tuition and can be completed in as little as two years.

Colorado Technical University

Bachelor’s in Computer Science

Colorado Technical University has a 100 percent online bachelor’s degree in computer science. This 183-credit program includes general education courses, computer science courses, and courses related to a specific concentration. CTU also offers a bachelor’s degree in data science and computer engineering. Students can work at their own pace and still finish the program in two to three years.

Arizona State University
Computer Science B.S.

The Bachelor of Science in Computer Science program at Arizona State University is an online program that requires completing 120 credit hours and 41 classes with 7.5 to 15 weeks per class. Students complete courses in computing systems, programming, artificial intelligence, computer networks, and algorithm design, among many others. Upon graduation, students can apply for industry certifications.

You can research the difference between a Computer Science BA vs. BS here.

If you are interested in degrees related to computer science with more of a specialization, then check out our list of the best Online Software Engineering Degrees.

Master’s Degree in Computer Science

The master’s degree in computer science is a graduate degree chosen by students interested in higher-level positions in the field of computer science. Online master’s degrees can be completed in two years if the student already has a bachelor’s degree. Students can find many colleges offering online computer science master’s degree programs.

Many students find the online program ideal because they can continue to work and gain more experience while earning the degree. Graduates of the computer science master’s degree program may find work as network and computer systems administrators, computer and information systems managers, computer and information research scientists, computer systems analysts, and more.

Full Sail University
Master of Science Computer Science

Full Sail University offers a 100 percent online program in computer science that offers three areas of study: software development, artificial intelligence, and foundations of computer science. Programs start each month so students can start at their convenience. Students learn using industry-standard tools and equipment.

Maryville University
Master’s in Computer Science

Maryville University has an online master’s in computer science that includes specializations in artificial intelligence, data mining, software development, cybersecurity, and networking, among others. This program can be completed in two years. MU also offers online master’s degrees in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, data science, and software development.

Stanford University
Master of Science in Computer Science

The Master of Science in Computer Science program at Stanford University is an online terminal professional degree that can lead to many high-paying jobs. Full-time students can complete this program in one to two years. Part-time students can finish it in three to five years. Some of the courses in this program may need to be taken on campus.

Don’t have a bachelor’s in computer science? Don’t worry – we’ve made a list of the best Master’s in Computer Science for non-CS majors.

Advanced Computer Science Degrees

Advanced computer science programs are generally chosen by individuals interested in working in research or academia. They’re also popular with those who just want to advance their education to the highest possible level. There are various doctoral degree programs offered online.

National University

National University offers an online doctoral degree in computer science that prepares students to work in high-tech jobs and obtain industry certifications. This degree covers various areas of computer science and can be completed in a few years. The courses in this program are in alignment with computer science jobs.

University of North Dakota
Ph.D. in Computer Science

University of North Dakota has a Ph.D. in computer science program that, while listed as online, offers both synchronous and asynchronous courses. Students learn through streaming media, online lectures, virtual libraries, and online simulations. This program can be completed in four years. Students also have access to 24/7 support.

Colorado Technical University
Doctor of Computer Science

Colorado Technical University offers an online doctorate in computer science program that offers four different areas of concentration. The program is a flexible program that can be completed in the student’s spare time. Graduates of this program are eligible for many high-level and great-paying jobs.

Careers in Computer Science

  • Computer support specialist – Computer support specialists assist others with help with problems with their computers. These professionals should have at least an associate degree.
  • Computer programmer – A computer programmer writes the codes used to make computers and computer programs perform correctly. A bachelor’s degree is usually required for this career, but you may be hired with an associate degree.
  • Computer systems analyst – Computer systems analysts study a computer system and find ways to make it perform more efficiently. They are required to have a bachelor’s degree.
  • Computer and information research scientists – These professionals study computers and computer systems and determine ways to make them more efficient. A master’s degree is required for this position.
  • Network and computer systems administrators – These professionals oversee the day-to-day service and maintenance of a computer system for a business. Network and computer systems administrators should have a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
  • Software developers – Software developers develop software for business, games, and anything requiring a program. Software developers usually have a bachelor’s degree.
  • Computer science professor – A computer science professor teaches computer science courses and programs to college students. A doctoral degree is required for this career.