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Guide to Pursuing an Online Computer Science Degree

Earning a computer science degree online offers flexibility and accessibility, making it a popular choice for many students.

Whether you're aiming for a bachelor's, master's, or even a free online computer science degree, there are numerous programs available to suit your needs. This guide provides an overview of various online computer science degree options, including affordable programs and highly regarded institutions.

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science

An online bachelor's degree in computer science provides foundational knowledge in programming, algorithms, data structures, and software engineering. Here are some notable programs:

  • University of Florida: Offers a comprehensive online Bachelor of Science in Computer Science through its College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The program covers essential computer science topics and allows for customization through electives.
  • Oregon State University: Known for its post-baccalaureate program, OSU also offers a fully online Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. This program is designed for students who want to transition into a tech career.
  • Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU): SNHU offers an online Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a focus on software development, database design, and network security.

Online Master’s Degree in Computer Science

For those seeking advanced knowledge and specialization, an online master's degree in computer science can open doors to higher-level positions and specialized fields. Here are some top options:

  • Georgia Institute of Technology: Offers a highly respected Online Master of Science in Computer Science (OMSCS) with various specializations such as machine learning, computing systems, and cybersecurity. This program is known for its affordability and quality.
  • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign: Offers an online Master of Computer Science (MCS) program that provides a rigorous curriculum with courses in artificial intelligence, data mining, and software engineering.
  • Stanford University: While more selective, Stanford's online Master of Science in Computer Science offers courses taught by world-renowned faculty and opportunities for research.

Affordable Online Computer Science Degrees

Cost is a significant consideration for many students. Here are some affordable online computer science degree options:

  • Western Governors University (WGU): Known for its competency-based education model, WGU offers an affordable online Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. Students can accelerate their studies based on prior knowledge and experience.
  • University of the People: Offers a tuition-free online Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, though students must pay modest assessment fees. The program is accredited and designed to be accessible to a global student body.

Free Online Computer Science Degrees

While full degrees may not be entirely free, several institutions and platforms offer free courses that can contribute to a computer science education:

  • Harvard University: Through its online learning platform, Harvard offers a free course, "CS50: Introduction to Computer Science," which is highly regarded and can provide a strong foundation in computer science.
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): MIT's OpenCourseWare (OCW) provides free access to many of its computer science courses, allowing students to learn from one of the world's leading institutions.

Key Considerations

When choosing an online computer science degree program, consider the following:

  • Accreditation: Ensure the program is accredited by a recognized accrediting body to ensure quality and recognition by employers.
  • Curriculum: Review the course offerings and specializations to ensure they align with your career goals and interests.
  • Flexibility: Look for programs that offer flexible scheduling and pacing, especially if you are balancing other commitments.
  • Support Services: Consider the availability of student support services, such as academic advising, career services, and technical support.


Pursuing an online computer science degree can provide a flexible and accessible path to a rewarding career in technology. With options ranging from bachelor's to master's degrees, and even free courses to get you started, there are programs available to meet diverse needs and goals. Research thoroughly, consider your career aspirations, and choose a program that aligns with your objectives and circumstances.

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