How Do Online Programs Work in Computer Science?

With the increasing number of students choosing to earn computer science degrees, many aspiring students wonder how online programs in computer science work. Computer science is such a vast field with so many concentrations, specializations and subfields. It’s also a field that offers various career opportunities to graduates of computer science degree programs. One of the main advantages of an online computer science program is that it gives students who are unable to attend college the opportunity to earn a degree in a field rich with opportunities. Here is an overview of online computer science programs and how they work.

What an Online Computer Science Program Entails

The computer science program focuses on the technologies and theories involved in the development, design and maintenance of software and hardware applications and platforms. One of the things that make this multidisciplinary program is that it offers various areas of specialization, including software engineering, mobile and web computing, artificial intelligence, computer programming, computer and network security, database administration, bioinformatics and network communications.

The online computer science program is similar to the on-campus program in terms of courses and curriculum, but the format is much different. Rather than attending classes on campus in a traditional classroom, the students log into the school’s website and can earn the degree in the comfort of their home. Online computer science degree programs may be offered at the bachelor’s or master’s degree level.

Some believe that computer science and information technology bachelor’s degree programs are almost the same, but U.S. News & World Report states that these two are quite different. While the online information technology program deals with utilizing networks and computers for business purposes, the computer science program focuses on developing computer software and hardware.

In addition to having to complete many of the same courses in both the online and on-campus computer science programs, students in the online program are recommended to complete an internship to obtain hands-on training. Those enrolled in an online master’s degree computer science program may also be required to complete a research-based thesis.

Many of the schools offering online computer science programs develop their curriculum based on the needs of local businesses and industries. In fact, many of the area industries provide their input on what they would like to see computer science students learn. Even students not directly enrolled in an online degree program can obtain training by taking some of the many online computer science programs offered through places such as MIT OpenCourseWare, Coursera, Udemy, edX, Udacity and Khan Academy to name a few.

Benefits of Online Computer Science Program

There are many benefits to earning a computer science degree online. Many believe that computer science is probably one of the best programs for use as an online program because computer science is based on computers, and the student is actually learning on a computer. Here are a few advantages and benefits of earning a computer science degree online.

  • Availability – Online education can be obtained anywhere as long as the student has access to a computer with internet access.
  • Flexibility – Students can log on to the school’s website from any place at any time.
  • Availability of schools – Students pursuing an online degree can choose from a variety of schools, including out-of-state schools. With so many colleges offering online computer science programs, the list of available colleges is almost endless.
  • Technology – With online programs so popular and widely-used, online students have access to virtual classrooms that offer the latest technology options.
  • Collaboration with other students – Students enrolled in online programs can use networking to collaborate and communicate with students from all over the world.
  • Savings – Since they don’t have to worry about traveling, lodging and eating out, online students can save not just time but also a lot of money.

Is Computer Science a Growing Field?

Computer science is a rapidly growing field, and computer science degrees put students in positions where they can fill many IT job openings. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that one of the fastest-growing fields in the nation is computer and information technology. According to a 2016 report by the Computer Science Education Coalition, there are only about 50,000 computer science graduates every year despite the fact that there are more than 500,000 computer-related job openings.

As the demand for these professionals grows, so does the salary potential. Graduates of computer science programs have gone on and found jobs as:

  • Network and Computer Systems Administrator
  • Computer and Information Systems Manager
  • Computer Programmer
  • Web Designer/Web Developer
  • Application Developer
  • Video Game Designer
  • Systems Architect/Engineer
  • Information Security Analyst

Earning a degree can be a big deal, especially when it’s in a popular and successful field like computer science. Online programs make it so much easier to earn a degree today. Understanding how online computer science programs work can turn the learning experience into something that’s fun, stimulating and rewarding.

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