Top 10 Most Affordable Online Computer Science Degree Programs for 2015

Affordable Online DegreesIn today’s digital world, computers and mobile devices play a prominent role in the daily functioning of virtually every industry. Students who elect to receive a computer science degree will be trained to work with the latest emerging technologies and develop the technical expertise to master computer applications.

Whether students want to become software developers, computer engineers, and web designers or simply work with computers in any other job, the computer science degree can be the perfect fit. Due to the predicted employment growth of 45 percent in tech-related occupations, MSN Careers has placed computer science as the #2 best degree for jobs in the United States. Computer science graduates will have a slew of job prospects for applying their foundation of knowledge in all aspects of computing.

That being said, placing life on hold to invest in a computer science degree can be tough for individuals juggling both work and family obligations. This is why an increasing number of universities across the nation are making their computer science programs accessible 24/7 through the power of online learning. Students taking online courses set their own schedule for completing assignments in an interactive virtual classroom from anywhere with an Internet connection. Not only do online programs come with lower price tags, but they also help students cut the added expenses of room and board, meal plans, transportation, childcare, and other on-campus costs. Online education is a great option for aspiring computer professionals looking to make the most of their learning in a tight schedule and on budget.

computer science

Ranking the Most Affordable Online Programs for Computer Science

In uncovering America’s cheapest online computer science programs, we began by listing all regionally accredited online colleges featuring at least two degrees related to computer science disciplines that could be earned at a distance. Since the options were abundant, the universities were then narrowed down using the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) College Navigator tool. Data was recorded on each university’s annual tuition cost for full-time undergraduate students living in-state. Next, the online colleges were arranged from least expensive to the most expensive and those with tuition over $15,000 were eliminated.

Since it’s our belief that choosing cheap education shouldn’t mean compromising quality, we then used a number of different factors to determine which offered the best computer science preparation. Any affordable schools offering an online computer science degree that received recognition from the U.S. News and World Report, Forbes, Princeton Review, Military Times, or any other authoritative sources were given preference. Online colleges giving students freedom in tailoring their studies with various specializations were also prioritized. Other factors included financial aid, faculty credentials, student support, resources, job placement, and practical learning experiences. The following is our finalized list of online computer science degree programs ranked from least expensive to slightly more expensive.

1. Columbus State University

Columbus State UniversityTuition Price Per Year: $5,613
Fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), Columbus State University is a comprehensive public higher learning institution delivering a blend of on-campus and online degree programs to its more than 8,100 students. CSU is headquartered on a main 132-acre campus in the Midtown neighborhood of Columbus, Georgia, but students can also take classes at River Park, West Point, Fort Benning, and online from anywhere. Featuring a low student-faculty ratio, Columbus State has strived to provide a creative, deeply personal, and career-oriented college education since 1958. CSU is highly regarded for earning the “Regents Teaching Excellence Award” from the University System of Georgia.

At the affordable cost of just $5,613 full-time each academic year, Columbus State University offers great online degree options in the computer sciences to take our #1 spot. Through the D. Abbott Turner College of Business, undergraduate students at CSU have the ability to earn a B.S. in Information Technology completely online for 123 total credits. In a hybrid format with some online classes, students can also achieve a B.S. in Computer Science from CSU. Depending on future career goals, computer science majors have the freedom to choose from three specialized tracks in Applied Computing, Games Programming, and Software Systems. These programs are focused on training students to think critically and creatively within today’s ever-evolving technological environment.

Crowned a “Best Buy” by GetEducated.com, there’s also a Master of Science (M.S.) in Applied Computer Science program offered conveniently at a distance through CSU Online. Students from different undergraduate backgrounds are welcomed into the program to learn about the latest technologies playing a role in diverse business settings. In the 36-credit curriculum, online learners can tailor their studies by selecting a concentration in Information Assurance, Modeling and Simulation, or Software Development. Students can complete a master’s thesis research project with a faculty advisor or follow a non-thesis option with additional electives. It’s important to note that learners must show competence in installing and configuring their own software with personally licensed copies to study online.

2. Thomas Edison State College

thomas edison state collegeTuition Price Per Year: $5,871
Named in honor of the prolific inventor in 1972, Thomas Edison State College is a public state-supported institution located on an intimate two-acre urban campus in the heart of New Jersey’s capital in Trenton. Enrolling more than 28,000 students, TESC is approved by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) to provide associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in over 100 academic fields. Forbes magazine recognized TESC as one of the top universities in America for using technology to educate adults. Along with being among the top five “Best Buys” on GetEducated.com, Thomas Edison State College was given the Distance Education Innovation Award from the National University Technology Network (NUTN) for its renowned FlashTrack course system.

For students seeking a two-year degree in computer science, TESC has a variety of online options available at the low in-state tuition price of $5,871 annually. In a 60-credit curriculum, there’s an Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Applied Computer Studies delivered fully online. Students can earn the Associate in Science in Applied Science and Technology (ASAST) online with specialized concentrations in Computer and Information Technology, Electronic Engineering Technology, or Nuclear Engineering Technology. An Associate in Science in Natural Sciences and Mathematics (ASNSM) in Computer Science is also delivered online to provide a strong liberal arts foundation in technology before earning a bachelor’s. Students can even take open online classes at no additional cost from the Saylor Foundation.

Thomas Edison State College is approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) to offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees centered on technology too. In a convenient online format, students can receive a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Computer Science through completing 120 credits and an applied computer science capstone. Students may be interested in earning the Bachelor of Science in Applied Science and Technology (BSAST) online with a concentration in Electronic Systems Engineering Technology, Energy Systems Technology, Information Technology, Nuclear Engineering Technology, or Technical Studies. At the graduate level, a Master of Science in Applied Science and Technology is also available for obtaining leadership positions in various computer-based professions.

3. Florida State University

Florida State UniversityTuition Price Per Year: $6,507
As a major preeminent public sea-grant and space-grant research institution, Florida State University is home for more than 41,700 students on its main sprawling 1,391-acre urban campus in the state’s capital city of Tallahassee and online from anywhere. Across 16 academic divisions, FSU hosts over 320 degree options at the undergraduate and graduate level with approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The U.S. News and World Report has ranked FSU as the 95th best university and 43rd top public school in America. Even more importantly, Florida State is acclaimed for offering the country’s 161st best online bachelor’s programs and 20th best online graduate computer technology degrees in 2015.

Well-known for being one of the Fiske Guide’s “Budget Ivies,” Florida State University offers a high-quality education with unparalleled resources at the cheap price of $6,507 each year. This affordable cost makes it easier for students to earn their B.A. in Computer Science or B.S. in Computer Science fully online from FSU. The B.A. program is more based in the liberal arts to give a broad-based foundation for entering a career in applied computing. Approved by the ABET, the B.S. program is heavily scientific to develop core competencies in programming, database structure, computer operating systems, and information security. Regardless of the degree chosen, students can complete all 120 credits online within their busy schedule.

Graduate students wishing to attend FSU will pay a little extra, but there’s a wide range of online degree options worth the investment. In the College of Business, students can obtain the M.S. in Management Information Systems fully online to bolster their technical abilities for leadership. Graduates may be interested in earning the M.S. in Instructional Systems and Learning Technologies from the College of Education to work in educational settings. Most decide to earn the 32-credit M.S. in Information Technology fully online with specializations in Information Systems Management, Usability Analysis, Data Management, or Web Design. Pursuing a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Information Architecture is also offered through FSU online.

4. Dakota State University

Dakota State University square logo colorTuition Price Per Year: $7,506
Following the motto of “Technically, We’re Better,” Dakota State University is a major tech-centric state higher learning institution that enrolls around 3,050 students. Along with traditional face-to-face instruction on its main 20-acre rural campus in Madison near South Dakota’s border with Minnesota, DSU offers online courses fully at a distance in a supportive virtual classroom. DSU has been ranked as the 80th best regional college and 24th top public school in the Midwest by the U.S. News and World Report. DSU also named fourth in the United States in the Guide to Online Schools’ rankings. Students at Dakota State University can choose from associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in three divisions accredited by the North Central Association (NCA).

At the well below-average cost of $7,506 per academic year, DSU allows students to earn a variety of convenient, reputable online degrees with the same high-achieving faculty. Since DSU was designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education (CAE/IAE) by NSA, online computer science degree programs are abundant. Students can earn an Associate of Science in Network and Security Administration fully online. For more in-depth learning to the 120-credit mark, DSU students can enroll in the online B.S. in Computer Science, B.S. in Cyber Operations, B.S. in Information Systems, or B.S. in Network and Security Administration programs. Average class sizes for these degrees are just 25 for personalized attention.

Graduate students at DSU also have their pick of a broad variety of computer science-related degree programs delivered in a self-paced online environment by doctoral-trained faculty. The M.S. in Applied Computer Science program offers customizable concentration paths in Cyber Operations, Software Development, Forensics, Cryptography, and Hacking. Online learners could be interested in receiving the M.S. in Educational Technology, M.S. in Health Informatics, M.S. in Information Assurance, or M.S. in Information Systems programs too. Doctoral students can even achieve greatness by earning their Doctor of Science in Cyber Security or Doctor of Science in Information Systems completely online. All graduate students will benefit from honing their skills in emerging technologies for real-world application in solving operational problems.

5. Troy University

Troy UniversityTuition Price Per Year: $7,564
Considered Alabama’s international university, Troy University is a major comprehensive senior public teaching institution that was first founded in 1887. From its main 650-acre rural headquarters in Pike County, Troy operates four Alabama campuses, 60 extension centers across the United States, abroad locations in 11 countries, and a virtual eTroy campus by Internet. Enrolling more than 19,500 students, Troy is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The U.S. News and World Report has ranked Troy as the 76th best college, 35th top public school, and 34th best university for veterans in the South. Consistently named one of Princeton Review’s “Best in the Southeast,” Troy is also recognized as the 25th best university for international students.

A wide range of online classes are available for aspiring computer professionals wishing to receive their undergraduate studies at Troy University. In a two-year format, there’s an Associate of Science in General Education program offered online with a major in Computer Science to give a broad-based introduction to computer applications. More in-depth training is available to eTroy students in the B.S. in Applied Computer Science program, which covers courses from software development and systems analysis to operating systems and applied networking. Some may also wish to pursue the Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.S.) in Resource and Technology Management fully online. There’s an 18-credit Cyber Security certificate that can be added to any online bachelor’s program too.

Although there aren’t any fully online computer science programs at the graduate level, it’s possible to follow a hybrid format that blends online courses with face-to-face instruction. In either a thesis or non-thesis track, the Master of Science (M.S.) in Computer Science program at Troy prepares students for leadership with concentrations in Artificial Intelligence, Computer Network and Security, or Software Development. This program produces the advanced skills necessary for integrating cutting-edge concepts in the computer science field. Online learners may also be interested in receiving the Master of Science (M.S.) in Instructional Technology. Troy University requires that graduate students have an accredited bachelor’s degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0.

6. Southern Arkansas University

Southern Arkansas University round logo colorTuition Price Per Year: $7,736
Enrolling more than 3,400 students with an affordable in-state tuition rate of $7,736 annually, Southern Arkansas University is a comprehensive public four-year teaching institution boasting a family-like atmosphere. Sprawling across a vast 1,418-acre rural campus in Magnolia within just 20 miles north from the state’s border with Louisiana, SAU offers degree programs in over 70 different fields that have been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (NCA). Maintaining a student-faculty ratio of 17:1, SAU is acclaimed for hosting the 142nd best online bachelor’s degree programs in America by the U.S. News and World Report. SAU was also honored with the 16th Annual Governor’s Quality Award for performance excellence.

With support from the Magale Library, SAU is proud to deliver over 358 online courses every semester for students to earn credits towards their degree in a flexible manner. Undergraduate students at SAU can use online classes in completing the B.S. in Computer Science program from the College of Science and Engineering. This program includes a total of 120 credits for students wishing to learn the basic fundamentals of computing applications used in today’s fast-paced digital world. Students can even select an optional concentration in Computer Game and Animation Design, which is one of the few programs of its kind in the region. Individuals are prepared for working as game designers by building marketable programming and artistic skills.

At the graduate level, the Master of Computer and Information Science (MCIS) program is available at SAU in an on-campus, hybrid, or fully online format from the comfort of home. While completing the 30-credit curriculum, online learners can delve into rigorous training for professional knowledge in systems design, software development, communications, project management, network administration, and computer hardware infrastructure. MCIS graduates are qualified to advance in the workforce as information systems managers, systems analysts, data managers, computer scientists, and software development specialists or attend a doctoral degree program. GoGrad.org ranked this SAU online program 22nd nationally for its academic quality, affordability, faculty guidance, and student services.

7. Old Dominion University

Old Dominion UniversityTuition Price Per Year: $8,970
Since being founded in 1930 as part of the College of William & Mary, Old Dominion University has achieved its independence as a comprehensive senior public research institution with both space-grant and sea-grant status. Old Dominion is based on a main 251-acre urban campus at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia’s second-largest city in Norfolk, but its reach extends far beyond. ODU is acclaimed for being one of the largest online distance learning providers with more than 24,600 students. The U.S. News and World Report has recognized ODU for having the 31st best online bachelor’s programs nationwide. Old Dominion has also been honored by Forbes magazine for being the 124th best college in the South and 191st top research university in America.

Through video streaming, web conferencing, and the Teletechnet satellite delivery system, ODU creates the opportunity for students to choose from 60 different online undergraduate and graduate programs approved by the Southern Commission on Colleges and Schools (SACS). Avid computer lovers at the undergraduate level can earn their B.S. in Computer Science degree completely online. Students benefit from learning a broad range of technological terminology while working on hands-on virtual laboratory experiences in the 120-credit curriculum. Other similar online degree programs include the B.S. in Computer Engineering Technology and the B.S. in Information Systems and Technology. An online Cyber Security Certificate can be tacked on to any degree with 12 additional credit hours.

Graduate students attending ODU online can achieve their M.S. in Computer Science program to receive in-depth training in bioinformatics, data mining, digital libraries, networking, cyber security, software engineering, algorithms, and more. After completing this online asynchronous program accredited by the ABET, graduates will spend 34 credits mastering the computational foundations for working in technology. Some students may wish to consider earning the M.E. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, M.S.Ed. in Instructional Design and Technology, or M.E. in Systems Engineering fully online. For admissions into any of the tech-focused master’s programs, students must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution with a strong background in the C or C++ programming language.

8. Oregon State University

Oregon State University square logo colorTuition Price Per Year: $9,122
As one of just two elite universities in America to receive land-grant, sea-grant, sun-grant, and space-grant designations, Oregon State University is a major comprehensive senior public research institution hosting more than 200 academic programs. From its 422-acre suburban campus in Corvallis just 90 minutes south of Portland, Oregon State is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) to deliver traditional and online degree offerings. Classified as a Carnegie “Community Engagement” institution, OSU is ranked as the 138th best university, 70th top public school, and 38th best college for veterans nationwide by the U.S. News and World Report. OSU is also distinguished as having the 5th best online bachelor’s degree programs in the United States.

Despite being named in the top 200 universities globally by the ARWU, Oregon State University maintains an affordable in-state tuition rate of $9,122 each year. Students can take advantage of this cheap cost by reaping a great return on investment for their online computer science degree through the OSU e-Campus. A unique Post-Baccalaureate Computer Science Program is provided fully online for OSU students who have already earned a B.A. or B.S. degree in another field. Whether in a one-year, two-year, three-year, or four-year track, the program helps students catch up on learning programming fundamentals. By blending their other degree with a strong foundation in computer applications, career opportunities are virtually limitless.

While taking online courses, graduate students at Oregon State can also advance their career towards leadership by earning the M.S. in Computer Science. Concentrations are offered in Algorithms, Computer Systems and Networking, Human-Computer Interaction, Programming Languages, Software Engineering, or Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Online learners may wish to earn their Master of Engineering (M.E.) degree with a focus in Computer Science through completing 45 credits centered on management in technology. Although not available online, it’s possible for OSU students to earn a Ph.D. in Computer Science in a traditional campus format for unlocking jobs in higher education. Online students take courses taught by Oregon State’s renowned faculty to earn the same degree as their counterparts.

9. Wilmington University

Wilmington University square logo colorTuition Price Per Year: $10,190
Situated on a main suburban campus in historic New Castle, Delaware, Wilmington University is a comprehensive private non-profit research institution that also offers courses in Dover, Middletown, Rehoboth Beach, Maryland, New Jersey, and online any time. Fully accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), WilmU enrolls more than 19,200 students in seven distinctive academic divisions in the Mid-Atlantic corridor. Forbes magazine has ranked WilmU as the 182nd best college in the Northeast and 201st top research university in America. Wilmington University was also recognized for having the nation’s 161st best online bachelor’s degree programs by the U.S. News and World Report. WilmU is crowned 2nd in the “30 Most Technologically Savvy Online Schools” from the Online Schools Center.

Earning an online computer science degree at Wilmington University will only cost $10,190 in in-state tuition every academic year, thus providing a solid ROI. Undergraduate students have the option to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Computer & Network Security fully online from this designated CAE/IAE institution of the National Security Agency (NSA). In the 120-credit curriculum, students earn academic credit for completing a practical co-op assignment in their local community. Other aspiring computer professionals may find it helpful to earn a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Management or Bachelor of Science in Web Information Systems online too. Adding an online Management Information Systems Minor is available too.

At the graduate level, Wilmington University offers several online options that computer science majors would find beneficial in advancing their career towards leadership. The Master of Science in Information Systems Technologies (MS-IST) program has an online 36-credit curriculum that allows for specialized tracks in Information Assurance, Internet/Web Design, or Management Information Systems before a culminating internship. Others might wish to earn the online MBA in Management Information Systems, Master of Education in Applied Technology, or Master of Science in Homeland Security for Information Assurance. Advanced study certificates in Digital Evidence Investigation, Web Applications Development, and Health Information Technology are also offered completely online for graduates.

10. Colorado Technical University

Colorado Technical UniversityTuition Price Per Year: $11,283
Celebrating its 50th year in higher learning, Colorado Technical University is a comprehensive private for-profit institution fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (NCA). Headquartered in Colorado Springs, CTU is perhaps best known for serving its over 25,700 students with programs completed entirely or largely online. Classified as a doctoral research university by the Carnegie Foundation, CTU is dedicated to delivering career-oriented education in STEM disciplines. According to the U.S. News and World Report, Colorado Tech has the 125th best online bachelor’s programs and the 18th top online graduate computer technology degrees in America. CTU has also previously been named the #1 Best for Vets college nationwide in Military Times magazine.

Offering more than 100 different degree programs online, Colorado Technical University makes certain that distance learners receive industry-relevant curricula at the affordable tuition rate of $11,283 per year. Future computer professionals can start unleashing their full technological potential by earning the Online B.S. in Information Technology program, which comes with concentrations in Data Management, Security, Network Management, Software Systems Engineering, or Web Development. A B.S. in Cyber Security program is delivered completely online for students wishing to focus in Computer Systems Security or Information Assurance. It’s also possible for undergraduate students at Colorado Tech to earn a broad-based Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) focused in Information Technology.

For students who have already earned their accredited bachelor’s degree, CTU can help take the next step by receiving a master’s credential fully online in a busy schedule. Following a 48-credit curriculum, the Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS) program can be completed in just 36 months online with a concentration in Computer Systems Security, Database Systems, or Software Engineering. The Online M.S. in Information Technology can be tailored with concentrations in Network Management, Project Management, and Security Management. Some online learners may be interested in earning the M.S. in Cybersecurity Policy, M.S. in Homeland Security for Information Systems Management, or the MBA for Technology Management completely online from Colorado Tech.

Conclusion

Enrolling in a reputable computer science program is one of the best ways to break into one of the market’s fastest-growing and most lucrative markets. Graduates with a bachelor’s in computer science often make a starting salary higher than many of their peers at $52,237 each year. However, attending a technology school with a big tuition price tag can significantly cut into future earnings due to loan debt. Thanks to the advent of online education, many elite universities are now making it possible to pursue a computer science degree fully online at an affordable price that won’t break the bank. Consider applying to some of these top affordable online computer science degree programs to earn a quality education and a good bang for your buck.

References:
College Navigator
US News
Forbes

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