Are you looking to pursue a degree in computer science but don’t have the time or money for a traditional four-year program? An accelerated computer science degree might be just what you need.
Accelerated degrees are designed to help students get their degree faster and often at a lower cost than traditional programs. There are 4 major degree types that will allow you to finish your CS education in 2 years or less: Associate’s degree, Accelerated Bachelor’s degree, Post-Baccalaureate degree, and Master’s degree (for non-CS majors).
In this blog post, we will look at some of the fastest computer science degrees available both online and on-campus, so that you can find one that fits your needs and lifestyle.
We’ll discuss the benefits of accelerated programs, their costs and curriculums, and provide links to some of the top schools offering accelerated degrees in computer science. So if you’re ready to fast-track your career in technology, read on!
What Is an Accelerated Computer Science Degree?
An accelerated computer science degree is an excellent opportunity for those who do not want to spend 4 years in college to obtain a degree in computer science within a shorter timeframe.
Typically, accelerated programs offer accelerated courses and/or compressed semesters, which can be completed in as little as 2 years. Most accelerated computer science degrees are offered online, but there are some accelerated on-campus programs as well.
While some institutions refer to an “accelerated computer science degree” as a condensed Bachelor’s degree, there are many more options of CS degrees that are available to aspiring students.
Your Options for Accelerated Computer Science Degrees
As we mentioned, there are several accelerated computer science degrees available, depending on your educational background and professional goals. Here are some of the most popular options.
An Associate’s degree in computer science is a great option for those who want to enter the workforce quickly and begin their career in technology. With most Associate’s degrees, you can complete the program in 2 years or less and get a solid foundation in computer science.
Associate degrees are usually offered by community colleges and are less comprehensive than 4-year Bachelor’s degrees.
Bachelor’s Degree (Accelerated)
Accelerated Bachelor’s degrees in computer science are designed for students who want to complete their degree in less than 4 years or those who have prior college credits, a degree in another field, or experience in the technology field (degree completion programs).
These accelerated programs allow students to finish their Bachelor’s degree in computer science in as little as 2 years and can be offered both online and on-campus.
A post-baccalaureate degree in computer science is ideal for those who already have a 4-year degree in another field and want to pursue a career in computer science.
These accelerated programs allow students to earn a post-bacc degree in as little as 1-2 years. Most post-baccalaureate programs are offered online, although some universities offer accelerated post-baccalaureate programs as well.
Master’s Degree (Non-CS Majors)
Finally, another option for obtaining a degree in computer science in as little as 1-2 years is a Master’s degree for non-majors.
These are specialized graduate programs for students who already have a Bachelor’s degree in another field (career changers) and wish to switch careers to computer science.
Best Accelerated Computer Science Degrees
Now that we have discussed the different accelerated computer science degrees available, let’s take a look at some of the best accelerated programs out there.
We have listed our top accelerated programs below, including both online and on-campus fastest computer science degrees.
Best Associate’s degrees
- De Anza College – Cupertino, CA
- Manchester Community College – Manchester, CT
- Moorpark College – Moorpark, CA
- Western Technical College – La Crosse, WI
- Moraine Park Technical College – Fond du Lac, WI
- South Texas College – McAllen, TX
- CUNY Kingsborough Community College – Brooklyn, NY
- Park University – Parkville, MO
For more options of computer science Associate’s degrees, check out our article “18 Best Community Colleges for Computer Science”.
Best Accelerated Bachelor’s degrees
- Boston University – Boston, MA
- Western Governors University – online
- Colorado Technical University – online
- Concordia University Wisconsin – online
- University of Maryland, Global Campus – online
- California State University, Monterey Bay – online degree completion program (transfer)
- University of Illinois – Springfield – online
Best Post-Baccalaureate Programs
- Oregon State University – online
- University of Colorado, Boulder – online
- University of Houston – Houston, TX
See our article “Top 12 Post Baccalaureate Computer Science Programs” to gain more information about the post-bacc programs.
Best On-Campus Master’s Degrees for Career Changers
- MCIT at University of Pennsylvania
- MSCS for Scientists & Engineers at University of Southern California
- MPCS at University of Chicago
- CS@CU MS Bridge Program at Columbia University
- MSCS Align program at Northeastern University
- MSCS for non-majors at Brandeis University
- Three-year MSCS at Syracuse University
For more information about the on-campus Master’s degrees for students with no CS background, check out our article “Top 7 Master’s degrees in Computer Science for non-CS majors“.
Best Online Master’s Degrees for Career Changers
- MCIT Online at University of Pennsylvania
- MSCS for Scientists & Engineers at University of Southern California
- OMSCS at Georgia Institute of Technology
- Online MSCS at Tufts University
- Tandon Bridge to Master’s program at New York University
- Online Master of Computer Science at Rice University
- Online M.S. in Computer Science at Stevens Institute of Technology
If you would like to see the full list of online Master’s programs for career changers, see this article.
How Long Does a Computer Science Degree Take to Finish?
The duration of fast-track computer science degree programs differs with the type of degree as well as personal preference and pace of a student.
Typically, however, the fastest computer science degree programs can take as little as 6-12 months to complete, while other accelerated computer science programs take 2-3 years.
With Accelerated Bachelor’s degree programs, the number of courses is usually the same as with traditional 4-year undergraduate degrees. The difference is that each semester is much shorter, usually 6-10 weeks instead of 14-16 weeks.
Associate’s degrees can be finished in 1-2 years and Master’s programs are typically accomplished in the same duration of time as well.
It is important to note that accelerated degree programs require accelerated commitment, so it’s not really a good fit for every student. That being said, accelerated degrees can be a great way to quickly gain the skills and knowledge that employers are looking for.
If you’re looking for an accelerated computer science degree, consider exploring the options above to find the best fit for your academic and career goals.
How Much Does an Accelerated Computer Science Degree Cost?
Accelerated computer science degrees cost varying amounts depending on the type of program and the university.
Associate’s degrees are typically the most affordable options, costing an average of $4,578 per year according to Smart Asset’s analysis of 801 community colleges across the US.
Accelerated Bachelor’s programs and post-baccalaureate program charge an average of $9,349 in public schools and $32,769 in private schools, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
Finally, Master’s degrees tend to cost the most with tuition being $30,000-$40,000 per year for most private universities.
However, it is also important to note that due to shortened duration of the programs overall, students will spend less on rent and other living expenses.
Accelerated Computer Science Degree Curriculum (Courses)
In your accelerated computer science degree program, you are likely to encounter a number of standard CS courses. These include the following:
This course will introduce you to the basics of programming languages like C++ and Java. You will also learn about object-oriented programming, software design, and development. As a result, you’ll gain the skills necessary to write and debug programs.
This course teaches students about computers from the bottom up, covering topics such as memory, storage, and operating systems. Students will learn about the components of a computer system and how they interact with each other to create a working system.
This course covers the fundamentals of data structures and algorithms. You will learn about different types of data structures, including linear and nonlinear data structures. You’ll also explore the different algorithms used to manipulate and process data.
Networks and Security
This course covers the fundamentals of computer networks, including the different layers involved in creating and maintaining a network. You will also learn about security protocols and methods for protecting data from malicious attacks.
This course covers the fundamentals of operating systems, including Linux, Windows, and Mac OS. You will learn about the different components that make up an operating system and how they interact with one another to create a functioning operating system.
This course introduces students to the fundamentals of algorithms and how they are used in computer science. You will learn about different types of algorithms and their applications, as well as how to analyze and debug algorithms.
This course covers the fundamentals of database systems, including relational databases and NoSQL databases. You will learn about how to design and implement databases as well as advanced topics such as data mining and query optimization.
In addition to these core courses, accelerated computer science degree programs may also offer elective courses that allow students to specialize in a particular area. These may include topics such as game development, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and more.
Are Accelerated Computer Science Degrees Difficult?
Accelerated computer science degree programs, especially Accelerated Bachelor’s programs, can indeed be difficult due to their condensed structure.
Unlike the typical bachelor’s program that takes four years to finish, those studying for accelerated degrees may have to meet the same requirements in three or fewer years.
The courses typically span twice as little amount of time, which means students will have to dedicate more hours per week to their studies and complete assignments more quickly.
However, accelerated degree programs are also designed with this accelerated pace in mind. Courses are usually more focused and structured, so it can be easier for students to stay on track and keep up with their studies.
Pros and Cons of Accelerated Computer Science Degrees
If you’re considering an accelerated computer science degree, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons:
- Faster completion time – accelerated degrees allow students to complete their studies in a shorter amount of time.
- Cost savings – accelerated degree programs typically cost less than traditional degree programs.
- Increased focus – accelerated degree programs are designed with a more focused curriculum and accelerated pace in mind.
- Intense workload – accelerated degree programs require more hours of study, and may be too demanding for some students.
- Lack of specialization – accelerated programs often require students to take a broad range of courses, with less opportunity for specializing in an area of interest.
- Less support – accelerated programs may not offer as much support from advisors or instructors as traditional degree programs.
Overall, accelerated computer science degrees can be a great option for those looking to finish their degree quickly and save money in the process. However, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of accelerated degree programs before making a decision.
Accelerated CS Degree vs. Coding Bootcamp
What about a coding bootcamp though? For those who are interested in streamlining their CS education, a coding bootcamp may seem like another great option for gaining the tech knowledge needed to enter the industry quickly.
In fact, coding bootcamps take much less to complete (2-3 months) than even the fastest computer science degree programs.
However, it is important to understand that coding bootcamps are unaccredited non-degree professional programs that only teach job-necessary programming skills.
This is often sufficient for many developers who are aiming to enter the market fast and are content with relatively lower salaries.
For those who would like to increase their chances of employment directly after graduation and make it easier to climb the career ladder and command higher salaries, a university degree may be a better choice.
For a complete comparison of coding bootcamps and CS degrees, check out this article on our blog.
Salary Expectations for Computer Science Degree Holders
You may also be interested in knowing how much completing an accelerated university degree in computer science will bring you in monetary returns.
According to PayScale, graduates of Associate’s degree programs in computer science earn an average yearly salary of $66,000. Bachelor’s degree holders earn $90,000 annually, and Master’s degree graduates earn as much as $110,000, on average.
Because most computer science jobs pay significantly higher than the national average, you can be sure that a computer science bachelor’s degree will set you on a gratifying path.
Admission Requirements for Accelerated Computer Science Degree Programs
Most accelerated computer science degree programs will require applicants to have a number of credentials, documents, and standardized test scores.
In general, the required application materials include:
- High school diploma (or an undergraduate diploma if applying for Master’s program)
- SAT/ACT scores or GRE scores
- Letters of recommendation
- Personal statement
- Official transcripts
It is important to note that accelerated degree programs may also have different admission requirements, so make sure to check in with each school you are applying to for more detailed information.
Accelerated computer science degrees are university programs that allow you to get computer science education within a relatively short amount of time, usually 1-3 years.
In this article, we have described the different accelerated degree types that can lead to fast-track graduation and quick entrance into the tech market. We have also provided lists of the best online and on-campus programs for each degree type.
With accelerated degrees becoming more popular, there are plenty of options for students to choose from. Whether it be an online accelerated degree or on-campus accelerated program, you can find a school that will meet your needs and help you reach your educational goals.
So if you’re considering a career in computer science, an accelerated degree could be the perfect option for you. Consider the pros and cons of these programs carefully and start applying as soon as you have made a decision! Good luck in your educational pursuits!
Elmar Mammadov is a software developer, tech startup founder, and computer science career specialist. He is the founder of CS Careerline and a true career changer who has previously pursued careers in medicine and neuroscience.
Due to his interest in programming and years of past personal experience in coding, he decided to break into the tech industry by attending a Master’s in Computer Science for career changers at University of Pennsylvania. Elmar passionately writes and coaches about breaking into the tech industry and computer science in general.