Due to the continuous advancement of technology, top tech talent is in big demand these days. The workforce is constantly searching for software engineers, computer programmers, web developers, and other tech professionals. A computer programming degree can present graduates with the opportunity to become a big part of the tech revolution. A computer programming degree is a great option for people who like to solve problems through quantitative means. Students enrolled in a computer programming program learn a wide variety of technical skills, ensuring that they are valuable assets to employers. A computer programming degree can definitely lead to more attractive job prospects in every market, from security to government. There are also plenty of opportunities for specializations and promotion.
What is Computer Programming?
Computer programming is the process of giving computers instructions about how they should function. More specifically, it is the process of designing and building an executable computer program to accomplish a specific computing result or to perform a specific task. There are multiple tasks that fall under the broad scope of coding, such as: analysis, generating algorithms, profiling algorithms' accuracy and resource consumption, and the implementation of algorithms. You will need to have a comprehensive understanding of these tasks and interactions between the source code of the different programs. The purpose of programming is to find a sequence of instructions that will automate the performance of a task.
- High School Diploma: Students must obtain a high school diploma or GED to be admitted into an associate in computer programming program.
- Application: Generally speaking, students should apply to the four to eight schools that offer an associate in computer programming.
- Transcripts: Students can request an official copy of their transcripts from a high school guidance counselor. If an applicant has completed some college coursework, the admissions committee may request their college transcript as well.
- Test Scores: Most college admissions require standardized test scores for an associate degree computer programming.
- Personal Statement: Many colleges require essays as part of the admissions process.
- Interview: Applicants who are applying to in-person rather than online programs may need to be prepared to meet with admission counselors, especially if they are applying to more exclusive programs.
- Application Fee: The application fee for the associate degree is often around $50. Applicants demonstrating financial need may be able to obtain a fee waiver.
- Java Programming I: Students will learn about the key concepts of the Java programming language. Topics in this course include database programming, string manipulation, and loops.
- Visual Basic Programming: This course offers students hands-on programming opportunities using Visual Basic. Students will learn key concepts like coding, debugging, and menus.
- Programming Essentials: In this course, students will explore basic computer programming concepts and technology including designing, writing, and debugging software programs.
- Computer Networks: The course introduces students to the fundamentals of networking, covering how to plan and design computer networks.
- Introduction to Computer Applications: The course will cover basic computer concepts and internet skills.
- Information Systems: Students will learn how to optimize information systems to address business problems.
- Programming Foundations: In this course, students will gain the core knowledge about programming concepts such as pseudo-coding and programming test techniques.
- Business Systems Analysis and Design: In this course, the instructor will explore analysis and design processes. The course provides students with hands-on experiences, enabling them to develop their own business information systems.
- Computer Programming and Database Management Capstone: The course teaches students about platform coding, game programming, database creation, and game programming.
- Engaging Topics in Computer Software Development: Students examine how to create and maintain software components. The course topics will reflect new developments in the field.
- Computer Programmer: The primary role of a computer programmer is to write code for software programs so that they function properly on a computer.
- Programmer Analyst: A programmer analyst has skills in several programming languages, enabling the professional to design, code, and test programs.
- Computer Support Specialist: By using computer software and equipment, a computer support specialist is responsible for providing technical assistance to consumers and organizations.
- Software Engineer: Graduates qualify for an entry-level software engineer position. Software engineers usually develop software solutions by using a wide variety of programming languages.
- High School Diploma: Admission to a bachelor of science computer programming degree program requires a high school diploma or GED at minimum.
- Minimum GPA: Most colleges require a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75 to gain acceptance into their computer programming bachelor degree program. If you are transferring into this program, students typically need to have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA.
- Application: Students can save time applying to bachelor of science computer programming programs by using the Common App or Coalition App.
- Transcripts: Before applying to a bachelor’s program, applicants must obtain a high school diploma or GED.
- Test Scores: Most colleges will require students to take the SAT or ACT. The scores from these two aptitude tests will be used to assess each student. If a student has a history of good grades and a strong personal record, some schools may waive the test score requirement.
- Personal Statement: Students can share more about themselves in their personal statement.
- Letters of Recommendation: Applicants typically need to submit up to three letters of recommendation. Students can request references from respected professionals such as teachers, coaches, and supervisors. Applicants should give the references at least a couple of months to write these letters of recommendation.
- Application Fee: An application fee is required with each application. For most colleges, this fee shouldn’t be more than $100. Many colleges offer fee waivers for applicants that meet certain income qualifications. Students can determine if they qualify for the fee waivers by speaking to their guidance counselor or emailing the college’s admission office.
- Computer Networks: This course discusses design network protocols and secure communication networks.
- Computer Architecture: Students will explore the relationship between software programs and computer hardware in this course.
- Discrete Mathematics: There are several topics covered in this course, from counting techniques and set theory to difference equations.
- Algorithms: This course will introduce students to algorithms and help them learn how to use algorithms to properly structure data and create graphs.
- Computer Programming I: Most intro to computer programming courses focus on teaching students the basics of the Java programming language.
- Research Methods: Students will gain hands-on experience participating in research across a wide range of IT disciplines.
- Open Source Computing: Students will become extremely familiar with open source operating systems such as Linux.
- Cybersecurity Foundations: The course will introduce the basic concepts of information security.
- Cloud Computing: After taking this course, students will know how cloud computing impacts the IT sector.
- Algorithms and Data Structures: Students will enjoy engaging in hands-on projects that focuses on classical algorithms and data structures.
- Design in Java: Students will learn advanced concepts and techniques in Java.
- Web Developer: A web developer specializes in scripting languages to build websites.
- Systems Programmer: A systems programmer is dedicated to programming computer systems software.
- Software Application Developer: As a software application developer, professionals are responsible for creating computer applications.
- Bachelor’s Degree: Students must obtain a bachelor’s degree before being admitted into a master’s of computer programming program. Most colleges with admit students who have a bachelor’s degree in a field that is not related to computer science. A few preparatory prerequisite classes may be required, though. These preparatory prerequisite classes may need to be in data structures, programming, computation theory, and algorithms. Students should consider becoming extremely knowledgeable in technology and mathematics before they apply to these programs, especially if they do not have a bachelor’s in computer science.
- Professional Experience: Many students attend graduate school later in life; as a result, they have a significant amount of relevant professional experience. Students who have professional experience working in the computer science field may gain a competitive edge, but most colleges don’t require prior experience. Many students enroll in a master’s in computer programming program right after receiving their bachelor’s degree.
- Minimum GPA: Many colleges require a minimum undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0.
- Application: The application process for graduate school can take some time. Students are advised to get a head start on the application process.
- Transcripts: Colleges will request transcripts from all of the schools that the applicant has attended.
- Test Scores: A strong GRE or GMAT score is a critical component of the admission process. Test scores could determine whether or not students are admitted, but most colleges have a holistic admission process.
- Statement of Intent: Students should share why they want to be admitted to the master’s in computer programming program and what they wish to do with the degree when they write their statement of intent, required for many master’s program applications.
- Letters of Recommendation: Most master of computer programming programs require a minimum of two letters of recommendation. Students should send thank you notes to their references.
- Application Fee: The application fee should be less than $100 for most schools.
- Applied Software Engineering: The student will learn how to solve common software problems.
- Advanced iOS: Students usually enjoy being in this course because they will learn how to build a portfolio of application using sophisticated iOS frameworks.
- Bioinformatics for Computer Systems: Students will be introduced to the world of bioinformatics, learning important concepts such as sequenced alignment and microarray data analysis.
- Machine Learning: The course covers the practical application of machine learning, data mining, and statistical modeling.
- Distributed Systems: In this course, students will explore the following topics: distributed data, data intensive computing, and naming, and mapping.
- Algorithms: The course will present the fundamentals of algorithms, covering topics like dynamic programming, design techniques, and graph search.
- Applied Data Analysis: The instructor of this course will discuss computational data analysis using an applied approach.
- Introduction to Computer Security: During this course, students will learn all about computer security including risk management, threat landscape, network security, and incident response.
- Mobile Software Development: The primary goal of this course is to teach students a variety of tech skills from analyzing complex software systems to leveraging version control.
- Parallel Programming: The course will feature topics such as parallel data structures, shared memory, and performance optimizations.
- Computer Systems Analyst: A computer systems analyst is responsible for examining data processing issues to enhance the performance of computer systems.
- Database Administrator: The primary goal of a database administrator is to store and organize a corporation’s data.
- Network Systems Manager: A network systems manager monitors a company’s computer networks.
- Bachelor’s Degree: Students attempting to qualify for an MBA/MS Computer Science degree should first obtain a bachelor’s degree. Some colleges may also require five years of business experience and/or an advanced degree to enroll in the MBA program.
- Minimum GPA: Many schools do not have a minimum GPA requirement; however, the college’s admission committee may place a greater emphasis on test scores and individual grades in quantitative classes.
- Application: Most colleges require that students apply to an MBA/Masters Computer Science degree program in computer science separately.
- Test Scores: Students will need to send schools their scores from the official GRE or GMAT.
- Essay Questions: Students will often need to answer a few essay questions as part of the application process.
- Resume: Students must present the admission committee with their prior work experience, usually in the form of a resume.
- Letters of Recommendation: Many colleges require three letters of recommendation.
- Application Fee: The application free for a dual degree program is usually around $90, though this changes from school to school.
- iOS Application Development: Students will be introduced to the basics of mobile application development using Apple’s iOS SDK.
- Management Decision Analysis: Students will learn how to create spreadsheet models to engage in complex business decisions.
- Managerial Statistics: In this course, students will explore statistical methodologies and applications.
- Marketing Management: This course will present common marketing challenges and discuss the marketing policy of an organization.
- Financial Accounting I: The course explores the fundamentals of accounting.
- Computer Architecture: The goal of this course is to explore modern computer architectures, focusing on topics such as DRAM technologies and memory cache designs.
- Managerial Economics: The instructor of this course will cover topics like effective pricing strategies, government regulation, and market equilibrium.
- Web Development: Students in this course will learn advanced methods of web application development.
- Entrepreneurship in Technology: In this course, students will be introduced to basic entrepreneurship concepts involving budgeting, equity distribution, and marketing.
- High Performance Computing: The course will cover topics like single-core optimization, GPU programming, and distributed parallelism.
- Technology Product Manager: A technology product manager uses business and technology concepts to manage projects according to a strict budget.
- Chief Information Officer: Also known as a CIO, a chief information officer oversees information systems and information technology.
- Market Research Manager: The role of a market research manager is to select the best research methodology and techniques for an organization.
- Entrepreneurship: Many gradates choose to launch their own tech startup after learning all about entrepreneurship in this course.
- Bachelor’s/Master’s Degree: Most colleges prefer that applicants have a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited academic institution in one of the following disciplines: information systems, computer science, electrical engineering, or computer engineering. Highly qualified students with bachelor’s degrees in other disciplines may also be considered. Students must have completed undergraduate courses in algorithms, mathematics, and data structure. All applicants must demonstrate research potential.
- GPA Requirement: Students with a cumulative GPA of 3.45 or greater are considered competitive applicants. Students with a cumulative GPA of 3.45 or lower may still apply. PhD admissions is based on a holistic review.
- Application: The application process for the doctoral/PhD program is often complex, so students are encouraged to start applying to this program early.
- Test Scores: Many schools require students to score at least a 305 on the GRE. GRE scores are not required for some schools, though. International applicants may need to send the schools their MELAB, TOEFL, or IELTS scores.
- Transcripts: Students must send schools unofficial transcripts from all of the undergraduate and graduate institutions attended.
- Personal Statement: The personal statement presents students with the opportunity to share more about themselves. Students can share why they want a PhD in computer science, including their areas of interest and goals for the future. If students have experienced extenuating circumstances, they can discuss their situation in the personal statement.
- Diversity Statement: Many colleges are committed to diversity and inclusion. Students should use the diversity statement to show how they will support the college’s diverse population. These are some potential areas that students may want to include in a diversity statement: community involvement, family background, multilingual skills, future goals related to inclusivity, and meaningful international travel experience.
- Curriculum Vitae or Current Resume: Most schools will require a curriculum vitae or current resume, which should include the student’s educational information, publications and papers, teaching or research experience, and computer language skills.
- Letters of Recommendation: Students will need to submit at least two letters of recommendation but three are usually preferred. Most graduate admission committees encourage applicants to waive their rights to view the letters of recommendation, which ensures that recommenders write more candid letters.
- Application Fee: Students can expect to pay at least $100 for the application fee. Fee waives are typically offered to students who qualify for financial need.
- Theory of Computation: This course will introduce many topics related to computation such as push-down automata, turning machines, context-free languages, and undecidability theory.
- Computer Security: The purpose of this course is to explore the fundamentals of computer security. The class will also provide students with key tools and techniques for assessing security of systems.
- Database Systems: Students will learn about relational database systems. The topics in this course include SQL, relational algebra, and data normalization.
- Health Data Analytics: This course covers many different kinds of health care data, from biomedical publications to electronic medical records.
- Research Methods In Human-Computer Interact: This course presents the latest research in the field of human-computer interaction, focusing on visual presentation and communication of the information.
- Information Assurance: Students who take this course will learn about the principles of information assurance including topics such as the basic concepts of digital forensics, strategies for risk management, and information about intrusion detection systems.
- Design and Analysis Of Algorithms: The course is designed to provide students with a rigorous understanding of algorithms and data structures. Students will learn the primary methods used to develop and evaluate algorithms.
- Assistant Professor-Computer Science: As an assistant profession in computer science, graduates will teach courses in the discipline area of computer and information sciences.
- Competitive Intelligence Analyst: In this role, graduates will be responsible for gathering data, processing it, and then reporting any threats to the corporation.
- Computer Network Architect: The job of a computer network architect is to create data communication networks.
What is the Cost of a Computer Programming Degree?
The cost of a computer science degree can vary significantly. In general, public colleges are less expensive than private colleges. Computer science coding bootcamps are typically affordable options. According to data collected by PayScale, the ROI for obtaining a high-level education is definitely worthwhile. Below is the average cost of each computer programming degree.
- Associate Degree: The average cost of an associate degree in computer programming is $16,000.
- Bachelor’s Degree: A bachelor’s degree in computer programming can cost roughly $35,000-$64,000 per a year.
- Master’s Degree: A master’s degree in computer programming can cost between $15,000 and $72,000.
- MBA: Students enrolling in a MBA/Computer Science dual degree program can expect to pay about $80,000.
- Doctoral/PhD Degree: A doctoral/PhD degree in computer programming can range from $28,000 to $50,000.
Certificates/Licensures In Computer Science
Computer science certifications and licensures can be extremely beneficial to tech professionals, proving their expertise to employers and qualifying them for high paying positions. These licenses and certifications definitely make professionals more valuable in the workforce. In order to maintain their certifications and licensures, continuing education is often required. Here are some of the most sought-after certifications and licenses.
- Project Management Professionals: Also known as the PMP certification, the project management professional certification is a widely recognized credential that proves competency in leading and directing projects and teams.
- Certified Information Security Manager: Offered by ISACA, this certification is for professionals who would like to show competency in information security programs and business goals around data security.
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional: Professionals can differentiate themselves to employers and clients by obtaining the CISSP, a certificate that validates knowledge in designing, implementing, and managing the overall security posture of a corporation.
- Certified Information Security Manager: As a Certified Information Security Manager, professionals will have expertise in the following areas: information risk management, information security incident management, information security governance, and information security program development and management.
- Certified Information System Auditor: Professionals who hold this certification demonstrate to employers that they have the necessary expertise to audit, control, and secure information systems.
- Certified Secure Software Lifestyle Professional: A CSSLP certification will ensure that software professionals have the necessary expertise to protect software from cyber security threats.
What Can You Do with a Computer Programming Degree?
- Computer Programmer:
The job of a computer programmer is to write codes and tests programs that tell computers what to follow. Computer programs have an average salary of $64,190.
- Information Analyst:
An information analyst oversees the security of computer systems, ensuring that data sources aren’t being misused. Information analysts have an average salary of $62,654.
- Database Developer:
A database develop is a professional who develops and builds data management systems for businesses. Database developers have an average salary of $75,391.
- Business Intelligence Analyst:
A business intelligence analyst’s main role is to provide a company with accurate insights about software products and trends to improve its competitive edge. Business intelligence analysts have an average salary of $69,281.
- Software Engineer:
A software engineer is primarily responsible for developing software and systems that will meet the needs of consumers and businesses. Software engineers have an average salary of $86,599.
- Web Developer:
The role of a web developer is to program a code that tells a website how to function. Web developers have an average salary of $59,898.
- Senior Programmer Analyst:
These professionals design, develop, and implement computer programs. Software programmers have an average salary of $90,378.
- Technical Consultant:
Often referred to as IT support engineers, technical consultants offer technical support to consumers and businesses. Technical consultants have an average salary of $76,257.
- Information Technology Manager:
An IT manager is responsible for monitoring a business’ computer and information systems. IT managers have an average salary of $88,549.
- Network Administrator:
A network administrator is a professional who oversees computer performance, troubleshoot networks, updates security systems, and installs software and hardware. Network administrators have an average salary of $60,232.
One of the most popular concentrations is computer networking. Students who choose this concentration will gain extensive knowledge of modern networking and data communication. After completing the program, students will qualify for several certifications including Network+ and Cisco CCNA.
The software development concentration teaches students to develop and test software programs, making sure that it fulfills quality assurance requirements. This concentration will cover course topics such as operating systems, CPU scheduling, process management, programming languages, and modeling.
Also referred to biomedical IT, the health informatics concentration prepares students for IT positions in the healthcare field. Students will explore modern health information technology, becoming extremely knowledgeable about data security, protection, and vulnerability. Course topics may include electronic health records, biomedical sciences and health IT, and advanced health informatics.
The mobile computing concentration is perfect for students who would like a career in mobile application development or mobile networks. The concentration may include courses such as advanced mobile programming, mobile and wireless networks, and web and mobile software systems.
A game development concentration prepares students for the highly competitive games industry. As part of this concentration, students will take classes in specialized game technology and design while participating in game development.
The concentration in data sciences is specifically designed to help students obtain positions in the data analytics and data science fields. Students will need to complete courses in systems for data science, theory for data science, and data analysis and statistics.
The cyber security concentration offers students extensive knowledge of emerging security threats and strategies for implementing highly secure computer systems. Course topics may include software security, digital forensics, cryptography, software reverse engineering, and database management systems.
The database management concentration is designed to teach students how to mine and analyze data from database systems. It will expose students to key concepts like database backup, business intelligence, data warehousing, database implementation, and database modeling and design. Students will also gain hands-on experience with the Structural Query Language.
Online Vs. Traditional Options
Computer programming degrees are offered online and on-campus, both providing equally valid degrees. Students who are applying to computer programming programs must decide which option fits their lifestyle and learning style best.
The traditional, on-campus degree option usually attracts applicants straight from high school or undergraduate programs. Students who are looking to change career may also prefer to earn a degree on campus, enabling them to work closely with instructors.
Many working professionals are interested in the online degree option because of its flexibility. Depending on the college, students can enroll in an online program that offers self-paced courses. However, students who are looking for the best of both worlds may want to consider computer programming programs that offer hybrid options.
Professional Organizations for Computer Programming
Professional organizations for computer programming promote optimal personal and professional development, making them an essential component of achieving career success in the technology field. There is an extensive array of organizations, many of which provide continuing education, access to renowned publications, international conferences, and career services. Students may also be interested in these professional organizations because they can engage in networking opportunities. As a member of these professional organization, computer programming students and professionals are sure to become great leaders. Here are some professional organizations that computer programming students and professionals should consider joining.
IEEE Computer Society
This organization is most known for empowering professionals who are dedicated to science and technology. IEEE Computer Society offers many exceptional resources for computer programmers including an exclusive digital library, renowned conferences, and many continuous learning opportunities.
Association for Women in Computing
Often referred to as AWC, this organization is committed to helping women in the computing sector succeed. AWC welcomes a wide variety of women computing professionals including technical writers, programmers, and many more.
American Society for Information Science and Technology
This organization allows computer programmers to connect with the information science and technology community so that they can advanced their professional development. Members also have access to a variety of benefits including scholarship and awards programs, electronic access to the digital library, and free webinars.
Association for Computing Machinery
This organization prides itself in promoting the computing industry. Members can enjoy many benefits such as a subscription to comprehensive newsletters, electronic access to many renowned publications, and an “acm.org” email address.
What Should You Consider When Looking for a Computer Programming Program?
There are a variety of computer programming majors available for prospective students. Students should choose schools with computer programming majors that align with their career goals, taking into account the position and certifications they would like to receive in the future.
Many schools offer the following computer programming majors: computer systems analysis, data processing, information technology, computer science, data entry, information science, computer systems networking, computer software and application, and computer information systems.
Accreditation-Regional And Programmatic
The primary purpose of accreditation is to ensure that institutes provide high quality education. Students should attend schools that are properly accredited so that they can gain acceptance into graduate school and satisfy employer expectations and certification requirements.
Many colleges hold accreditations from regional certification agencies that are registered with the U.S. Department of Education. The top computer science programs may also be accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, or ABET, which makes sure that future computer programmers are prepared to enter the computing industry. ABET currently credits well over 3,000 programs throughout the United States, so students should be able to find an accredited program that meets their needs.
Students should note that the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) recognizes reputable accrediting agencies that review colleges and programs. CHEA has approved the following regional accrediting agencies: Higher Learning Commission, Middle States Commission on Higher Education, New England Commission on Higher Education, WASC Senior College and University Commission, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, and WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Generally speaking, an associate degree in computer programming takes two years to complete, a bachelor’s degree four years, a master’s degree two years, and a PhD or doctorate around four years.
Many students are interested in entering the workforce as soon as possible so that they can start earning money quickly. There are accelerated degrees in computer programming available, enabling students to complete an associate degree in one year, a bachelor’s degree in two years, and a master’s degree in one-and-a-half years. Some colleges even offer an accelerated bachelor’s to master’s computer programming degree option, allowing students to complete the program in five years.
Depending on how quickly you wish to enter the workforce, you should think carefully about each program and choose the one that makes the most sense for you.
How Much Do Computer Programmers Make?
The average salary for a computer programmer is dependent on the professional’s specialty and experience. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computers programmers with a bachelor’s degree made an average salary of $86,550 in 2019.
Should I Get A Computer Programming Degree Online?
Many students choose to complete a computer programming degree online. While online education provides distance learners with many benefits, pursuing a computer programming degree online is mostly a personal decision based on your unique needs. Students should note these benefits when deciding to pursue an online computer science program: schedule flexibility, lower total costs, study anywhere, and virtual study groups.
Computer Science Degrees & Career Paths