The Cheapest Online Computer Science Degrees

A quality college education isn't cheap - especially in a hot field like computer science - but deals abound if you know where to look. Here are some of our favorite affordable online CS degrees.

This article will be updated continually with the best cheap online computer science programs.

cheapest online computer science degrees

Some of today’s most lucrative IT careers are in fields like cloud computing, cyber security, software development, data analytics and artificial intelligence. While courses and certificates can help you get your foot in the door, the best jobs in these domains require at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. This article will highlight some of the best online CS degrees in these fields that won’t break the bank.

With the proliferation of online learning, obtaining a computer science degree has never been easier or more affordable. According to the latest data from the Education Data Initiative, the average tuition price for an online bachelor’s program is a whopping $51,091 before financial aid and scholarships are applied. We analyzed the field of accredited comp-sci degrees under this price - most of which came in at a far lower cost - and selected the most relevant, high-quality and economical programs to compile this list of the cheapest online bachelor’s in computer science.

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Highest Paying Cyber Security Jobs

ITCareerFinder analyzes salaries and hiring trends to uncover this year's best-paying cyber security roles.

Best Paying Cyber Security Jobs

Data breaches are becoming so ubiquitous that it’s easy to gloss over the headlines, but the fallout is much harder for companies to ignore -- hacks are not just embarrassing but can lead to serious financial and reputational damage. So, it’s not surprising that there’s high demand for IT security specialists, and that those who are up to the task are generously compensated. In fact, cyber security is the 3rd most highly sought-after skill set in 2023, and many companies report info-sec vacancies due to their inability to find qualified candidates.

Not only are these skills in peak demand, but cyber security is one of the highest-paying IT specialties, bringing in an average salary of $102,600 (more than double the $45,760 average for all occupations) according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. But not all cyber-sec jobs pay the same. A handful of positions stand above the rest, at least in terms of compensation.

Here are some of the highest paying cyber security careers for 2023:

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Top Paying IT Certifications

ITCareerFinder examines salary data and hiring trends to uncover the top-paying IT certifications and why they demand a premium.

This article will be updated annually with the latest credentials and wages.

Top Paying IT Certifications

Do IT certifications really pay off? It depends.

According to the IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index published by analyst firm Foote Partners LLC, tech certifications continued their three-year plunge in value during the third quarter of 2021 and are now at their lowest point since early 2013.

However, there are still some IT certifications that employers are willing to pay extra for.

To ensure that you invest in the training and certifications that offer the highest return on investment, here are this year's highest-paying IT certifications.

  • SANS/GIAC Security Expert (GSE)

    The GSE certification is the most prestigious and valuable credential, topping Foote Partners’ recent list of highest-paying certs. However, it’s also among the most difficult to earn.

    With companies everywhere looking for solutions to burgeoning cyber security issues, GSE's rigorous, hands-on exam, lab exam, and experience requirements – covering general security skills, incident handling, intrusion detection, and analysis – sets it apart and makes it particularly valuable for individual contributors said David Foote, Foote Partners’ chief analyst & CRO.

    In fact, employers are willing to pay high salaries and median cash bonuses or premiums equivalent to 13% of base salary to tech workers and leaders who get GSE certified.

    For example, according to Foote Partners’ 2022 IT Professional Salary Survey, the average total cash compensation (including premiums) for certified cyber security specialists is $108,703, while certified senior-level specialists earn $133,161. Meanwhile, PayScale reports that the average salary for GSE-certified information security analysts is $100,000 and $189,000 for penetration testers.

    Before you start spending that extra cash, note that the prerequisite baseline for the GSE is GSEC, GCIH, and GCIA, with two Gold certifications.

  • GIAC Exploit Researcher and Advanced Penetration Tester (GXPN)

    Clearly, the demand for penetration testing skills and certifications will remain constant in the future, driven by regulation, compliance, and ongoing business risk, Foote said. That’s why employers are willing to pay median cash bonuses or premiums equivalent to 12% of base salary to professionals who attain the GXPN certification. Moreover, PayScale puts the average salary for GXPN certified IT pros at $107,000.

    The GXPN certifies that network and systems penetration testers, incident handlers, application developers, and IDS engineers have the knowledge, skills, and ability to conduct advanced penetration tests, model the behavior of attackers and improve security in the popular Windows and Linux environments.

    Applicants need to pass a 3-hour proctored exam to earn the highly valuable GXPN.

    Related: Best Pentesting Certifications

  • GIAC Security Leadership (GSLC)

    For current information security managers, security professionals with leadership responsibilities, or IT pros looking to move into management, earning the GSLC certification can boost your career and help you score a median cash bonus equivalent to 12% of base salary. The 3-hour proctored exam covers management issues related to the overall security lifecycle, including governance and technical controls, incident response, staff, projects, application security, and more.

    Currently, managers of information security with the GSLC earn average total compensation of $147,080, while lead IT security specialists earn $152,143 and directors of information security earn $200,006 according to the 2022 IT Professional Salary Survey. PayScale puts the average salary at $111,000 with senior leaders earning close to $200,000.

    Best of all, applicants can qualify through a combination of practical work experience, IT training, college courses, or self-study.

  • InfoSys Security Architecture Professional (ISSAP/CISSP)

    “With millions of people working from home and connecting to an organization’s internal network remotely, the role of security architect is more important than ever,” Foote said.

    Companies are having to “rearchitect everything” to increase security and reduce the risk of cyber-attacks and data breaches, he expanded.

    It’s no wonder that the CISSP with the architecture extension has increased in value. According to Foote, security architects can command premium pay equal to 12% of base salary and total cash compensation of $130,770, leaving little doubt that the ISSAP certification is a worthwhile investment for professionals who want to build on their expertise in information security architecture.

  • InfoSys Security Engineering Professional (ISSEP/CISSP)

    If you have two or more years’ experience in engineering and already hold the CISSP, obtaining your ISSEP certification can lead to greater opportunities and higher wages. This in-demand cert has increased in value by 33% over the last six months and commands average pay premiums of 12% on top of average annual base salaries of $151,000, according to PayScale.

    To sit for the ISSEP examination, you must be a CISSP in good standing and have two years cumulative, paid work experience in one or more of the five domains of the CISSP-ISSEP CBK.

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

    Most IT pros start their journey to ISSEP or ISSAP concentration by earning a valuable core security credential and prerequisite, the CISSP certification. This baseline, vendor-neutral cert – which covers 8 vital domains of information security – can benefit the careers of everyone in IT.

    To illustrate, PayScale lists some 350 job tiles under the CISSP with an average salary of $117,000. If you want to specialize in cyber security, The New York Times reports that there will be 3.5 million unfilled jobs globally by 2021, up from one million positions in 2014.

    Suffice to say, showing employers that you not only understand security concepts, principles, and tools but also the most pertinent issues around cyber security will greatly increase your power at the salary negotiation table.

  • Six Sigma Master Black Belt

    Having a Six Sigma Master Black Belt certification signals to employers that you have the skills and knowledge to manage projects successfully, a passion for quality and process improvement, and the ability to lead and coach team members. In fact, because of its focus on improving profitability, many companies are actively recruiting Six Sigma Black Belts, and market demand is higher than ever.

    Speaking of profitability, the market value increase for Six Sigma Master Black Belt certification was 9.1% in the six months through July 1, 2021, and the average total compensation was listed at $169,170 in Foote Partners’ IT Salary Survey.

    Applicants are required to pass an exam, have a minimum of 4 years experience executing Six Sigma Projects in a Black Belt Capacity (or equivalent), and submit a project for review on a pass/fail basis.

  • Certified Scrum Master

    Why is Scrum the most popular Agile framework for iterative software development? Because it’s easy to implement and it works. While product owners, project managers, developers, and also trainers and coaches can benefit from certification, the World Economic Forum ranked scrum master 6th in their list of product development jobs of tomorrow. And employment data firm Burning Glass predicts a 37.9-percent increase in demand for scrum masters over the next decade.

    What’s more, according to Foote Partners’ data, certified scrum master certification holders can command 11% in median pay premiums or bonuses above base salaries averaging $96,785.

  • PMI Program Management Professional (PgMP)

    How does an experienced and successful project manager take their career to the next level? By becoming a program manager. However, even though program management is a well-paid next step, becoming proficient at managing multiple related projects is not easy.

    Earning PMI's Program Management Professional certification can help you move forward with confidence, demonstrate your competency to prospective employers and earn median pay premiums of 11% above base salaries that range up to $134,000. Plus, both high school and college grads can qualify by meeting the hands-on experience requirements and passing two evaluations.

  • CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+)

    Data shows that earning CompTIA's intermediate-level CySA+ certification may help you earn more money and elevate your career no matter which role, area of specialization or industry you pursue. For example, InfoSec puts the national median salary for someone with CySA+ certification at $74,952 per year, but as high as $152,806 depending on your location and role.

    Plus, the hands-on, performance-based, and multiple-choice assessment is also approved by the U.S. Department of Defense to fulfill Directive 8570.01-M requirements. This means that earning the CySA+ certificate can help you qualify for sought-after jobs in the state and federal government.

    After validating that you have the skills, techniques, and knowledge to prevent, detect, and combat cyber security threats inside and outside of the organization, employers will reward you with bonuses or premium pay ranging from 8% to 13% of base salary according to Foote Partners.

  • Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)

    With Gartner forecasting that worldwide spending on public cloud services will grow 23.1% in 2021 to total $332.3 billion in the wake of the pandemic, earning the CCSP certification is a great way to show that you know how to secure critical assets in the cloud and earn median annual pay premiums of 11%, regardless of your level or position.

    Although PayScale puts the average salary for CCSP-certified pros at $118,000, the sky’s the limit. IT managers can earn base salaries of $185,000, while CTOs can rake in $250,000 and up.

    While the CCSP isn’t for newcomers, showing commitment to ongoing development can demonstrate your leadership potential to employers and lead to new and exciting career opportunities. Explore the best CCSP bootcamps to learn more about preparing for this lucrative certification.

Final Thoughts

While many IT certifications can enhance your resume and raise your market value, it’s clear that companies are most concerned about advanced persistent threats and protecting valuable data and information. Until supply catches up with demand, earning any one of these cyber security certifications can give you a competitive advantage and the best opportunity to earn high salaries, bonuses, and upward mobility.

Methodology

Our list of the top-paying IT certifications is based on data from the latest Foote Partners’ IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index and the firm’s IT Professional Salary Survey. The reports are based on compensation data provided by 3,805 private and public-sector employers in 83 American and Canadian cities who report pay for over 300,000 technology professionals in the U.S. and Canada.

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Exploring 6 Great Jobs in the Metaverse

ITCareerFinder breaks down some of the most sought-after jobs in the metaverse and the skills you need to level up in each position.

This page will be updated regularly with the latest and greatest metaverse career paths.

Best Metaverse Careers

In October 2021, Facebook changed its name to Meta and announced plans to create 10,000 new high-skilled jobs in the European Union (EU) to help shape the metaverse.

It turns out that Facebook isn’t the only one betting heavily on the growth of the metaverse, over 160 companies are jumping in too.

So what is the metaverse and what types of jobs might it create?

Broadly speaking, the metaverse is a shared virtual world. In theory, people will be able to create an avatar and travel into this immersive virtual world to socialize, play games, work, create, shop, or even remotely attend a concert or sporting event by wearing virtual reality headsets.

Much like the transition to Web 2.0, mobile technologies, and the Internet of Things (IoT) devices, the metaverse is creating new IT and hybrid job opportunities, which require a combination of technical and non-technical skills.

To keep your career thriving in the metaverse, here’s a look at 6 roles that are in demand right now and poised to explode in the future.

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Jobs You Can Get with an IT Degree

Find out what you can do with a degree in information technology.

IT degree graduate

Considering an IT degree or about to frame that hard-earned diploma? With proper motivation and a well-structured learning plan, the career potential for information technology graduates is boundless.

This article will explore some of the most sought-after jobs you can pursue with an IT degree. We'll also look at how much you can earn upon graduation and which training and degree programs can help you get there.

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Best Computer Jobs for the Future

Trying to determine your ideal IT career path? Want to know which computer jobs will be in the greatest demand, offer the highest salaries, and best opportunities for advancement once you finish training? ITCareerFinder assembled this comparison of the decade’s hottest technology careers to serve as your guide. These 10 computer jobs will experience the fastest growth, pay salaries well above the national average, boast top employment rates, and offer a range of opportunities for promotion.

Best Computer Jobs

Compare the best computer jobs by employment projections, key growth factors, salary, and more, then click the links of your favorite IT career paths for deep-dive profiles featuring skills and responsibilities, desirable certifications, wage analyses, education requirements, training & degree programs, local job openings, and tips from IT insiders.

The methodology to discover the best computer jobs for the future centers around a four-point weighted analysis of employment forecasts from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, IT salaries and the ratio of job listings to qualified applicants on leading job boards, and potential for upward mobility based on interviews with technology and employment experts, as well as recent IT hiring trends.

Discover the 10 best computer jobs for the future:

  1. IT Security Specialist

    IT Security Specialist career growth

    IT Security Specialist Employment Projections | 2022 - 2032

    Key Growth Factors

    Security will remain a top concern for IT executives and hiring managers as the frequency, scope, and complexity of cyber attacks continue to escalate. Year after year, IT executives report actively seeking professionals with information security skills but finding it difficult to locate good talent. This indicates an incredible opportunity for technology professionals to advance their cybersecurity skills and certifications. Computer security skills in the greatest demand include IT operations security, secure web and mobile application development, risk management, information assurance, network security, and cloud security.

  2. Mobile Application Developer

    best mobile app developer jobs

    Mobile App Developer Employment Projections | 2022 - 2032

    Key Growth Factors

    Mobile application development is one of the world's fastest-growing occupations. As smartphones and tablets continue to change the way we communicate, do business, and access news & entertainment, the demand for new and innovative mobile apps is growing at an incredible speed. This increased demand translates to one of the largest IT skills gaps ever realized – there are simply more mobile application development job openings than skilled developers to fill them. Google's Android and Apple's iOS (iPhone, iPad & Apple Watch) platforms will continue to offer the most career opportunities for mobile developers, as these 2 platforms combine for over 99% of the mobile OS market share in the US.

  3. Software Engineer

    Best Software Engineer Jobs

    Software Engineer Employment Projections | 2022 - 2032

    Key Growth Factors

    Workforce demand for software engineers will rise along with technological advancement and the growing ubiquity of software. For example, the rapid adoption of cloud technologies is driving demand for applications software engineers who can build secure and scalable cloud programs. Likewise, as the proliferation of computer systems continues and software spreads into new industries and smart devices, the need to develop the computer systems that power these initiatives will create jobs for systems software engineers.

  4. Video Game Designer

    Best Video Game Designer Jobs

    Video Game Designer Employment Projections | 2022 - 2032

    Key Growth Factors

    The $140+ billion dollar gaming industry has more than tripled in size over the last decade. Beyond the booming market for PC and console games, the increased popularity, processing power, and graphics capabilities of mobile devices have unlocked a new world of job opportunities for video game designers, artists, and programmers. Game designers with mobile development expertise will be especially sought after as smartphones and tablets continue to change how video games are played. Game designer employment will also benefit from emerging technologies and rising demand for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications.

  5. Computer Systems Analyst

    Computer Systems Analyst career growth

    Computer Systems Analyst Employment Projections | 2022 - 2032

    Key Growth Factors

    As organizations continue to increase their reliance on technology, computer systems analysts will be needed to increase the efficiency of existing technologies and architect new systems. Health care is a key industry for systems analyst job growth, as aggressive government mandates and funding initiatives continue to drive increases in electronic medical record (EMR) adoption, electronic prescription services, and other health-centric software projects. The U.S. Department of Labor also predicts a 43% increase in systems analyst hiring at IT consulting firms, which translates to a huge amount of freelance and contract employment opportunities in this job role.

  6. Web Developer

    Best Web Developer Jobs

    Web Developer Employment Projections | 2022 - 2032

    Key Growth Factors

    Each year, a record number of businesses bring their offerings to the Internet. As the number of products and services online continues to grow, web developers and designers will enjoy increased job opportunities. The proliferation of social networks will boost demand for web developers as businesses look to engage a new generation of customers and spur a competitive advantage in this rapidly growing space. Responsive web design, user interface (UI), and user experience (UX) skills are a hot commodity in this position as displays must increasingly adapt to varying device sizes and types, e.g., smartwatches.

  7. Health Information Technician

    Best Health Information Technician Jobs

    Health Information Technician Employment Proj. | 2022 - 2032

    Key Growth Factors

    Health care will produce more new computer jobs through 2025 than any other single industry. Aggressive government mandates and funding incentives for medical practices to adopt centralized electronic health records are driving unprecedented hiring of health information technicians trained and certified in these new technologies. Health information technicians may earn the lowest starting salary on this list, but the required education is the quickest (typically a 2-year degree program in Health IT). Candidates learning now will be well-positioned for lucrative management positions as the health IT job market continues to mature.

  8. Technology Manager

    Best IT Manager Jobs

    Technology Manager Employment Projections | 2022 - 2032

    Key Growth Factors

    Job growth for information technology managers is directly tied to the growth rates of the IT workers they supervise. Record-breaking growth in a variety of technical jobs – including software development, project management, data analytics, and cloud computing – will continue through 2025 and beyond, in turn fueling strong demand for talented IT managers. Additional growth will be driven by an increased focus on information security and the hiring of additional cybersecurity personnel.

  9. Database Administrator

    best DBA jobs

    Database Administrator Employment Projections | 2022 - 2032

    • 10-Year Growth Pct: 7% (faster than average)†
    • 10-Year Growth Volume: 6,000 new jobs
    • Average Salary: $112,000
    • DBA Career Path ››
    Key Growth Factors

    Businesses are racking up impressive amounts of digital information, spurring the need for trained and certified DBAs to store, organize, analyze, and secure this data. In addition, as more databases are connected to the Internet and cloud, data security will become increasingly vital and complex; database administrators and developers - especially those with information security skills - will be hired to protect corporate data from hackers and other cyber threat vectors.

  10. Network Administrator

    Network Administrator Job Growth

    Network Administrator Employment Projections | 2022 - 2032

    Key Growth Factors

    Demand for network administrators will rise as organizations invest in new computer systems and network technologies to increase productivity and gain a competitive advantage. The rapid adoption of mobile and smart devices and cloud computing means more organizations will use the Internet to conduct business online, translating to increased job opportunities for network professionals who can help businesses securely wield these emerging technologies.

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The average ten-year growth rate for all occupations is 3% (bls.gov)

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook

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The Best HBCUs for Computer Science

Compare the top-ranked historically black colleges and universities for computer science.

HBCU computer science student

Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) provide high-quality, affordable education to African American students. Within the fast-growing and lucrative field of computer science, certain HBCUs stand out not just for their academic excellence but through impactful partnerships, groundbreaking research opportunities, and a steadfast commitment to diversity and inclusion. This article will highlight the HBCUs with the best computer science programs.

We selected the best historically black colleges and universities for computer science based on numerous factors, including the relevance of the curriculum to the needs of the CS workforce, industry partnerships, school reputation, faculty expertise, program features, institutional statistics, affordability, and overall value.

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Highest Paying IT Degrees

Highest Paying IT Degrees

While money isn’t everything when choosing a career, with the average total cost for a 4-year college degree reaching approximately $122,000, you certainly want to invest in a program that will increase your chances of landing a high-paying job after graduation and foster long-term success.

For many, a degree in information technology is probably your best bet. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard, bachelor’s degrees in computer science and engineering lead to the highest salaries. Mathematics and business rank among the top paying fields, too.

Computer and information technology occupations are expected to grow 15 percent between 2021 and 2031 (much faster than the 5% growth rate for all occupations) according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). And many companies are still hiring for entry-level roles in IT and computer tech, despite the pandemic.

Whether you are already working toward a degree or shopping around for colleges, read on to learn more about the top paying degrees you need to land your dream job in IT.

(Note: Unless otherwise stated, all salaries cited in this post were taken from sites that collect data anonymously from employees.)

Here are the top paying bachelor's degrees in information technology:

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