Online Computer Science Degrees by Program Level

Get info about online programs in computer science. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, as well as career and continuing education options.

Essential Information

Computer science is a broad field that encompasses computer networking, web design, programming, system administration, information assurance and much more. Many 4-year universities offer computer science programs online at the undergraduate and graduate levels, both fully and partially online. Oftentimes, bachelor's degree programs in computer science can provide students with a general overview of the field, while master's and doctoral degree programs tend to be highly focused and research intensive.

Students should be aware that both online bachelor's and master's degree programs in computer science may require completion of an internship. Programs will also typically require that students have certain program-specific software in order to complete online requirements. Similarly, doctoral programs may require occasional on-campus attendance on weekends or during the summer months.

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

Through the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, students learn computer systems design, hardware and software programs and applications. Students acquire skills to create computer programs, analyze problems with computer security and develop solutions to threats. This degree program is intensive to the sciences, and courses typically cover business, science and computer programming. Online bachelor's degree in computer science applicants must have at least a high school diploma or GED. Online degree programs in computer science may include information security, computer programming and computer forensics.

Program Information and Requirements

The online bachelor's degree program in computer science can be completed in less than four years, entirely online in most instances. However, students may be required to complete an internship in person. Students log onto the school's web-based applications and watch pre-recorded lectures, read assigned texts, work on projects, access lessons and turn in assignments. Some programs require that students turn in assignments by specified due dates, while others allow students to complete the program entirely at their own pace.

To complete the online program, students must have a computer, reliable Internet access and anti-virus protection. Some required computer software includes Microsoft Office, Database Applications, Microsoft Visual Studio, Adobe Reader and Windows Media Player.

List of Common Computer Science Bachelor's-Level Courses

Students take general education courses in addition to courses for the computer science major. Although there are no scheduled weekly class times, students are expected to keep up with the classes and participate in online discussions, even for programs that don't use specific due dates.

Beginning Computer Programming

Students study the basics of computer programming and begin to use and apply the most common programming languages. They gain practical experience creating programs using Visual Studio.

Artificial Intelligence

Students begin to study types of artificial intelligence and the techniques AI uses. They learn how artificial intelligence solves problems and speculate on ways to solve problems with artificial intelligence.

Computer Graphics Programming

Students learn practical methods of incorporating graphics into web pages and computer program design. They learn to shape and size images and provide shading and illumination for lifelike graphics.

JavaScript

Students learn to use this advanced programming language, becoming familiar with how it's used on the web and the browsers which support it. Students also learn to create web pages using JavaScript.


Career Information for Graduates

With an online bachelor's degree in computer science, students can find careers as computer programmers, computer systems administrators or database administrators. The BLS stated that in 2015, the median annual salary for network and computer systems administrators was $77,810, for database administrators, it was $81,710, and for computer programmers, it was $79,530.


Master of Science in Computer Science

An online Master of Science in Computer Science advances concepts in computer programming, security and structure. Students learn to create computer applications and web pages, and to integrate security systems to protect computers from viruses and hackers. The program requires at least a bachelor's degree, and applicants are typically expected to be familiar with computer programming, operating systems and data structures. Several online master's degree programs in computer science allow students to choose a specialization, such as information security and database management.

Program Information and Requirements

The online master's degree program in computer science can be completed in two years. Each course is available entirely online. Students may need to complete an internship. At the master's level, most online programs are exact replicas of the on-campus programs, with the same start and end dates so students completing the online program can interact with those completing the on-campus program. Online students log onto courses via the school's web-based application, select the course, watch pre-recorded or live lectures, engage in discussions, read teacher's notes and turn in assignments completely online.

To complete the online program, students must have a working computer and reliable Internet access. Other computer software programs, such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Flash and Adobe Reader are also required.

List of Common Computer Science Master's Courses

Students complete general education courses at the bachelor's level, so a master's program focuses on core and elective courses in computer sciences. Students turn in projects and assignments by regularly-scheduled due dates to keep working at a regular pace.

Computer Security

This course introduces students to common security measures used to keep computer networks, programs and websites safe from hackers and viruses. Classes also discuss common tricks used by hackers to break into a system.

Database Security

Students examine the advantages, disadvantages and success rates of security measures, such as setting profiles and using passwords. They also discuss things that can weaken a computer system and ways to manage weaknesses at all levels of security and management.

Network Forensics

Network forensics looks into who has been accessing what information from specific computers or browsers, to find and fix network security problems. The course discusses the digital evidence left behind by people when they browse the web and go about their business.


Career Information for Graduates

A master's degree in computer science could lead to a career as a computer systems analyst, network administrator, software engineer or information systems manager. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), the demand for all of these professions was expected to grow much faster than the job market as a whole between 2014 and 2024. The BLS recorded a median annual salary of $85,800 for computer systems analysts and $131,600 for information systems managers in 2015.


Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science

In the online Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science, students research and analyze trends, problems and advances in computer sciences. Doctoral candidates develop new data, evaluate security systems and create data organization systems. Doctoral applicants must have at least a master's degree in computer science or a related program. The few online degree programs available in computer science often include other methods of distance learning.

Program Information and Requirements

The online Ph.D. in Computer Science takes about three years to complete. The Ph.D. is offered entirely online at some schools, but others use a hybrid program that requires students to attend campus for residencies, labs and research during a weekend per semester or during a couple of weeks over the summer. The university's web page allows access to the virtual classroom application, where students interact with other students and professors, follow lectures, have access to the online library and complete assignments.

To complete this degree program, students must have a working computer and reliable Internet access. Adobe Flash, Acrobat Reader and Microsoft Office Suites are also required.

List of Common Computer Science Doctorate-Level Courses

In addition to core major courses, the online doctorate degree program in computer sciences requires that students complete research-based courses independently although they have regular due dates.

Computer Networking and Data Communications

Students research trends and advancements in data communications used in network structure, wireless communication and mobile networking.

Cryptography

This course familiarizes students with forms of cryptography, how it's used in technology, ways to decipher and techniques for analyzing its meaning. Students may also be required to research it to identify possible advances and advantages in the field.

Network Security

Students taking this course analyze advances in the field, identify challenges for solving certain security problems and study areas of weakness.


Career Information for Graduates

Upon completion of an online Ph.D. degree program in computer science, students can go into computer engineering and research. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), computer applications software developers made a median annual salary of $98,260 and computer systems software engineers made a median annual salary of $105,570 in 2015. The demand for software developers is expected to increase by about 17% between 2014 and 2024, which is much faster than the average rate.

Students can find complete bachelor's and master's degree programs in computer science online, with the possibility of an internship requirement. Doctoral programs are generally more likely to require more on-campus participation.


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