Computer Programming Degree Programs

Updated October 4, 2022

Learn more about computer programming degrees, potential job opportunities after graduation, and how to find the best computer programming school for you.

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A degree in computer programming teaches code writing and a variety of software engineering functions. Computer programming schools offer cybersecurity, data analytics, and cloud computing classes.

Completing a computer programming degree can benefit you. Many industries need qualified personnel who can support, maintain, and protect computer systems, including their digital assets.

Computer programming is well-compensated. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a $93,000 annual median wage for computer programmers. The top 10% of computer programmers earn over $155,240, the lowest 10% earn a little below $47,560.

Explore the types of computer programming schools available and why you should consider a computer programming education.

Why Go to School for Computer Programming?

Computer programming is a STEM degree that often leads to a high-earning career.

Computer programmers are often in high demand. The BLS projects that the computer and information technology field will grow 13% in the next ten years, faster than the average of all other occupations.

Computer programming is ideal for people who enjoy math and have a knack for problem-solving. In addition to its growth potential, computer programming has a high degree of specialization.

Some jobs that require computer programming expertise include web development, software engineering, security architecture, and computer systems analysis.

Computer programming often requires a four-year college degree. However, shorter cybersecurity bootcamps provide practical training and a quicker transition into the field.

  • Computer programming is a high-demand skill and profession.
  • Computer programmers can work in multiple industries.
  • Coding is the new literacy; computer programming prepares you for the future.
  • Coding and computer programming instills persistence.
  • Computer programming helps develop analytical and problem-solving skills.

Should You Get a Computer Programming Degree or a Cybersecurity Degree?

Both computer programming and cybersecurity require technical skills and problem-solving abilities. However, a computer programming degree is more general and thus more universally accepted when applying to IT roles.

A computer programming degree is a good path for students drawn to information technology but uncertain of their specialization. A degree in computer programming helps students keep their career options open while still immersing themselves in computers and information technology.

Cybersecurity is a more specific degree focused on a narrow niche within computer science. Cybersecurity is a subset of information technology, so students acquire more specialized knowledge. Those drawn to cybersecurity have investigative skills and critical thinking abilities.

Cybersecurity involves identifying risks and threats to computer systems. Students studying cybersecurity learn how to prevent or reduce these risks. Learners also understand data security measures and how to build organization-specific security controls.

Those pursuing a cybersecurity degree are sure of their career path. Cybersecurity requires understanding network systems and learning how to be a hacker.

Learners often obtain an undergraduate degree in computer science before pursuing cybersecurity with a certificate or a master’s program.

Both cybersecurity and computer programming degrees tend to be lucrative. But the rise in cybercrimes and the shortage of qualified security experts make cybersecurity a more attractive option — the median annual pay for an information security analyst is almost $103,000.

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What to Expect From an Education in Computer Programming

A computer programming education focuses mainly on teaching the fundamentals of coding, software design, and operating systems. Curriculum also includes elements of software engineering and algorithms.

Students can expect to take courses in the following areas:

  • Fundamentals of programming
  • Web programming
  • One or more programming languages
  • Object-oriented programming
  • Operating systems
  • Database design
  • Computer networking
  • Business communications

Students can build expertise by specializing in one or more computer programming courses. For instance, some students might gravitate towards front-end programming by focusing their efforts on web programming with design elements.

Other students may prefer back-end programming by combining high-level languages like Python with database management.

Types of Degrees in Computer Programming

Computer programming degrees come in different levels. The more advanced the degree, the better the pay and career opportunities. We explain the levels below.

Associate Degree in Computer Programming

An associate degree is a postsecondary, undergraduate-level academic program. It provides the basic theoretical and practical knowledge, plus technical skills for employment or further education.

An associate degree in computer programming:

  • Imparts technical, problem-solving, and analytical skills through hands-on projects.
  • Takes around two years, or 45 to 60 credits
  • Teaches concepts like web design, network elements, operating systems, data structures, web and object-oriented programming
  • Prepares students for employment in entry-level IT roles such as computer support specialist, web developer, and computer programmer

Bachelor's Degree in Computer Programming

A bachelor’s degree is an undergraduate academic degree. It is awarded by colleges and universities. Enrollment consists mainly of full-time students.

A bachelor’s degree is often the first step that high school graduates take to prepare for a career in a particular field. Traditionally, its classes are in person on a college campus.

A bachelor’s degree in computer programming:

  • Prepares students to think logically and use computational and technical skills to solve problems
  • Enables students to develop the programming and analytical skills of web developers, computer programmers, and cybersecurity analysts
  • Takes four years, or around 120 credits of coursework
  • Includes courses on data structures and algorithms, Java programming, introduction to cybersecurity, SQL fundamentals, and enterprise application development

To reach your goals of pursuing a bachelor’s degree, try applying through Common App.

Master's Degree in Computer Programming

A master’s degree is a postgraduate degree awarded to learners demonstrating high levels of expertise in a particular field.

A master’s degree in computer programming provides a competitive advantage by opening up many career and learning opportunities, such as roles in management and research.

A master’s degree in computer programming:

  • Provides students with advanced knowledge and skill in their specialized body or professional domain
  • Takes about two to three years of full-time study to complete
  • Features a highly focused learning and research experience, incorporating undergraduate studies with professional experience
  • Comes with a high level of customization, especially in specialized areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics, cybersecurity, and data science
  • Brings high-level skill acquisition transferable to many industries

Ph.D. in Computer Programming

Ph.D., Doctor of Philosophy, is the highest academic attainment in any field. Students who pursue this degree are highly motivated and have a strong academic record.

A Ph.D. in computer programming:

  • Takes about four to five years to complete
  • Involves innovative research and independent study in a specialized area of focus
  • Provides highly specialized job opportunities
  • Includes courses like advanced cryptography, compiler design theory, computer architecture, robotics, information security, and quantum computing
  • Places learners in an excellent position for leadership roles

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Jobs for Graduates of Computer Programming Colleges

Students graduating from computer programming schools have varied career paths awaiting them. These include web developer, software developer, computer systems analyst, information security analyst, and information research scientists.

While a web developer concentrates on mostly web-based applications, a software developer creates software for any underlying platform, such as network and operating systems.

Due to demand, security analysts are one of the highest-paying jobs because they deal with cybersecurity.

Web Developer

Designs, develops, and supports websites and web-based software applications, including handling navigation, interface layout, and performance.

Required Education: Associate degree and/or professional certification.
Job Outlook (2020-30): 13% growth
Median Annual Salary: $77,200 per year

Software Developer

Creates and develops all-round software applications, including web, utility, desktop, native, or network-based. They also implement tests, craft requirements, and design specifications.

Required Education: Bachelor’s degree; master's for some senior roles.
Job Outlook (2020-30): 22% growth
Median Annual Salary: $110,140 per year

Computer Systems Analysts

Also known as systems architects, these professionals study an organization’s existing system. They then design improvements, and test newly implemented procedures.

Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in computer science or information systems is typical but not a requirement. Business or liberal arts degree is also relevant.
Job Outlook (2020-30): 7% growth
Median Annual Salary: $99,270 per year

Information Security Analyst

Primarily revolving around security, information security analysts find ways to protect an organization’s digital assets. They safeguard and monitor a company’s computer and network systems for vulnerabilities.

Required Education: Bachelor’s degree, with certifications and industry training.
Job Outlook (2020-30): 33% growth
Median Annual Salary: $102,600 per year

Computer and Information Research Scientist

They study, research and subsequently design novel uses for new technology. Their innovation helps businesses solve complex problems.

Required Education: Master’s degree or higher
Job Outlook (2020-30): 22% growth
Median Annual Salary: $131,490 per year

Choosing the Best Computer Programming School for You

Students consider many factors before choosing a computer programming school. These factors include:

  • Student/teacher ratio: This impacts the degree of individual attention and academic focus students are able to receive.
  • Cost/financial aid: Program cost and financial resources available might set constraints on program accessibility.
  • Accreditation: Accrediting bodies like the Higher Learning Commission confer formal recognition that an institution meets minimum quality standards.
  • Prestige/reputation: All schools and programs are not created equal. Employers sometimes prefer degrees from certain schools.
  • Competitiveness: Admission for some computer programming colleges is challenging.
  • Earning potential: Higher education is a significant investment in time, effort, and money. Students should ensure this investment is worthwhile in regard to earning potential after graduation.

Should You Get Your Degree Online?

Computer programming and online learning are compatible. For instance, computer programming courses cultivate the use of cutting-edge technology, such as cloud technology, on which online learning hinges.

Also, the flexibility and independence of online learning works in tandem with the self-paced structure of most computer programming courses.

Those pursuing computer programming degrees come from different backgrounds and life experiences. For instance, learners recently out of high school might have fewer demands on their time and are more inclined to attend in-person campus classes.

However, some prospective students already have other commitments in terms of careers, jobs, and family. For this group, asynchronous and online learning better suit their schedules.

Top Computer Programming Bachelor's Programs

Explore our five top-ranked computer programming bachelor’s programs in 2022 below. To find out how we ranked these institutions and programs, check out the link below.

#1 Computer Programming Degree Programs

University of Mount Union

  • Alliance, OH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

University of Mount Union is a private school in Alliance, Ohio. The four-year school offers bachelor's degrees in a variety of fields, including computer programming. After earning a bachelor's degree, graduates can enroll in a master's program or apply for professional positions.

Bachelor's degree-seekers take general education and major classes. Online learners can specialize their curriculum by pursuing a minor or concentration. Course topics specific to the computer science degree include theory of communication and principles of programming languages. 

The institution maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 12-to-1, which promotes personalized learning. Degree-seekers can join student organizations to access professional development and network with peers.

Students at the institution benefit from affordable tuition rates, which help reduce the financial burden of earning a degree. Enrollees pay $31,300 per year for in-state tuition and $31,300 per year for out-of-state tuition. The school accepts 77% of learners. The institution maintains accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. Prospective applicants can contact the admissions department for information about enrolling in a bachelor's degree program.

Average Tuition
In-state
$31,300
Out-of-state
$31,300
Retention Rate
72%
Admission Rate
77%
Students Enrolled
2,243
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
13% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#2 Computer Programming Degree Programs

Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion

  • Marion, IN
  • 4 years
  • Campus

The bachelor of science with a major in computer information systems from Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion qualifies graduates for a variety of entry-level computer programming careers. Indiana-based Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion is a private institution. The computer programming program features a rigorous curriculum, helping enrollees develop foundational knowledge in the field.

Learners take classes on general education topics, foundational subjects, and more advanced areas of the field. The program prioritizes individualized learning through electives and experiential learning opportunities. Gaining professional experience during internships and bolstering their resume with capstone projects can benefit graduates applying for positions in their field.

Admissions advisors provide prospective applicants with details about application deadlines and requirements. While most bachelor's students graduate in four years, part-time enrollment may extend degree completion time.

Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion Fast Facts:

Learners Awarded Financial Aid: 100%

Learners Receiving Student Loans: 57%

Number of Bachelor's Programs: 82

Applies Transfer Credits: No

Average Tuition
In-state
$27,296
Out-of-state
$27,296
Retention Rate
79%
Admission Rate
67%
Students Enrolled
3,165
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
19% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#3 Computer Programming Degree Programs

Mount Vernon Nazarene University

  • Mount Vernon, OH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Situated in Ohio, Mount Vernon Nazarene University has one of the best degree offerings in the country. Students at the school can enroll in a bachelor's program in computer programming. 

Bachelor's-level curricula emphasize the knowledge and skills that employers value. General education requirements include classes in areas such as math and English. After fulfilling general education requirements, degree-seekers take major courses focused on their field of study. Graduates with a minor are often more competitive for positions in niche fields.

In addition to coursework, learners can receive credit for completing service-learning experiences. The institution's website provides details about how to earn credit for internships. Students can access support services such as tutoring online and in person. To prepare for careers, degree-seekers can access professional development through student organizations.

According to the institution, 100% of students receive financial aid and 62% take out loans. Grants and scholarships can help students reduce the financial burden of earning a degree. About 73% of applicants receive admission.

Average Tuition
In-state
$21,047
Out-of-state
$21,047
Retention Rate
79%
Admission Rate
73%
Students Enrolled
2,205
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#4 Computer Programming Degree Programs

University of Washington-Bothell Campus

  • Bothell, WA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

University of Washington-Bothell Campus is a public school in Washington. The four-year school offers bachelor's programs in a variety of fields, including a  bachelor of science in computer science and software engineering. 

Bachelor's degree-holders can pursue entry-level roles or further education. While completing a bachelor's program, learners take foundational coursework and field-specific classes. Bachelor's degree-seekers can use elective credits to earn a minor or concentration. 

Degree-seekers benefit from a 23-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, which allows students individual time with faculty members. Students can participate in extracurricular activities through campus organizations.

The institution's affordable tuition rates help minimize the financial burden of earning a degree. The institution charges in-state learners $10,370 per year and out-of-state students $37,071 per year. The school reports an admission rate of 74% for incoming students. The school is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Prospective bachelor's degree-seekers can contact the admissions department for information about applying.

Average Tuition
In-state
$10,370
Out-of-state
$37,071
Retention Rate
83%
Admission Rate
74%
Students Enrolled
5,913
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
2% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#5 Computer Programming Degree Programs

Farmingdale State College

  • Farmingdale, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The bachelor's degree in computer programming and information systems qualifies graduates of Farmingdale State College for immediate employment in the field. Enrollees complete a rigorous curriculum and gain field-specific training while earning the bachelor's degree.

Learners in the program take core major classes to develop a foundation for upper-division coursework. In addition to computer programming coursework, degree-seekers complete electives to customize the program. Undergraduates can complete internships to gain experience and bolster their resume.

For details about application deadlines and requirements, prospective learners can review the institution's website. Most undergraduate students can graduate from a bachelor's program in four years of full-time study.

Farmingdale State College Numbers:

Percentage of Learners Receiving Financial Aid: 74%

Students Awarded Loans: 29%

Number of Bachelor's Programs: 38

Number of Online Bachelor's Programs: 2

Transfer Credits Toward Degree: No

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,070
Out-of-state
$16,980
Retention Rate
80%
Admission Rate
55%
Students Enrolled
9,996
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
25% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Top Computer Programming Master's Programs

These are our top-ranked computer programming master’s programs in 2022. Check our methodology page to understand how we arrived at the rankings.

#1 Computer Programming Degree Programs

University of Chicago

  • Chicago, IL
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Learners enrolled at the University of Chicago can pursue a computer programming master's degree. Students pursuing the MS in computer science, high-performance computing specialization can attend classes on campus. Graduates often benefit from increased computer programming career opportunities after earning their master's degree.

Enrollees in the computer programming master's program complete core and specialized coursework meeting high academic standards. Students who plan to pursue specialized careers can complete practical learning experiences aligning with their professional goals. Learners enrolled in the school's master's programs can access academic advising, faculty mentorship, and career counseling.

Master's students typically graduate with their computer programming degree in 1-2 years. Learners can transfer previous credits into their master's program to graduate more quickly and minimize tuition costs. Degree-seekers with financial need can submit the FAFSA to qualify for federal grants, scholarships, and loans.

University of Chicago Fast Facts:

Fee Per Credit: NA

Total Master's Programs: 81

Students Receiving Aid: 57%

Students Receiving Loans: 8%

Transfer Credits Permitted: No

Average Tuition
In-state
$57,642
Out-of-state
$57,642
Retention Rate
99%
Admission Rate
6%
Students Enrolled
17,452
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#2 Computer Programming Degree Programs

Brandeis University

  • Waltham, MA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Learners at Brandeis University can enroll in a variety of top-ranked academic programs, including a computer programming master's program. Students pursuing the master of science in computer science can attend classes at Brandeis University's campus in Waltham, Massachusetts. Learners currently employed in the computer programming field can pursue promotions or raises after earning their master's degree.

The computer programming master's degree uses a rigorous curriculum that meets high academic standards. Students can select electives and pursue practical learning experiences to prepare for careers in specific areas of the industry. Support services including faculty mentorship and career counseling prepare learners to succeed academically and professionally.

Students enrolled full time typically need 1-2 years to graduate. Transferring credits into the program can help learners graduate more quickly and save money on tuition. The institution holds accreditation, which means degree-seekers can receive federal grants, scholarships, and loans.

Brandeis University Facts:

Per-Credit Fee: Not Known

Total Master's Programs: 47

Distance Learning Master's Programs: 7

Students Receiving Aid: 69%

Students Receiving Loans: 39%

Transfer Credits Permitted: No

Average Tuition
In-state
$55,340
Out-of-state
$55,340
Retention Rate
93%
Admission Rate
30%
Students Enrolled
5,825
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
7% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#3 Computer Programming Degree Programs

DePaul University

  • Chicago, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

DePaul University educates undergraduate and graduate degree-seekers from its campus in Chicago, Illinois. The private institution offers 126 master's programs, including 14 online options. Both online and on-campus degree-seekers access some of the country's top master's programs.

Learners can enroll in the institution's master of science in game programming to develop advanced knowledge and skills in computer programming. Enrollees in the master's program complete core and specialized coursework meeting high academic standards. 

Experiential learning opportunities help graduate students gain practical skills and prepare to impress employers after graduation. Faculty advisors help master's students examine complex issues and develop a strong overall understanding of the field. Learners new to the field and those with established computer programming careers can benefit from the graduate program.

The institution holds accreditation, which means students can submit the FAFSA and determine whether they qualify for federal financial aid. Learners in the school's online programs can access support services such as tutoring and career counseling. An admissions advisor can provide specific application details, including requirements and deadlines.

Average Tuition
In-state
$40,551
Out-of-state
$40,551
Retention Rate
85%
Admission Rate
68%
Students Enrolled
22,064
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
30% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#4 Computer Programming Degree Programs

University of Maryland-College Park

  • College Park, MD
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

From its campus in College Park, Maryland, University of Maryland-College Park enrolls degree-seekers in undergraduate and graduate programs. The public institution's offerings include 132 online and on-campus master's programs. Online and on-campus master's degree-seekers can attend the school's top-ranked graduate programs, available in a variety of fields.

Learners who aspire to advanced positions in computer programming can pursue the institution's master's in computer science to gain advanced knowledge and skills. Enrollees develop specialized knowledge in the field and soft skills that apply to many professional roles. 

Students can select electives and pursue practical learning experiences to prepare for careers in specific computer programming areas. Faculty advisors support graduate students with academic advice and professional input regarding the field's current challenges. The master's program can benefit learners who are new to the field and those with established computer programming careers.

The institution holds accreditation, which means students can qualify for federal financial aid programs. Learners in the school's online programs can access support services such as tutoring and career counseling. Prospective students can contact the institution for details about application deadlines and requirements.

Average Tuition
In-state
$8,824
Out-of-state
$34,936
Retention Rate
95%
Admission Rate
44%
Students Enrolled
40,743
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
19% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#5 Computer Programming Degree Programs

Clemson University

  • Clemson, SC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Students can attend graduate-level classes at Clemson University's campus in Clemson, South Carolina. The school's master's programs include a master of science in computer science. Enrollees pursuing the master's degree complete a rigorous curriculum that fosters field-specific knowledge and features experiential learning opportunities.

The master's program features core and advanced computer programming courses. As an accredited institution, the school delivers programs that meet high standards of quality. Support services including faculty mentorship and career counseling prepare learners to succeed academically and professionally. Graduates of the computer programming master's program can apply for positions in the field or advance their current careers.

The institution holds accreditation, which means degree-seekers can receive federal grants, scholarships, and loans. At the school, 92% of graduate students fund their education through financial aid.

Clemson University Numbers:

Number of Master's Programs: 74

Number of Online Master's Degrees: 18

Average Per-Credit Price: Not Known

Graduate Tuition In-State: $10,600

Graduate Tuition Out-of-State: $22,050

Grants Transfer Credits: No

Average Tuition
In-state
$14,118
Out-of-state
$37,110
Retention Rate
93%
Admission Rate
51%
Students Enrolled
25,822
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
29% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

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Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.

Questions About Computer Programming

Are the top computer programming schools hard to get into?

Yes. Computer programming is a competitive major. Many students are attracted to its prospect of high salary and status. According to the Computing Research Association (CRA), there has been a significant increase in its college enrollment. But attending a top programming school is not the only way to get a job in the industry.

What do the best computer programming degrees have in common?

The best degrees are rigorous, practical, and keep abreast of trends in the computing industry. They often have faculty at the top of their professions teaching courses. The best schools for computer programming tend to have top-notch research and learning facilities.

Are computer programmers in demand?

According to the BLS, the market for computer programmers is expected to shrink by 10% between 2020 and 2030. However, the broader software development field is on the upswing, projected to increase employment by 22%. Moreover, businesses are finding it difficult to fill vacancies for software engineers.

Should I get my degree in computer programming or cybersecurity?

Due to its higher demand and higher pay, it is better to get a cybersecurity degree.


Featured Image: Maskot / Maskot / Getty Images

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