Best Online Associate in Computer Science Programs
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If you want to learn programming languages and understand how computers work, an online associate in computer science may be right for you.
Earn this degree at a top online school or community college to prepare for an exciting career. Career options include web developer and computer support specialist.
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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), web developers earned a median annual salary of $77,200 as of May 2020. This is far higher than the national median annual salary of $41,950. The web developer career offers a high earning potential considering the position often requires only an associate degree.
This guide on associate in computer science degrees explores available programs, how to apply, and what to expect while pursuing your degree.
What Can I Expect From an Online Associate in Computer Science Program?
Analytical, creative people who are passionate about the latest technology trends may enjoy a career in computer science. Programs vary, but most computer science associate degrees take approximately two years for full-time students complete.
These programs typically require 60 credits of coursework. Some online programs provide accelerated coursework for those seeking shorter-term, intensive programs.
Prospective students interested in computer science may choose from several educational pathways.
Associate of Science (AS)
An associate of science provides a solid foundation in core computer science skills, such as software development. This degree prepares students to enter the job market or to continue on to pursue a bachelor's degree.
Associate of Applied Science (AAS)
Students who are looking to enter the workforce directly after graduation may prefer an AAS degree. Classes focus on computer science to prepare graduates for direct immersion in the field.
Associate of Applied Business (AAB)
This less common degree best suits business-focused computer science professionals.
Associate of Arts (AA)
This associate degree serves individuals who plan to continue their education. An AA degree offers well-rounded classes, including humanities, that transfer to four-year institutions.
Specialized concentrations enable learners to focus on an area of interest. Specialization options include the following.
Common concentrations include the following:
- Computer Science: This concentration focuses on the rapidly changing landscape of computer languages used to write programs and applications.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI): This subject within computer science covers fundamental algorithm design, which is the basis of AI.
- Web Development: This field involves hands-on experience creating interactive web designs. Students may cover content creation, programming, and web hosting.
- Video Game Design: Are you a gamer dying to tell a story while immersing yourself in advanced graphics, artificial worlds, and artificial intelligence? A video game design concentration covers these topics.
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Popular Online Associate's in Computer Science Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Associate in Computer Science Program?
Coursework for an online associate in computer science focuses on fundamentals of the subject. These include networking, programming, and database design. Coursework varies among schools and concentrations. The following list describes common courses in an online associate in computer science program.
This course introduces students to common network technology and the main types of computer networks, including local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs). Upon completion, participants should understand the design, functionality, installation process, and configuration of network devices like hubs, bridges, switches, routers, and gateways.
Participants build on a solid foundation with concepts like common data encodings and the theory of data science. Students build data structures and learn SQL to analyze data. Coursework also covers various design methods and how to model complex data sets.
Introduction to Computer Science
This course teaches the fundamentals required for a successful career in computer science. Students in this course gain a broad understanding of programming and algorithms. Covered concepts include data structures, security, encapsulation, and software engineering.
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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Associate in Computer Science Program?
Most college applications call for an application fee. Beyond that, requirements vary among institutions. Some schools require college entrance exams, for example, while others do not. Many four-year colleges are even embracing test-optional entrance policies.
To qualify for admission, candidates must have a high school diploma or GED certificate. They must also submit high school transcripts or proof of passing the GED test. Applicants do not typically need work experience to enroll in an associate in computer science program.
You may need to write a college application essay or get letters of recommendation from former teachers or employers. If you have been working in the computer science field, you may be able to earn college credit for your work experience.
What Can I Do With an Online Associate in Computer Science Degree?
An online associate degree in computer science can lead to a variety of career opportunities. Graduates can pursue positions as web developers, computer support specialists, and computer programmers.
According to the BLS, the median annual salary for a computer support specialist, a common position for associate graduates, was $55,510 as of 2020. The median annual salary for all professionals working in computer and mathematical occupations was $96,770.
From 2020-2030, the BLS projects a 9% growth in employment for computer support specialists.
Read on to learn where an associate in computer science degree can take you, or learn more about computer science careers.
These creative individuals demonstrate an understanding of both graphic design and programming. Most companies, including large corporations and small businesses, need web developers to create and design their websites and troubleshoot issues. Back-end web developers focus on technical construction. Front-end developers integrate graphics and applications and create the site's basic layout. Full-stack developers work on both aspects.
Median Annual Salary: $77,200
Computer Support Specialist
Computer support specialists provide support for computer users and organizations. These professionals may provide technical assistance or test, maintain, and troubleshoot computer network systems. The latter duties require an understanding of LANs, WANs, and the internet.
Median Annual Salary: $55,510
Designing computer programs and applications can be a well-paying profession. The median annual salary for software developers was $110,140 as of 2020, more than double the national median salary for all occupations. The BLS also projects a faster-than-average 22% growth for software developers from 2020-2030. These workers design, develop, and test software programs. Some developers also write code, while others turn this task over to programmers.
Most of these jobs require a bachelor's degree. Associate degree-holders who have a strong professional portfolio may qualify.
Median Annual Salary: $110,140
Programmers write and test computer code for programs and applications. Their daily tasks include debugging and troubleshooting software and systems. These professionals should have knowledge and skills in a variety of computer languages, such as Python, C, C++, and Java.
Median Annual Salary: $89,190
This technical position involves designing, developing, deploying, and monitoring computer systems and applications. The role entails analyzing and conducting hardware and systems checks, along with recommending upgrades and new technologies.
Median Annual Salary: $93,730
A bachelor's degree is a common requirement for this role, so associate degree-holders may need to return to school to qualify.
Computer Science Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.
An associate in computer science is an entry-level degree. Many employers look for candidates with a bachelor's degree or higher. An associate degree is enough to get you started in the field, but you may not be able to move up the career ladder without earning a bachelor's.
Individuals with an associate degree in computer science may choose to pursue bachelor's degrees in computer science, computer programming, computer forensics, or a related subject.
Computer science deals with the theories behind how computers work. Computer programming focuses on the actual programming. Learners who study computer forensics understand how to use computers as tools to help solve crimes.
Bachelor's graduates who want to pursue further education may opt for a master's degree in computer science, computer forensics, or computer engineering.
How Do I Choose an Online Associate in Computer Science Program?
Before selecting a school, you should find out the true cost of the program. This includes tuition, fees, room and board, and lost wages. When comparing the cost of an online program vs. an on-campus program, you may find online programs cost less because they do not entail housing or moving costs.
The cost of attending a two-year college in 2018-19 was $3,621 per year for tuition and fees. Including room and board, that number increased to $11,391.
Another thing to consider when choosing an online associate in computer science is whether the classes are synchronous or asynchronous. Synchronous courses require students to log in at a specific time. Some programs allow students to attend part time so they can continue working while attending school.
Full-time programs permit students to graduate more quickly. Accelerated programs speed up this process even more.
Location is usually more important if you're attending school on campus rather than online. However, some online programs do have on-campus requirements such as labs. If you live far from the school, check to make sure there are no on-campus requirements.
Third-party accrediting agencies make sure a school or its programs meet certain educational standards. Regional accreditation is more prestigious than national accreditation because credits from regionally accredited institutions often transfer more easily among schools.
When choosing which school to attend, consider whether you will need any student services. Many schools offer online student services including mentorship, academic advising, tutoring, and help with internship placements.
Best Accredited Online Associate in Computer Science Programs
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Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Computer Science Programs
Is an online computer science degree worth it?
Yes. Few degrees are better suited for online learning than a computer science degree, in which your learning portal and subject matter are one and the same. Whether your interest lies in programming, web development, or software programs, an online computer science degree can lead to a variety of good job opportunities.
Is a degree in computer science hard?
It can be. In some ways, computer science is like learning a new language. While hard at first, once you learn the fundamental concepts, the subject becomes easier to understand.
What can I do with a computer science associate degree?
Graduates with an associate in computer science often go on to become web developers, computer support specialists, and computer programmers.
How much money can I make as a computer scientist with an associate degree?
Annual salaries for computer scientists with associate degrees vary depending on experience, location, and industry. According to Payscale data from February 2022, the average salary for a professional with an AS in computer science is $67,000.
What are the highest-paying jobs in computer science?
Computer and information systems managers enjoy one of the highest-paying jobs in computer science. As of 2020, their median annual salary was $151,150. To qualify for this position, computer science professionals generally need a bachelor's or master's degree and extensive experience.