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Ask HN: Fully online CS degrees?
191 points by intermittently 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 113 comments
Any recommendations for a worthwhile, fully online CS program? I'm more interested in a BS than a BA, but if online programs are limited (and that seems likely), I won't rule anything out.

When you're applying for online-only degrees, keep in mind what you're giving up. While the quality of the education may be comparable, much of the value of attending in-person is to build career-lasting relationships with smart, interesting, and trustworthy people. For many of us, sitting directly across from someone else while having a meaningful conversation is still unparalleled by what any communications technology can offer us today.

Of course, everyone has a different situation so an online CS program might actually be the best for you. For master's degrees, I've heard good things about programs at GTech, UIUC, and UCB (UCB is data science only)...not too much in the direction of undergraduate degrees.

(full disclosure, i work as an engineer at coursera)

just wanted to highlight that one of the degrees that UIUC (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) offers, the Master of Computer Science in Data Science, is available on Coursera: https://www.coursera.org/degrees/masters-in-computer-data-sc...

the benefit of this is that the way we structure our degrees, they mostly end up being a collection of courses and specializations already provided on the platform; you can try some of the courses without having to go all-in on the degree just yet. (of course, there's a ton of added benefits for enrolling in the degree program, like high-engagement learning opportunities that you don't normally get from the MOOC experience)

I'm paying for a specialization on Coursera, and while the content is good (also I really like the professor's style so far), there is next to no support available with assignments. The starter code is typically out of sync with the specs, and a lot is left for you to figure out by reverse engineering the test-runner scripts. I kind of enjoy this process, but I know people who got frustrated and gave up (and no, posting on the forums yields absolutely nothing in a reasonable amount of time).

I am an iMBA degree student at UIUC. I took a leap of faith and got admitted in the iMBA program (Jan'17 cohort). I can say with confidence that UIUC is not only the first one to give such an affordable education but their online education platform is pretty stable.

Lots of my friends who are in the iMBA program are pretty serious about the Masters in DS. They had to be, after all they are getting 2 masters degree for half the price. I might be wrong but Berkeley is offering their DS Masters (online program for 100k+)

That’s through Coursera or the university directly?

It looks interesting but I’d have to qualify for federal financial aid to do the program and trust the university more than Coursera.

Whoa. From UCB's DS admissions page:

For Master of Information and Data Science students starting the program in academic year 2017-2018 (July 2017 – June 2018), tuition will be $2,333* per unit, plus a $693.75* semester fee. Tuition is charged per unit; datascience@berkeley is a 27 unit program.

That's crazy.

This kind of thing makes me sad. Not that it's bad in any way, it just doesn't fit my personality type. What you say is completely true, it just.. sucks for my preferences in social interaction heh.

If you already have a BS (or higher) in another field, then Oregon State University has a 60 credit completely online computer science BS degree. They have 1, 2, 3 and 4 year tracks depending upon each person's available time commitment.[0]

If you already have a BS in computer science or a related field, then see this comment[1]

[0] - http://ecampus.oregonstate.edu/online-degrees/undergraduate/...

[1] - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15899756

I have 4 courses left in this program. There is a subreddit here https://www.reddit.com/r/OSUOnlineCS/

The program has it's pros and cons. People complain but they expect a top 5 CS education from an online program at OSU which isn't going to happen. Overall I learned a lot though and I found it better than attempts at learning through MOOCs, mostly because of the motivation behind paying.

If you already have a BS in another field, you might be better off taking Georgia Tech's MS CompSci (https://www.omscs.gatech.edu/).

"Preferred qualifications for admitted OMS CS students are an undergraduate degree in computer science or related field (typically mathematics, computer engineering or electrical engineering) from an accredited institution with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. Applicants who do not meet these criteria will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis; however, work experience will not take the place of an undergraduate degree."[0]

So unless that other field is Math or computer-related, then that's not really going to work, which is why I specifically mentioned "another field".

[0] - https://www.omscs.gatech.edu/program-info/admission-criteria

My spouse was accepted with a Psych BA + MS, and about twenty credits of CS at various extension university programs.

How much do you think the MS helped?

Honestly I have no idea. I'm sure it didn't hurt, but couldn't say if it was a deciding factor.

preferred != required

Doesn't this program require an undergrad in CS? Why would it be more apropos for another field?

> Doesn't this program require an undergrad in CS?

No it doesn't.

It basically does.

"an undergraduate degree in computer science or related field"[0]

[0] - https://www.omscs.gatech.edu/program-info/admission-criteria

That appears to be a soft requirement. If you check out the admission thread on the subreddit[0], there is always a decent amount of students getting accepted with backgrounds outside the realm of computing and mathematics. That being said, there are plenty that don't make the cut as well. It's worth a shot for a cheap masters from a well-respected institution though.

[0] https://www.reddit.com/r/omscs

I currently am taking this course. It's one of the best, and I get to learn a ton.

Coming to specifically the question, if you need a BS in Computers, then from personal experience, yes, your changes are much much higher if you already have BS.

If you don't, then they'll look into your SOP and related work to see if you good exposure to Computers.

I initially talked over career changes with my ex and she went with a no name bootcamp. After that bad experience she wanted a full degree and is finishing up Oregon now. She has been very happy with it. I forgot a BS in another field was a requirement for the program, which is a bummer as I liked the material she showed me (I'm self taught but just web dev)

I've got a BA in another field -- wonder if that would work. I'll do some checking; this might be exactly what I'm looking for. Thanks!

My BA in psychology was fine. I don't think they care what your first degree is in, as long as you have one and it's not CS.

My wife has a BA in History, and is starting w/ this program now. Seems fine so far!

Surprised nobody has mentioned Open University which just happens to be one of the largest in the world - http://www.open.ac.uk/courses/qualifications/q62

I studied for a few years with the Open University, first in maths and then a specialism which allowed me to change careers. It was fabulous, the course materials were great, the tutors helpful and available. My Wife used it to gain entry to full-time study and gained her degree. I followed on with professional study in my field with an expensive professional study provider and the materials sucked, the support was terrible and I stalled. My wife found full-time study at a real uni never came close in terms of materials. When I started OU people in the UK on modest incomes got it for free, since 'The Cuts' this is not true and it is a shame, as it changed my life.

I am getting a BSc in Mathematics there and enjoying is a lot. The first year was easy, but to the third year it has become really serious.Tons of support with forums, tutors, videos, great learning materials.

I did the same, I graduated about four years ago. Luckily I was on the old fee scheme so it was inexpensive.

The course materials were excellent as were tutors, I think Mathematics has always been a priority for them.

I'd be interested in hearing more about your experience, as someone who likes math amateurly. How expensive is it and what's the process been like for you?

The application process is pretty easy, they do not require high school diploma or something to start. The main thing is to manage your study, build routine. Most people just leave on the way not because the topics are super hard - the first year is easy - self study require self organisation and discipline, particularly if you work full time. First year I took 120 points like to cover full time first year study. Next years I took just half 60 points thus making left 2 years into 4. It is much more manageable.

On the third year you can choose from the variety of subjects: applied maths like fluids, optimisation, etc., pure maths, statistics related, and physics related. Very fun, but challenging.

How much ?

5000 GBP for Germany per year x 3 years. If you are in the UK it is cheaper. Now I am on my last year doing it half time since I work and it is demanding, and I pay 2500 GBP per year, but spead one year course in 2.

I have always fancied philosophy. Do you think do MS in philosophy online will be a good idea?

OU offers a course in it which starts Oct of the next year. I have BE in computers.

Good question.

I was looking into this a few years back, and ended getting my BS in-person, at the big state school nearby. It paid off well.

That said, these are other online options I considered.

Portland State University -- has a BS in CS that's fully online. They also have an option for people who are getting a 2nd BS, from another field. * https://www.pdx.edu/computer-science/progrgam-preparation

Harvard Extension - Bachelor's in CS * https://www.extension.harvard.edu/academics/undergraduate-de...

Arizona State - BS in Software Engineering * https://go.asuonline.asu.edu/

I had a co-worker during one of my internships going through this program, at SNHU, fully online & remote, and he liked it a lot: https://www.snhu.edu/online-degrees/bachelors/bs-in-computer...

Just some food for thought. There are many more options. Good luck!

Had a look at the Harvard option and it looks like you need to attend some of the courses on site as part of earning the degree, so it's not 100% online if I read it correctly.

Source: https://www.extension.harvard.edu/academics/undergraduate-de...

The PSU link you posted:

> Page Not Found

Yea, as someone who is admitted to their CS program but unable to find online courses to actually continue, this web message really hits home.

In what way has your CS bachelor paid off? Also, how much did it cost?

Bachelor's CS is hard to find for some reason. ASU and PSU have Software Engineering bachelors which has the basics and covers a good bit of practical knowledge but not so much theoretical. This is probably not ideal if you are already a working software engineer and want stronger theory.

The University of Florida and Auburn University have online CS programs but I don't know much about them.

Came in to say ASU.

For a master, you have The Georgia Tech OMSCS. Most of the on campus classes are available.

Can attest to that (graduating from it next Friday!). Few points - the main pitch for this is the cost, even if it was not a top 10 ranked MSCS program, it was still one of the most cost effective degrees in the US. The total cost for me was around $8,000 including everything (you can lower it if you take it less slowly than I did).

The diploma is the same as the on-campus one by the way. I'm actually attending the commencement ceremony there like all the on-campus students (I'm from GA but some OMSCS students fly in just for the graduation ceremony)

One small correction, I wouldn't say that most of the on-campus classes are available online, I'd say a great deal of them are, but there are many that are offered only on-campus.


I'm a bit biased here -- I was a Georgia Tech undergrad -- but GT is currently ranked 9th for the graduate computer science department :).

Don't be distracted by the rankings. Georgia Tech has an excellent computer science department. Rankings often include mostly-irrelevant details like the ratio of faculty to students. As far as I know, the rankings include essentially no information about the quality of instruction.

Agree that ranking is not that important, p.s. Pardon my english, it's not my first language, I might have wrote it badly. I meant event if it were not a top 10 program (which it is) it would still have been worth it, just for the cost. GA Tech MS in CS is current ranked #9 in USNews and World Report which makes it even a better bargain.

Thanks for sharing your experience with OMSCS.

Did you work on OMSCS full time or part time? How did you end up scheduling in studying masters level courses into your daily life? And how long did it take at the end?

(I'm also graduating this week, started Spring 2015.)

OMSCS is a part-time program by design, meaning you can only take up to 9 credits (3 courses) per term. Most students do it while working full time, although in that case, you'd either take one difficult course or two "easier" ones.

Most courses took between 6-10 hours per week (actual time spent on the videos/projects as measured by Toggl). That means you have to dedicate one full weekend day, or several evenings during the week. Note that if you're not a fluent software engineer (there is a significant % of students who don't have strictly CS background), some courses may take up to 30 hours per week as reported by others. So in summary, it's doable with full-time work but it requires planning and can be quite exhausting.

Btw if you're interested, pretty much everything about the program has been discussed at https://www.reddit.com/r/OMSCS/

congrats on graduating!! would you recommend it vs the other online masters' on here? i dont even know how to think about comparing one or the other if i'm supposed to ignore ranking.

I think the comparable others are Berkley's data science and Stanford Master of Science in CS (I think it can be achieved fully online, but as opposed to GA Tech, they charge full on-campus tuition). If you get accepted and can afford it, go to Stanford. But I'd say GA Tech is definitely the next choice. Stanford is ranked #1 GA Tech is ranked #9, does it really matter? I don't know, but #1 will cost you around $70,000 and #9 will cost you around $7,000. So if you ignore ranking, I'd say in terms of rigor, I don't have evidence that GA Tech is any less rigorous than Stanford. You do get a GRE waiver at GA Tech OMSCS, I don't think you do at Stanford...

hey so how do you evaluate opportunities post graduation from Georgia Tech? really curious.

congrats btw!!

Genuine question regarding a masters programs instead of a BS:

I've already got an undergrad degree, but it's not related to the computer science field at all. I have taken a few CS classes and know the very basics of coding (loops, conditionals, using functions, etc). Despite that, I'm assuming I should go for the BS instead of the masters since there's still quite a bit of CS knowledge I'm lacking (most algorithms, working with APIs, proficiency in Linux, etc).*

Thoughts? CS BS first, or go straight for the Masters?

*Those might not be the best examples, but I don't know what I don't know... I'm just assuming those are a few things I'd learn in BS curriculum that I'm not very good at now.

In the UK, there are usually two streams of masters programs - those aimed at people with the necessary background, and conversion courses aimed at people who don't.

Assuming you're in the US, though, you probably had to study all sorts of irrelevant junk for your BS.

As an American that has gone through the process, I can confirm that there is a lot of irrelevant junk crammed down our throats and poured into our ears.

I'm in the same boat as you, what I'm currently planning on doing is getting the 'cs undergrad' experience by taking a bunch of the lower division classes at my local community college, then doing the upper ones through the university's program of extended studies (the one I'm trying for) then just going straight for the masters. There are some risks, ergo, if I don't reach the master's then I won't have much to show for it other than the classes I took (don't see that happening but still possible), and its going to take awhile; at least 5 more semesters, just to finish math prereqs (up to linear algebra). I don't think the latter is very avoidable, no matter where I go however, and the former is a factor of the later.

I replied generally above, but this is pretty much what I'm doing too. In addition, I think you can usually use extended university coursework to meet prerequisites in a degree program at a different school, if not count some of the credit toward the degree. So that helps mitigate the risk somewhat. Of course it won't line up as nicely as if you just do everything through the same school, but it doesn't have to be entirely for naught either.

Georgia has a few good ones. Georgia Tech and Columbus State University have fully online graduate CS programs

If you're ok with BS in Information Technology instead of CS, WGU has a good 100% online program. If not, their masters degree programs may be a good follow up (one of them is in security and may include one or more relevant certifications).

+1 for WGU. I am currently using whats left of my GI Bill for the Data Management/Data Analytics BS. I have been very happy with them, although the past 3 colleges I attended were brick and mortar so this is my first venture into online-only territory, I especially like the lack of term breaks, and that I can do as many credits as I can manage at no extra term cost.

They also have Software Dev.


And I believe CS coming "soon."

I'm finishing up at WGU in Software Dev but sure wouldn't mind switching to CS proper - I keep hearing this and "soon," but can't pinpoint the source of the rumors whatsoever - do you know where you heard / got the impression that CS was coming to WGU?

FANTASTIC, many many thanks!!! With that in mind, I can move forward in relative peace, again, very grateful!! :)

Not quite on-topic, but some may not know about Harvard's Extension School:


Master’s degree (ALM in IT): mostly on-line (8 weeks on-campus) for appx. $30K.

I think including cost info is helpful in this type of discussion.

University of London: https://london.ac.uk/courses/computing-and-information-syste...

It's the cheapest I've seen - less than $10K total for the degree.

University of the People (https://www.uopeople.edu/) offers a tuition free CS degree program (both an AS and a BS). Many of the course materials are quite old (in some cases 5-10+ years), but this is really only a problem where specific technologies are concerned (for instance, there's a mobile applications class that covers Android 2.x). Many of the more general concepts will still apply.

Note that you do have to pay for exams, which are $100/class. This works out to be ~$4k for your entire CS degree.

This seems to be the cheapest accredited option, use University of the People to get any kind of undergrad, then can pay for a masters in CS somewhere else. (Too bad uopen doesn't have an applied math undergrad, then the material being dated wouldn't matter).

There is Athabasca U in Canada which offers a fully online, and accredited BSc in CompSci or Applied Mathematics, and the only requirements are 16+yrs old (no transcripts or even highschool grad needed) but the fees are $900CAD or so for 3 credit courses and you need to complete 120 credits so ~$35k for an undergrad ($27k USD). http://www.athabascau.ca/programs-courses/ whereas you could do Upeople, obtain an undergrad and pay for Johns Hopkins MSc for the same cost.

There's also been reports that Athabasca U is having funding issues at present, for those looking at this option (which is the only option in Canada for online in this field that I've found.)

It's $200/class for the exams now.

It's only $200/class for grad students. OP is looking for a bachelor's degree.

If your goal is "become a software engineer", I would recommend you consider other online options. Your rough ROI equation should be "cost = (tuition + time-to-job * delta-in-salary) + cost-of-failure * odds-of-failure" and "odds-of-failure" is the product of graduation rate * job placement rate. Online CS programs tend to have higher time-to-job and unpublished job placement stats. They may still be good options, but this is how I would evaluate.

Other online options:

    * Hack Reactor Remote http://hackreactor.com/remote
        * Disclaimer: I am a cofounder of Hack Reactor
        * "Online classroom" model (work with peers and teachers over videoconf, etc during set hours)
        * Time-to-job: 3 months program + job search, plus you may need a prep class to pass the entry interview
        * Odds-of-failure: See CIRR.org for grad and placement rate
    * Thinkful
        * "Mentor-supported" model (some meetings, lots of flex time)
        * Time-to-job: I think there is some info on CIRR.org
        * Odds-of-failure: See CIRR.org for grad and placement rate
    * Free Code Camp
        * "Self-driven" model (all driven by you, with online text communications and lots of local meetups)
        * Time-to-job: Not sure there is good data on this.
        * Odds-of-failure: See CIRR.org for grad and placement rate

re: Thinkful, we have a rigorous, full-time program that matches your definition of "online classroom" as well as a flexible program for those who can only commit part-time. Both offer 1-on-1 mentorship, with stats available on CIRR.org.

OP - you're welcome to ping me (bhaumik@thinkful[dot]com) w/ any specific questions. I run the full-time product.

It looks like an interesting setup, but the requirement to provide email in order to view the syllabus is offputting.

Ya I agree it’s annoying. Will flag this with our marketing team.

We teach the MERN stack with some CS theory (basic data structures & algorithms). There’s also a heavy focus on building so your portfolio pieces will start with wireframes and end with deployment and code reviews.

Thank you for the update! I would like to edit my original comment to state that both are available, but comments are only editable for a short time. Here's an upvote!

Np! Just went through a rebrand to make that a bit clearer. Btw excited to see Harsh build a great team and lead HR, he was great to work with while at MakerSquare :)

Any possibility Thinkful will support payment through the G.I. Bill in the future?

Realistically, that’s looking like a 2019 goal but yes we’d love to offer that fincancial support. We currently offer partial scholarships to veterans for both products.

Thanks. I'd enroll in a heartbeat if I were able to put my remaining GI Bill benefits towards it today.

This doesn't work for non-US citizens wanting to work in the US

Don’t want to be cynical. Why don’t the top 5 CS program online undergrad or masters degrees?

The cynical view is the De Beers conjecture. Artificial scarcity is used to maintain prestige, brand equity for the university (http://aei.org/publication/on-the-economics-of-diamonds-the-...).

The generous view is that they are just trying to find a way to ensure a high bar of quality and experience, and as soon as that’s possible they’ll all have options.

I believed MIT has come closest - you can in principal enter a program without a 99% percentile GRE score (or any GRE score) if you can do the work. You have to spend some time on campus, but in the end it’s an MIT degree without an asterisk. For some reason they’ve not picked Computer Science as one of the first programs.

Berkeley’s data science programs do not offer computer science degrees, and unfortunately are not even in the college of engineering. It’s a shame because a lot of the math/work there is a starting foundation for machine learning.

This past autumn I enrolled in the DePaul University online degree completion for CS. As the name states, it is not a four year program, you need to have basically your freshman year completed elsewhere. I have only taken a single class so far which worked out good. Starting in January I will be in a Discrete Math course so it will be a bit more intense so I will see how that goes.

When researching a program, I had narrowed it down to the following options:

* DePaul University

* University of Illinois at Springfield

* Arizona State University

* University of Maryland University College

* University of Florida

I ended up choosing DePaul because of the name recognition and the fact that I can actually visit the campus for advising, activities, etc. They also do not have a distinction on their diploma stating that the degree is "online", it is the same as a residence degree.

It may seem petty, but one of my criteria for choosing a school was that if I had ever heard or seen the school advertised on TV or radio, I wasn't interested. I wanted a school that was invested in academics and not advertising.

I graduated from UIUC with a MSCS ‘14 (online).

- Did my CS undergrad at top school on site ‘11 - Worked full time in Bay as software developer since undergrad graduation, 2011. - Employer paid MS tuition

Pros: - I learn a lot better from doing than listening. I’d watch the lectures at 2x speed. Felt like I could actually pay attention until the end. - Learned how to read papers. - Challenged me to keep learning outside of work. I keep studying new stuff even now otherwise I look back and feel lazy. - Taught by best of the best.

Cons - Group projects can be a little hard to organize with on site students - Summer courses are accelerated but your full time job does not get any lighter. Summer classes are very hard with a full time job. Take something fluffy.

Anecdotally, my friends who took online classes at GTech complained that it was too easy. UIUC was definitely not easy and you get access to some top professors. Salary wise, I don’t know how much it mattered but if your employer pays for it, it’s a no brainer.

What company is paying for MS?

The University of Maryland (a fully accredited and well respected State school) has a completely online CS program (Bachelor of Science with an option for several minors and specializations as well). Having taken part of my CS program on-site (at other schools) and part with them online, I can say it is very comparable to other programs, quite rigorous, and you get a lot out of it.

You do lose out on some networking opportunities, but I was an older (military veteran) student anyway and couldn't stand the immaturity of most of my classmates while attending in-person class. I found the online ones more distraction-free. It will require quite a bit of discipline, especially in the mathematics courses, to get through it but it is definitely a great program and affordable at the same time.

NC State offers nearly the entire repertoire of CS-level classes online (discrete math, C programming language, computer organization & assembly, data structures, algorithms, design patterns/OOP, operating systems, automata, etc). Videotaped lectures and proctored exams. NC State transfers well, and they are credited no differently from an in-person class. No special asterisk or transcript annotation lowering the value of the credit.

However, you’ll have to get the vast majority of your bachelor General Education elsewhere (Rio Salado online CC, ASU Online, etc) such as English, Humanities, Calculus, Linear Algebra, etc.


I am currently 60% through the GT omscs program. I’d say it’s good for your money. So far I have been unimpressed with the quality of the recorded lectures both compared to other recorded lectures and on campus lectures. Group projects are a pain. The focuses especially in ML are weak, you really have to do a lot of work on your own in order to be competent in a specialization. Because of the lack of courses they offer I’ve ended up taking 3 / 6 courses which I didn’t need to take or enjoy taking. I’d say it’s best if you want to get a well rounded overview of some modern trends in cs rather than focusing on any specialization.

> you really have to do a lot of work on your own in order to be competent in a specialization

Totally agree with this. For courses like AI, ML, and RL, I watched lectures from Berkeley and Stanford in addition to the GT lectures, and that really helped me understand it better.

> get a well rounded overview of some modern trends in cs

That's usually the case for a master's. PhDs are more in-depth.

This doesn’t meet any of your criteria, but will be interesting to some:


MSc in Software Engineering, from Oxford. Designed to be doable around a real job, over four years. No undergrad degree required. You need to be onsite for 11 weeks over four years. Modular, and you can fit to your interests and timetable. Cost was about £25k for the whole thing.

Thanks for the link.

Although fees seems a bit higher:

The projected total cost of an MSc at 0% inflation is £32,140 (or £27,380 for students accorded Home/EU status). The actual cost will depend upon the selection of modules and the total time taken to complete, but may be easily estimated. Any substantive change to this fee structure will apply only to subsequent registrations.

(from website)

I did a year of community college courses and all but 2 of them were online. In person I hated 19 year olds wasting class time that I've paid for and loved being able to push forward online on my time. I would be interested in finishing up online, spare me the social interaction / frustration. That's my take on things and may not fit everyone but I see a end to the expensive roadblock as more education goes online.

University of Illinois Springfield offers a BS: https://csc.uis.edu/online-undergraduate-admission

You can save major bucks by doing your gen ed at a community college and then transferring. (Edit: just noticed you already have a BA in another field, so your gen ed is probably all set.)

I have two suggestions:

University of the People: https://www.uopeople.edu. It's accredited, nonprofit, and has several 'big name' partners like Microsoft, IBM, and Intel.

And Western Governor's University(wgu.edu), also nonprofit and accredited.

I don't have firsthand knowledge of online CS programs, but I have spent time pursuing an online BS (in Environmental Resource Management). So, this is some of what I know:

Sacramento State, which I personally visited (in meatspace) while investigating online/distance learning Master's, has some excellent programs. I dug around and their site points to what is supposedly an entirely online CS program from a California university here:


A good resource for anyone interested in taking either online classes or getting a degree in California is California Virtual Campus:


You can search the database for classes you need. I have taken classes from several California colleges in the process of trying to complete my online Bachelor's, some in person and some online.

Penn State was the other thing I researched years ago that looked good to me, but I recall it being spendy. I am just going to point you to their home page and you can dig around and see if they have a program that interests you:


I was mostly looking for either GIS programs or Urban Planning programs to further my education after my bachelor's (or looking for classes to fill in the holes in my undergrad education, because I have an AA in Humanities and needed more science classes to complete the requirements of my BS). But my recollection is that Sacremento State and Penn State were two well established online and distance learning programs more than 10 years ago when this was not common. So I think they likely know what they are doing and are not fly-by-night deals.

Do any of these programs offer a way to trade experience via testing for credits? I went the hands in way 20 years ago and have done really well with it, but I sometimes wonder if having the degree would be helpful.

You can challenge courses at most schools if you already know the material.

Thanks! Definitely something to check into then.

What is the cheapest route from an AS in something like computer networking to a BS in CS? I'm 5 years into mid-level development jobs, so I'm not sure if it's even worth the money.

Just curious, do you do any comp sci in your developing role, what sorts of stuff; or is it mainly programming.

Eh, no real compsci stuff, it's full stack .NET MVC / Angular 5. I'd like to move towards something more complex in the future, and I figured a degree would help me get into a larger company. I'm not entirely sure if that is true, or if I really want to work somewhere that has a hard stop on requiring one.

ODU (Old Dominion University) has an online cs program, ranked in the top 10 of online cs programs for undergrad. I work with an engineer who completed his degree through there.

Hi everyone! As far as I understand from the links below, finding a BS program that costs less than 20000-25000$ is unreal, right?

Some things I've learned about school. I'm looking to apply to a masters program, so this might vary a little bit, but hopefully it's helpful:

* If you already have a bachelors, chances are getting further education doesn't make sense from an ROI/opportunity cost standpoint. That's ok though--there are other reasons to further your education. Just run some numbers and know what you're getting yourself into though.

* Community college can be an excellent value, especially for more introductory classes that have a pretty defined curriculum. Outside of that, quality seems to vary more and it's possible your credit won't transfer or satisfy the prerequisites to your program of choice. Unfortunately, most community colleges don't seem to have university-level courses beyond the basics. Leading to...

* Computer science programs have a lot of variation in terms of their curriculum, so it can be hard to piecemeal classes from different sources. At the masters level (which, if you have a bachelors already you might consider) most programs expect you to come in with something of a bachelors-ish level background in computer science, and if you don't, they'll have you take their curriculum. It seems like having professional experience helps in terms of consideration, but not in terms of coursework.

* There are a ton of online programs out there. For what I'm looking at though (MSCS), they work pretty similarly. You can take classes on a per-class basis, then apply to the program, and they'll accept some amount of units toward the degree (note that you can't apply units from your undergrad degree). I know this is the case with Stanford's SCPD program, and I believe it's also true of USC and Columbia.

* Online programs can be pretty expensive on a per-unit basis. Taking one class at a time helps with the sticker shock. Also, there are a lot of professional programs that take less time. Personally, I'm hoping to do a research project, so that won't work for me, but it might for you.

* You can also take classes on an "open" basis at a local university, which is nice for the odd class that is tangentially required that you don't want to pay a lot of money for. For example, I'm taking probability theory at SFSU right now.

A little about me: I'm currently taking classes in preparation to apply to a masters program. I have a BA in economics, but I've been developing software professionally since 2008. I'm currently doing the "Foundations in Computer" science courses through Stanford's SCPD program to provide a coherent core curriculum before applying to programs.

Would it make sense to take a formal CS degree for someone with an engineering/math degree? Does having a master's degree in CS help you become a better entrepreneur/engineer considering the cornucopia of knowledge provided by MOOCs?

Does anyone know of any online PhD programs?

Columbia University has a distance learning option called CVN. They offer an MS in CS. The degree/diploma is identical to getting a Master's on campus.



For the knowledge; not sure if they give you a degree.

http://open.edu.au partners with a number of Australian universities like RMIT and Griffith, and five or six others, to deliver all of the content online. However each subject generally still has an invilgated exam. From what i understand though, even these exams can be undertaken in a host of other countries.

You can get an entire free curriculum from Open Source Society (OSS) and a lot of their classes you can get credited for, however it's mostly a curated list of free resources like classes offered from MIT and Stanford and various other schools last time I checked. Might be worth looking into.

Worthwhile and "fully online" are pretty much mutually exclusive.

If you want a degree then actually go to the college. Watching videos is very different than actually talking to lecturers face to face, doing exercises under supervision and guidance, having access to labs and having someone to ask if you don't know something.

There is also the aspect of self-discipline - it is very easy to goof off instead of doing your homework and sitting in front of long lectures on a computer. In a college where you are likely paying tuition you will likely think twice whether you flunk a test or a project or not, forcing you to actually work on your knowledge.

There is also the aspect that pretty much no employer (or grad school) will recognize your online-only "degree". So you may have learned a lot but in the end wasted your time because it doesn't bolster your credentials in any way.

Online programs are a good complement to a classical curriculum on campus but not really the same quality.

You could hold n amount of dollars in an escrow account that would donate it all to charity if you didn't make solid grades if you really wanted to.

All the other problems you cited are instances of baseless bias or could be addressed in an online setting. I suppose it depends on the university you attend but I never experienced "doing exercises under supervision and guidance" and indeed, people who can only work/be motivated in that setting woulud probably make terrible professional developers.

Sad to read something like that, but actually this is the thoughts of a lot of employers. So, people, ok... it's cool online grads, but go to college if is possible, it will be more easy later avoid unnecessary a lot of wrong bias about stuff like credentials.

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