Associate degrees

Associate’s Degrees in Computer Science: Everything You Need to Know

An associate’s degree in computer science trains students in computer programming, systems analysis, web development, and network administration. The affordable degree offers a high return on investment for professionals interested in IT careers. Our guide reviews everything prospective computer science majors need to know before starting an associate degree.

What is an associate degree in computer science?

The field of computer science studies computers, networks, and computer systems. An associate’s degree in computer science introduces learners to the fundamental concepts of computer science and programming languages. The degree prepares graduates for careers in IT or further education.

During a two-year computer science degree, majors study in-demand programming languages, web development skills, and computer systems analysis. The degree reinforces the foundational knowledge and skills required for entry-level technology careers.

Many colleges offer computer science programs online. The flexible format of online programs appeals to working professionals and busy students. Students with prior college experience can often apply transfer credits toward their associate degree.

How long does it take to complete this degree?

Most associates programs are two years long for full-time students. Part-time students can take three years to earn the minimum 60 credits required for an associate degree.

Computer science majors choose between in-person and computer science degrees online. Both options require a similar number of credits and time commitment. Some colleges offer accelerated online formats for students who want to graduate in less time.

How much does this degree cost?

According to 2019/2020 data from the National Center for Education Statistics. In addition to tuition and fees, students should budget for textbooks, technology costs, and living expenses. Some schools provide a computer for distance learners.

The low cost of the degree compared to the high earning potential in computer science and technology professions makes a computer science associate a good investment.

Who Is A Good Candidate For An Associate Degree Program In Computer Science?

An associate degree attracts students interested in careers in computer science. As a two-year program, an associate’s degree introduces learners to basic computer science concepts in less time than a bachelor’s degree.

The degree meets the requirements of several technology careers, including as a web developer or computer programmer. After earning an associate degree, graduates enter the workforce to gain work experience or transfer to a bachelor’s degree program to further their education.

Should I pursue an associate’s degree in computer science, bachelor’s degree, certificate, or bootcamp?

Prospective students considering a career in technology have several options. They can get an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college. They can also pursue a certificate in computer science or enroll in a bootcamp. Although each option helps students learn to code, they require different investments of time and money.

An associate degree typically takes two years. In comparison, a bachelor’s degree takes four years and a certificate typically takes 6-12 months. Bootcamps, the fastest option, often require less than six months of study. Each of these options offers flexible registration. For example, learners can register for free online courses with certificates or choose online college bootcamps. Many degree-granting programs also offer online options.

Before deciding between a degree, certificate, or bootcamp, prospective students should research the total cost and career outcomes. Many employers still prefer to hire graduate candidates.

Skills Taught in an Associate’s Degree in Computer Science

During an associate degree, computer science majors learn several programming languages, develop data analysis skills, and learn how to program websites. The degree also prioritizes soft skills, also known as soft skills. Majors build their ability to work in teams and pay attention to key details. Employers are looking for candidates with the following skills:

Technical skills

Social abilities

  • Proficiency in programming language
  • Database administration
  • Analysis of computer systems
  • Web development
  • Network administration
  • Teamwork and interpersonal skills
  • Creative approaches to problems
  • Perseverance in solving challenges
  • Attention to detail
  • Time management

What Does an Associate’s Degree in Computer Science Look Like?

An associate’s degree in computer science provides fundamental knowledge in systems management, database administration, and computer programming. Learners strengthen their problem-solving and analytical skills through hands-on projects. The degree also introduces computer science theory to prepare learners for further studies in the field.

During an associate degree, majors take computer science courses that introduce the basic concepts of programming, computer systems, and networking. Many programs incorporate multiple programming languages ​​and career-focused courses like web development and computer systems analysis. The degree also includes courses in algebra, statistics, and general education courses. These courses emphasize critical thinking and communication skills.

Computer science majors benefit from a detail-oriented approach and initiative. Online computer science programs also require strong motivation and time management skills.


  • Fundamentals of Programming
  • Computer systems and operating systems
  • Web programming
  • Introduction to software engineering
  • Database administration

What Can You Do With An Associate’s Degree In Computer Science?

An associate’s degree in computer science prepares graduates for many computer science jobs. The degree meets the requirements for careers as a web developer, programmer, technician or analyst.

  • Front end web developer
  • Back-end web developer
  • Full stack web developer
  • Programmer
  • IT support specialist
  • Network technician
  • web designer
  • IT systems analyst
  • Analyst Programmer
  • Software quality assurance analyst

In conclusion

An associate’s degree in computer science helps graduates launch their technology careers or prepare for a bachelor’s degree. Many community colleges offer affordable tuition for undergraduates, making a two-year computer science degree a wise investment. After graduation, graduates work in web development, programming, systems analysis, and other high-paying technology roles.

This article has been reviewed by Monali Mirel Chuatico

Monali Mirel Chuatico, a woman with long black hair, smiles in a headshot.

In 2019, Monali Mirel Chuático earned her bachelor’s degree in computer science, which gave her the foundation she needed to excel in roles such as data engineer, front-end developer, UX designer, and computer science instructor.

Monali is currently a Data Engineer at Mission Lane. As a data analytics captain at a non-profit organization called CO-OP careers, Monali helps new graduates and young professionals overcome underemployment by teaching them data analytics tools and mentoring them on their professional development journey.

Monali is passionate about implementing creative solutions, building community, advocating for mental health, empowering women and educating young people. Monali’s goal is to gain more experience in her field, broaden her skills and do meaningful work that will have a positive impact on the world.

Monali Mirel Chuatico is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education Independent Assessment Network.