People who complete computer programming degree programs can find work in just about any technology-related industry -- business both large and small often need highly skilled programmers to build their web sites, develop internal software processes, or write code for a new app.
The best job prospects in coming years will go to programmers who have completed computer programming degrees from accredited four-year colleges and universities, and to workers who hold any number of IT certifications that demonstrate their proficiency with a coding language or hardware platform. Computer programming degree programs typically culminate in Bachelor of Science of master's degrees. Many programs can be completed entirely online; however, colleges also often offer flexible hybrid programs for students who prefer to attend classes on campus.
The institutions below represent the 10 best colleges for computer programming degrees. Read on to learn more about these featured institutions, as well as common career paths and scholarship information for computer programming students.
Best Computer Programming Schools
Many colleges have robust on-campus and online computer programming degree programs. We used a unique methodology and data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics to create a list of the best schools for computer programming. Read on to learn more about our featured institutions, or click the button below to learn more about the data and method used to create this list.
The top school in our rankings of best online degrees for computer programming was founded in 1881 as a school for teachers. Although it retains strong ties to its foundation in education, the university headquartered at Madison, Wisc. bills itself as one of the most technologically advanced campuses in the Midwest and specializes in training students in the fields of computer management, programming and other technology-related programs.
Dakota State University offers a wide range of traditional on-campus and online degree programs in computer programming, computer science and information systems ranging from associate to master's and doctoral degrees. The university heads our rankings based on its modest tuition costs - fourth-best of all institutions in our top 10 - as well as the high number of students enrolled in distance education programs in 2015. Roughly one in every five students at Dakota State University was enrolled in a computer-related degree program in 2015.
The No. 2 institution in our rankings, American Public University System is headquartered at Charles Town, W.Va. The university's mission is to provide easily accessible education programs to the nation's military members and others working in public service.
All programs at APUS are online. The university offers associate degrees in computer applications and database applications development, as well as three bachelor's degree programs in information technology. Graduate students can pursue an online master's degree in information technology.
American Public University System nabs its prominent ranking in our methodology based on its inexpensive cost for in-state tuition and fees - $6,880 for the 2015-2016 academic year, which is third-best among all colleges in these rankings. APUS also had the fifth-best graduation rate, and it tied for first with six other institutions for its admissions rate.
East Coast Polytechnic Institute is a private-for profit institution located at Virginia Beach, Va. with additional campuses locations throughout Virginia, as well as North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. ECPI offers 21 campus-based and 11 online technology programs ranging from associate to master's degrees. Online students can pursue degrees in information systems, software development and cloud computing, to name a few.
ECPI in 2015 had the fourth-highest graduation rate among the institutions in these rankings. It also had an 84 percent admissions rate, which is second highest among institutions that do not h ave an open admissions policy. Other factors that helped the university place third were its high number of distance learners and the number of computer-related degrees conferred by the institution in 2015.
This state university in Maryland offers both completely online and hybrid degree programs for students interested in studying computer programming. The university offers six bachelor's degree programs in information technology, including information systems management, computer science and computer networks. There are 14 master's degree pathways from which to choose, as well as six computer-related certificate programs.
With its in-state tuition rate of $7,056 for the 2015-2016 school year, University of Maryland University Campus had the fourth-lowest tuition rate in our rankings. It also scored highly for its high number of students enrolled in distance education classes -- 97 percent of all students at the university study in digital classrooms. Lastly, one in every 10 degrees awarded to students in 2015 were in technology-related fields.
Located in the heart of Ellsworth Air Force Base in western South Dakota, National American University offers a wide range of information technology programs ranging from diplomas to Bachelor of Science degrees. The university offers 16 technical associate degrees, and seven bachelor's degrees, including study in applications development and management information systems.
With its moderate cost of in-state tuition -- $6,000 for the 2015-2016 academic year - National American University ranks second in our 10 featured schools for its tuition costs. Students also enjoy a low 11-to-1 faculty to student ratio that can lead to a more personalized educational experience. Approximately 70 percent of all students at National American University enrolled in distance education programs, the second-highest rate for online education in our top 10.
Baker College has 10 campus locations throughout the state of Michigan, as well as its online campus, where half of all students at Baker are enrolled.
The college offers a completely online Bachelor of Science degree in computer programming, as well as many information technology-related degree programs. Baker College had the third-highest number of computer-related programs of any institution in these rankings. With its open admissions policy, Baker College ranked first along with five other institutions for its admissions rate in 2015, and the college also serves students well with its flexible night and evening classes and full suite of career and academic support services.
The seventh university in our top 10 was founded in 1951 as a radio license school that has since grown into an entirely online campus. Grantham University offers associate degree programs in computer science and bachelor's degrees in computer science, computer engineering technology and information systems, to name a few. The university also offers graduate-level study in information technology and information management.
Grantham lands at No. 7 in our list of top schools for online degrees for computer programming based on its low cost of in-state tuition, which was $6,500 for the 2015-2016 school year. The university also had the third-highest graduation rate among our 10 featured institutions, and it tied for first with five other colleges for admissions rate.
This small, non-profit private postsecondary institution overlooks Lake Champlain in scenic Burlington, Vt. Champlain College offers 15 fully online undergraduate degrees and certificate programs, including study in computer and information systems. On-campus undergraduate programs include data analytics, game programming, and computer science.
Champlain College had the highest tuition of any college in our rankings, but it also had the second-highest graduation rate. Students enjoy a relatively low 14:1 faculty to student ratio, as well as the flexibility of distance education, night and evening classes, and academic and career support services. Ten percent of all students at the university received a computer-related degree in 2015.
Headquartered at Grand Rapids, Davenport University has locations throughout the state of Michigan and a strong online college as well.
Davenport's college of technology offers many different areas of study for students interested in technical careers. There are two areas of campus-based study at the associate level, and seven Bachelor of Science degree paths, including:
- Computer science
- Computer information systems
- Digital forensics
Graduate students can pursue four different on-campus master's degree programs through Davenport University as well. Distance learners have five online degree options at the bachelor's level, and three at the master's level. Computer science is offered at both levels.
Davenport University admits approximately 90 percent of all applicants, and students can possibly receive a more personalized education due to the college's low 11:1 student to faculty ratio.
Rounding out our list of top schools for computer programming is Fountainhead College of Technology in Knoxville, Tenn. Founded in 1947 as a school to train electronic technicians for the radio industry, Fountainhead in 1999 incorporated information technology into its program offerings and has since broadened its reach in technology-related educational programs.
The college offers associate degrees in computer programming and information technology, and bachelor's degrees in network security and forensics and application development. Students at Fountainhead College of Technology are dedicated - the college had a 72 percent graduation rate in 2015, tops among all institutions in this list. Fountainhead College of Technology also had the lowest student-to-faculty ratio among any featured college at 10:1. Just under 40 percent of students at the college were awarded technology-related degrees in 2015, also best in our rankings.
Note: This school will be closed by the end of 2018. Students interested in computer programming degree programs should explore other rankings on this page for more insight into educational opportunities.
Computer Programming Degrees and Specializations
A bachelor's degree in computer programming is the most common education level for employment in the field, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. Students who complete computer programming degrees typically learn several coding languages, and have the foundational knowledge necessary to learn others. Many organizations seek programmers who have obtained vendor-specific programming certifications, such as Java or C++. Programmers who have earned bachelor's degrees and wish to advance their careers can complete certificate programs or master's degrees in computer programming or a related field, which potentially could provide a boost to their employment opportunities.
With a software development and computer programming background, you could also look into becoming a mobile app developer.
Career Outlook for Computer Programming Majors
As companies move computer programming functions to countries with lower wages, the field is expected to contract by as much as 8 percent over the next several years. Computer programmers who hold a four-year degree and know a variety of coding languages are expected to have stronger job prospects in the coming years. Despite the threat of job losses, here are some outlooks for common career paths for students who earn computer programming degrees.
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Computer Programming
Students enrolled in accredited four-year or two-year institutions can qualify for federal financial aid, or they can pursue computer programming and computer science scholarships to help pay for college.
To be included in these rankings, all schools must meet the following initial criteria for the specific subject being ranked.
- Offer an undergraduate degree (either associate or bachelor’s) in that subject.
- Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in the most recent year of IPEDS data available.
Based on those criteria, we ranked all 2-year and 4-year schools in IPEDS that reported data for all of the following points. Ratings are calculated on a 10-point scale, using the weights specified.
- In-state undergraduate tuition & fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Accessibility, based on admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Institutional spending, based on two equally weighted factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Instructional and academic support expenses per full-time enrolled student
- Instructional and academic support spending as a percentage of all expenses
- Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Flexibility, based on the following factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Percent of students enrolled fully or partly in distance education
- Whether the school offers programs that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
- Whether the school offers academic and career counseling
- Whether the school offers job placement services for students who complete their programs
- Whether the school offers any alternative tuition plans, such as a payment plan or guaranteed rate
- Size of program, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2016-17, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- Online Degrees, Dakota State University, http://dsu.edu/academics/online-education/online-degrees
- Online Bachelor's Degree Programs, American Public University System, http://www.apu.apus.edu/academic/degrees-and-programs/bachelors.html
- College of Technology, ECPI University, https://www.ecpi.edu/college-of-technology
- IT & Computer Science Academic Programs, University of Maryland University College, https://www.umuc.edu/academic-programs/information-technology/index.cfm
- Information Technology, National American University, http://www.national.edu/programs/college-of-business-accounting-and-technology/information-technology/
- Full Program List, Baker College, https://www.baker.edu/academics/resources/full-program-list
- Online Degrees, Grantham University, https://www.grantham.edu/online-degrees/
- Online degrees and certificates, Champlain College Online, https://www.champlain.edu/online/degrees-and-certificates
- College of Technology, Davenport University, https://www.davenport.edu/college-of-technology#node-13020
- Degrees and Programs, Fountainhead College of Technology, http://fountainhead.tv/degree-program/
- Computer Programmers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-programmers.htm#tab-2
- Database administrators, Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/database-administrators.htm
- Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of Wintergreen Orchard House, a division of Carnegie Communications. Copyright © 2017-18 by Wintergreen Orchard House. All rights reserved.
- A future proof degree? Artificial Intelligence is now a major at this university, Greg Nicols, ZDNet, May 10, 2018, Accessed June 2018, https://www.zdnet.com/article/a-future-proof-degree-artificial-intelligence-is-now-a-major-at-this-university/
- Difference Between a Computer Science & Information Technology Degree, Jessica Blanchard, King University Online, December 15, 2017, Accessed June 2018, https://online.king.edu/information-technology/difference-between-a-computer-science-information-technology-degree/
- Why Study Computer Science? DePauw University, Accessed June 2018,https://www.depauw.edu/academics/departments-programs/computer-science/why-study-computer-science/
- Computer engineering vs. computer science, Concordia University, Accessed June 2018, https://www.concordia.ca/encs/computer-science-software-engineering/programs/soen-vs-compsci.html