Top Online Colleges for Computer Degrees

Computer degree programs typically include computer science, information technology, computer engineering, or related areas. These degrees are a good fit for students who are analytical thinkers and problem-solvers who enjoy working with or even creating innovative technology.

The best online colleges for computer degrees are those that offer programs accredited by the Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), a nationally recognized organization that accredits educational programs in applied science, computing, and engineering. Top online colleges for computer degrees are also characterized by faculty who hold terminal degrees in their respective fields and who can draw on their many years of experience working in high-tech industries when teaching students.

Computer Degree Course Work Basics

Top accredited online colleges offer computer degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In an undergraduate computer degree program, students start out taking general education courses, such as English composition, mathematics, natural and behavioral sciences, and humanities, although some programs are set up to allow students to take some of their major courses at the outset. Students typically take courses in programming, networking, computer systems, IT project management, and database development. Courses will differ depending on a student’s specialization, which could include game development, networking, and software development. A few courses you may encounter in a computer degree program include:

  • Introduction to Programming: In this course students learn about the purpose and functions of programming, as well as the most common programming languages and coding techniques.
  • Operating Systems: This course introduces students to the role of operating systems and explores topics in configuration, interfacing, security, and more.
  • Information, People, and Technology: This course examines how people relate to technology in the postmodern era and how technology and information systems can be best used to maximize peoples’ ability to access information.
  • Introduction to Network Technology: In this course students receive an overview of network architecture, how data is communicated across networks, and designing communication protocols.
  • Database Administration: This course explores the primary responsibilities of database administrators, including recovery, transaction logging, and performance tuning.

Accredited online colleges for computer degrees also offer graduate programs. Master’s degrees in computing fields typically allow students to further specialize their studies, and they tend to focus more on management-related tasks in information technology. Students complete foundational graduate courses then move on to a selection of courses in their specialization, which could be anything from network management to project management to business analysis. Both undergraduate and graduate programs may require or encourage internships for college credit, and both require students to complete projects in which they demonstrate their understanding of the material. Graduate programs tend to conclude with a capstone project in which students conduct independent research into a real-world IT problem and come up with research-based solutions.

Careers for the Computer Degree Graduate

Students who earn a computer degree from top rated online colleges can pursue numerous employment opportunities. Common technology occupations include computer programming, network and computer systems administration, computer systems analysis, and software development. While average job growth of 12% is expected for computer programmers between 2010 and 2020, faster than average job growth is expected for the other three occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Job growth of 28% is projected for network and computer systems administrators, 22% job growth is expected for computer systems analysts, and 30% job growth is expected for software developers.

Individuals working in these occupations have the potential to earn a respectable salary. In 2010, computer programmers earned a median annual salary of $71,380, network and computer systems administrators earned $69,160, and computer systems analysts earned $77,740, according to the BLS. Software developers earned $90,530, systems software developers earned $94,180, and applications software developers received $87,790. Keep in mind that actual salaries in these fields vary based on a number of factors, such as years of experience, location, type and size of the employer or client base, and condition of the economy.

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