Top Associate Degrees in Computer Science for 2022

| ComputerScience.org Staff Modified on June 27, 2022

Top Associate Degrees in Computer Science for 2022
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A computer science associate degree covers the basics of computer science theory and practice. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 13% growth for computer and information technology occupations from 2020-2030, faster than the average growth projection for all jobs.

Earning an associate degree in computer science is a great starting point for anyone interested in a computer and information technology (IT) career.

Many graduates continue their education in a computer science bachelor's program, while others enter the field immediately.

This page includes a ranking of the best computer science associate programs. We also explain the value of a computer science associate degree, potential careers for graduates, and what to expect from a typical program. You can find suggestions for choosing the right school for your computer science associate degree as well.

Why Get an Associate Degree in Computer Science?

Computer science is the study of computers and computing, covering everything from computer and network design to algorithms and data structures. The discipline attracts people who enjoy mastering technologies, solving problems, and math and analytical thinking. Computer science professionals earn higher salaries and face a better job market than those in many other fields.

A computer science associate degree prepares students for entry-level positions helping organizations solve a variety of computer and IT problems. Students looking to establish foundational credentials and knowledge to break into the job market can benefit from an associate degree, as these programs typically only take two years of full-time study to complete. An associate program also provides a good introduction for students planning to continue their education and get a bachelor's degree in computer science.

Career Opportunities
Graduates may qualify for a variety of well-paying computer science associate degree jobs, including web developer, computer support specialist, computer programmer, and network and computer systems administrator.
Increased Salary Potential
Getting a computer science associate degree can help students increase their earning potential by helping them develop in-demand technical skills. For example, the median annual salary for web developers was $77,200 as of 2020.
Preparation for Other Degree Programs or Certifications
Computer science associate programs help learners prepare to transfer to bachelor's programs at four-year universities or to apply for technical certifications.

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Computer Science Associate Degrees Versus Bootcamps

Prospective computer science professionals may wonder what the difference is between a computer science associate degree and a bootcamp.

Bootcamps provide training in coding and other high-demand skills. These programs are nontraditional, intensive learning experiences, which students complete in a short timeframe. Bootcamp attendees learn skills quickly to begin their job search even more quickly than associate degree graduates, which make them an attractive option for job-seekers with limited time or money to pursue a full degree.

In contrast, a computer science associate degree provides a broad foundation in computer science, emphasizes theory, and gives students more time to absorb new information. Those who want to get a bachelor's and qualify for a larger variety of careers should pursue a computer science associate degree.

The table below highlights differences between computer science associate degrees and bootcamps.

Comparing Associate Degrees and Bootcamps
Computer Science Associate DegreeComputer Science Bootcamp
Program LengthTwo years of full-time study Anywhere from one day to six months or longer. Some bootcamps offer self-paced options.
Types of ClassesIntroduction to computer science, web development, computer architectureIntroduction to HTML, JavaScript, web development
FocusFoundational theory and practices of computer sciencePractical, career-focused skills like coding
Admission RequirementsHigh school diploma or equivalentSome require basic coding or other computer skills, while others welcome true beginners.
GoalPrepare graduates for entry-level jobs in the computer and IT field or to apply to a computer science bachelor's programProvide training leading to immediate employment opportunities

Continuing Your Education Past an Associate Degree

Students can pursue a variety of higher education opportunities in computer science past an associate degree, opening the door to higher salaries and more certification opportunities. Some prospective computer science professionals start off with an associate degree to ascertain whether they enjoy the field before investing in a longer program. Below, we outline education opportunities beyond an associate degree in computer science.

A bachelor's degree in computer science teaches students more about computer science theory while also developing practical, career-relevant skills in coding, database management, and web development. Many bachelor's programs offer concentrations in areas like data science, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity. Applicants usually need a high school diploma and meet GPA and SAT/ACT minimum requirements. It usually takes four years of full-time study to earn a computer science bachelor's degree, though associate degree-holders may be able to transfer credits and complete a bachelor's program more quickly.

A master's degree in computer science develops advanced knowledge in computer science theory and practice. Applicants typically need a bachelor's in computer science, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and satisfactory GRE scores. Most master's programs also offer concentrations in areas like machine learning and artificial intelligence, big data, mobile computing, and cybersecurity. Most master's in computer science programs take two years of full-time study to complete.

Many employers require or prefer job applicants with certifications in areas relevant to their positions and expertise. The type of computer science certifications you should pursue depends on what types of jobs you plan to pursue. Potential certifications include vendor-specific certifications from companies like Microsoft or Cisco and vendor-neutral certifications from professional organizations like CompTIA.

Available Careers With an Associate Degree in Computer Science

You can pursue many lucrative careers with an associate degree in computer science. The BLS reports a median annual salary of $91,250 for computer and IT occupations, more than double the median annual wage for all occupations.

Many computer science and IT professionals can improve their earnings and career opportunities by earning technical certifications in their areas of expertise.

Below we describe potential careers for computer science associate degree-holders, including web developer, computer support specialist, computer programmer, and network and computer systems administrator.

Web Developers

Web developers design websites, write code, and create applications. They work with clients, other designers, and management. Specialized types of web developers include webmasters, back-end web developers, and front-end web developers. They work in the computer systems design, publishing, and advertising industries.

  • Required Education: Associate degree
  • Job Outlook (2020-30): +13%
  • Median Annual Salary: $77,200
Computer Support Specialists

Computer user support specialists, sometimes called help desk technicians, help customers. Computer network support specialists also troubleshoot computer networks. They work in the telecommunications, educational services, and finance and insurance industries. Computer support specialists need customer service, problem-solving, and listening skills.

  • Required Education: Associate degree may be required
  • Job Outlook (2020-30): +9%
  • Median Annual Salary: $55,510
Computer Programmers

Computer programmers write code that helps computers function. They take designs that software engineers and developers create and turn them into languages computers understand. Job duties include updating programs, finding program errors, and using code libraries. Programmers with business experience can advance as computer systems analysts.

  • Required Education: Associate or bachelor's degree
  • Job Outlook (2020-30): -10%
  • Median Annual Salary: $89,190
Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Network and computer systems administrators oversee the operations side of physical computer networks. They work for organizations in many different industries. Typical job activities include training people to use software and hardware, optimizing system performance, and maintaining network security. Earning technical certifications in their area of expertise can lead to career advancement.

  • Required Education: Associate or bachelor's degree
  • Job Outlook (2020-30): +5%
  • Median Annual Salary: $84,810

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What To Expect From Associate in Computer Science Programs

Computer science associate programs provide training and preparation for a variety of well-paying careers and for continuing education at the bachelor's level. Many prospective students wonder: is a computer science degree worth it? Your potential return-on-investment depends on a variety of factors, including the cost of your program, your personal financial situation, and your expected salary upon graduation.

It usually takes two years and 60 credits to earn a computer science associate degree. Cost varies, but those who can pay in-state tuition at a public college usually get the best deal. Schools offer different types of associate degrees in computer science, including associate of arts, associate of science, associate of applied science, and associate of applied business programs. Potential concentrations include computer programming, computer information systems, and web development.

Keep reading for more details about what to expect from your computer science associate program.

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for computer science associate programs vary by school. Some colleges offer open admissions, welcoming anyone with a high school diploma or GED certificate. Others require a minimum GPA or ACT/SAT test scores. Most associate programs do not require letters of recommendation or application essays, a common requirement for bachelor's programs.

To apply to a computer science associate program, prospective learners typically fill out an online application, submit a small fee, and send their high school transcripts. Admitted students may need to complete placement testing before enrolling in classes.

Degree and Concentration Options

Schools with computer science associate programs offer different degree types. Prospective students should consider how degree type may impact their career goals and future education opportunities. Below, we compare computer science associate degrees.

Associate of Science

AS degrees focus on preparing students for careers immediately after graduation and emphasize practical training. AS programs offer concentrations in areas like computer information systems or computer programming.

Associate of Applied Science

AAS degrees resemble AS degrees, focusing on skills development and career readiness. Many colleges view an AAS as a terminal degree. Concentrations may include web development or computer programming.

Associate of Arts

Computer science AA programs provide good preparation for students who plan to earn a bachelor's degree. They include liberal arts and humanities classes in addition to computer science.

Associate of Applied Business

AAB computer science programs focus on business in computer science and prepare students to enter careers immediately after graduation.
Popular Computer Science Courses

Computer science associate courses vary by school, but a typical curriculum explores topics like programming, software engineering, databases, and operating systems. Students gain a foundation in computer science theory and develop basic IT and computer skills. Most programs require core, elective/concentration, and general education classes. Below we describe several courses common across computer science associate programs.

Programming Fundamentals
In a programming fundamentals course, students build a foundation in computer languages like Python. They explore abstract concepts of these programming languages and develop the critical thinking skills necessary for work in the field.
Introduction to Databases
This introductory core course focuses on the design and implementation of relational database systems. Topics include relational theory, database modeling and design, and SQL. After the class, students are able to install a relational database management system, use database modeling techniques, and define database tables.
Introduction to Software Engineering
Students learn the basics of the engineering process, including validation, analysis fundamentals, and identifying stakeholders. They explore issues like using different kinds of models, documenting software requirements, and using requirements repositories.
Artificial Intelligence
Learners receive an introduction to contemporary theories of artificial intelligence. This class explores how computers learn autonomously, studying topics like search optimization, problem-solving, and natural language understanding. Students also learn to use basic search algorithms.
How Much Will an Associate in Computer Science Cost?

The cost of a computer science associate degree varies by school. Factors that impact price include type of school (public or private), program format (online or in-person), and tuition rate (in-state or out-of-state). Most public colleges offer much more affordable degrees than prestigious private institutions. In-state public schools typically offer the most affordable options.

Students who plan to get a bachelor's in computer science can save money by completing the first two years of their program at a community college and earning an associate degree.

Consider additional costs you may incur while earning an associate degree, including textbooks, technology repairs and upgrades, and deferred compensation for those who can not work while in school full time. Financing options for computer science associate degrees include grants, scholarships, work-study, and loans. See the link below for more information.

Choosing the Right Computer Science Program

Our rankings list of the top computer science associate programs is a great place for prospective students to start their research, but many other considerations go into choosing the right program. Think about these additional key factors when selecting your school.

Accreditation
Make sure that any college you consider is accredited. This makes it easier to apply to or transfer credit to a bachelor's program, qualify for financial aid, and earn professional certifications.
Cost
How much can you afford to spend on your computer science associate degree? What types of financial aid does your program offer? Look for scholarships, grants, and work-study opportunities to help fund your education.
Location
Are you interested in moving to pursue your degree? Or do you prefer the convenience and cost savings of finding a program nearby? If you choose an online associate program in computer science, physical location may not matter.
Program Length
Most computer science associate degrees take two full-time years to complete. If you want to graduate in less time, look for accelerated programs that let you take more credits each term.
Career Services
Does your school offer dedicated career services to current learners and alumni? Many students find internship and job opportunities through their school's career development office or alumni network.

Should You Get Your Associate Degree Online?

Online associate programs in computer science make it easier for some people to pursue their degrees. Most online programs feature asynchronous course delivery, allowing students to complete coursework on their schedule. For prospective students who want to keep their jobs while studying, the flexibility of asynchronous classes permits them to integrate coursework into their busy schedules. Computer science associate degree programs particularly suit the online learning experience because they emphasize digital technologies and computer skills.

When deciding if the online experience is right for you, consider factors like personal learning style, the number of hours you can dedicate to school each week, and whether a distance education program would provide the education you want. Some people learn better from or simply prefer traditional, on-campus programs.

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Top Associate Degrees in Computer Science

Explore our ranking of top associate degrees in computer science that can help prepare students for future education and careers in programming, web development, and IT.

#1 Online College in Mississippi

Itawamba Community College

School Information
Location Fulton, Mississippi
Graduation Rate 46%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 67% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Originally founded in 1920 as an agricultural school, Itawamba Community College serves Northeast Mississippi with affordable two-year programs. The school currently has campuses in Fulton, Belden, and Tupelo.

Associate of Arts in Computer Science

ICC offers an associate in computer science that helps prepare students for in-demand roles in programming, data analytics, and web development. The program articulates to bachelor's in information technology and computer science from neighboring universities, including Alcorn State University and University of Mississippi 

Major course topics include programming with C++, data structures, and computer concepts. Students must demonstrate computer competency prior to graduation by taking an approved course or a formal exam.

The school requires learners to take a two-credit course in college life within their first twelve credits to graduate. 

Applying to ICC

Students applying to ICC must submit SAT, ACT, or Accuplacer scores along with their high school transcripts.

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition: $1,450 per semester (in district/out of district) 
  • Program Length: Two years
  • Delivery Format: On-campus
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 15%
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#2 Online College in New York

CUNY LaGuardia Community College

School Information
Location Long Island City, New York
Graduation Rate 28%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 5% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

CUNY LaGuardia Community College was founded in 1971 to provide affordable education to a community mostly consisting of people of color. The school takes its namesake from former New York City mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia.

Associate of Science in Computer Science

LAGCC currently offers an associate in computer science that helps prepare graduates for coding work in business and research.  The program is currently taught by the department of math, science, and engineering.

Major course topics include computer organization and assembly language, object-oriented programming, and discrete structures. Flexible core courses in liberal arts include diversity in the U.S., the individual and society, and creative expression.

The degree can also prepare students to transfer credit towards a computer science bachelor's. LaGuardia's program is articulated with City Tech University's computer systems program.

Applying to LAGCC

Students can apply through the LAGCC online application portal by submitting high school transcripts or equivalent and college transcripts, if applicable. The application fee is $65.

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Tuition: $2,400 per semester (in state)
  • Program Length: Two years
  • Delivery Format: On-campus
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 3%
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#3 Online College in Georgia

Georgia Military College

School Information
Location Milledgeville, Georgia
Graduation Rate 28%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 45% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Based in Milledgeville, Georgia Military College serves North Georgia and beyond with traditional and online programs tailored to working professionals. The school's mascot is a bulldog.

Associate of Science in Computer Science

GMC offers an associate in computer science that prepares learners for careers in software engineering, web development, and network system architecture. Students develop advanced knowledge of object-oriented programming and standard data structure behavior and applications. The program also covers basic web design skills. 

Core course topics include principles of computer programming, advanced database applications, and data system analysis and design. Graduates leave the program with a strong grounding in Java, including Java libraries and Java Swing. 

Program credit transfers to GMC's bachelor's in computer science program.

Applying to GMC

Apply through the GMC online portal by submitting high school transcripts, GED certificate, or college transcripts. GMC has no SAT or ACT requirement. The application fee is $35.

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition: $7,785 per year
  • Program Length: Two years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (Asynchronous) and on campus
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 33%
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#4 Online College in Texas

Texas State Technical College

School Information
Location Waco, Texas
Graduation Rate 37%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 27% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Texas State Technical College was founded in 1969 to meet the Lone Star state's workforce needs. It is Texas's only state-funded, multiple-campus technical college. The school is awarded funding based on students' ability to find employment post-graduation.

Associate of Science in Computer Science

TSTC currently offers an online associate in computer science available only to students located in Harlingen. This program equips learners with the fundamental coding skills and computer science theory knowledge to pursue work as  programmers, software engineers, or computer support specialists. Alternately, graduates can apply program credit towards a four-year bachelor's in computer science. 

Required course topics include programming fundamentals, computer organization, and Texas government. The program emphasizes computer architecture more than TSTC's computer programming associate. The curriculum also emphasizes liberal arts electives in written communication, philosophy, and culture. 

The associate program follows a performance-based model, emphasizing practical skills rather than abstract theory.

Applying to TSTC

There is no application fee for applying to TSTC. Apply through the online portal and include high school transcripts, GED certificate, or other academic transcripts.

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition: $11,160 total
  • Program Length: 20 months
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (Asynchronous)
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 29%
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#5 Online College in New York

CUNY Queensborough Community College

School Information
Location Bayside, New York
Graduation Rate 28%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 2% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

A top-performing community college nationwide for educational value, Bayside's CUNY Queensborough Community College joined the CUNY system in 1965. Campus highlights include the Kupferberg Holocaust Center.

Associate of Science in Computer Science and Information Security

QCC offers an associate in computer science and information security meant to bridge to a bachelor's at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The program arms students with information management and coding skills to pursue a network security administration career. The degree can also prepare graduates for further study in quantitative-computing-related majors.

Major courses include introduction to C++ programming design and administration, networking fundamentals I, and programming and applications with Python. The program requires math coursework in discrete mathematics, analytic geometry, and calculus. 

Soft skills covered in the program include written communication, teamwork, and critical thinking.

Applying to QCC

Students can apply through QCC's online portal with their high school transcript, GED certificate, or any other academic transcripts. The regular application fee is $65 and the transfer application fee is $70.

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Tuition: $2,400.00 per semester
  • Credits Required: 62
  • Delivery Format: On-campus
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 4%
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Questions About Associate Degrees in Computer Science

How long does it take to get an associate degree in computer science?

Most computer science associate programs take two full-time years to complete. Some schools offer online or accelerated computer science associate degrees that take less than two years.

What can you do with an associate in computer science?

Graduates of associate in computer science programs qualify for a variety of entry-level positions in the computer and information science field. They can also apply to bachelor's in computer science programs.

How much can you make with an associate degree in computer science?

Payscale reports as of March 2022 that computer science associate degree-holders make an average annual salary near $64,000. Salaries vary by type of occupation and level of experience.

Is an associate in computer science worth it?

Yes! An associate in computer science can provide a very good return-on-investment. Many graduates earn salaries significantly higher than the national median annual wage.

Is computer science a good career?

Yes! The computer and information technology field offers a host of well-paying career opportunities. The BLS projects the addition of around 667,600 new jobs in this field from 2020-2030.

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