Why Take Online Computer Science Courses?

According to both the U.S. Department of Labor and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the technology sector is among the fastest-growing in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of technology jobs are expected to be added to the economy in the coming years, and everyone wants a piece of the action. For many, that means getting the right degree which will help land them the perfect job. In today's world, you don't even have to step foot onto a campus or into a lecture hall to get a Computer Science degree. The plethora of online Computer Science courses available means you can take courses online through a distance learning program, and be awarded your degree in Computer Science. If you are interested in taking online Computer Science courses towards a degree, make sure you research the various online Computer Science courses offered carefully, to determine which degree program is right for you.

Online Computer Science Degree Programs

Just like their on-campus counterparts, online Computer Science courses can be classified by the type of degree they will help you earn: Bachelor's, Master's, or Doctorate. Unlike in many other fields of employment, job openings in the technology industry often do not require a graduate degree. This means a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science will likely be the only degree you need in order to attain employment. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the two technology occupations with projected highest growth rates both have a Bachelor's degree listed as the "Most
significant source of postsecondary education or training."

Bachelor's Degree

If you are just starting out in the Computer Science field, you will get a Bachelor's degree as your first step. A Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science can be either a Bachelor of Science (B. S.) or a Bachelor of Arts (B. A.). Bachelor of Science programs are usually more exclusively focused on Computer Science while Bachelor of Arts programs offer a broader education including subjects in other departments.

A Bachelor of Computer Science degree typically takes four years to earn, though you can sometimes take extra courses during the summer or at other times to shorten the amount of time it will take. Some online degree programs will also allow an undergraduate student who meets specific criteria (usually a minimum of enrollment hours and a minimum GPA) to take courses toward a Bachelor's Degree and Master's Degree simultaneously.

Master's Degree

A Master's Degree can be earned only after the Bachelor's Degree. The graduate degree program offering a Master of Science in Computer Science builds upon the foundation established in an undergraduate program. More courses are offered to ensure that the student has an even broader grounding in Computer Science. Additionally, many graduate degree programs offer the opportunity to focus intensely on specific areas within the field of Computer Science, and some programs require this specialization.

A Master's Degree typically takes two years to earn; again, you can accelerate (or decelerate!) the process if you desire.

Doctorate Degree

A Doctorate Degree is usually earned only when the Master's Degree has already been earned, though there are some Computer Science doctorate programs offered for those with only undergraduate degrees. In those cases, the doctorate degree program will include courses towards a Master's Degree as well.

A Doctorate program differs essentially from both undergraduate and graduate degree programs. While the Bachelor's Degree program and Master's Degree program focus on imparting to the student a breadth of knowledge by covering many subject areas, the Doctorate Degree program aims to help the student attain a depth of knowledge in one very specific area. Thus, as a student in a Computer Science Doctorate program, you may spend the bulk of your time and effort creating one algorithm. The Doctorate program is also different in that it consists mostly of research and not as much coursework. Students are expected to show the results of their original research with a written dissertation. A doctorate degree usually takes six years to attain.

Selecting A College For Your Online Degree Program

There are many colleges offering online Computer Science courses. While you won't need to check out the campus, worry about the distance from home, or care about class size, you will need to take several things into consideration when choosing the online degree program that is best for you.

If you are taking online Computer Science courses in the hopes of landing a great job in the Information Technology field, you should look at the placement success rate of a college very closely. The placement success rate tells you how the Computer Science degree offered by the college is ranked by employers. Many online degree programs have statistics on their websites that can help you in this research.

You will also be interested in a college's internship programs, which help students or graduates get a "toe" into the technology employment world. Technology internship positions are multiple and varied, and often lead to full-scale employment. Having your college help you land an internship position will give you a major step up when you are looking for that job.

Also, make sure that the graduation timetable is one that you can realistically expect to comply with. Many programs require that students finish all the requirements within a specified number of years. Don't start an online Computer Science course unless you are reasonably certain that you will be able to put in the time demanded, and attain that degree.

Finally, don't forget to take the cost of the program into account, while bearing in mind that you may be eligible for scholarships, student loans, or tuition installment plans that may ease the tuition burden significantly.