Online Computer-Related Associate Degrees: Program Options

Dec 03, 2019

Essential Information

Associate degree programs in computer science may be available online through some private for-profit universities, but they are more commonly offered in a traditional, on-campus setting. Computer information systems associate degree programs may be more widely available online, though these programs might also be more commonly found as on-campus options. Some computer information systems programs might be available in a 100% online format, while others might require completion of an internship.

Majors with computer science courses computer science and computer information technology. On-campus classes, labs and internships may be required by some programs.

Associate Degree in Computer Science

Online associate degree programs in computer science provide students with a foundation in various programming concepts and languages as well as advanced math. Students develop the skills to design, analyze, maintain and implement various types of computer programs, including software, operating systems and database management systems. Programs can typically be completed in two years, though many online degree programs offer students a great deal of flexibility. Students who enroll in these programs should be proficient in math and can expect to complete most coursework on the computer.

Program Information and Requirements

Computer science associate degree programs are available fully online and through hybrid programs. Typically, before online courses start, students are required to complete an orientation of the Web system through which classes are offered. Course material is delivered through the Internet and textbooks. Students engage with peers and instructors through video seminars, discussion boards and e-mails.

To access course materials, software downloads and library materials necessary to complete online coursework, students must have computer and Internet access. In hybrid programs, students often have access to a computer lab, where they may be required to complete labs and assignments.

Course Topics

In addition to courses in math and technical computer programming skills, students must complete general education requirements in English and the social sciences. Course material for these classes is most often accessed by students at their own pace from a course management website.

Computer Science Introduction

This course provides an introduction to computer programming code, algorithms and sequential logic. Students learn object-oriented programming in a structured language and methods for problem solving.

Data Structures

Generally offered at basic and advanced levels, data structures classes cover various methods by which information can be sorted and stored by a program. Degree candidates study tree structures, strings, stacks, queues, matrices and other structures useful for writing and designing programs.

Hardware and Software Systems

Students in this course study the microcomputer components of hardware and software in order to install, configure, maintain and design these systems. The curriculum provides students with instruction in writing software, memory and operating systems.

Discrete Mathematics for Programming

This advanced math class covers logic, functions, set theory, number theory and other mathematical structures relevant to computer programming. Students must have completed college-level calculus courses to be eligible to take this course.

Associate Degree in Computer Information Technology

Online associate degrees in computer information technology equip students with the technical skills to design, troubleshoot and maintain computer systems used to store, analyze, transfer and organize information. Additionally, students develop communication and basic business management skills. Students who enroll in these programs must be proficient with operating computer systems and should be comfortable with math. While the coursework for most programs can be completed online, many programs offer students the opportunity to participate in on-site internships or collaborate with other students on projects via the Internet.

Program Information and Requirements

Associate degrees in computer information technology can be completed entirely online in approximately two years. Using a school's online course management website, students register for classes, attend video seminars, watch demonstrations, access course materials and turn in assignments. Additionally, programs may require students to work from CD-ROMs and textbooks that are sent in the mail.

Access to the Internet and a computer are necessary for the completion of any online information technology associate degree program. Students are also typically required to download software and computer applications that they are expected to learn or which will assist them in their coursework.

Course Topics

Associate degree curricula for these programs include general education requirements as well as business management training. Some online classes are interactive, requiring that students be available to log in and participate, while others expect students to learn and complete assignments on their own time.

Database System Organization

This course offers an introduction to the model and design of popular computer systems used to store and retrieve data. Students learn terminology and Structured Query Language, as well as basic maintenance and design skills.

Network and Telecommunication Technologies

Students in this course study the modes of transmission and equipment used for digital networking and telecommunications. The course provides a foundation in digital signals, switching, routing and security, which prepares students to troubleshoot and maintain network systems.

Web Design and Development

This course provides instruction in the computer programs and tools used to plan, design and maintain websites. Students typically perform research on various design techniques in addition to gaining hands-on experience by developing and designing their own websites.

Computer Programming

Students in this course learn various programming languages as well as language applications in both structured and object-oriented programming. Through projects, students develop their own programs which are intended to create applicable business solutions.

Career Information

Though most employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree in computer science, graduates from an online computer science associate degree program may be qualified for entry-level careers as software engineers and computer programmers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment growth for software engineers and programmers was expected to increase greatly between 2018 and 2028, at a rate of 21% (

Annual salaries for these positions vary depending on whether candidates go into computer programming, systems engineering or software engineering, as well as the industries in which they work. However, the BLS indicted that in May of 2018, average salaries for computer programming and software engineering positions ranged from $89,580-$114,000.

Graduates from online associate degree programs in information technology are qualified for entry-level careers as Web developers, database managers, network administrators and many other positions that require knowledge of computer systems. According to the BLS, while wages varied based on employer and type of computer-related position, the mean annual salary for network and systems administrators in May 2018 was $87,070.

The bureau also indicated that network and computer systems administrator positions are expected to experience 5% job growth in that time period. This projected increase is due to the growing reliance, in all industries, on computer information technology for business transactions and communications.

Continuing Education Information

The majority of online associate degree programs in computer science are designed for students to pursue a bachelor's degree in computer science. Some programs transfer credits directly into a bachelor's degree program at the same university while others may have transfer agreements with an affiliated college or university.

While graduates from online computer information technology associate degree programs are qualified for entry-level jobs, many choose to earn bachelor's degrees in the same field. Many online programs allow students to transfer associate degree credits into an online bachelor's degree program in the same subject. These programs offer students further general education as well as more advanced skills in system design and analysis, programming and problem solving. Students may also choose to pursue a bachelor's degree in computer science, computer programming, computer engineering or other related fields.

Students will be able to take online and hybrid computer-related associate degree programs to obtain their education to further their careers. Graduates of these programs qualify for entry-level jobs and can further their education through bachelor's degree programs in many computer-related fields.

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