The Best Computer Science Associate Programs of 2021
An Associate Degree in Computer Science is one of the fastest degrees to get. If you enroll in one of the best Associate Degrees in Computer Science, you can be job-ready in two years or less. These associate degrees are usually awarded by community colleges.
In this guide, you will find out why an Associate’s in Computer Science is important, what you can do with it, and most importantly, the best schools to get it from. We’re confident that you will be able to make an informed decision about your future education after reading this guide.
Why You Should Study Computer Science
For starters, a computer science degree isn’t just valuable to those who want to become computer scientists, it also opens the path to other excellent career and education options. You can become a software engineer, data scientist, information technology analyst, or even a cyber security analyst if you have a solid foundation in computer science.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth projection for computer science and related occupations is 11 percent between 2019 and 2029. In addition, the median salary for these jobs is $91,250.
At a Glance: Top 10 Computer Science Associate Programs of 2021
The table below is a brief but accurate representation of the best Associate Degrees in Computer Science in the United States.
The data was sourced directly from the schools themselves or their representatives. Keep in mind that schools make regular changes to their tuition costs and fees, so you should check the school’s website for the most recent information.
|School and Program||State||In-State Tuition||Out-of-State Tuition||Online Options|
|Austin Community College
Associate of Science in
Computer Science or
Computer Information Systems
|(TX)||$85 per credit||$286 per credit
$353 per credit (international)
|Brookdale Community College
Associate of Applied Science in
Computer Science – Web Development
|(NJ)||$148 per credit
$253.50 per credit (out-of-county)
|$278.50 per credit||Available|
|Central Wyoming College
Associate of Science in
|(WY)||$4,680 per year||$10,980 per year||Available|
|Central Virginia Community College
Associate of Science in Computer and Electronic Technology – Computer Networking
|(VA)||$161.25 per credit||$361.35 per credit||Available|
|Delaware County Community College
Associate of Science in
|(PH)||$125 or $250 per credit||$375 per credit||Available|
Associate of Science in
|(PA)||$3,858 per year||$5,787 per year
$6,559 per year (international)
|Jefferson State Community College
Associate of Applied Science
in Computer Science or
|(AL)||$164 per credit||$297 per credit||Available|
|Normandale Community College
Associate of Applied Science in
|(MN)||$2,617 per year||$2,617 per year||Available|
|University of the People
Associate of Science in
|University of Management and Technology
Associate of Science
in Computer Science
|(VA)||$250 per credit||$780 per credit
What Are the Requirements for a Computer Science Associate Degree?
The first and most important requirement is a high school diploma or GED. Your transcript should reflect proficiency in STEM disciplines like math and physics.
While the cumulative GPA requirement for computer science associate degrees is typically 3.5, some community colleges accept students with a 3.0 or even 2.5 cumulative GPA.
Should You Pursue a Computer Science Associate Degree Online?
You should pursue an online associate degree because it offers you everything an in-person degree offers and more. Since your entire coursework can be completed online, you will not need to make any drastic changes to your living situation. You can stay close to your loved ones and hold on to your existing job while attending an online college.
In 2021, learning from home isn’t just convenient, it’s also the safest option. While things are slowly going back to normal, social distancing policies are still in place to curb the spread of COVID-19. You will have more control over whom you come in contact with, without compromising on the quality of your education, when you opt for an online degree.
Choosing the Right Computer Science Associate Degree Program
Choosing an associate degree is like choosing any other program. You need to weigh your options and choose the most suitable one for your current situation. Below are some of the key factors you should consider.
How much flexibility do you want? Do you want to work and study, or can you hold off working for two years while you concentrate on getting your degree? If it is the former, opt for a school that offers online associate degrees. For the full college experience, attend a full-time, in-person school. Part-time programs also offer flexibility.
An associate degree will not be valid professionally if it doesn’t come from a nationally or regionally accredited school. There are six regional bodies that oversee accreditation in the six geographical regions in the United States, and three bodies that oversee national accreditation.
The curriculum for your Associate Degree in Computer Science should cover key subjects including programming, computational theories, web development, information theories, and operating systems. It should also include some general education electives for well-rounded knowledge.
Top Computer Science Associate Degrees in 2021
The list below contains more details about the best computer science associate degrees in the United States and a summary of what each school offers.
Austin Community College | Associate of Science in Computer Science or Computer Information Systems
Like other community colleges, ACC awards two-year associate degrees for a range of programs, including computer science. The computer information systems track is for students who want to develop computer science skills for use in business.
The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and has been around since 1973.
ACC has 11 campuses spread across different parts of Texas and an online program for remote learning.
The curriculum covers software engineering, programming, information technology, algorithm technology, and further subjects.
It offers internship opportunities with top firms like Inventive, MyITpros, and CSSI.
Brookdale Community College | Associate of Applied Science in Computer Science - Web Development
This community college in New Jersey is perfect for those who want a career in web development. The computer science associate degree is one of the 60 associate degree programs available at the school.
During this associate degree, you will learn the key programming languages for interactive website development. However, this isn’t the only associate degree available for computer science in this school. Brookdale is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Volunteer firefighters, unemployed people, and first-aid responders may qualify for tuition waivers.
It has five different in-person campuses and an online learning option for more flexibility.
State-of-the-art facilities and laboratories help students simulate real-world computer science experiences.
Central Wyoming College | Associate of Science in Computer Science
Popularly called CWC, this community college has four different locations in Wyoming. The computer science associate degree runs for two years and covers modern topics like artificial intelligence and machine learning. You will also learn graphic design and network simulation. CWC has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1976.
Studies go beyond technical CS lessons as students also learn public speaking and other general education subjects.
Each student gets direct access to a career counselor for one-on-one coaching.
The school has a bachelor’s program so graduates from the associate program can easily upgrade their degrees in two years.
Central Virginia Community College | Associate of Science in Computer and Electronic Technology - Computer Networking
This associate degree is extensive and goes beyond the fundamentals of computer science. You can specialize in electronic technology or computer networking after you’ve gained the associate degree. You can complete all the coursework in just two years. There is also a course on elementary data structures.
Central Virginia Community College (CVCC) is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
All credits earned during the associate program can be transferred to a bachelor’s program in another school.
People above 18 can be admitted into the program without a high school diploma if they have adequate literacy and writing skills.
CVCC has connections to local companies, so graduates from the school can find employment shortly after the program.
Delaware County Community College | Associate of Science In Computer Science
This is another great option for an Associate Degree in Computer Science. The community college has been around since 1967 and is one of the most recognized community colleges in the US.
If you want to pick up Java programming skills while gaining knowledge of information technology systems, as well as data structures and algorithms, this school is for you. It is a recognized institution that is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
All credits acquired are transferable and students are encouraged to transfer to full-time bachelor degree programs ASAP.
Students will enjoy several opportunities for practicals application of their skills.
It has a generous scholarship scheme for students with exceptional secondary track records.
Edinboro University | Associate of Science in Computer Science
Edinboro University is known for its high acceptance rate of 99.3 percent per session. The Pennsylvania-based public school has been around since 1857. The associate degree prepares students to get entry-level career positions as well as to transition into a higher degree. The university is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Students get hands-on training during internships in places like the Barber National Institute, Cleveland/Price Inc, and MRI Software, LLC.
You can return to Edinboro for a bachelor’s degree either immediately or after working for a few years.
The curriculum is current, based on in-demand subjects in the tech workspace.
Jefferson State Community College | Associate of Applied Science in Computer Science or Computer Programming
This school allows students to choose between an Associate of Applied Science in Computer Science and an Associate of Applied Science in Computer Programming. There is also an opportunity for those who want a career in information technology.
Keep in mind that the school is nationally accredited by the Council for Business Schools and Programs. So, you may face some challenges in transferring credits.
A range of specialization options is available, including web technologies and computer networking.
The course on object oriented programming is extensive.
Classes on public speaking and other forms of communication offer transferable skills.
Normandale Community College | Associate of Applied Science in Computer Technology
It is not a surprise that Normandale Community College is on this list. After all, it is the largest community college in Minnesota. It offers both Associate and Bachelor Degrees in Computer Technology, so students can upgrade right after graduation or after a few years. It is regionally accredited through the Higher Learning Commission.
The machine learning architecture course is a deep dive into the core principles of artificial intelligence.
Transferring from an associate degree to a bachelor’s program is easy and expected.
The admissions process is easy and students are accepted as long as they meet national college requirements.
University of the People | Associate of Science in Computer Science
Popularly called UoPeople, this is one of the few higher institutions in the United States that offers tuition-free education. Keep in mind that you will still need to make some payments, but there is no direct charge for tuition or books. All classes are online, but the university has a branch office in California.
The Associate of Science in Computer Science is program-rich and the school is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council.
Even with the low cost of attendance, scholarships are available for people who can’t afford to pay.
General education courses allow you to get a well-rounded education, not just technical training.
It is one of the most affordable accredited AS in Computer Science programs in the United States.
University of Management and Technology | Associate of Science in Computer Science
This is another good option for distance learning. All degrees are awarded online, but the school is located in Arlington, Virginia. Out of the required 60 credits, only 45 come from computer science. The remaining 15 go towards general education courses and a business course.
Like other online schools, the University of Management and Technology is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.
The core business skills that come with the computer science lessons prime students for corporate careers or entrepreneurship.
A tuition discount of 10 to 20 percent is available for eight weeks. On week nine, you can’t get any money back.
Federal aid is available for students who need financial assistance.
Career Options With a Computer Science Associate Degree
With an associate degree in computer science, you can dive into a tech career and work your way to the top. You can become an IT technician, software engineer, software tester, web developer, system administrator, and more.
Typically, people with associate degrees can do almost all the same jobs as people with a bachelor’s degree. However, large firms may prefer to hire someone with a bachelor’s degree ahead of one with an associate degree if both apply for the same position.
Top Computer Science Associate Degree Careers
How Much Can I Expect to Earn With a Computer Science Associate Degree?
In the United States, associate degree holders typically earn entry-level salaries of around $66,754, according to ZipRecruiter. While this is the average, the salary could be as low as $19,500 and as high as $118,500, depending on several variables.
Currently, the city with the highest salary for CS associate degree holders is New York City, where workers earn an average of $79,267. The second highest is San Mateo, California. As you’ve seen above, the job title may also affect the average salary earned.
Should You Get an Associate Degree in Computer Science?
Yes, you should pursue an associate degree if you don’t have the time or resources to get a bachelor’s degree. With an associate degree, you can secure an entry-level position, gain real-world experience, and prepare properly for a bachelor’s degree. You will not have to spend four years in school, just transfer your associate degree credits.
Keep in mind that associate degree graduates tend to earn a little less than bachelor degree holders. While the associate graduate might earn an average of $66,754, a bachelor’s degree holder earns about $68,673, according to ZipRecruiter. It’s also easier to scale the career ladder with a bachelor’s degree.