Florida has a strong technology sector. In fact, it is first in high-tech employment in the Southeast U.S., beating out surrounding states, such as Georgia and North and South Carolina, according to information from Enterprise Florida, an economic development organization in the state.
Students who are interested in online computer science programs in Florida can find options from the undergraduate to graduate level. Some of these schools give students the opportunity to specialize in distinct fields, like cybersecurity, while others provide career services that could help graduates find a job along the state's High Tech Corridor, which runs across numerous counties.
Florida's Technology Education Initiatives
Since 1981, when IBM built the first personal computer in Florida, the state's tech sector has continued to innovate and grow. The Sunshine State now features 275 different data centers, 61,000-plus miles of fiber lines and more than 47,000-connected fiber buildings, according to a report by Enterprise Florida.
There is continual activity in the state to inspire and provide support to graduates of online IT programs and similar degree programs in the state. This includes:
- Innovation: For the sixth year in a row, the three research universities along the state's High Tech Corridor — the University of Central Florida, the University of South Florida and the University of Florida — created more patents in 2017 than other centers of innovation in the country, including North Carolina's Research Triangle and the University of Texas System.
- Hiring: The state's vast — and growing — tech infrastructure could mean more opportunities for employment and career choice. In early 2018, Florida's more than than 27,000 high-tech companies employ 310,000-plus people. Of those companies, more than 80,000 people are employed by 14,000 businesses that focus specifically on software and computer systems design.
- Career Services: Enterprise Florida reports the state's colleges and universities are among the top producers of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) graduates. To support those graduates, leaders of these university career centers have come together with tech sector professionals in an annual event known as the Talent Forum, which includes the exchange of job referrals and leads.
Best Computer Science and IT Colleges in Florida
While computer science degrees are offered by almost all of the top, public four-year schools in the state, many technical and community colleges in Florida offer computer science degrees as well. Here's how degree-granting colleges and universities that offer these programs in Florida compare against each other.
|Ranking||School Name||In-State Avg. Undergrad Tuition||% Receiving Financial Aid||Retention Rate||Number of Tech-Related Programs|
|1||University of South Florida-Main Campus||$4,559||91%||91%||3|
|2||Hillsborough Community College||$1,931||78%||60%||4|
|3||Florida State University||$4,640||96%||93%||2|
|4||Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale||$19,008||88%||79%||3|
|5||Nova Southeastern University||$29,940||100%||79%||6|
|6||Florida International University||$4,721||89%||90%||2|
|7||Pasco-Hernando State College||$2,297||72%||N/A||5|
|8||University of Miami||$48,720||72%||92%||2|
|9||Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University||$3,152||95%||81%||1|
|10||University of Central Florida||$4,478||90%||90%||1|
Spotlight on Computer Sciences Schools in Florida
IT degree programs in Florida provide students with choices from the associate-degree level to the master's degree option and above. Here are four examples of available IT and computer science schools in Florida, and their degree programs:
- University of Florida Online: Students enrolling at UF Online can complete a bachelor of science degree program in computer science and choose among different career tracks and opportunities. Virtual information sessions are offered several times a month and provide general online information and details about the university's online computer science degree program.
- University of West Florida, Pensacola: If cybersecurity is a calling, then UWF could be a fit with its online program that culminates in a Master of Science in Information Technology with a cybersecurity specialization. The school has also received a designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency.
- University of Central Florida, Orlando: There are no admissions requirements to enroll in the bachelor's degree program in computer science from UCF. However, a minimum of "C" average is needed in all computer science courses after that. Faculty at the school are also involved in research that is as varied as computer vision, machine learning and parallel computation.
- Florida Technical College: Several campuses of FTC in the state can provide students with undergraduate IT degree program options. These include an associate degree program in network administration, which can be completed in as little as 28 weeks, and a bachelor's degree program in information technology networking, web design and programming.
IT Salaries and Job Outlook in Florida
Graduates interested in careers as computer network support specialists, computer network architects, computer hardware engineers and computer and information research scientists — and other IT occupations — might look for employment along the state's High Tech Corridor, which crosses 23 counties and includes a dozen regional workforce boards and countless innovation companies, according to Enterprise Florida. Statewide, job growth projections through 2026 is in the double digits for almost all of these occupations.
|Career||Annual Mean Wage||Statewide Projected Job Growth Rate|
|Computer Network Architects||$105,980||14.5%|
|Computer Network Support Specialists||$65,030||18.7%|
|Computer Systems Analysts||$85,970||17%|
|Database Administrators and Architects||$90,340||20.3%|
|Information Security Analysts||$91,580||38.3%|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrators||$81,570||15.1%|
|Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers||$99,840||40%|
|Web Developers and Digital Interface Designers||$66,720||22.1%|
Computer Science Scholarships for Florida Students
Scholarships provide a way for students to make online IT schools in Florida more affordable. These scholarships can offset tuition costs, help cover books and fees or provide other ways to assist with costs. A few scholarships that students of computer sciences schools in Florida may be able to apply for are listed below:
- Harris Scholarship (undergrad and grad), Florida State University
- CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service
- D & A Scholarship Fund
- John M. and Mary A. Shanley Memorial Scholarship
- McKnight Doctoral Fellowships, Florida State University
Florida Professional Organizations and Resources
Florida technology associations can be a great way for recent graduates of computer science degree programs in Florida to meet other professionals, learn about educational opportunities and register for local events and seminars. Check out the list some of the IT associations and organizations in the Sunshine State directly below:
- Association for Computing Machinery (multiple Florida chapters)
- Florida Business Technology Education Association
- Orlando Tech Association
- Palm Beach Tech Association
- Central Florida Computing Society
- Florida Information Technology - Enterprise Florida
- Florida Technology Council
- South Florida Technology Alliance
To be included in the rankings, all colleges had to meet the following criteria:
- Be an accredited U.S. institution
- Offer either 2 or 4-year degree programs
- Be active in the 2016-17 school year
- Offer a degree in a technology-related subject
- Have awarded at least one degree in that subject in 2015-16
- Have reported data for all ranking variables listed below
- Related subjects, based on the number of relevant programs that are offered at any level
- Flexibility, based on number of relevant programs that are offered at any level via distance education
- Average in-state undergraduate tuition
- Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid
- Average amount of federal, state, local, institutional, or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students
- Graduation rate
- Retention rate
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, University of Florida Online, Accessed December 2018, https://ufonline.ufl.edu/degrees/undergraduate/computer-science/
- Computer Science, University of West Florida, Accessed December 2018, https://uwf.edu/hmcse/departments/computer-science/graduate-programs/cybersecurity-msit/
- Corridor Universities Rank Among Top 100 Worldwide in Patents, Florida Technology Corridor, Accessed December 2018, http://www.floridahightech.com/2018/06/05/corridor-universities-rank-among-top-100-worldwide-in-patents/
- CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service, U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Accessed December 2018, https://www.sfs.opm.gov/
- Information Technology, Enterprise Florida, Accessed December 2018, http://www.enterpriseflorida.com/wp-content/uploads/brief-information-technology-florida.pdf
- Information Technology, Florida Technical College, Accessed December 2018, http://www.ftccollege.edu/it-degree.html
- Information Technology, B.S., University of Central Florida, Accessed December 2018, https://www.ucf.edu/degree/information-technology-bs/
- Long Term Occupational Professions, Projections Central, Accessed December 2018, http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
- Master of Science in IT Security, University of West Florida, Accessed December 2018, https://uwf.edu/hmcse/departments/computer-science/graduate-programs/cybersecurity-msit/
- Search Scholarships Database, Schools.com, Accessed December 2018, https://www.schools.com/scholarships-database
- Student Scholarship/Fellowship Opportunities, Accessed December 2018, https://www.cs.fsu.edu/student-scholarshipsfellowship-opportunities/
- The Florida Hi-Tech Corridor, Florida Hi-Tech Corridor, Accessed December 2018, http://www.floridahightech.com/
- Wired for Success, Enterprise Florida, Accessed December 2018, https://www.enterpriseflorida.com/wp-content/uploads/Infographic-Wired-for-Success.pdf