2024 Best Online Graduate Certificate Programs in Computer Science for Non Majors

By Joy Miller
Updated on June 15, 2024
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If you’re looking to break into the tech industry, online graduate certificate programs in computer science for non-majors offer a fantastic opportunity.

Best Online Graduate Certificate Programs in Computer Science for Non Majors

These programs are designed to provide you with the essential knowledge needed to transition into a computer science career, even if your background is in a different field. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits, key components, and career opportunities associated with these programs.

Whether you’re aiming to switch careers, enhance your current skills, or prepare for further studies, we’ll provide you with valuable insights to help you make an informed decision and start your educational journey.

Universities Offering Online Graduate Certificate Programs in Computer Science for Non-Majors

Methodology: Our school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must offer an online or hybrid graduate certificate program in computer science and hold regional accreditation. These programs are tailored for students without prior experience in computer science.

Colorado School of Mines

The Colorado School of Mines offers an Online Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Data Science – Computer Science designed for individuals without a computer science background. This program focuses on essential data science concepts within computer science, including computational techniques and machine learning.

  • Coursework: The program requires 12 credit hours, consisting of courses such as Introduction to Data Science, Statistical Methods I, Introduction to Machine Learning, and Machine Learning. It aims to help students develop skills in data analytics, including deriving predictive insights through advanced statistics, modeling, and programming, as well as acquiring in-depth knowledge of machine learning and computational techniques.
  • Admissions: Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and submit a resume or CV. GRE and letters of recommendation are not required.
  • Program Length: The program can typically be completed in one year.
  • Fees: The tuition cost of the entire 12-credit online program is $13,450. Fees for students enrolled in Mines Online programs are included in the cost of tuition.
  • Career Opportunities: Graduates can expect to find opportunities in various industries, such as finance, healthcare, and product design, leveraging their skills in data analytics and machine learning to drive innovation and efficiency.

The Colorado School of Mines is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Drexel University

Drexel University offers an Online Graduate Certificate in Computer Science Foundations, ideal for individuals without a computer science background. This program provides a comprehensive introduction to computer science, covering key areas such as programming, algorithms, systems, and software design.

  • Coursework: The program requires 12 credit hours, consisting of four courses: Introduction to Programming, Data Structures and Algorithms, and Introduction to Software Design. The curriculum is designed to equip students with the ability to analyze problems, apply mathematical and algorithmic principles, and design and implement computer-based systems.
  • Admissions: Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. The application process includes submitting official transcripts, a resume, a statement of purpose, and one letter of recommendation. GRE scores are not required.
  • Program Length: The program can typically be completed in one year.
  • Fee: Tuition for the 12-credit online program is $1,438 per credit hour, totaling approximately $17,256. Additional fees include a $125 annual graduate online program fee. Financial aid is not available for this certificate program.
  • Career Opportunities: Graduates will be prepared to transition into roles such as software development, systems analysis, and IT project management, leveraging their new skills to advance their careers.

Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University offers an Online Graduate Certificate in Computer Science tailored for those who do not have a background in computer science. This program aims to provide foundational knowledge in computer science, covering essential topics such as algorithms, data structures, and software engineering.

  • Coursework: The program requires 12 credit hours, consisting of four courses, and delves into software development, data structures, algorithms, and web applications. Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 and achieve a grade of “B-” or better in all courses. The program is flexible, allowing students to complete it online or on-campus.
  • Admissions: Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Those with a degree in a non-science or non-engineering field must have completed either a CS minor or the Computer Programming Certificate at NC State. GRE scores are not required for admission.
  • Program Length: must be completed within five (5) semesters, or about 2 to 2.5 years.
  • Fee: Tuition for the online program is $8,530 for North Carolina residents and $18,517 for non-residents for 9 or more credit hours. Fees for online and distance education are included in the cost of tuition.
  • Career Opportunities: Graduates can expect to find opportunities in various industries, such as software development, IT consulting, and data analysis, leveraging their foundational computer science skills to advance their careers.

North Carolina State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign offers the Illinois Computing Accelerator for Non-Specialists (iCAN), a one-year graduate certificate program in computing fundamentals designed for individuals without a CS background. This program aims to broaden participation in computing by equipping students with essential skills in programming, algorithms, and data structures.

  • Coursework: The iCAN program requires 20 credit hours, consisting of courses such as Accelerated Fundamentals of Computing and Accelerated Fundamentals of Algorithms and a capstone project. The curriculum is designed to provide a supportive environment with individualized instruction, hands-on training, and academic and career mentoring. The program is delivered in a synchronous online format, with possible in-person problem-solving sessions.
  • Admissions: Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in any field other than computer science, a minimum GPA of 3.0, and knowledge of college algebra. GRE scores are not required.
  • Program Length: The program can typically be completed in one year.
  • Fee: Tuition for the online program varies based on residency status, with need-based tuition scholarships available. Federal financial aid is also an option.
  • Career Opportunities: Graduates will be well-prepared to enter high-tech careers or pursue further education in computer science, leveraging their new computing skills to make significant contributions in various fields.

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania offers an Online Graduate Certificate in Computer Science Fundamentals, specifically designed for students without a background in computer science. This program provides a solid foundation in computer science, covering essential topics such as programming, algorithms, and software systems.

  • Coursework: The program requires the completion of four course units, which include courses like Introduction to Programming, Data Structures, and Algorithms. The curriculum follows the core of Penn’s highly regarded online Master of Computer and Information Technology (MCIT Online) degree, ensuring a comprehensive introduction to the field.
  • Admissions: Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and submit an official transcript. GRE scores are not required.
  • Program Length: The program can typically be completed within one year, but students have the option to extend their studies up to two years if needed.
  • Fee: Tuition for the online program is $3,500 per course unit, totaling approximately $14,000 for the four-course program. Additional online services fees are $156 per course unit. Note that this program is not eligible for federal financial aid.
  • Career Opportunities: Graduates will be well-prepared to transition into roles such as software development, IT consulting, and data analysis, leveraging their new computing skills to advance their careers.

UPenn is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

University of South Florida

The University of South Florida offers an Online Pathway to Computing Graduate Certificate tailored for individuals without a computing background. This program serves as a bridge to the Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS) at USF and equips students with essential computer science knowledge, including programming, data structures, and algorithms.

  • Coursework: The program requires 15 credit hours, consisting of courses such as Computing Essentials, Data Structures Essentials, and Object-Oriented Programming Essentials. The courses are delivered asynchronously online, making it ideal for busy professionals.
  • Admissions: Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. No prior experience or knowledge of computing is required, and GRE scores are not necessary for admission. The program can typically be completed in one year.
  • Fee: Tuition for the online program is $640 per credit hour, totaling $9,600 for the 15-credit-hour program. Fees for students enrolled in this self-supporting program are included in the cost of tuition.
  • Career Opportunities: Graduates will be well-prepared to transition into tech roles, such as software engineering, systems engineering, and network engineering, leveraging their new computing skills to advance their careers.

USF is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Understanding Graduate Certificate Programs in Computer Science

A graduate certificate in computer science is an academic credential offered by universities to students that have already earned their bachelor’s degree. These programs are designed to provide practical training in the theories and applications of computer science, making them an excellent option for individuals who did not major in computer science but are looking to gain expertise in the field.

What is a Graduate Certificate Program?

A graduate certificate program is a short, intensive program that focuses on career-specific subjects and skills. Unlike a full degree program, a graduate certificate typically requires fewer courses and can be completed in a shorter time frame. These programs are ideal for professionals who want to add computer science proficiencies to their skill set without committing to a full master’s program.

Key Differences Between Graduate Certificates and Full Degree Programs

When considering further education in computer science, it’s important to understand the key differences between graduate certificates and full degree programs.

Here, we’ve outlined the key distinctions to guide your decision-making process.

Graduate Certificates Master’s Degrees
Duration Usually one year or less Two to three years
Courses Typically 12 to 16 credit hours Between 30 to 60 credit hours
Cost Fewer courses typically means lower cost Higher number of courses can mean higher total cost for program
Flexibility Online and hybrid options available Online and hybrid options available

By understanding these differences, you can better evaluate which educational path aligns with your career goals, financial situation, and personal commitments. Whether you choose a graduate certificate or a full degree program, both options provide valuable opportunities to advance our knowledge and skills in the field of computer science.

Benefits of Earning a Graduate Certificate

Pursuing a graduate certificate offers several significant benefits.

  • Shorter Duration: You can complete a graduate certificate in about one year or less, allowing you to quickly gain new skills and knowledge.
  • Lower Cost: Graduate certificates are typically more affordable than full degree programs, making them a cost-effective way to enhance your qualifications.
  • Flexibility: Many programs are designed to accommodate working professionals, offering online and part-time options that fit your schedule.
  • Career Advancement: Earning a graduate certificate can make you more competitive in the job market by demonstrating specialized skills and knowledge in computer science.
  • Pathway to Further Education: Credits earned from a graduate certificate can often be applied toward a master’s degree if you decide to pursue further education.

By choosing a graduate certificate program in computer science, you can gain valuable skills and knowledge in a relatively short amount of time, without the extensive commitment required for a full degree program. This makes it an excellent option for those looking to transition into the field of computer science or enhance their current career prospects.

Who Should Consider a Graduate Certificate in Computer Science?

Graduate certificate programs in computer science are designed to be accessible for a diverse range of individuals, especially those without a background in the field.

Here are the ideal candidates we have round up:

Candidate Description
Career Changers If you’re working in an unrelated field and want to transition into tech, a graduate certificate provides foundational knowledge and skills for a significant career change.
Recent Non-CS Graduates Recent graduates with a non-CS bachelor’s degree can bridge the gap between their current knowledge and the skills needed for a computer science career.
Skill Enhancement for Professionals Tech professionals looking to specialize or update their skills can gain new competencies through a graduate certificate without committing to a master’s degree.
Preparation for Graduate Studies Considering a master’s in computer science? A graduate certificate can help meet prerequisites and test the waters, with many programs allowing credit transfers towards a master’s degree.

Whether you’re looking to switch careers, enhance your current skills, or prepare for further studies, a graduate certificate in computer science offers a flexible and efficient pathway to achieving your goals.

These programs are tailored to meet the needs of diverse learners, making them an excellent option for anyone eager to enter the dynamic field of computer science.

Key Components of a Graduate Certificate Program in Computer Science

Graduate certificate programs in computer science are designed to equip you with essential skills and knowledge in a relatively short time. Typically, these programs require you to complete 12 to 15 credit hours, which equates to about 4 to 5 courses.

Here are some common courses and topics you might encounter:

Course Description
Programming Languages Learn the syntax and semantics of languages like Python, Java, or C++.
Data Structures Understand how to organize and store data efficiently using structures like arrays, linked lists, and trees.
Algorithms Study the design and analysis of algorithms for problem-solving and optimization.
Software Engineering Explore the principles of software development, including design, testing, and maintenance.
Database Management Gain knowledge in database design, SQL, and data retrieval techniques.
Cybersecurity Learn about protecting information systems from cyber threats and vulnerabilities.
Cloud Computing Understand the fundamentals of cloud services, architecture, and deployment models.
Artificial Intelligence Dive into AI concepts, including machine learning, neural networks, and natural language processing.
Web Development Develop skills in creating and managing web applications using modern frameworks and tools.
Operating Systems Study the design and functionality of operating systems, including process management and memory allocation.

By completing these courses, you’ll gain a solid foundation in computer science, preparing you for various career opportunities or further academic pursuits.

Whether you’re looking to switch careers or enhance your current skills, these programs offer a flexible and efficient way to achieve your goals.

Admission Requirements and Application Process

To apply for an online graduate certificate program in computer science, you’ll need to meet certain admission requirements and follow a specific application process. Here’s a quick overview:

General Admission Requirements

Typical requirements include:

  • Bachelor’s Degree: A degree from a regionally accredited institution.
  • Transcripts: Official transcripts from all postsecondary institutions attended.
  • Personal Statement: An essay detailing your goals for graduate study and your future career.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Some programs may require one or more letters.

These requirements ensure that applicants are well-prepared and committed to their academic and professional growth.

Application Deadlines and Process

Rolling Admissions: Many ABET-accredited online computer science degree programs, including grad cert programs, accept applications on a rolling basis, allowing you to apply at any time.

Specific Deadlines: Some programs have set deadlines for each term. For example:

  • Fall Term: Applications typically close in late spring or early summer.
  • Spring Term: Applications usually close in late fall.
  • Summer Term: Deadlines are often in early spring.

To apply, create an online account on the university’s application portal, submit your application, and upload the required documents. We encourage you to check each program’s specific requirements and deadlines to ensure a smooth application process.

Cost and Financial Aid

Pursuing an online graduate certificate in computer science can be a significant investment, but we are here to help you find various financial aid options to make it more affordable. The first step is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your eligibility for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs.

Many universities also offer scholarships and assistantships specifically for graduate students. We encourage you to inquire about these opportunities when applying. Additionally, we recommend exploring external scholarships from professional organizations or private foundations related to computer science or technology.

To manage costs effectively, consider enrolling part-time or taking advantage of employer tuition reimbursement programs if available. You can also look into payment plans or loan deferment options to spread out the financial burden over time.

Remember, investing in your education is an investment in your future. With careful planning and the right financial support, an online graduate certificate in computer science can be a valuable and achievable step towards advancing your career.

Career Opportunities and Benefits

Earning a graduate certificate in computer science can potentially enhance your career prospects and salary potential.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations, making now an excellent time to gain these valuable skills.

Here, we present ten potential career paths and job roles you might want to pursue, along with their annual median salaries according to the BLS:

Job Role Annual Median Salary
Computer and Information Systems Manager $169,510
Computer and Information Research Scientist $145,080
Database Architect $134,700
Software Developer $132,270
Computer Network Architect $129,840
Information Security Analyst $120,360
Computer Systems Analyst $103,800
Computer Programmer $99,700
Web Developer $84,960
Computer Support Specialist $60,810

A graduate certificate in computer science not only opens doors to these high-paying roles but also equips you with specialized skills that are highly valued in the tech industry. This credential can make you more competitive in the job market, potentially leading to higher salaries and better job opportunities.

Whether you’re looking to switch careers, advance in your current role, or explore new areas within the tech field, a graduate certificate can be a powerful tool to help you achieve your professional goals.

Tips for Choosing the Right Program

Selecting the right online graduate certificate program in computer science is crucial for your success. Here are some key factors we want you to consider:

  • Curriculum: Ensure the program offers courses that align with your career goals and interests. Look for a comprehensive curriculum that covers essential topics like programming, data structures, and cybersecurity.
  • Faculty: Research the qualifications and experience of the faculty members. Experienced instructors with industry backgrounds can provide valuable insights and mentorship.
  • Flexibility: Consider the program’s format and schedule. Online programs should offer flexibility to accommodate your work and personal commitments.
  • Cost: Compare tuition fees and other expenses. Look for programs that offer financial aid, scholarships, or payment plans to help manage costs.
  • Accreditation: Accredited programs meet established standards of quality and are recognized by employers and other educational institutions. You can verify a program’s accreditation status through the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Reputation: A well-regarded university can enhance your resume and provide better networking opportunities.

We encourage you to carefully evaluate these factors. You can choose a program that best fits your needs and sets you up for success in the field of computer science.

FAQs

Find out quick answers to the most frequently asked questions below.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online Graduate Certificate in Computer Science?

The time it takes to complete an online graduate certificate in computer science varies by program, but generally, you can expect to finish in about six months to one year if studying part-time.

This flexibility makes it easier to balance your studies with work and personal commitments, ensuring you can complete program requirements at a pace that suits you.

Can Credits From a Graduate Certificate Be Transferred to a Master’s Degree Program?

Many universities allow you to transfer credits from a graduate certificate program towards a related master’s degree in CS online or on-campus program. However, the transferability and number of credits accepted can vary significantly between institutions.

Generally, you may be able to transfer a portion of the credits, typically around 25-50% of the total required for the master’s degree. It’s essential to check with the specific university’s policies and consult with an academic advisor to understand their transfer credit guidelines.

Factors like course relevance, grades, accreditation, and time since completion can influence the decision. While transfer credits can provide a head start, each case is evaluated individually, and outcomes cannot be guaranteed.

Are There Any Specific Tracks or Specializations Available Within These Certificate Programs?

Yes, many online graduate certificate programs in computer science offer specific tracks or specializations to tailor your learning experience to your career goals.

For example, you can choose to specialize in areas like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Cybersecurity, Data Science, or Software Engineering. These specializations allow you to dive deeper into specific topics, gaining advanced skills and knowledge that are highly valued in the tech industry.

We recommend you select a track that aligns with your interests and career aspirations. You can make the most of your educational investment and enhance your job prospects in your chosen field.

Getting Your Graduate Certificate in Computer Science Online

For non-CS majors, earning an online graduate certificate in computer science is a flexible and efficient way to enhance your skills, switch careers, or prepare for further studies.

With a variety of programs available, you can find one that fits your schedule and goals. Remember to consider factors like curriculum, faculty, cost, and accreditation when choosing a program. Accredited computer science colleges and universities offer quality education and valuable credentials that can boost your career prospects.

Start your educational journey today and explore the many opportunities that await you in the dynamic field of computer science.

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