Virginia added more than 6,400 new tech jobs in 2018, according to CompTIA's Cyberstates 2019 report. And it's currently sixth in the nation for overall tech employment, with more than 436,000 tech workers. In fact, almost 11 percent of the workforce in the Commonwealth of Virginia is employed in the tech industry.
These statistics indicate a positive outlook for those interested in starting a career in the industry — or in taking an existing tech career to the next level. High school graduates, adult learners, career changers and stay-at-home parents in Virginia who are interested in a computer science or IT career can find plenty of different education programs — from associate and bachelor's degrees to advanced degrees.
Virginia's Technology Education Initiatives
Virginia's tech industry is huge and the state's government, business, education and community leaders work together to support its health and growth. Here are a few examples of activities in place.
- Establishing a unified statewide vision for STEM education: In July 2019, Governor Ralph Northam signed an executive order that created the Virginia Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Education Commission. The commission is to make recommendations by July 2020 regarding ways to better prepare the state's students for 21st-century jobs.
- Boosting access to computer science education: Computer science, part of state's K-12 Standards of Learning, is now required to be offered at all high schools. Computer science can also be used to meet core graduation requirements.
- Accelerating workforce development and technology: Virginia Tech's planned Innovation Campus represents a $1 billion investment in the future. Its goal is to bring together graduate students in fields like computer science and software engineering with industry partners in order to nurture tech talent and research.
- Driving innovation and growth in the tech industry: The Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund, administered by the state's Center for Innovative Technology, provides grants to nonprofit research organizations, higher education, federal labs and businesses in the private sector as a way to boost Virginia's role in technological education and development.
- Learning opportunities for students and professionals: Several of Virginia's tech membership organizations host events like the Capital Cybersecurity Summit and Autonomous Technology Summit. Professionals and students can take advantage of these opportunities to hear from industry leaders about the latest developments in these tech fields.
Best Computer Science and IT Colleges in Virginia
The large number of IT degree programs in Virginia can provide students with many undergraduate and graduate options and different areas of concentration. Online IT programs help to provide even more choices to students in Virginia. Here are the Virginia college and universities we think provide the best education opportunities to computer science and tech students, based on an analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Education.
|Ranking||School Name||In-State Avg. Undergrad Tuition||% Receiving Financial Aid||Retention Rate||Number of Tech-Related Programs|
|1||George Mason University||$9,060||76%||87%||8|
|2||University of Virginia-Main Campus||$14,509||59%||97%||2|
|3||College of William and Mary||$15,864||57%||95%||1|
|5||Virginia Military Institute||$9,284||94%||89%||1|
|7||Washington and Lee University||$51,420||64%||96%||1|
|10||Christopher Newport University||$9,032||74%||87%||1|
Spotlight on Computer Sciences Schools in Virginia
There are a plethora of schools — more than 70 — that offer technology or computer science degree programs in Virginia. Here's a quick overview of some interesting options students can consider.
- North Virginia Community College: At this multi-campus school, students can earn an associate of science degree in computer science or information technology. Both are designed to prepare students for transfer to a bachelor's program at a four-year institution. NOVA has transfer and articulation agreements in place with more than 40 schools.
- Old Dominion University Online: A Bachelor's of Science in Computer Science can be completed entirely online at ODU. Students there can transfer in as many as 90 credits, but must complete at least 30 of them at ODU to qualify for a degree from the school.
- George Mason University: Students interested in earning a B.S. and M.S. in computational and data sciences can pursue Mason's accelerated program. This dual option, designed to be completed within five years, allows students to take graduate courses during their final bachelor's year.
- Virginia Tech Online: If you are looking for graduate online IT programs in Virginia, the master's degree in information technology available through Virginia Tech could be a fit. This fully online program offers 11 areas of study from big data to software engineering and cybersecurity.
- University of Virginia, Charlottesville: Computer science programs available through UVA's School of Engineering and Applied Science include a bachelor's of art, bachelor's of science, master's and Ph.D. In 2018 the school was chosen to lead the building of a new Center for Research in Intelligent Storage and Processing in Memory, or CRISP, that would facilitate advancements in data storage and processing.
IT Salaries and Career Outlook in Virginia
What type of IT careers are showing growth in the state of Virginia? Occupations for computer hardware engineers, computer network architects and computer and information systems managers are all projected to increase in demand, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of course, graduates of computer science degree programs in Virginia may find many other occupations in the field to pursue, too.
One area where graduates of online computer science programs in Virginia can look for career leads is the Dulles Tech Corridor. Located in the state's Fairfax and Loundon counties, and near the federal government, the Corridor hosts big-name companies such as Cisco Systems, Dell, IBM, Lockheed Martin, Network Solutions and Oracle.
|Career||Annual Mean Wage|
|Computer Network Architects||$128,530|
|Computer Network Support Specialists||$73,290|
|Computer Systems Analysts||$106,490|
|Database Administrators and Architects||$102,320|
|Information Security Analysts||$114,760|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrators||$92,720|
|Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers||$114,440|
|Web Developers and Digital Interface Designers||$87,710|
Computer Science Scholarships for Virginia Students
Scholarships are just one way that students considering campus-based or online IT degree programs in Virginia may be able to make them more affordable. Scholarship requirements vary from program to program and the reward amount also can differ. Here are a few tech- and state-specific scholarships that may interest students in Virginia:
- Glenn Fox Memorial Mathematics and Computer Science Scholarship: Students who meet the eligibility requirements can apply for this award, offered by the Virginia Mathematical Association of Two Year Colleges. Preference may be given to those who plan to seek teaching careers in computer science or math.
- Virginia Tech's Department of Computer Science: Several awards are available specifically to computer science students who meet eligibility requirements. Qualified undergrads can apply for the CGI Computer Science Scholarship, the Anne and George Gorsline Memorial Scholarship, and the Griffith-Strader Christian Scholarship, among others.
- George Mason University's Volgenau School of Engineering: Computer science and information technology majors at George Mason can find at least a half dozen awards specifically intended for those majors, while others are available to a broader range of students within the School of Engineering, including computer science and information technology students.
Virginia Professional Organizations and Resources
Becoming a member of an IT association in Virginia can be a great way to network, learn about new advancements in the field and discover up-and-coming career opportunities. A list of some of the professional IT organizations available in Virginia are provided below:
- Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) — 10 colleges and universities in Virginia have students chapters
- Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA) — Virginia chapters include Hampton Roads, Northern Virginia and Richmond
- Data Management Association - Central Virginia Chapter (DAMA-CV)
- Information Systems Security Association (ISSA), Virginia chapters include Central Virginia, Hampton Roads, NOVA, Quantico and Yorktown
- Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC)
- Southwest Virginia Technology Council (SWVTC)
- Virginia Society for Technology in Education (VTSE)
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/
- 2019 State of Computer Science Education, https://advocacy.code.org/
- About, Innovation Campus, Virginia Tech, Accessed September 2019, https://vt.edu/innovationcampus/about.html
- About, Southwest Virginia Technology Council, Accessed September 2019, https://www.swvtc.net/about
- CIT/CREF, Southwest Virginia Technology Council, Accessed September 2019, https://www.swvtc.net/cit-funding-resources-2019
- Computational and Data Sciences, George Mason University, Accessed September 2019, https://catalog.gmu.edu/colleges-schools/science/computational-data-sciences/computational-data-sciences-bs/computational-data-sciences-bs.pdf
- Computer Science Academics, University of Virginia, Accessed September 2019, https://engineering.virginia.edu/departments/computer-science/academic-overview
- Computer Science Online, Old Dominion University Online, Accessed September 2019, https://online.odu.edu/programs/bachelor-in-computer-science
- Degrees and Certificate Programs, North Virginia Community College, Accessed September 2019, http://eli.nvcc.edu/degrees.htm
- Dulles Tech Corridor, Accessed September 2019, https://homeinloudoun.com/dulles-tech-corridor/
- Governor Northam Signs Executive Order Establishing Virginia STEM Education Commission, July 17, 2019, Virginia Governor Ralph S. Northam, https://www.governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/all-releases/2019/july/headline-841681-en.html
- Information Technology: Associations, Greater Richmond Partnership, September 2019, https://www.grpva.com/key-industries/information-technology/information-technology-associations/
- Information Technology, Virginia Tech Online, Accessed September 2019, https://vtonline.vt.edu/MastersDegrees/Information-Technology.html
- NVTC Events, Northern Virginia Technology Council, Accessed September 2019, https://www.nvtc.org/events/
- Scholarship Opportunities, Virginia Tech, Accessed September 2019, https://vt.academicworks.com/opportunities
- Technology Employment Expands its Presence in the Virginia Workforce, Cyberstates 2019, CompTIA, https://www.comptia.org/about-us/newsroom/press-releases/2019/03/26/technology-employment-expands-its-presence-in-the-virginia-workforce
- The New Billion-Dollar Reason Why Northern Virginia Will Be the Next Tech Startup Hot Spot, Inc.com, Accessed September 2019, https://www.inc.com/emily-canal/virginia-tech-innovation-campus-amazon-hq2-northern-virginia.html
- UVA Engineering Tapped to Lead $27.5 Million Center to Reinvent Computing, Elizabeth Thiel Mather, University of Virginia, Accessed September 2019, https://engineering.virginia.edu/news/2018/01/uva-engineering-tapped-lead-275-million-center-reinvent-computing