In our exponentially digital and technological culture, computer science is one of the fastest-growing fields in the country, with some of the highest paid professionals. Choosing an online Masters in Computer Science program guarantees you not only a bright professional outlook, but the flexibility to achieve that goal from home. Most programs are designed identically to their on-campus counterparts and allow you to finish within one to two years. This online degree is perfect for helping you either advance in your current career, or discover a new one altogether.
Graduates of computer science have gone on to find career opportunities in a wide range of exciting positions: software developers for start-up companies in San Francisco and New York, computer system administrators for world-renowned research institutions, cyber security analysts for the C.I.A. Even more, with a higher graduate degree comes higher pay; salaries for these positions typically range from $79,000 to $132,000 per year. Obtaining a Masters in Computer Science prepares you to be a top performer—and a top earner—in a rapidly developing field.
What are the best online master’s in computer science?
At College Choice we’ve collated and compared the academic reputation, student satisfaction, affordability, and average financial aid packages of online Masters of Science in Computer Science programs across the country to create a definitive ranking of the nation’s twenty-five best graduate programs. We first chose programs with the most renowned academic reputation and from those pared the list down to those with high retention rates—a reflection of student satisfaction—and those with the most economical accessibility, to arrive at a list marked by thorough research and extensive data aggregation. Our figures come from the university and colleges’ websites as well as nationally recognized U.S. News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics.
Still need to get your bachelor’s degree? Check out our ranking of the Best Online Bachelor’s in Computer Science.
University of Southern California
CC Score: 100
Per Credit Hour: $1,774
A private, nonprofit, research university located in Los Angeles, the University of Southern California (USC) is known for its emphasis on business, innovation, entrepreneurship, and leadership, as well as its many rankings and accolades. USC is ranked 23rd among national universities by U.S. News & World Report, and Reuters ranked it as the 14th most innovative university in the world. USC offers an online Master’s in Computer Science degree through its Viterbi School of Engineering. Students learn the design, programming, and application of computer systems while also taking a breadth of courses and pursuing an emphasis in a desired area of specialization. The online graduate degree an online USC student earns is the same as on-campus students.
USC is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
CC Score: 99.80
Per Credit Hour: $1,320
Stanford University, located in the northern Santa Clara Valley of California, is a private research university, and regarded as one of the most reputable institutions in the world. Stanford holds a high academic record within its seven different professional schools, four of which offer graduate degrees. Its online Master of Science degree in Computer Science holds a similarly rigorous academic reputation, requiring both a broad educational grounding in three main subjects—Mathematical and Theoretical Foundations, Computer Systems, Al and Applications—and a specialization in one of ten pre-approved areas. Among the specializing options are Artificial Intelligence, Computer and Network Security, Database Systems, Theoretical Computer Science, and more. To fulfill the degree, students must complete forty-five credit hours, including at least one 500-level Computer Science seminar.
Stanford University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
CC Score: 93.42
Per Credit Hour: $1,034
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a public research-intensive university, and the flagship campus of the University of Illinois system. Offering over 150 programs of study, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is highly regarded academically, and viewed as a world-leading research institution for engineering and sciences (both applied and basic). UIUC offers a range of online graduate programs, including the online Master of Computer Science degree that is primarily designed for professionals looking to further and strengthen their careers while still meeting current career obligations. The computer science program, which consistently ranks among the top in the United States, is a non-thesis, non-research degree program. Operating exactly the same as the on-campus degree, students are required to fill thirty-two credit hours, which allows them to complete the degree in as short as three years.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is accredited by North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
CC Score: 89.26
Per Credit Hour: $1,782
Located in the heart of Upper Manhattan, New York City, Columbia University is a private, Ivy League, research institution. As the oldest college in New York State, Columbia has a long history of accomplished alumni, many of whom have gone on to become Nobel Laureates, Supreme Court Justices, and world-renowned innovators in their field. The Master of Science in Computer Science program focuses equally on theoretical computer science and experimental computer technology. The degree requires students to take at least one class from three different core breadth categories: Systems, Theory, and Artificial Intelligence & Application. From there, students can specialize in one of eight concentration tracks to accrue a total of thirty graduate credits.
Columbia University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
CC Score: 88.84
Per Credit Hour: $1,108
Purdue University, located in West Lafayette, Indiana, is the flagship university of a six-university system. Known for its strong engineering and science programs, Purdue University offers two hundred undergraduate majors, and over seventy graduate programs. The online Master of Computer Science degree, housed in the Department of Computer Science, is a non-thesis, distance-learning opportunity that is designed for working professionals. To complete the degree, students choose ten three-credit courses taught by over fifty faculty members. The Computer Science graduate program also offers internship opportunities such as the GoBroiler Internship Program, which specializes in cutting edge computing systems projects with real-world application.
Purdue University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Johns Hopkins University
CC Score: 87.07
Per Credit Hour: $1,237
Located in Baltimore, Maryland, The Johns Hopkins University is an American private research university, known widely as the first research university in the United States. Johns Hopkins University receives consistent accolades across the board—maintaining a top 10 spot in U.S. News Best Universities, and top 20 spot in international rankings. The G.W.C. Whiting School of Engineering, which contains fourteen undergraduate and graduate program, also houses the online Master of Science in Computer Science program. This online graduate degree is geared toward solving real-world problems by offering courses that develop skills in theory, analysis, design, and implementation of information systems. Using state-of-the-art technology and learning tools, students are required to complete a total of ten courses—three foundation courses and seven concentration elective courses.
Johns Hopkins University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
CC Score: 86.60
Per Credit Hour: $820
With more than more than 3,800 faculty members and 33,000 students, Boston University, a private research university, is the largest academic institutions in Boston, Massachusetts. Boston University has the distinction of being among the top American universities to receive the highest research classification (RU/VH) by the Carnegie Foundation. The online master’s in Computer Information Systems (MSCIS) at Boston University, which began in 2004, provides the opportunity to gain a professional degree within eighteen to twenty-four months. With the support of thirteen full-time faculty members, students choose from seven available concentrations within the online graduate program—Computer Networks, Data Analytics, Database Management, Health Informatics, IT Project Management, Security, and Web Application Development. The graduate program was awarded the #3 Best Online Graduate Computer Information Technology Programs by U.S. News & World Report in 2016.
Boston University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Georgia Southern University
CC Score: 84.16
Per Credit Hour: $410
Offering an impressive 120 majors among their undergraduate and graduate programs, Georgia Southern University is a public university located in Statesboro, Georgia. In an effort to move toward energy independence, Georgia Southern University is on the forefront of research projects through The Renewable Energy and Engines Laboratory, which gives students an opportunity to engage in applied science learning. Unique to many programs, the Master of Science in Computer Science degree at Georgia Southern University specializes primarily in Data Mining and Data Warehousing. The early courses in the program lay a foundation for students in databases, artificial intelligence, and web systems. Students then are given the opportunity to focus their degrees by specializing in data mining, data warehousing, or distributed database systems. This thirty credit-hour distance program made the top 10 list of “Best Buys” from Get Educated.com in 2011.
Georgia Southern University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges.
University of Louisville
CC Score: 83.72
Per Credit Hour: $714
A diverse institution, with students from all fifty states and over 116 countries around the world, the University of Louisville is one of the largest public universities in Kentucky. Close to 23,000 students attend its twelve schools and colleges. The online Master of Science in Computer Science program at the University of Louisville, housed under the J.B. Speed School of Engineering, uses the same curriculum and faculty as the on-campus program. The program is designed for individuals who have a background in technology but do not necessarily have an undergraduate degree in engineering or computer science. The thirty-hour curriculum offers a variety of classes in foundations, software, and analytics.
The University of Louisville is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Stevens Institute of Technology
CC Score: 82.36
Per Credit Hour: $1,450
One of the oldest technological universities in the United States, Stevens Institute of Technology is a private, coeducational research university located in Hoboken, New Jersey. Under the cooperative education program, undergraduate students at Stevens Institute of Technology extend their schooling to five years, and vary their time between academic courses and professional work experience. Among the majors that rank the highest in this model are Chemical Engineering, Computer Science, Cyber Security, and Quantitative Finance. The online Computer Science Master’s Program at Stevens Institute of Technology follows a similar model by combining rigorous coursework and competitive research opportunities in its thirty-credit-hour curriculum. Students are given the opportunity to consult with Microsoft, IBM, Google, Bell Labs, AT&T Labs, and other top industry labs in their research.
Stevens Institute of Technology is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
University of West Georgia
CC Score: 81.82
Per Credit Hour: $412
Frequently listed among the Best Southeastern Colleges by The Princeton Review, the University of West Georgia is a comprehensive doctoral-granting university located in Carrollton, Georgia. The institution oversees a vibrant student life, with over 160 student organizations covering academics, cultural studies, politics, sports, and more. The online Master of Science in Applied Computer Science degree prepares students primarily for jobs in the information technology industry. Over the two-year duration of the program, students take classes in Database Systems, Software Development, Web Technologies, and Program Construction, in addition to two cumulative group projects that allow students to apply their skills in real-world scenarios. The online computer science program at the University of West Georgia was recently listed as one of the Best Online Graduate Computer and Information Technology programs by U.S. News and World Report.
The University of West Georgia is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
CC Score: 81.34
Per Credit Hour: $1,157
Based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Drexel University is a private research university, which also houses one of the oldest and largest cooperative education programs (co-op) in the country. Drexel University is also one of the earliest universities to provide online degree programs. Since launching its first online education program in 1996, Drexel University Online has expanded to offer over one hundred fully accredited master’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees and certificate programs. The online Master of Science in Computer Science degree focuses equally on theory and practice, letting students choose from core classes such as Data Structures, Computing Theory, and Programming Languages, as well as a wide selection of electives. The degree also allows students to design independent studies with faculty members, and choose between a thesis or a non-thesis degree track for a total of forty-five credits.
Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
North Carolina State University
CC Score: 79.44
Per Credit Hour: $628
The largest university in both Carolinas with over 34,000 enrolled students, North Carolina State University is a public, coeducational, research institution. North Carolina State University, along with Duke University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is part of the Research Triangle, which refers to a region known for its institutes’ research facilities, the educated workforce they provide, and how they have historically served as a major attraction for local businesses. Between the university’s eleven academic schools, it is most recognized for its strength in engineering, statistics, agriculture, and life sciences. Their online Master of Computer Science degree requires thirty-one credit hours, a third of which will be comprised of specifically computer science courses and the rest from either the College of Engineering or the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences.
North Carolina State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Missouri University of Science and Technology
CC Score: 78.22
Per Credit Hour: $1,194
Named the #3 top engineering school in the United States by USA Today, Missouri University of Science and Technology, a higher learning institution located in Rolla, Missouri, boasts strong academic performance in engineering, mathematics, and the sciences. Although more than 90 percent of its enrollment is in engineering, business, science and math, Missouri University of Science and Technology also offers degrees in the humanities, social sciences, and arts. Unique to some others on this list, the online master’s degree in Computer Science focuses on critical infrastructure protection and software engineering. Within the total of thirty-one credit hours needed to complete this degree, students choose from classes like Big Data Management and Security, Information Systems & Cloud Computing, and Computational Intelligence. Students who decide to complete the thesis option devote more of their credits to research, while students who opt out of the thesis track focus on electives related to a specialization.
Missouri University of Science and Technology is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
CC Score: 74.90
Per Credit Hour: $1,050
One of twenty-eight member institutions of the Associations of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is comprised of eleven schools and colleges. The university offers over fifty master’s and doctoral degrees, including those based in their “Classroom in the Cloud” program. Their Master of Science in Computing degree can be completed in under two years and stands apart from others one our list in that they stress technology management, integrating leadership skills into the curriculum. Students can anticipate classes on data mining, applied linear algebra, software quality assurance, component architecture, and mobile computing among others. Marquette does not require specialization, but offers students the option of several tracks including: business intelligence and analytics, database analysis, information security, mobile computing, system architecture, software development, healthcare information technology, and a self designed track.
Marquette University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, a commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
CC Score: 74.24
Per Credit Hour: $1,388
Syracuse University is based in Syracuse, New York and boasts a number of academic rankings from U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, Times Higher Education, and more. Made up of thirteen well-recognized colleges and schools, Syracuse offers over 200 undergraduate majors and numerous master’s and doctoral degrees, including the Master of Science in Computer Science program that is offered through their College of Engineering and Computer Science but available fully online. Students in the program are trained to incorporate the newest technologies into new systems, to develop analytic and critical thinking skills, and to cultivate an expertise in a range of specialities, including security, artificial intelligence, computer architecture, advanced programming, and more. The program requires thirty credit hours and can be flexibly tailored to a student’s schedule.
Syracuse University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
CC Score: 73.80
Per Credit Hour: $795
Located in Auburn, Alabama, Auburn University is a public research university with over 20,000 enrolled undergraduates, one of the largest in the state, and is a designated land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant research center. Through their Samuel Ginn College of Engineering grad students can earn a Master of Science in Computer Science and Software Engineering degree. No thesis is required for this thirty-three semester credit hour degree, though choosing one of the three concentrations—software engineering, networks operating systems, or human/computer interface—is strongly recommended. Many of the accepted students in this program have an academic background in computer science already, but Auburn stands apart from other programs on our list in that they encourage applicants from many backgrounds.
Auburn University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Colorado State University
CC Score: 73.30
Per Credit Hour: $770
A flagship university, Colorado State University is located in Fort Collins, Colorado and is recognized as a major research institution. The Engineering School, the first of its kind in Colorado, is ranked as among the best in the country (63rd by U.S. News & World Report) and has contributed widely to many areas of research. They offer a Master of Computer Science degree that can be completed with thirty-five credit hours, within two years, and fully online. Students in the program can anticipate a curriculum that covers networking and security, parallel computing, software engineering, artificial intelligence and machine learning, systems software, and database systems. After graduation approximately 70 percent of students go on to obtain job offers.
Colorado State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
University of Michigan–Dearborn
CC Score: 72.26
Per Credit Hour: $680
Located just outside of Detroit, the University of Michigan-Dearborn is a public university known for its strong engineering and management programs. As one of two satellite campuses of the University of Michigan, UM-Dearborn enjoys full access to the faculty, research services, and sporting events of the main campus. The College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS), which houses an online Masters in Computer and Information Sciences, is highly regarded as one of the best programs in the region. The thirty credit-hour program conducts all of its online classes in the afternoon or evening to accommodate students who are also working professionals. Students select courses from seven core concentration areas: computer graphics, geometric modeling and game design; computer networks and security; database management; information systems; software engineering; systems software; and web technology. Many students who graduate from the UM-Dearborn online master’s program go on to pursue doctoral degrees or research professions.
University of Michigan-Dearborn is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
CC Score: 71.42
Per Credit Hour: $1,320
The oldest and largest campus in the University of Minnesota system, the University of Minnesota Twin Cities enrolls over 50,000 students. It is ranked as one of the nation’s best research universities, notable for its contributions to chemical engineering, pharmaceuticals, and economics. Their College of Science and Engineering offers an online, thirty-one credit hour Master of Computer Science degree specifically for students who are currently working in the industry and have been out of school for some time. The curriculum covers everything from modern cryptography and animation in games to analysis of numerical algorithms and computational aspects of matrix theory. Graduates from the program go on to compete in the industry, enter graduate programs, and find academic positions.
The University of Minnesota is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
University of Bridgeport
CC Score: 67.23
Per Credit Hour: $790
Located in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the University of Bridgeport is not only known for having some of the best online education in the nation, but receives accolades for its racially diverse student population. There are only approximately 4,000 enrolled students, but they come from all states and over eighty countries worldwide. The Master of Computer Science degree, available fully online, is a thirty-four hour program in which students work leading researchers and industry professionals. The core courses cover operating systems, algorithms, data and computer communication, database systems, and programming, plus there are a number of electives and senior seminars to choose from. The program is notably flexible; its asynchronous class design allows students to work whenever and wherever, though still stresses community and provides opportunities for students to connect with one another and faculty.
The University of Bridgeport is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Colorado Technical University
CC Score: 66.91
Per Credit Hour: $585
Colorado Technical University is a for-profit university located in Colorado Springs and is known for its business, management, and technology degrees that are offered both on campus and online. Classes at Colorado Tech commence on a rolling basis, providing flexibility for those prospective students looking to start their studies at a time convenient for their schedules. Their Master of Science in Computer Science program, considered one of the best online computer IT degrees by U.S. News & World Report, is comprised of forty-eight credit hours and a curriculum that trains students in operating systems and networking, computer system architecture, and the software system engineering process. The degree can be achieved fully online or at either one of the Colorado Springs or Denver campuses. Graduates have gone on to become engineers, data analysts, java developers, solutions architects, programmers, and more.
Colorado Technical University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
CC Score: 62.48
Per Credit Hour: $637
One of the five campuses in the University of Massachusetts system, UMass Dartmouth is located in Dartmouth, Massachusetts and was the first university in the world to obtain a sustainability report that met the top global standards. Known for its law school UMass Dartmouth also offers over sixty undergraduate and over thirty graduate programs, including their online Master of Science in Computer Science. The program, which is nearly identical to the one offered on campus, can be completed in as little as four semesters and trains students in software, systems, and theory, and the curriculum’s elective platform notably focuses on software rather than computer systems. One thing to note is that UMass Dartmouth, due to state-held regulations, cannot accept applications from residents of Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Maryland, or Minnesota.
The University of Massachusetts is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
University of Memphis
CC Score: 57.45
Per Credit Hour: $823
The University of Memphis is a public research institution located in Memphis, Tennessee with an enrollment of approximately 22,000 students, most of whom are undergraduates. In addition to their many traditional majors and graduate programs, they also offer a Master of Science in Applied Computer Science online. The core curriculum covers algorithms, operating systems, theory, and software engineering and the rest of the program is tailored by the student, who collaborates closely with an advisor. The Computer Science department not only has over $16 million in active grants, the highest per-capita research funding of any University of Memphis department, but their faculty is comprised of industry leaders, experts, and practitioners.
The University of Memphis is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Columbus State University
CC Score: 48.59
Per Credit Hour: $1,283
Located in Columbus, Georgia, Columbus State University is a public university with nearly one hundred undergraduate and graduate programs. Though well-recognized for its business school and MBA program, Columbus is also noted for its international education platform as well as its Space Science Center, Omnisphere planetarium, and the Mead Observatory. Columbus State also boasts the TSYS School of Computer Science, through which they offer a Master of Science in Applied Computer degree that can be completed online. The thirty-six hour program generally requires three concentrations: information assurance, modeling and simulation, and software development; however, students can also design their own program without specialization. Columbus State University also offers the opportunity to apply for graduate assistantships.
Columbus State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.