In the world of computers and software, programmers are the builders. They write the code that computers read, building operating systems and software apps from the ground up. Many areas of the field are rapidly growing as people integrate laptops and smartphones into every aspect of their daily lives. This growing demand for programmers means that people with all training levels, from certificates to advanced degrees, can get through the door in these careers.
What Does the Programming Field Cover?
Programming is a broad field that covers many specializations. You may be able to get certificates in areas like:
- a specific programming language
- software engineering
- game design
- mobile engineering
- web design
- information systems
Why Choose a Certificate in Programming?
Hiring managers aren’t necessarily looking for someone with a high-level degree. Instead, they want job candidates who have a strong grasp on programming languages, troubleshooting, team collaboration, data security threats, and more. Many employers will choose an experienced and versatile programmer over one with an advanced degree.
A certificate lets you narrow your focus to a specific area in the field so you can start getting the years of experience that top-level positions require. You can earn additional certificates along the way to broaden your skillset. Finally, many of the credits you earn can be applied toward a future degree if you choose to pursue one.
What is the Programming Job Market Like?
It varies depending on your specialization. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, generalist computer programmers have a median pay of $86,550 per year. However, the job market is expected to shrink in the next decade, making it a competitive field to get into.
Meanwhile, specializations like web developers offer a lower median pay at $76,760 per year. However, their job outlook is rosy as this occupation is expected to grow much faster than average.
The 16 Best Universities for Programming Certifications
We’ve created a list of community colleges and universities that offer programming certifications. These were ranked according to the tuition per credit hour (cheapest is best) and the total number of credit hours to earn the certificate (lowest is best). Let’s take a look at the top 16 colleges for programming certificates.
1. Mt. San Antonio College
Eastern Los Angeles County is served by Mt. San Antonio College’s 420 acre campus. However, it doesn’t just offer hundreds of degree and certificate programs. Mt. San Antonio also supports local athletic teams, student clubs, ESL and community enrichment endeavors, and youth summer programs.
Students here can choose a certificate focusing on major programming languages or concentrate on the applied side with certificates in LINUX, Windows Operating Systems, and Network Security. The Programming in C++ certificate builds quickly from basic to advanced C++. It includes multiple labs for hands-on experience in coding.
Credit Hours: 20.5
2. Rio Salado College
Rio Salado College in Tempe, AZ, was established in 1978. It has educated over 250,000 students since then with a mix of associate degrees and certificate programs.
At Rio Salado, students can choose from over 20 programming certificates. Alongside certificates in specific programming languages and Web Design, students can specialize in developing apps. Their Certificate in Mobile App Development offers a broad base of knowledge for a variety of app platforms. This builds off of a base of C# programming.
Credit Hours: 21
3. Lone Star College System
The Lone Star College System serves almost 90,000 students in the Houston, TX area. It encompasses seven colleges and 12 centers and has the largest Hispanic student population in the nation.
At Lone Star, students may choose between multiple levels of certificates in Geographic Information Systems, Cisco and Microsoft, and Computer Programming. Their Level 1 certificate in Computer Programming is one of the more flexible in our ranking, giving students a lot of freedom in which of the available courses to focus on. This caters to both coding beginners and students with programming experience.
Credit Hours: 21
4. St. Petersburg College
St. Petersburg College of Clearwater, FL, was founded in 1927 as a junior college. However, it grew rapidly in size and educational scope. Now it serves a 45,000 member student body through eleven campuses and online programs.
Students can pursue certificates covering Cybersecurity, Computer Programming Specialist, and Web Development. Their Computer Programming Specialist track begins with three classes on the essentials of computer programming, web design, and databases. After that, students choose a subplan focusing on one of three languages: C++, C#, and Java.
Credit Hours: 18
5. Lansing Community College
Lansing Community College is located just a few blocks from the Michigan state capitol. Alongside its certificate programs and associate degrees, this is a training center for the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium.
Lansing offers hundreds of certificates and degrees in various subjects. Their programming related certificates include Computer Software Tester, E-Business, IoT Specialist, and more. Curious about a certificate in E-Business? This program merges business with coding, covering website development, marketing, and cyberbusiness strategies.
Credit Hours: 26
6 (tie). Calhoun Community College
The largest of the 27 public community collges in the Alabama Community College System is Calhoun Community College. This institution of higher learning was named after John C. Calhoun, the 7th Vice President of the United States.
Students at Calhoun can choose between about 100 associate degrees and certificates. This includes undergraduate certificates in Cybersecurity, Programming Essentials, Server Administration, and Swift App Development. Server Administration builds a student’s foundational knowledge of Linux. That foundation is then extended to advanced features like web applications, file transfer, firewalls, and more.
Credit Hours: 21
6 (tie). Minnesota West Community and Technical College
Minnesota West Community and Technical College calls Granite Falls, MN, home. However, it has opened multiple centers in other towns. The college runs the Minnesota West Foundation, a nonprofit that provides financial support to students.
Minnesota West’s programming certificates cover IT Workplace Specialist, Programmer Specialist, Computer Specialist, and Webpage Design Assistant. The Computer Specialist track provides students with foundational knowledge and a background in microcomputers, UNIX, and web programming.
Credit Hours: 16
8. Fort Hays State University
Fort Hays State University, located in Hays, KS, has developed several academic programs specifically for active military and veterans. These include Officer Candidate School and the Air University Associate to Baccalaureate Cooperative Program.
The certificates in FHSU include Information Networking for Criminal Justice, Front-End Web Developer, Full-Stack Web Developer, and Internetworking. Its Information Networking for Criminal Justice program prepares students for investigating digital crime by exploring cyberspace laws, web development, and basic network architecture.
Credit Hours: 15
9. East Carolina University
East Carolina University occupies almost 1600 acres across six campuses and centers in the Greenville, NC area. It has an active student social scene, with dozens of fraternities and sororities including historically black and Native American groups.
The graduate certificates available include Computer Networks, Cybersecurity, and Website Developer. ECU’s Computer Networks program discusses research methods, communication technology, and basic to advanced computer network technology.
Credit Hours: 15
10. Clark State Community College
In 2018, Clark State Community College was approved to grant bachelor’s degrees in Web Design and Development. This can allow students to start with a certificate in web design and apply those credits in a smooth process to a future bachelor’s degree.
Clark State’s certificates include Computer Programming, Cybersecurity, GIS Programming, and Web Development. Its GIS Programming Certificate typically takes two years to complete. Courses cover basic computer concepts, cartography and georeferencing, and programming with Python, C#, and C++.
Credit Hours: 28
11 (tie). Hazard Community & Technical College
Hazard Community & Technical College is one of 16 two-year colleges in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. This college offers reduced tuition for out of state students in counties bordering Kentucky.
Hazard can award nineteen certificates in Computer and Information Technology with focuses including CIT Fundamentals, Social Media Specialist, Web Administration, and more. Their CIT Fundamentals certificate offers a broad introduction to computer hardware, software, computational thinking, and programming languages.
Credit Hours: 23
11 (tie). UC San Diego Extension
UC San Diego, located in La Jolla, CA, is one of the top public research universities in the world. Its extension branch connects distance learners with educators and professionals at the head of their fields.
UC San Diego Extension awards a variety of certificates in specific programming languages, Front End Web Development, and App Development. Front End Web Development trains students on how to interpret application designs from the developer and code them. This course also guides students to develop a quality portfolio for their future job hunting.
Credit Hours: 15
13. Harvard Extension School
Harvard Extension School has the mission to share the institution’s renowned educational resources with people who don’t live in the Cambridge, MA area. There are over 900 courses and degrees offered through the Extension in almost every field you can think of.
Credit Hours: 9
14 (tie). North Carolina State University
North Carolina State University is a public land grant research university in Raleigh, NC. It is one of the largest research universities in the country, with over 36,000 students served on multiple campuses.
Its School of Online and Distance Education offers an undergraduate certificate in Computer Programming. This generalist program covers a number of programming languages incuding Java, C, and assembly languages.
Credit Hours: 25
14 (tie). Colorado State University Global
Although it’s headquartered in Aurora, Colorado State University Global is an online public university. CSU Global offers high quality online programs for adult learners and people completing their degrees.
This university issues both undergraduate and graduate certificates in programming specializations. On the undergraduate side, students can pursue certificates in Computer Programming, Information Technology Operations, and more. CSU also provides a graduate certificate in Cybersecurity. This program dives into more advanced studies of emerging cyberthreats and how to keep data secure.
Credit Hours: 12
16. University of Massachusetts Lowell
The University of Massachusetts Lowell was formed in 1972 from the merger of two institutions founded in the 1890s. It’s one of the largest nonprofit programs in New England, providing 195 undergraduate and graduate programs
The undergraduate certificates here cover subjects like Java Development, Networking & Security, and UNIX/Linux Operating Systems. On the graduate side, certificates include Cybersecurity, Telecommunications, and more. Over four required courses and two electives, students who study UNIX/Linux Operating Systems will learn relevant programming languages, gaining an introductory knowledge of Linux/UNIX system creation and administration.
Credit Hours: 18
Still not sure which college or university has the right programming certifications for you? Our online colleges rankings can help.
Our Ranking Methodology
We created a list of colleges that offer programming certificates through a variety of sources. These include Google, .gov databases such as the NCES, and programming certification organizations like ABET. Private for-profit schools and those that were not accredited were removed. Finally, we gathered information about the programs and tuition costs from the universities’ websites.
The 16 schools on this list were ranked on two factors. We assigned points based on in-state tuition per credit hour (cheapest is best) and how many credit hours are required by the certificate (fewest is best). The final score was weighed, with tuition making up 66.7% of the total.
Problems With Your Ranking?
If you work at one of our ranked schools and notice an error, please contact us to let us know. We will update this list with the correct information.