Online Computer Science Graduate Certificate Programs

Mar 26, 2020

Overview of Online Computer Science Graduate Certificate Programs

Professionals who seek to improve their knowledge of software, information, and database systems and develop other useful technology skills can benefit from studying computer science and its subfields. To help them balance work and learning, some universities offer fully online graduate certificate programs to interested individuals. A graduate certificate in computer science may not provide as much knowledge and training as a bachelor's degree or master's degree, but it can provide professionals with an advantage in the office or company and may even be grounds for them to receive a promotion. Certificate programs in computer science tend to offer more general training, and typical courses include programming or software development, computing systems, data management, algorithms, and object-oriented design.

To qualify for a graduate certificate program, applicants must be holders of a bachelor's degree - some schools specify a bachelor's degree in computer science or related fields, as their curricula are more advanced or specialized. Universities do not require a capstone for students to graduate, only completion of coursework. Certificate holders may use their credits to advance to a master's degree program in computer science.

Computer Science Graduate Certificate Requirements

Computer science graduate certificate programs prepare individuals for more specialized roles in the company or office. While earning the certificate, students learn about the fundamentals and theoretical aspects of computer science, the mathematics behind computing, how to create and manage databases and cloud systems, and how to program, among other skills. All steps, from applying to the program to taking the courses, are completed online.

Information and Requirements

Earning a computer science graduate certificate online may take up to two years, depending on the curriculum. Generally, these programs are not self-paced. They only require students to complete 12-15 credit hours of lectures and coursework, including projects, assignments, and exams. To qualify for graduation, students must achieve a certain grade (typically 3.0 or higher) for each course.

Participants need a laptop or desktop computer and a stable, high-speed internet connection. Tuition can range from $10,000 to around $23,000.

Course Topics


Algorithms are the basis of how computers make decisions and solve problems, so studying them is a key objective in many computer science programs. In this course, students learn to evaluate algorithms through techniques like searching, sorting, and selection. They can also learn to develop algorithms and study central concepts like recurrences and asymptotic notations.

Software Design and Engineering

This course teaches students the principles and methodologies involved in software design and development and places these concepts in various paradigms, such as object- and service-oriented design. The quality management and maintenance of software are also emphasized. Exercises and team projects are assigned as part of the course.

Data Management and Mining

The mathematics, principles, and algorithms behind data mining and management are covered in this course to help students develop expertise on information extraction, management, and integration. Key concepts include query processing and languages; data modeling, structure, and distribution; pattern mining; and security in data mining. This knowledge is then applied to real-world problems.

Online Computer Science Graduate Certificate Information

Appropriate adjustments are made to effectively support and cater to the needs of students in online programs. To facilitate the acquisition and management of courses, universities use online portals where students can create profiles, access their course materials and grades, and submit their assignments. Instructors and professors may record their lectures in the classroom using software like Echo360 or hold online discussions and consultations with their students using Zoom, Skype, and Blackboard Collaborate. In some schools, proctors are assigned to students to receive and grade their exams.

It should be noted, however, that despite the online format of this program, the lectures and coursework still follow the academic calendar of the university. Lecturers usually provide the course syllabus, homework, and projects through the student portal. Other services, such as online tutoring and advising, may be offered.

Career Outlook for Computer Science Graduate Certificate Holders

Individuals who have an undergraduate background in computer science or a related field can use a certificate in computer science to work in a variety of sectors, ranging from information technology to web development.

Generally, the occupations that could benefit from a graduate certificate in computer science are computer systems managers, software developers, database administrators, and information security analysts. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that, as of May 2018, the yearly median salary of these occupations are: $142,530 for computer and information systems managers (11% employment growth), $105,590 for software developers (21% employment growth), $90,070 for database administrators (9% employment growth), and $98,350 for information security analysts (32% employment growth). These employment growth rates are projections for 2018 to 2028.

Online computer science graduate certificate programs offer a way for interested individuals to learn about relevant topics like software design and data management. Only a bachelor's degree is needed to qualify for the program, which can be completed in 1-2 years by complying with course requirements.

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