August 9, 2022

Best online computer programming associate degrees 2021: Top picks

A computer programming associate degree program takes only two years to complete and qualifies graduates for jobs building websites, writing code for software, and providing computer support to users. An associate degree can also serve as a prerequisite to a bachelor’s degree in computer programming, which employers often prefer or require.

As virtually every business, organization, and agency uses computer programs to operate, opportunities in this field should remain steady. Computer support specialists, for example, should see a projected 9% job growth increase during 2020-2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS projects a 13% employment growth for web developers.  

The best online computer programming associate degrees

ZDNet’s ranking methodology builds rankings based on expert curation, research, and meticulous editing. Schools cannot pay for inclusion in ZDNet’s rankings, which ensures the objectivity and accuracy of each program listed.  

Unless otherwise indicated, data is drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Scorecard.

1. Hinds Community College

Raymond, Mississippi

About the program: The associate of applied science in computer programming degree at Hinds CC can be completed online. Courses cover C++, Java, operating platforms, and systems analysis and design.

  • Acceptance rate: Not publicly available
  • Graduation rate: 23%
  • Avg. annual net price: $3,757
  • Years to completion: Two
  • SAT range: Not required (ACT score required)
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Spring, summer, and fall semesters
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous with possible on-campus exams

Accreditation: Hinds Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

2. Lincoln Land Community College

Springfield, Illinois

About the program: LLCC’s computer programming associate degree program awards an associate in arts. Graduates can complete the 60-67 credits online and emerge prepared for computer science positions in business settings. 

  • Acceptance rate: Not publicly available
  • Graduation rate: 35%
  • Avg. annual net price: $6,168
  • Years to completion: Two
  • SAT range: Not required but recommended if available
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Lincoln Land Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 

3. Moberly Area Community College

Moberly, Missouri

About the program: Students enrolled in MACC’s associate of applied science in information technology — programming can take all of their courses virtually and learn C#, C++, and Java, along with SQL. 

  • Acceptance rate: Not publicly available
  • Graduation rate: 23%
  • Avg. annual net price: $7,143
  • Years to completion: Two
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Synchronous with live lab options

Accreditation: Moberly Area Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 

4. Southeast Technical College

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

About the program: Southeast Tech’s online computer programming associate degree requires 62-63 credits that include courses in programming languages like C#, CSS, HTML, JavaScript, MySQL, and PHP.

  • Acceptance rate: Not publicly available
  • Graduation rate: 49%
  • Avg. annual net price: $14,633
  • Years to completion: Two to three
  • SAT range: 360 math
  • Minimum GPA: 2.0
  • Enrollment periods per year: Two
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Southeast Technical Institute is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 

5. University of Toledo

Toledo, Ohio

About the program: UToledo offers a 60- to-61-credit associate of applied science in programming and software development. Remote learners with internet navigation, email, and Microsoft Office can study online.

  • Acceptance rate: 96%
  • Graduation rate: 43%
  • Avg. annual net price: $17,630
  • Years to completion: Two
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: 2.0
  • Enrollment periods per year: Two
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: University of Toledo is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 

6. Northcentral Technical College

Wausau, Wisconsin

About the program: Students interested in IT-software development can earn an associate degree at NTC 100% online. The 64-credit curriculum prepares graduates to design and develop desktops, mobile software, and websites using object-oriented programming languages and technologies.

  • Acceptance rate: Not publicly available
  • Graduation rate: 56%
  • Avg. annual net price: $10,131
  • Years to completion: Two to four
  • SAT range: Not publicly available
  • Minimum GPA: 2.0 for transfer credits
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Northcentral Technical College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 

7. Minnesota State Community and Technical College

Fergus Falls, Minnesota

About the program: M State’s computer programming associate degree includes 60-credits and opportunities for remote learners to design, write, code, document, and implement programs for different platforms. 

  • Acceptance rate: Not publicly available
  • Graduation rate: 40%
  • Avg. annual net price: $10,818
  • Years to completion: Two
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Minnesota State Community and Technical College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

8. St. Petersburg College

Clearwater, Florida

About the program: SPC distance learners can pursue an associate in science degree in computer programming and analysis. The curriculum includes 60 credits, an internship, and Java courses that prepare students for the Oracle Java Certified Associate industry certification.

  • Acceptance rate: Not publicly available
  • Graduation rate: 33%
  • Avg. annual net price: $3,226
  • Years to completion: Two to four
  • SAT range: Not publicly available
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous and asynchronous

Accreditation: St. Petersburg College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

9. Seminole State College of Florida

Sanford, Florida

About the program: Seminole State’s computer programming associate degree offers specializations in modeling and simulation, programming, and web development. Enrollees can earn their associate in science in computer programming and analysis fully online.

  • Acceptance rate: Not publicly available
  • Graduation rate: 41%
  • Avg. annual net price: $8,326
  • Years to completion: Two
  • SAT range: Not publicly available
  • Minimum GPA: C
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Seminole State College of Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). 

10. Austin Community College District

Austin, Texas

About the program: At ACC, online learners can pursue their associate of applied science degree in computer programming with specializations in software testing or web programming.

  • Acceptance rate: Not publicly available
  • Graduation rate: 10%
  • Avg. annual net price: $6,861
  • Years to completion: Two
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Austin Community College District is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). 

11. Champlain College

Burlington, Vermont

About the program: The online associate degree program in software development at Champlain requires 60 credits and teaches programming languages, including C++, HTMLS, PyCharm, and SQL. 

  • Acceptance rate: 85%
  • Graduation rate: 61%
  • Avg. annual net price: $33,561
  • Years to completion: Two
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: 2.5
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Champlain College is regionally accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE). 

12. Joliet Junior College

Joliet, Illinois

About the program: JJC’s 64-credit associate in applied science in computer programming degree allows online learners to build a portfolio of marketable skills in Python, C, C++, Java, and Javascript.

  • Acceptance rate: Not publicly available
  • Graduation rate: 20%
  • Avg. annual net price: $4,693
  • Years to completion: Two
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery method: Synchronous and asynchronous

Accreditation: Joliet Junior College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 

13. Sinclair Community College

Dayton, Ohio

About the program: Sinclair offers online learning options for completing its computer information systems/software development associate of applied science degree. Graduates emerge with skills that include logical problem-solving, program design and documentation, and network administration.  

  • Acceptance rate: Not publicly available
  • Graduation rate: 19%
  • Avg. annual net price: $4,208
  • Years to completion: Two
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Sinclair Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 

14. Pitt Community College

Winterville, North Carolina

About the program: PCC’s online associate of applied science in computer programming and development curriculum emphasizes software design, development, implementation, and maintenance, along with object-oriented programming languages.

  • Acceptance rate: Not publicly available
  • Graduation rate: 26%
  • Avg. annual net price: $3,478
  • Years to completion: Two
  • SAT range: 480 evidence-based reading and writing; 530 math
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Pitt Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) 

15. Stark State College

North Canton, Ohio

About the program: The associate degree in computer programming and database at Stark State teaches remote learners to use database management systems and computer software for data organization and storage. 

  • Acceptance rate: Not publicly available
  • Graduation rate: 16%
  • Avg. annual net price: $6,464
  • Years to completion: Two
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery method: Synchronous and asynchronous

Accreditation: Stark State College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 

16. Cincinnati State Technical and Community College

Cincinnati, Ohio

About the program: CState offers an associate of applied science in computer programming and database management — computer software development major. The 60-credit program prepares graduates for industry certifications and advanced degrees.

  • Acceptance rate: Not publicly available
  • Graduation rate: 23%
  • Avg. annual net price: $5,469
  • Years to completion: Two
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Synchronous and asynchronous

Accreditation: Cincinnati State Technical and Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 

17. Vincennes University

Vincennes, Indiana

About the program: Online students at VU can earn an associate of science in IT — programming and game development concentration. The curriculum introduces industry-standard tools like Blender, GameMaker, Unity, and 3ds Max.

  • Acceptance rate: Not publicly available
  • Graduation rate: 26%
  • Avg. annual net price: $10,845
  • Years to completion: Two
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery method: Synchronous and asynchronous

Accreditation: Vincennes University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 

18. Guilford Technical Community College

Jamestown, North Carolina

About the program: Students interested in careers as computer programmers, mobile application developers, and software developers can pursue an applied associate of science degree in information technology-computer programming at GTCC. 

  • Acceptance rate: Not publicly available
  • Graduation rate: 21%
  • Avg. annual net price: $8,584
  • Years to completion: Two
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Synchronous and asynchronous; may include in-person exams

Accreditation: Guilford Technical Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). 

19. Clark State Community College

Springfield, Ohio

About the program: Clark State offers a computer programming associate degree online with a computer software development — web development option. The 61-credit program includes embedded departmental certificates. 

  • Acceptance rate: Not publicly available
  • Graduation rate: 16%
  • Avg. annual net price: $6,539
  • Years to completion: Two
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery method: Synchronous and asynchronous

Accreditation: Clark State Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 

20. Community College of Allegheny County

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

About the program: CCAC’s associate of science in software development degree program provides a foundation in data modeling, systems development, and software development and programming using object-oriented languages.  

  • Acceptance rate: Not publicly available
  • Graduation rate: 20%
  • Avg. annual net price: $9,047
  • Years to completion: Two
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Two
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Community College of Allegheny County is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

What to expect in an online computer programming associate degree program

Online computer programming associate degree programs focus on practical skills that include software and web development and programming using languages such as CSS, Javascript, and SQL. Curriculums may include industry certifications in areas like Microsoft and Oracle platforms. Some programs offer internship opportunities at worksites in students’ communities or remotely.

Graduates typically earn one of three degrees: an associate of applied science, which focuses on programming and technical support; an associate of arts, which emphasizes foundational coursework in IT topics; or an associate in science, which centers on technical skills and specializations.

Remote learners who are also self-starters fare the best, along with those possessing time-management skills and motivation.

Computer programming courses

While curricular content and program concentrations vary, online learners pursuing associate degrees in computer programming often start with similar introductory courses in which students may complete group or individual projects or labs. 

Computer programming foundations

This introduction to programming concepts, principles, and techniques teaches code structures and expressions and examines different programming languages. Course topics may include algorithms, conditional and iterative structures, and parallelism.

Data management and data systems

Students learn the basics of database design and management systems use, including data definition and manipulation languages, data models, relational databases, and schema versus data. A typical focus area is writing and executing SQL statements for managing data.

Java programming

As a foundational software programming language, Java skills are important for solving problems and building applications. The course is often project-based, providing opportunities for hands-on writing, compiling, and executing Java programs and developing applications for multiple platforms.

Web development

Students learn about the functionality of websites and how to design and build them. The course covers full-stack applications and front-end technologies like HTML, along with back-end technologies, such as Node modules. 

Computer programming degree levels

Which type of computer programming degree to choose depends on your goals. If you want to spend minimal time and money on your education and are willing to work your way up through job experience, a certificate or associate program may be for you. To increase the odds of employability and higher salaries, a bachelor’s or graduate degree could be a better path.

Certificate in computer programming

  • Length: Four months to two years 
  • Cost: $2,000-$10,000 per certificate
  • Post-grad careers: Entry-level computer programmer, software coder, information systems technician

Computer programming certificates offer learners new to the field the fastest route to mastering job skills. They also function as ways experienced programmers can gain additional skills in a particular area and advance their careers. 

Certificate programs focus on common languages and technologies, such as C#, C++, HTML. Java, Python, and SQL Students generally earn their certificates part-time and may complete a capstone project. Credits can often transfer toward an associate degree in computer programming. 

Associate in computer programming

  • Length: Two years 
  • Cost: $3,500-$33,500 per year
  • Post-grad careers: Computer programmer, computer support specialist, web developer

Associate in computer programming degrees can qualify graduates for jobs in software development, web development, and database management, but also provide the foundation for bachelor’s-level study. Employers increasingly look for bachelor’s in computer programming degree-holders, and credits earned in an associate degree can apply toward a baccalaureate.. 

Advantages of an associate degree include the opportunity to see if computer programming is a good fit before spending a lot of time and money. Internships can also be part of the curriculum, providing networking and skills-based experiences.    

Bachelor’s in computer programming

  • Length: Four years 
  • Cost: $9,000-$48,000 per year
  • Post-grad careers: Database administrator; information analyst; software developer

A computer programming degree at the bachelor’s level offers a comprehensive curriculum that includes general education topics, computer programming theory, and practical application courses that emphasize programming languages. 

Students complete individual and group projects and, often, a final capstone project. The ability to collaborate within teams and analytical skills will help learners succeed in their degree programs, as well as their future workplaces. 

Employers tend to prefer job applicants with bachelor’s degrees, which can make the time and money well spent.  

Master’s in computer programming

  • Length: Two years
  • Cost: $6,000-$54,000 per year
  • Post-grad careers: Computer research scientist; network architect; systems analyst

Master’s in computer programming students focus primarily on practical skills and specialization in areas like artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, program design, and research. Graduates gain an advantage in the job market, command higher salaries, and qualify for doctoral degree programs. 

Master’s programs lead to master of science (MS) or master of arts MA degrees. MS curriculums tend to emphasize math and sciences more than MA programs. Students can expect to complete a thesis project and/or practicum.

Doctorate in computer programming

  • Length: Three to seven years 
  • Cost: $5,500-$52,000
  • Post-grad careers: College professor, computer and information research scientist, software engineer

Individuals pursuing doctorates in computer programming are interested in collegiate-level teaching and research careers or high-level technology industry positions. Degree options include earning a Ph.D. in computer science or software engineering. 

Doctoral students specialize in areas like information security, systems, and theory. Coursework covers advanced skills and research in computer algorithms, artificial intelligence, cryptography, database applications, network architecture, and programming languages design. Graduation typically requires taking a comprehensive examination and writing and defending a research-based dissertation.

In conclusion

An online associate degree can provide a fast and cost-effective route to positions in computer programming, computer support, and web development. It also can qualify you for admission to a bachelor’s degree program. To find the right educational choice for you, explore our list of the best online computer programming associate degree programs.