Computer science is one of the most in-demand majors. This is the case not only within the United States, but all over the world. The projected job growth for the field is much higher than average. When deciding what career to pursue, it is definitely worth considering a career in the field of computer science. You might be thinking of completing your online associate’s degree in computer science in order to jump right into your career. Or on the other hand, you might be planning to transfer to a four-year program in order to complete your bachelor’s degree. In either situation, an online associate’s degree is a cheap, convenient way to get started in computer science. We have decided to feature the best, most affordable associate degrees in computer science in the following ranking. All of the programs featured in this article can be completed entirely online, which is such a convenient option.
The 10 schools that have made our ranking are:
- Wallace State Community College
- Georgia Military College
- Lake Superior College
- Ulster County Community College
- Ivy Tech Community College
- Jamestown Community College
- Scottsdale Community College
- South Texas College
- Grantham University
- Rio Salado College
Our methodology was simple. We started with a list of schools that offered an affordable online associate’s degree in computer science and had net prices of less than $14,000 (based on data from collegenavigator.gov). We then ranked the 10 best programs based the quality of the program (based on graduation rate and student teacher ratio).
#10. Rio Salado College
Associate in Science, Emphasis in Computer Science Online
Rio Salado College in Tempe, Arizona offers an affordable computer science degree. This degree can be completed entirely online. The program provides the first two years of a four year computer science program. The program is designed to prepare graduates to succeed in a variety of successful computer science career options. Rio Salado’s associate degree program allows for a smooth pathway for transfer at a number of universities. The program also prepares students to work as a computer support specialist after graduating from the AS program. The online computer science program requires the completion of 60-64 credits. It can be completed either on a full time or part time basis.
- Tuition: $9,426
#9. University of Arkansas Grantham
At University of Arkansas Grantham, students can earn an associate’s degree in computer science completely online. This 60 credit program, which includes 18 program core credits, can be completed in as little as 24 months. The objective of the program is to provide students with the knowledge and skills to prepare them to be able to enter the workforce in entry level positions. The curriculum is designed to build a strong foundation in networking and web design. Students will also develop fluency in a programming language. The flexible program starts monthly, allowing students to enter at any time throughout the year. Students are also able to transfer up to 75% of the program’s required 60 credits.
- Tuition: $9,770
#8. South Texas College
Online Associate’s in Computer Science
South Texas College in McAllen, Texas offers an affordable online associate’s degree in computer science. This degree is designed specifically for students who plan to go on and earn a bachelor’s degree in the field of computer science. The curriculum focuses on computer programming and general education studies. The program is still plenty suitable for those who wish to secure entry level positions in the field. Students will take courses like programming fundamentals I, II, & III, computer organization, C programming, calculus, and introduction to logic. The program requires 60 credits of study.
- Tuition: $1,515
#7. Scottsdale Community College
Associate in Science, Emphasis in Computer Science Online
The online associate’s degree computer science program at Scottsdale Community College in Scottsdale, Arizona provides the first two years of a comprehensive four-year curriculum. Students have the option to either continue their studies or to enter the workforce as a computer support specialist. The program is 60-64 credits, depending on course choices, and can be completed in two years. The associate degree program offers an easy pathway to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program at any number of colleges and universities.
- Tuition: $12,196
#6. Jamestown Community College
Associate of Science in Computer Science Online
At Jamestown Community College, students can earn an affordable associate’s degree in computer science while studying entirely online. The program is designed to prepare students for transfer to a four year college with a computer science major. The degree program at Jamestown focuses on software design and development. The focus of the curriculum is on computers, networking, programming, web technologies, and database design. Students will also learn advanced mathematics and computer theory. The online program requires 60-61 completed credits to graduate.
- Tuition: $9,773
#5. Ivy Tech Community College
Online Associate’s in Computer Science TSAP
Ivy Tech Community College’s “transfer as a junior” program is designed to ensure a smooth transition to a four-year college for students who plan to complete a bachelor’s degree in computer science. The affordable online associate’s in computer science at Ivy Tech includes courses like software development using Java, software development using Visual Basic in the .NET Framework, and system software analysis and projects. The 60-credit program offers courses in 8 week modules. This allows for flexible and easy entry points throughout the year.
- Tuition: $6,806
#4. Ulster County Community College
Online Associate’s in Computer Science
Ulster County Community College offers an affordable online computer science associate’s degree. The program is designed for all students planning any kind of career in computer science. Upon completion, students can either enter the field or continue on to a four year program. The curriculum is based on a strong programming and theoretical background. SUNY Ulster’s core computer science courses are a JAVA sequence. Students will graduate fully prepared to be competent JAVA programmers. The program requires anywhere from 62-66 credits, depending on the courses chosen.
- Tuition: $6,371
#3. Lake Superior State University
Online Associate’s in Computer Science
Lake Superior State University in Duluth, Minnesota offers a computer science and programming associate’s degree that can be completed entirely online. The two year program helps students to build all of the skills that are needed to succeed in the field. They will learn to develop and maintain effective web sites, Windows, and mobile applications. Some of the courses offered in this program include computer organization and architecture, introduction to computer programming, principles of programming, data structures and algorithms, and database applications.
- Tuition: $13,682
#2. Georgia Military College
Online Associate’s Degree in Computer Science
The associate’s degree in computer science at Georgia Military School is available entirely online through Global Online College. Students will graduate from the program with an understanding of basic programming and web design skills. The curriculum includes learning to code programming skills in high demand, such as JAVA and Python. The program works well as either a start to a four-year program, or as a foundation to begin a computer science career. The affordable 65- to 69-credit computer science program takes two years to complete.
- Tuition: $8,604
#1. Wallace State Community College
Online Associate in Applied Science in Computer Science
Wallace State Community College offers our top option for an affordable online associate’s degree in computer science. The flexible program can be completed either through hybrid study or entirely online. Additionally, the courses are offered during both day and evening hours. The program is designed to prepare students for employment in business or industry. The program places a special emphasis on the small business computer environment. At WSCC, students can choose a track within the computer science program. These options are Cybersecurity/Computer Forensic Technology, Programming, Software Support, and Internet/Networking Technology. Any of these four options will provide the graduate with a firm foundation from which they can either continue their studies or enter the workplace. The program takes five semesters to complete.
- Tuition: $7,924
What exactly is a computer scientist?
Before choosing to pursue an online associate’s degree in computer science, it is a good idea to understand exactly what you are getting into. The main focus of a computer scientist is computer software and software systems. This includes all aspects of software and systems–the theory, development, application, and design. Computer scientists may also be referred to by a number of other titles, including computer programmers, computer engineers, or software engineers. Computer scientists are responsible for creating new technology.
They are also responsible for applying existing technology to systems in new ways. It is important that they know how to problem-solve and how to diagnose and fix technical issues within the software. Those in the field of computer science will also know how to design and analyze algorithms in order to both create and enhance the performance of computer software.
What jobs are available with an online computer science associate’s degree?
It is true that the majority of the jobs in the field require a bachelor’s degree in order to be hired. This is due to the amount of advanced mathematics that is required for high level programming and software development. However, students with nothing more than an online associate’s degree in computer science should still be able to find some work in the field. Some possible job options for graduates of a two-year program are: IT technician, web developer, computer support specialist, computer systems analyst, network administrator, or computer programmer. These are all good options for someone who is eager to enter the workplace after just two years of study. As can be expected, a higher level job that requires a four year degree will usually pay considerably more than a job that you can get with just your associate’s degree. With this in mind, your best bet for getting the computer science job you want is to earn your bachelor’s degree once you complete your associate’s online.
Are there any disadvantages to earning a computer science degree online?
There are really no disadvantages to earning an online associate’s degree in computer science. Jobs in computer science are in higher demand than ever. Degrees in computer science that are earned online are just as reputable as any that can be earned in an in-person setting.
Since most any job within the computer science field is done using computers and technology, then it makes sense that all of the instruction for the field can be done using computers and technology, as well. Online degree programs are better than ever, and prospective learners have so many great program options. It is hard to keep up with rapid internet growth, but earning an online degree in an area such as computer science is one of the smartest moves to make.
With an online degree in computer science, you will be prepared to help to meet the demands in the field and hopefully be well prepared for upward mobility in the workforce, as well. And of course as with any online degree, it is a very advantageous option in that it is possible to earn a degree without much disruption to your normal life and work schedule.
Why shouldn’t I go straight to a four-year school and a bachelor’s program?
There are many reasons why it is smart to begin your path of study with an associate’s degree in computer science. First of all, if you are not completely sure whether or not computer science is for you, then earning your associate’s degree will give you a taste of what the job entails. And it can be done without making as large of a financial commitment.
Second, even if you are sure that computer science is the career that you would like to pursue, community college will allow you to save significant money in your first two years of college. This is the case because community colleges often offer credits for just a fraction of the per-credit price at a college or university.
Also, community college often ends up being nearly free after you get all of the federal grants that are available through FAFSA.
Is it true that community college is worse than a four-year university?
Community college serves a different purpose than four-year university. Community colleges are designed to be accessible and provide students with good education in 2-year programs for careers that don’t require a 4-year degree. They also provide students with a way to earn the first two years of their degree at a drastically lower cost than they would at a four-year college.
Community colleges often give students the opportunity to have a fresh start. If you did not do as well as you would have liked to in high school, community college could be a good chance to fix that. Earning great grades in community college can help to put you back on the right track, as well as to make you eligible for various kinds of scholarships and financial aid.
It is also easier to transfer to many states’ flagship public universities with a strong community college performance than it is straight out of high school. This is by design, as states would often rather students complete their first two years at community college. Doing it this way takes some of the load off their largest universities. And if you transfer to a four-year university, then the degree you earn in the end will be from that university, so if you’re planning on earning a four-year degree, there are really no drawbacks.
Under what circumstances should I not go to community college for an online computer science associate’s degree?
There are just a few situations where you might want to consider something other than beginning your computer science studies with an online associate’s degree. A community college might not be the best choice for you if you have the ability to get into one of the top private universities in the country. Most of these top schools offer incredibly strong financial aid packages, and they are not as friendly to community college transfers as many state universities.
If you are looking at ivy-league schools and their competitors, then you are probably better off skipping community college. Otherwise, community college really is one of the best ways to complete the first two years of your degree. In the majority of cases, there are no disadvantages to starting off with an online associate’s degree in computer science.
What are the most lucrative jobs in the field of computer science?
We have covered some of the jobs that are available to someone who has nothing more than an associate’s degree in computer science. These jobs include web developer, network administrator, and computer programmer. But it is worth looking into the many well paying positions for those who have gone on to pursue a four-year degree in computer science.
The list of possible jobs for someone with a bachelor’s degree is extensive, but there are some that are at the top of almost all of the lists of high paying jobs in the field. Some of these include: software architect, software developer, computer and information research scientist, and information security analyst. Although these particular jobs are not ones that can usually be achieved with just an AS in computer science, they are good career goals to keep in mind, as there is always the option to continue on and earn another degree.
How do I know if a career in computer science is a good fit for me?
There are many different kinds of personality types that have found success in the field of computer science. However, there are sure to be some common characteristics that can be found in most successful computer programmers. Obviously, if you are someone that already likes to design and create software systems, then computer science is the field for you.
It is also a good fit for those who enjoy analyzing things and picking them apart in order to understand them better. Analyzation skills come in handy for those working in computer science. Do you like figuring out algorithms? Then computer science might be a good career to consider. Other important qualities are: organizational skills, being detail oriented, and liking to solve puzzles, particularly complex ones. These character qualities, along with the training found in an online associate’s degree program, will be the perfect formula for a successful career.
Earning an online associate’s degree in computer science is a better option than ever. Between the higher than average projection for computer science jobs and the ever growing use of the internet, you really can not go wrong with choosing to pursue a career in the field of computer science. The job options that you have with this degree are varied, so you can begin your online associate’s degree program even before you have decided your specific vocational goal.
One of the biggest advantages of an online degree is that when choosing a program, you are not limited to the ones that are geographically close to you. It is possible to choose a great program, even one on the other side of the country, without needing to disrupt your life very much. Hopefully the information in the list we have created can help guide and direct you as you choose the best fit for an online associate’s degree, and ideally go on to find a job that is a perfect fit for you.
OAD Staff, Updated October 2022