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Does anyone know of a good online undergraduate Computer Science program? My girlfriend is almost done her Masters of Science in Nursing online at Vanderbilt. All her courses are online, she does clinicals at local hospitals and private practices, and flies to Nashville for a long weekend every couple of months. I've been looking for something similar for Computer Science, but can only seem to find programs at scam schools. If it's possible to get the credentials which will give you the ability to suture and prescribe narcotics online, shouldn't computer science be handled similarly?

Yes, I am aware of the social implications (e.g. college is a great place to meet people, develop as a person, etc...). I did attend a traditional college, and have about 85 credits. The difficulty is, my business started making money, so I'm too busy to attend scheduled courses. The university wouldn't work with me, at all, so I stopped going. I see value in having a degree, and would like to finish, but it has to be on my time.

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7 Answers 7

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Harvard Extension is a very well known and respected online program. Technically your degree would be a bachelors in liberal arts (the only undergraduate degree they offer), but you can choose a specialization of computer science (like most liberal arts schools).


If you check out the "20 optional fields of study" link, you'll see that computer science is an option. From what I know about the program, is that the level of difficulty is very similar to what you'll get at most traditional schools. Looking at the courses available for computer science, it's very similar to a general computer science degree (intro programming, data structures, algorithms, discrete math, etc).

However, I believe you have to complete a small amount of credits on campus (16 or so) which is about the equivalent of one semester. For the price of the credits and quality of the coursework, this seems like one of the better online options (I'm considering doing my masters in I.T. through them).

Here's a pretty in depth review of the computer science curriculum, albeit the Masters degree, but I believe a lot of the courses are the same:


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This is what I'm looking for. Thanks for the information. –  jcnnghm May 31 '11 at 3:22

The Open University does Computer Science (and many, many other degrees) at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. I don't know how good they are for overseas students, but the Open University is the go-to organisation for degree-level distance learning in the UK. They're well set-up for study by those in full-time employment (as most of their students are) and the courses can be taken at any pace; most have no face-to-face requirements. In addition, despite being almost entirely distance learning, the OU is well-regarded as a 'proper' university giving 'proper' degrees - more so than some of the post-'92 former polytechnics.

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The OU is extremely expensive in my opinion. About $25k for a bachelor's degree. –  Luca Matteis Apr 20 '14 at 9:39

Are there no schools near you that offer any night classes?

With that being said, I do know someone personally that is currently taking online classes for an IT degree and it seems to be working quite well for him so I wouldn't turn down the idea.

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Night classes still require rigid scheduling. I really need something more flexible than that. –  jcnnghm May 30 '11 at 17:44
@jcnnghm - the traditional brick and mortar schools will probably just as rigid as night classes. –  Jetti May 30 '11 at 17:57

The two most popular online class providers in the US are DeVry University and the University of Phoenix. How well each is accepted depends on the area. For instance, in the area I live in, DeVry is very well thought of for Computer Science degrees, and Phoenix is not very well thought of. In other areas it's different. You should avoid ITT at all costs. They offer "degrees" that are not accepted in many places and are well known for lying and telling you anything they can to get you enrolled. And their credits are not transferable to other schools if you wish to do that in the future, whereas Devry and Phoenix credits, for the most part, are transferable.

Many other public universities have started offering online courses in many fields, including Computer Science, but you'll need to search around to see what universities in your area may offer such courses.

If you do go with the online course path, I would recommend that you avoid spelling that out on your resume later. While there are a number of excellent and reputable online course programs out there nowadays, there are still many amongst perspective employers who look down on online degrees as being worthless.

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Unless the school is particularly well-respected, I don't pay a lot of attention to degrees. It all comes down to the technical interview. –  kevin cline May 31 '11 at 1:04
Both of them seem to have various issues around accreditation. –  jcnnghm May 31 '11 at 3:24
I am a DeVry graduate myself, though most of mine was on campus. I did have a few online courses as well. I have had no problems with transferring existing credits to DeVry, nor with transferring DeVry credits to another university (a public one, not another private one), so I don't know what accreditation issues you might be referring to. –  BBlake May 31 '11 at 12:24
Interesting, most things I've read say UoP and DeVry are joke schools and aren't taken seriously by anybody. I guess it's all in perception and the area. –  Wayne M May 31 '11 at 13:13
Devry University and University of Phoenix are not traditional college. Most state colleges WILL NOT accept most of what you do at these schools. The degree you end up getting might be looked down on. I would NOT suggest these schools, despite what they claim,the end result is NOT the same. These are technical colleges, you do NOT get the same education, and thus the end worth is NOT the same. –  Ramhound May 31 '11 at 13:22

Read books in your time and try to find a school locally that will allow you to "challenge their courses". Basically it just means that you're saying "I don't need to take your class, I can write the exam anytime and pass."

Most of the universities I know of allow challenging courses. I've had friends do it and I've even pseudo*-challenged a course myself - but whole degrees? That I don't know about - but it couldn't hurt to ask/find out.

I should note, that in this scenario, you still had to enroll, pay the full-course fees, and attend the exam at the prescribed time - but it's basically a 3 hr appointment that you book yourself for 4 months in advance.

-* in my case, I just never attended the lectures and asked the prof to grade me 100% on my exam - which he agreed and I passed. It wasn't technically challenging the course.

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I've done this before, and would have done this to complete my degree, but the University I was attending would not allow "exam for credit" in the last 30 credits. –  jcnnghm May 31 '11 at 3:26

Regis University and Colorado State University both offer online master's and bachelor's degrees for a wide range of subjects. There's also Western Governors University and all the universities are accredited which I think means there is no difference between getting the degree online or by going to class.

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All the accreditation usually means is that the credits will transfer to other schools, it has nothing to do with how you get the degree; if you get it online it won't indicate that at all, it'll still be issued by such-and-such university's college of engineering (or whatever college is associated with the degree) –  Wayne M May 31 '11 at 13:14

Have you looked at Stevens-Henager College? It seems to fit all your criteria: It’s accredited by the ACCSC (Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges), is well reputed, and you can complete a computer science degree program online from there at your convenience. The duration of the degree is 36 months, but you have the option of completing it in as little as 30 months.

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