As the builders, movers, and shakers of the computing world, computer programmers are necessary for any kind of innovation—and to become one, you’ll need to earn one of the 5 Best Bachelor’s in Computer Programming.
By earning one of the best bachelor’s in computer programming, you’ll gain the skills necessary to turn software design into actionable code that computers can actually read. We use computers on a daily basis, from working at a desktop computer, crunching numbers, to asking our smartphones to navigate us to the nearest restaurant.
As a computer programmer, you’ll become part of a rapidly growing field with an endless number of career opportunities. Each year, millions of computer programming jobs will go unfilled—all industries require the skills of a computer programmer, so it’s a smart field to consider if you want to have a job waiting for you as soon as you graduate.
What Is a Computer Programming Degree?
Although some computer programming professionals will start working with just an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree is the most common choice for aspiring programmers who wish to take their work to the next level. Earn a bachelor of science degree from one of the best colleges for computer programming, and you’ll learn the basics of computer programming as well as the core scientific and mathematical principles that underlie the practice.
For example, most students in computer programming degree programs will take several courses in discrete mathematics as well as:
- computer systems
- software development
- computer architecture
- artificial intelligence
- data structures
- several kinds of programming languages
Some schools even offer Bachelor of Arts degrees in areas like computer science or programming that include more liberal arts courses, like foreign languages.
Good computer programming colleges are different in terms of the requirements you’ll need to meet in order to apply and to graduate. A high school diploma or its equivalent, along with strong grades in mathematics and science courses, are usually required. To graduate, you will need to complete around 120 credit hours of study. Computer science majors also complete a practicum or capstone project as the culminating experience for one of these degrees, too.
What are the Best Careers for Computer Programming Majors?
As a computer programming major, chances are that you will focus your job search on one job title in particular—computer programmer. However, you could work in a wide variety of careers, including in:
- computer systems design and related services
Computer programming professionals typically work alone, sometimes for a major corporation but other times, in a freelance setting. Writing code can be done from anywhere, so many programmers work from the comfort of their own homes. You’ll likely learn a few different computer languages while you’re in school, but you’ll also gain hands-on experience in things like:
- writing code
- testing programs
- fixing errors
All tasks that you could be asked to do in your job as a computer programmer.
Some computer programming professionals go on to earn master’s degrees, but this is not as common as in other fields. You may take an additional course in related fields like accounting or healthcare, something that’s helpful if you’re a computer programmer in a specific niche.
You might take continuing education classes or attend professional development workshops. These help you keep apprised of the latest changes in the field. Many programmers also pursue certifications in specific programming languages or products.
How Long Does it Take to Earn a Computer Science Bachelor’s Degree?
A computer programming bachelor’s degree is a significant investment of both time and money. A bachelor’s degree is typically a four-year degree if completed as a full-time student. Pursuing a degree as a part-time student can extend that time to five or six years. The amount of time it takes to complete the degree is largely dependent on the degree requirements and the students’ schedule.
Many schools have tailored their programs to meet the needs of adult learners. They offer hybrid or online programs that can meet the scheduling needs of students who work traditional hours. These flexible program options give students more control over the length of time it takes to complete their degree.
How Much Does a Degree in Computer Programming Cost?
The cost of a college education is on the rise. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of tuition and fees at a public four-year institution during the 2019-2020 school year was $9,400, or 13% higher than they were during the 2010-11 school year. The cost to attend a private, nonprofit four-year institution has increased by 18% over the last 10 years. The cost for the 2019-2020 school year was $36,700. Private for-profit four-year universities also raised their tuition and fees by about 8%, making the cost approximately $19,100 during the 2019-2020 school year.
While tuition and fees can be expensive, there are ways to reduce your out-of-pocket expenses at some of the best colleges for programming. Here are some tips:
- Fill out the FAFSA. You may be eligible for federal financial aid which can offset some (if not all) the cost of tuition and fees of your bachelor’s in computer programming. You will need to fill it out at the start of the year to make sure you get considered for as many funding opportunities as possible.
- Check with your employer. Many employers offer grants and scholarships to their employees in exchange for a work commitment after graduation. Some offer these financial opportunities with no strings attached. It is definitely worth checking with your HR department to see what opportunities are available.
- Apply for scholarships. Some programs offer scholarships to first-generation college students or those with an interest in a specific area of computer programming. The financial aid office at your school will have a list of these opportunities.
- Consider an online program. Sometimes online computer programming programs cost less than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. You might also save on expenses like housing, meal plans, and transportation costs by earning your degree online. Online learning isn’t for everyone, but it might make sense for you if you are looking to earn your degree on a budget.
What’s the Salary Potential for a Computer Programming Graduate?
If you’re looking for a career with good salary potential, there are very few that fit the bill quite as well as that of a computer programmer. The median pay in 2021 for a computer programmer was $93,000/year in 2021. The lowest 10% of programmers is paid around $22.86/hour while the top 10% is paid around $74.64/hour. The top paying industries for computer programmers include:
- Petroleum and Cole Products Manufacturing- $140,560/year
- Chemical Manufacturing- $137,470/year
- Scientific Research and Development Services- $132,700/year
- Software Publishers- $131,430/year
- Semiconductor and Other Electronic Component Manufacturing- $128,300/year
Geography can play a role in the number of job opportunities available to computer programmers. The states with the highest employment level of computer programmers are:
- New York
- New Jersey
Although the salary of a computer programmer lags slightly behind that of professionals in other computer occupations, you can still expect a hefty return on your investment when you choose to pursue one of these computer programming degrees. Again, pursuing an additional certification or taking continuing education classes can help you stay on top of developments in the field—and remain at the top of the pay scale, too.
Earning a bachelor’s in computer programming is, of course, the smartest way to position yourself for a high starting salary. Knowing several kinds of programming languages can help, too. Fortunately, many of the best computer programming colleges will help you keep up to date with all the latest and most important programming tools.
What Are the Admission Requirements for a Bachelor’s in Computer Programming?
The best schools for programming are also some of the most competitive. Requirements vary by school and program, but these are some of the most common.
GPA- Your GPA is an indicator of your past performance in academics. Colleges like to see a cumulative GPA between 2.5 and 3.0 on a high school transcript. A lower GPA doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get into one of the best computer programming schools. You might be required to submit test scores or have strong letters of recommendation to strengthen your application.
Test Scores– Most high school students take the ACT or SAT test. Many colleges look at these test scores as an indicator of future performance in a higher education setting.
Letters of Recommendation– Letters of recommendation should be written by teachers or counselors who know your talents and academic abilities. These references should be people whom you have a positive relationship with and who have a strong desire to see you succeed. Colleges usually ask for one to three letters of recommendation.
Transcripts– You’ll need to request transcripts from previously attended schools. Most schools charge for this and you’ll need to complete a form to request they be sent directly to the school you are applying to. You won’t want to wait until the last minute though, transcripts can take a while to send.
Application– Once you have all the required materials collected, you are ready to complete the application. There may be a relatively small application fee required to cover the cost of processing the application. Most applications have deadlines, so be sure you get yours sent off in plenty of time to meet priority deadlines.
FAFSA– The FAFSA form is a critical financial aid document. Most schools will ask you to complete a FAFSA so you can determine your eligibility for federal aid. Schools will use your FAFSA figures to determine if you qualify for any additional aid they might have to offer. The form is free so be sure and fill it out by the priority deadline.
How Do I Choose the Right Computer Programming Degree Program?
Cost– The cost of earning a bachelor’s degree is not something to be taken lightly, but the best programming degree doesn’t have to be the most expensive. Consider working while earning your degree or taking an online program to cut costs. You don’t want to graduate with thousands of dollars in unnecessary debt, so find a program that fits your budget and will help you reach your career goals.
Program Format– Many of the top colleges for programming offer their degree programs in a variety of formats including on-campus and online. Make sure you find a program that is offered in the format you are most comfortable with.
Accreditation– You need to make sure the program you choose is offered by an accredited college or university. Accredited schools are part of the federal financial aid program. Accreditation is also important if you plan to transfer any of your credits to another school later. Schools that go through the accreditation process demonstrate their commitment to quality assurance and excellence in education.
Regional accreditation is the “gold standard” in accreditation. There are six regional accreditation organizations recognized by the USDE and CHEA. These include:
- MSA (Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools)
- NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges)
- NCA (North Central Association of Colleges and Schools)
- NAC (Northwest Accreditation Commission)
- SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools)
- WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges)
Course Selection- It’s important to look at the course selection a school offers for its programming or computer science degree. The best colleges for programming will offer a wide range of electives so students can tailor their experience to meet their professional goals.
Are There Online Computer Programming Degree Programs?
There are! Many of the best schools for computer programming offer their programs online and in a more traditional format. Online degree programs are a great choice for students who are unable to take courses on-campus due to work schedules or other obligations.
Online courses are typically offered in an asynchronous or synchronous format. Asynchronous courses provide students with the flexibility to view lectures and complete assignments when it is most convenient. Synchronous courses require students to log in at specific times to participate in lectures or other activities.
Online learning isn’t for everyone, but it is worth checking out if you need some extra flexibility.
What Are the Best Schools for Computer Programming?
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Florida State University
Average Net Price
With 16 separate colleges and more than 110 different facilities, institutes, labs, and centers (and a whopping 360 plus programs of study!), Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL has plenty to offer aspiring computer programming majors. Not only is this school classified among R1: Doctoral Universities-Very High Research Activity, but it also is ranked as one of the best public universities in the United States by the U.S. News & World Report. It is our choice for the best college for computer programming.
The bachelor’s in computer programming at Florida State University is unique in that it is a Bachelor of Arts that will provide you with the broad-based background necessary for a career in computing. You’ll gain core competencies in things like:
- data structures
- mobile programming
You’ll take classes primarily in Tallahassee, building your skills in computer programming along with at least nine hours of humanities and history beyond general education requirements. You’ll complete at least 45 credit hours of courses at the 3000 level or above, 30 of which must be taken at the university. Computer programming graduates go on to rewarding work with:
- computer firms
- colleges and universities
- private industry
- financial firms
Average Net Price
A private college located in Owosso, MI, Baker College was founded in 1911 and maintains multiple campuses throughout Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Originally a business school founded in Flint, MI, the school offers a variety of degrees in computer science. One of its biggest and best claims to fame? Baker won the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition for several years in a row, coming out as state champion for nearly a decade, too.
Consisting of 120 credit hours, the Bachelor of Science in computer science with a concentration in computer programming at Baker takes most students about four years to complete. It’s incredibly affordable, with 86% of all students receiving scholarships, grants, or other types of financial aid.
The curriculum of the program is designed with guidance from top industry professionals and is almost constantly being revised to keep up with advances and developments in technology. You’ll gain mastery of several different programming languages along with core topics like:
- computer architecture
- artificial intelligence
- application security
Not only that, but you’ll be able to complete a year-long senior project that will allow you to apply your skills to a real-world computing problem. You’ll also get to complete a 150-hour experience with a company.
Average Net Price
A private, non-profit university in Bellevue, NE, Bellevue University is one of the best schools for computer programming if you’re looking for an institution that caters primarily to adult learners. In fact, as of 2020, the average student age was 34.
The Bachelor of Science in software development at Bellevue University is perfect for working adults, consisting of 127 total credit hours. This top bachelor’s in computer programming can be completed on-campus or online. The degree’s curriculum is designed with feedback from industry leaders and top IT employers, giving you the opportunity to build your knowledge and gain confidence in coding and software design.
As an accelerated computer programming degree program, it will help you gain skills in software development quickly. As a coding major, you’ll gain hands-on practice in top programming languages so you can get out into the workforce. You’ll learn to program with:
You’ll gain mastery of development processes like:
- software testing
- Agile methodology
Tuition is extremely affordable, with in-class and online rates set at $425 per credit hour. Active-duty military members and their spouses can receive a tuition discount of $250 per credit hour, too, making this one of the best programs for service members and their families.
Gaffney, South Carolina
Average Net Price
Limestone University, also known as Limestone College, is a private Christian university located in Gaffney, SC. A historic campus with strong ties to its roots, Limestone has ten buildings on its campus that are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Despite its historic legacy and impressive ties to the past, the school actively works to provide students with programs that will prepare them for the future. The Bachelor of Computer Science degree with a programming concentration is one such forward-thinking degree. In this computer science program, you’ll be challenged to think creatively and to develop unique solutions to all kinds of programming issues.
These skills will prove to be useful to you as you set out in the workplace. You’ll take core classes in computer programming covering areas like:
- Microcomputer Applications
- C# Programming
- Internet Programming
- Project Management
Before you graduate, you’ll also be required to complete a capstone project that will bring together everything you have learned so you can showcase your skills to potential employers. One hundred twenty total credit hours are required.
Grand Canyon University
Average Net Price
A Christian university located in Phoenix, AZ, Grand Canyon University is a for-profit school that was the largest Christian University in the world as of 2018. It offers a variety of programs throughout its nine colleges, including those in education, business, fine arts, humanities, nursing, and of course, engineering and technology.
The Bachelor of Science in computer programming can be earned both on-campus and online. It pairs business and technology as courses over everything from Java to C++ to entrepreneurship and critical thinking. You’ll be able to hone your coding skills from early on in the program, meaning you might be able to begin working in the field before you even graduate.
You’ll also complete a senior portfolio and project, both of which can be used during your job search. You can take classes on campus, online, or evening just during the evening hours. Courses are available full-time and part-time, with classes covering topics like:
- cloud computing
- IT case planning for global business
One hundred twenty total program credits are required, with most classes lasting 7 weeks apiece. Tuition starts at just $470 per credit hour, making this one of the most affordable bachelor’s in computer programming that you will find.
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