Best Online Masters in Computer Science 300x265Updated: May 24, 2017

Are you fascinated by the webbed matrix of our digital worlds? Are you interested in developing your own innovative network system and want to learn how to keep these networks secure? Do you generally just love to problem-solve and be on the cutting-edge of technology? Then a Master of Science in Computer Science degree may be for you.

Not only are careers in computer science projected to rise another 11 percent in the next few years, but vocations in information technology are stable and lucrative. While those with just a BA in computer science can earn around 100k a year, those who invest in a two-year advanced degree have the potential to earn over 140k a year.

Whether you want to work directly in the tech industry or not, software engineers are in demand across all industries, from healthcare to local, state, and national governments. Interested in the nexus of education and technology? There’s a place for you. Same with those who want the advanced degree to carry them into higher, more challenging positions within the business, finance, and tech sectors.

If you’re thinking about an online graduate degree, take heart: it is one of the most affordable, accessible, and flexible avenues toward advanced education. Online learning has nearly completely shed the stigma it once held, and it is now recognized as on par with traditional education. This is because most colleges and universities deliver the same content online, through the same faculty board, as they do in the classroom. Plus, the diploma looks identical to those earned by more “traditional” students. Finally, online degrees are often earned at a fraction of the cost of on-campus programs. So, regardless of your current financial, geographical, or professional situation, earning your MS in Computer Science online is a great option.

What are the Best Online Master’s in Computer Science Degrees?

Though some MS in Computer Science programs require previous academic or professional experience in technology, others don’t. And while some emphasize engineering or design over security or database management, they all share one thing in common: they offer the best online Master of Science in Computer Science degrees in the nation. We’ve looked at notable colleges and universities across the country—some of which are small, liberal arts colleges and others are elite research universities, and still others are tech professional schools—and have thoroughly examined them in four key areas: academic reputation, credit hour cost, retention rate (which is an indicator of student satisfaction), and the average early salary of graduates from the respective programs. The result of our extensive data mining is a list comprised of the best online MS in Computer Science programs in the nation. Our figures and information come from the university and colleges’ websites, PayScale, and nationally recognized U.S. News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics.

1

Columbia University

College Choice Score: 100

Credit Hour Cost: $802

Program Website

Columbia_University

Overview

Columbia University is a world-renowned university located in Upper Manhattan, New York. Many of its discrete departments and colleges are equally prestigious, producing top researchers and innovators across industries and fields, most notably in engineering and technology.

Features

Not only does Columbia offers some of the most prestigious computer science graduate degrees, it also offers the broadest selection. There are fifteen different computer science masters degrees and graduate certificates that can be earned fully online from Columbia. Each require thirty credits of core coursework and electives, though students will find the curriculums tend to emphasize electives and specialization over foundations. Students are given five years to complete the degree, so they can move at their own pace and have the flexibility to balance work life with life as a Columbia student. Areas of concentration in the computer science program include:

  • Natural Language Processing
  • Foundations of Computer Science
  • Machine Learning
  • Network Systems
  • Software Systems
  • Graphics, Interaction, and Robotics
  • Computational Biology
  • Computer Security
  • Plus an additional five graduate certifications

Notables

This Ivy League research institution has graduated innumerable Nobel Laureates, Supreme Court justices, Pulitzer Prize winners, U.S. Presidents, Medal of Science recipients, and much more. U.S. News & World Report ranks Columbia fourth in the nation, and its Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science is ranked 14th among engineering schools.

2

Virginia Tech

College Choice Score: 99

Credit Hour Cost: $1,137

Program Website

Virginia Tech

Overview

Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech) is a large, research university in Blacksburg and is designated a senior military college. The student population has grown to over 30k combined undergraduates and graduates who are enrolled in one of the over 200 academic programs. Virginia Tech is, hands down, a leader in technology education, research, and innovation. Campus is home to dozens of research centers and colleges, such as the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology; the Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment; and the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science, among others.

Features

Virginia Tech offers an online Master of Science and Master of Engineering degree in Computer Engineering through its IVC (Interactive Videoconferencing) program. The MS degree requires a thesis and the MEng requires a project and report, but both programs allow students to explore the construction, implementation, and management of computer-based systems. Virginia Tech grad students investigate what makes for a successful network while also creatively designing new systems. Core courses include:

  • Computer architecture
  • Multiprocessor programming
  • Hardware design
  • Configurable computing
  • Pattern recognition
  • Computer vision
  • Information security
  • and Advanced software development, among others

Notables

Virginia Tech is ranked among the top 100 schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, ARWU, and Washington Monthly. And its many engineering programs—from industrial to biological, civil, and environmental engineering—all fall within the top ten best programs in the country.

3

University of Florida

College Choice Score: 98

Credit Hour Cost: $552

Program Website

University_of_Florida

Overview

The University of Florida (UF) is a member of the Association of American Universities and part of the State university System of Florida. Its campus is based in Gainesville, though they host many of their academic programs and certifications online. Comprised of sixteen colleges and more than 150 research centers and institutes, UF has made huge academic and research contributions to several science fields, among them agriculture, ecology, chemistry, and engineering.

Features

UF offers an online masters degree in computer science through their renowned Department of Computer and Information Science and Engineering. Students take a number of core courses that cover analysis of algorithms, programming languages, computer architecture, operating systems, networks, and advanced data structures, then pair the foundational work with specialization through electives. Graduates from UF’s program have accelerated their careers by finding management positions in an array of industries, including:

  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Finance
  • Business
  • Government office
  • Non-profit
  • and more

Notables

Ranked 50th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, the University of Florida also receives consistent accolades from ARWU (ranked 45th), Forbes (ranked 78th), and Washington Monthly (ranked 18th). UF’s individual departments and schools are nationally and globally recognized as well.

4

Johns Hopkins University

College Choice Score: 96.5

Credit Hour Cost: $1,013

Program Website

Johns Hopkins University

Overview

Boasting the claim-to-fame for being the country’s first research university, Johns Hopkins University is based in Baltimore and known for its strong academic programs in the health sciences, law, business, and technology. Among its many renowned research centers and institutes are the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute, the Human Language Technology Center of Excellence, and the Center for Biotechnology.

Features

Offered through the Whiting School of Engineering, Johns Hopkins offers a Masters in Computer Science that can be completed fully online or through a hybrid program in which you take some classes online and the others on-campus. The opportunity to specialize at Johns Hopkins is notable, with ten areas of concentration and respective academic tracks:

  • Bioinformatics
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data communications and networking
  • Data science and cloud computing
  • Database systems and knowledge management
  • Enterprise and web computing
  • Human-computer interaction and visualization
  • Software engineering
  • Systems
  • Theory

Notables

Johns Hopkins hasn’t budged from its spot on The Top Ten Best Universities in the Country ranking (from U.S. News & World Report) in years. Likewise, its individual schools and departments hold similar reputations.

5

University of Southern California

College Choice Score: 94.75

Credit Hour Cost: $1,666

Program Website

University_of_Southern_California

Overview

Located in Los Angeles, the University of Southern California (USC) is a large school notable for having more graduate students than undergraduates. Popular degrees at USC tend to fall under the departments of business and technology, but the university has earned solid reputations across many of its schools and colleges, and is known for its emphasis on innovation, creativity, and leadership, regardless of the degree being earned.

Features

The nationally renowned Viterbi School of Engineering offers several online graduate degrees, among them are half a dozen computer science programs. Though each program has its own emphases and curriculum, each prepare students in the concepts and strategies necessary for designing, programming, and implementing computing systems. Students gain fundamental knowledge while simultaneously broadening their understanding of computer science to include current and developing issues in the field. USC’s online masters in computer science degrees include those with specialization in:

  • Computer science (generally)
  • Computer security
  • Data science
  • Multimedia and creative technologies
  • Scientists and engineers
  • Software engineering
  • and a graduate certificate in Software Architecture

Notables

U.S. News & World Report ranks USC 23rd among all universities and colleges across the nation. Forbes, Washington Monthly, and Times Higher Education reinforce this with their own solid rankings of USC. Viterbi School of Engineering is ranked tenth in the nation, and, finally, Princeton Review calls it a “Top Ten Dream School.”

6

Boston University

College Choice Score: 93.5

Credit Hour Cost: $1,593

Program Website

Boston University

Overview

Categorized by the Carnegie Foundation as having the highest research classification possible, Boston University (BU) is the largest academic institution in the city. Over 30k undergraduate and grad students are enrolled in one of Boston’s seventeen colleges or schools. From U.S. News & World Report to Business Week, The Economist, and Times Higher Education, most academic ranking sources agree that Boston University is an incredible place to earn your degree.

Features

Among the many online degree programs at BU, the Master’s in Computer Information Systems is one of the most established, having been offered for over a decade in its distance format. This program takes as few as eighteen months to complete, requires forty credit hours, and offers seven concentrations (below). BU students work closely with faculty to develop their insights into and skills in computer architecture, design, and implementation. Additionally, students become proficient in programming languages (such as Java and Python), business integration, and IT management.

  • Computer networks
  • Data analytics
  • Database management and business intelligence
  • Health informatics
  • IT project management
  • Security
  • and Web application development

Notables

Graduates from BU have gone on to win Pulitzer Prizes, Rhodes scholarships, Academy Awards, MacArthur and Truman scholarships, and much more. Boston University is ranked 39th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report and all of its graduate departments fall within the top 50 best in their respective areas. For example, BU’s engineering school is ranked 34th nationally.

7

University of Illinois–Urbana Champaign

College Choice Score: 93.25

Credit Hour Cost: $1,084

Program Website

University of Illinois

Overview

The University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign (UIUC) is the flagship campus in the University of Illinois System. A research-intensive institution, UIUC offers over 150 areas of study and is recognized for being a leader in the engineering and applied sciences.

Features

Through the nationally respected College of Engineering at UIUC, graduate students can earn a Master’s in Computer Science that is fully online, does not require a thesis, and is comprised of 32 credit hours. The curriculum, coursework, lectures, and exams are identical to the on-campus program but online students are able to maintain their professional lives while advancing their careers. The UIUC program sets itself apart through its cross-disciplinary approach to education, giving students the opportunity to tailor the program to fit with their specific career goals and interests. However, courses in the following are required:

  • Computer architecture
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Database and information systems
  • Programming languages
  • Software engineering
  • Systems and networking

Notables

A LEED certified campus, UIUC has earned a reputation for its commitments to and advances in sustainability. There’s even an on-campus Student Sustainability Committee that works to ensure campus maintains (and expands) its environmental priorities. U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, ARWU, and Washington Monthly all name UIUC as among the top schools in the nation, designating it a “Public Ivy.”

8

University of Michigan–Dearborn

College Choice Score: 93

Credit Hour Cost: $454

Program Website

University of Michigan-Dearborn

Overview

The Dearborn branch of the world-renowned research institution, the University of Michigan (UM), is based just outside of Detroit. Among the many highly ranked departments comprising UM, the engineering, computer science, and technology management departments are some of the most well-regarded.

Features

In partnership with the University of Michigan’s Rackham School of Graduate Studies, the Dearborn campus offers an online Masters in Computer and Information Science degree. This thirty-credit-hour degree combines core courses with technical electives to pave the way for students to either earn a PhD or significantly advance their careers. In addition to learning all the mathematical foundations, algorithmic principles, and computer science theories necessary for a comprehensive understanding of computer-based systems, students also specialize in two of the eight provided concentrations:

  • Computer graphics
  • Geometric modeling and game design
  • Computer networks and security
  • Database management
  • Information systems
  • Software engineering
  • Systems software
  • Web technology

Notables

U.S. News & World Report rated the University of Michigan–Dearborn the 4th “Best Public Master’s Level University” for its region. The College of Engineering and Computer Science receives similar accolades.

9

Stanford University

College Choice Score: 92.25

Credit Hour Cost: $1,200

Program Website

Stanford University

Overview

Over 16k combined undergraduate and graduate students attend Stanford University, a private research university located in the northern Santa Clara Valley of California. Undeniably, Stanford is one of the most prestigious universities in the world. From its research in technology advances to its cultural studies programs, Stanford is home to some of the most brilliant minds on the planet.

Features

This forty-five credit-hour MS in Computer Science degree from Stanford can be earned completely online. In this program students take classes broadly covering mathematical and theoretical foundations, computer systems, and artificial intelligence applications and they then participate in 500-level seminars. Thus, students gain hands-on research experience while honing their specialization in one of ten areas:

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Biocompution
  • Computer and network security
  • Database systems
  • Human-computer interaction
  • Numerical analysis / scientific computation
  • Real-world computing
  • Software theory
  • Systems
  • and Theoretical computer science

Notables

Obviously, Stanford is one of the best schools in the world. Forbes and Washington Monthly rank it at the very top, in the 1st position, while U.S. News & World Report and ARWU rank it 5th and 2nd respectively. The number of prolific and award-winning graduates coming out of Stanford is astounding, and the research contributions it’s made to industries across the professional and academic spectrums is equally impressive.

10

Drexel University

College Choice Score: 91.75

Credit Hour Cost: $1,228

Program Website

Drexel University

Overview

Drexel University is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is a private, research university. On top of the seventy “traditional,” on-campus programs Drexel offers, they also provide over 100 online degrees in a diverse array of areas. Originally founded as the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry, then renamed Drexel Institute of Technology, then finally Drexel University, the emphasis on tech, economics, and engineering is still very much pronounced at Drexel.  

Features

This online MS in Computer Science degree from Drexel provides a highly interactive curriculum to students studying from a distance. Classes cover computer science theory, intelligent systems, programming systems, computer systems, vision and graphics, and applications. Markedly balanced in its emphasis on theory as well as practice, students are trained to work on the cutting edge of technology. Indeed, graduates have gone on to find careers as:

  • Computational scientists
  • Computer specialists
  • Software engineers
  • Computer graphic design
  • Cognitive modeling specialists
  • Networking and security managers
  • and much more

Notables

Drexel is known for having the oldest and largest cooperative education programs (co-ops) in the country. It was also one of the first universities to provide online and distance degree programs, back in 1996. Businessweek, U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, and Times Higher Education all rank Drexel well.

11

Stevens Institute of Technology

College Choice Score: 91.75

Credit Hour Cost: $1,554

Program Website

Stevens Institute of Technology

Overview

A small, private university of approximately 6k combined undergraduates and graduate students, Stevens Institute of Technology (SIT) is one of the oldest technology universities in the country. It is based in Hoboken, New Jersey, though it has a satellite location in Washington, DC plus a number of online programs. SIT’s student population comes from all over the country and the world to study at one of SIT’s four academic schools: the School of Engineering and Science, the School of Systems and Enterprises, the School of Business, and the College of Arts and Letters.

Features

The online MS in Computer Science degree from SIT requires thirty credit hours of coursework covering security, programming languages, graphics and vision, software engineering, and computer networks. Despite being a distance student, at SIT you will have the same opportunities as on-campus students to partner with renowned faculty members in their professional research projects. For these reasons, SIT graduates are now successfully and gainfully employed as:

  • Software engineers
  • Computer systems analysts
  • Web developers
  • Database administrators
  • Quality assurance testers
  • Programmers
  • Business intelligence analysts

Notables

Because SIT is a technology and trade school, they emphasize practical pedagogy and give students the opportunity to work with major industry leaders, such as Microsoft, IBM, Bell Labs, Google, and AT&T. SIT is notably ranked for its affordability (16th nationally) by PayScale, for its career placement (6th nationally) by Princeton Review, and for its STEM education (7th nationally) by U.S. News & World Report.

12

Purdue University

College Choice Score: 91.25

Credit Hour Cost: $1,730

Program Website

Purdue_University

Overview

A prestigious member of the Big Ten Conference, Purdue University is a large school with over 30k undergraduates plus another 10k graduate students enrolled in one of the 300 academic programs. Purdue is in Lafayette, Indiana and is known for many things: it’s competitive engineering and science programs, its notable research contributions (in agriculture, economics, the environment, medicine, and more), and its commitments to sustainability and LEED certification.  

Features

Purdue offers an online MS in Computer Science degree that can be completed through one of two tracks: the thesis option or the non-thesis option. While the two programs and their respective curriculums share much in common, the former requires an additional six credit hours (or more) in research while the latter requires more higher level (500 or 600) classes. Whichever route you take, you can be assured your coursework will cover:

  • Algorithms
  • Bioinformatics
  • Database management
  • Data mining
  • Geometric modeling, visualization, and graphics
  • Numerical computing
  • Security
  • Software engineering

Notables

Purdue is ranked 20th among public universities in the United States by U.S. News & World Report and its engineering department consistently shows up among the top ten best engineering programs in the nation (it’s even ranked 18th internationally).

13

Marquette University

College Choice Score: 90

Credit Hour Cost: $1,100

Program Website

Marquette_University

Overview

Marquette University is a Catholic university, is located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and is a member of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. Made up of eleven schools and colleges, Marquette offers over fifty graduate degrees in a range of subjects, including their online degrees, which are proffered through their “Classroom in the Cloud” program.

Features

Steeped in theory and incorporating new, global technological advances, the online MS in Computing at Marquette University seeks to prepare future leaders in information technology and computer systems. Marquette cloud (online) students are provided a flexible format, a wide-ranging curriculum to tailor their experience, and personalized attention from faculty, career counselors, and academic advisors. Marquette is unique in a lot of ways. They are one of only a few schools to welcome grad students who don’t have a computer science undergraduate degree. And they have an Integrate Practicum program that allows students be in school while starting a career and receiving financial aid. Finally, while no specialization is required, Marquette suggests choosing one of the following that they provide:

  • Business intelligence and analytics
  • Database analysis
  • Information security
  • Mobile computer
  • System architecture
  • Software development
  • Healthcare information technology
  • Information assurance and cyber defense
  • Big data and data analytics

Notables

U.S. News & World Report has awarded Marquette many rankings: they’ve named it the 7th best university in the country for military veterans; they’ve ranked it 86th overall among national research universities; and they’ve ranked the engineering program 52nd in the country. BusinessWeek, Princeton Review, and Forbes have also heaped on the accolades.

14

North Carolina State University

College Choice Score: 90

Credit Hour Cost: $1,132

Program Website

North Carolina State University

Overview

North Carolina State University (NCSU) is a large, public research institution and a member of the Research Triangle (shared with Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). NCSU is a great school with many strong departments, but its most renowned are the engineering, life sciences, agriculture, and statistics departments. It is located in Raleigh and is part of the University of North Carolina System.

Features

The online Masters in Computer Science degree from North Carolina State University blends theory with systems to give students a balanced approach to computer science. This means students can expect to take an equal number of classes covering computational logic, theory of computation, and graph theory as those covering parallel architecture, software engineering, and artificial intelligence. Though no thesis is required, most students complete internships for course credit and to gain practical experience. The following specialization tracks are offered:

  • Track in data science
  • Track in security
  • Track in software engineering

Notables

Ranked among the top 100 universities in the country by ARWU, U.S. News & World Report, and Washington Monthly, North Carolina State is home to several renowned research facilities, scholarship programs, and special initiatives, such as the Entrepreneurship Initiative, the Master of Global Innovation Management program, and the Caldwell Fellows Program.

15

Regis University

College Choice Score: 88.75

Credit Hour Cost: $710

Program Website

Regis University

Overview

Regis University is a Roman Catholic university based in Denver and it is also part of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. Regis’ nearly 9k students are enrolled in one of the five colleges, including the well-regarded College of Computer and Information Sciences. With a definitive liberal arts curriculum and an emphasis on charitable service, Regis is a tight community of students and scholars.

Features

Though not strictly a MS in Computer Science degree, this online MS in Information Technology Management program through Regis equally equips students to acquire technical leadership positions in programming, developing, and engineering. Regis’ curriculum focuses on the impact of technology in the greater global landscape and how information literacy can influence decision making. Specialization areas include:

  • Agile technologies
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data science
  • Database administration
  • Database design
  • Enterprise resource planning
  • Healthcare informatics
  • Information assurance policy management
  • Software engineering
  • and Systems engineering

Notables

The Institute on the Common Good and the Center for Service Learning are two cornerstones of Regis, as the first promotes community dialogue and discernment and the latter facilitates student activism and volunteer service. For these reasons among many others, U.S. News & World Report ranks Regis 23rd among regional universities in the West.

16

West Virginia University

College Choice Score: 87.5

Credit Hour Cost: $569

Program Website

West_Virginia_University

Overview

This flagship university is a public land-grant, space-grant, and research institution located in Morgantown. West Virginia University (WVU) has nearly 30k students, most of whom are undergraduates, and fifteen colleges and schools that house departments in everything from the creative arts to business, law, nursing, public health, and engineering.

Features

For those interested in the software engineering facet of computer science, WVU offers an online MS in Software Engineering degree that can be completed on a part-time basis and that requires no campus visits. The curriculum covers software project management, software analysis and design, validation and verification, software evolution, and object-oriented design. Students are also encouraged to participate in independent studies with an advisor to create a degree program that is specially fitted to vocational aspirations and interests. To specialize even further, you can pair a graduate certificate to the degree. Options include:

  • Forensic accounting and fraud examination
  • Integrated marketing communications
  • Nonprofit management
  • and Software Engineering (general)

Notables

West Virginia University has graduated dozens of Rhodes, Goldwater, and Truman Scholars and is designated an “R1” Research University. It is well-ranked by Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, and Washington Monthly.  

17

Northeastern University

College Choice Score: 87.25

Credit Hour Cost: $1,410

Program Website

Northeastern_University

Overview

Northeastern University is located in Boston and is a private, research institution with a well-known cooperative education program. Classroom instruction is combined with professional experience and international study opportunities to give students a well-rounded education.

Features

Northeastern’s online Master of Professional Studies in Informatics, though different in title, mirrors the traditional computer science degree. It introduces students to the issues facing today’s digital world and teaches them how to design systems, 3D visualizations, mobile applications, and communication technologies. This is a forty-five credit-hour degree that allows students to concentrate in information security, geographic information systems, or leading and managing technical projects. There are also twenty-some electives to fill, which range in subjects and interests. Regardless of how you design your informatics degree at Northeastern, you will be given a strong foundation in computer science through the required core classes:

  • Database management systems
  • Systems design and development
  • Project management
  • Systems and network administration
  • Information technology policy, ethics, and social responsibility

Notables

Northeastern’s Honors College, study abroad program, Co-op/internship model, and research contributions have given Northeastern its national and global reputation. U.S. News & World Report ranks it 39th nationally, a number that has consistently dropped since the 1980s, and Princeton Review, BusinessWeek, and Forbes also praise Northeastern.

18

Syracuse University

College Choice Score: 87.25

Credit Hour Cost: $1,500

Program Website

Syracuse University

Overview

Based in the New York town of the same name, Syracuse University was founded by and still maintains an affiliation with the United Methodist Church. Approximately 15k undergraduates and 6k graduate students attend Syracuse and are enrolled in one of the university’s 200 areas of study.

Features

Through Syracuse’s iSchool, you can earn a MS in Information Management that is very much akin to a traditional computer science degree. Unique to this program is its interdisciplinary approach to technology, encouraging students of all academic and professions to apply and integrating professional development with technology interface. As an online student you will work on team-building and communication skills at the same time you learn how to design and analyze critical IT problems. A sampling of Syracuse IT management concentrations include:

  • Database management
  • Global enterprise technology
  • Human-computer interaction (HCI)
  • Network design and administration
  • Social media, technology, and society
  • Systems analysis and design

Notables

Syracuse University is ranked 60th in the nation among all colleges and universities (by U.S. News & World Report), and is similarly ranked by Washington Monthly (52nd). Syracuse has secured a reputation for its research activities, and through its Office of Research it promotes a number of scholarships, grants, research opportunities, and technology access.

19

University of West Georgia

College Choice Score: 86.25

Credit Hour Cost: $227

Program Website

University of West Georgia

Overview

Located outside of Atlanta in Carrollton, Georgia, the University of West Georgia (UWG) is a public university of approximately 15k students. UWG offers degrees at all academic levels and across all academic and professional disciplines, from nursing and technology to the hard sciences, social sciences, and the fine arts.

Features

This two-year, online Master of Science in Applied Computer Science degree integrates theory with practical pedagogy to prepare students to recognize the social, professional, and ethical issues they will face as computer scientists, whatever their specialization. Through course work in web technologies, program construction, software development, database systems, and network administration, students graduate able to:

  • Give technical presentations
  • Write articulate and accurate technical documents
  • Design and implement computer-based systems
  • Manage and maintain secure networks
  • Collaborate with teams and use multiple technologies

Notables

In addition to being consistently hailed one of the Best Southeastern Colleges by Princeton Review, UWG is one of the only universities in the nation to grant early entrance college opportunities to teenagers and young adults through the Advanced Academy of Georgia program.

20

Colorado State University

College Choice Score: 86.25

Credit Hour Cost: $696

Program Website

colorado_state_univ_fort_collins

Overview

Colorado State University (CSU) is a flagship university based in Fort Collins, Colorado. Prioritizing and promoting innovative development, CSU plays a huge role in STEM field research initiatives. Through dozens of discrete research facilities, such as the Information Science and Technology center, CSU is ranked 60th in the nation for the amount of funds allocated to research and development.

Features

CSU hosts a good number of online programs, among them the MS in Computer Science degree. This is a two-year program that introduces students to the growing software development needs across industries. For example, as a CSU student you will take classes on cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and fine-grain parallelism in addition to the core computer science classes (securing networks, database management, programming, etc.). Graduates—70 percent of whom have job offers upon graduation—have found work with notable companies such as:

  • Microsoft
  • IBM
  • Hewlett-Packard
  • Intel
  • Motorola
  • Raytheon
  • and Lockheed-Martin

Notables

Colorado State University is well-ranked across departments and disciplines. As a whole, the university is ranked 65th nationally by Washington Monthly, and dozens of its graduate departments are ranked among the best in their respective fields: biological sciences (82nd), chemistry (45th), civil engineering (39th), mechanical engineering (67th).

21

Missouri University of Science & Technology

College Choice Score: 85.75

Credit Hour Cost: $1,200

Program Website

Missouri University of Science and Technology

Overview

Most of the 10k students at Missouri University of Science & Technology’s are studying business, math, science, or engineering, especially the latter as the university is known for its engineering school (ranked 3rd in the nation). Located in Rolla, Missouri S&T offers nearly 100 academic degrees, most in the hard sciences and engineering, but also others in the liberal arts and humanities that are imbued with a technological focus.

Features

The online MS in Computer Science degree from Missouri S&T is a multidisciplinary degree that allows students to specialize in either critical infrastructure protection or software engineering. The former is for those who want to improve the security, reliability, and sustainability of the nation’s infrastructure, while the latter is for those who want an education in software quality, testing, design, and engineering. Missouri S&T also offers a number of graduate certificates, to pair with your MS for additional specialization or to earn as a gateway into the MS (if you don’t have a computer science background). Some of those graduate certifications include:

  • Computational intelligence
  • Information assurance and security
  • Software design and development
  • Systems and software architecture
  • Wireless networks and mobile systems

Notables

As a whole, the university is ranked 76th in the nation by Washington Monthly and U.S. News & World Report ranks the engineering school 3rd among all other engineering programs, schools, and colleges in the U.S. The Student Design & Experiential Learning Center and a 200 KW nuclear reactor are just some of the unique facilities available on campus for training and research purposes.

22

University of Louisville

College Choice Score: 85

Credit Hour Cost: $714

Program Website

University of Louisville

Overview

A member of the Kentucky State University System, the University of Louisville (UofL) has an enrolled undergraduate population of around 16k students, plus another 6k enrolled in a graduate program. With nearly eighty discrete masters degrees and another twenty doctoral programs, the UofL specializes in graduate education, research, and development.

Features

Through the J.B. Speed School of Engineering, the University of Louisville offers a fully online MS in Computer Science degree. This is a two-year program and is open to those who may not have undergraduate experience in engineering or computer science, as classes cover the fundamentals of software design, implementation, and security while also bringing students into more complex technological issues through provided electives and projects. Some unique course options include:

  • Combinatorial optimization and modern heuristics
  • Digital image processing
  • Data mining
  • Internet applications
  • Artificial intelligence

Notables

The University of Louisville was the first city-owned public university in the U.S and is currently ranked among some of the top medical research institutions in the country. Other departments, as well as the university as a whole, are well-ranked by Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, and Washington Monthly.

23

Sam Houston State University

College Choice Score: 84.75

Credit Hour Cost: $1,168

Program Website

Sam Houston State University

Overview

Sam Houston State University is located in Huntsville, Texas and is one of the state’s oldest institutions of higher learning. It is part of the Texas State University System and has over 20k students enrolled in one of its 150 undergraduate or graduate degree programs. Sam Houston is comprised of eight colleges and schools, including its lauded College of Science and Engineering Technology.

Features

Sam Houston’s fully online MS in Information Assurance and Security degree is much akin to a traditional computer science degree but it emphasizes the security and management aspects of computer systems. You will learn how to ensure the protection of corporate networks, make stronger and more secure networks, and perform risk assessment and plan for disaster recovery. You will still complete coursework in computer science fundamentals, but you will also have the opportunity to take classes in:

  • Business continuity management
  • Principle and policy in information assurance
  • Directed management and development
  • Cyber law
  • File system forensics
  • Cyber warfare and terrorism
  • and more

Notables

Though Sam Houston retains average national rankings from Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, and Washington Monthly, its online programs are ranked among the best distance education programs in the country (by U.S. News & World Report).

24

University of Cinncinati

College Choice Score: 84.25

Credit Hour Cost: $724

Program Website

University of Cincinnati

Overview

Part of the University System of Ohio, the University of Cincinnati (UC) is one of the largest schools on our ranking (and generally one of the largest in the country) with over 45k students enrolled in one of the 600 degree programs. UC is equally impressive in its research, allocating large funding to its engineering, medicine, energy, and cultural studies departments.

Features

The University of Cincinnati offers an online MS in Information Technology degree that equips students in all areas of computer science, from designing networks to ensuring their security. This program equally emphasizes interpersonal development and team-building as it does research, problem-solving, and systems analysis. In addition to taking classes on human-computer interaction, software applications, and systems administrations, UC students can also specialize in one of four focus areas:

  • IT infrastructure
  • Cybersecurity
  • Game development
  • and Mobile/social applications

Notables

So many of UC’s departments are nationally ranked it’s hard to list them all. For example, its music and arts program alone holds over a dozen rankings, as do its science and engineering programs: the computer engineering degree is ranked 91st nationally and the computer science degree is ranked 112th nationally.

25

North Carolina A&T State University

College Choice Score: 84.25

Credit Hour Cost: $831

Program Website

North Carolina A&T

Overview

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (North Carolina A&T) is a historically black, research university based in Greensboro. It is a member of the University of North Carolina System, and one of the oldest public universities in the country (it was founded in 1891). North Carolina A&T is still considered the largest historically black university in the U.S. and is known for its excellence in engineering education.

Features

The online MS in Information Technology (MSIT) degree from North Carolina A&T is often ranked among the best online MSIT degrees in the country (by U.S. News & World Report). This program readies students for both theoretical and practical applications of computer science and systems through classes on software design, database management, and network design and administration. North Carolina A&T graduates have gone on to find work in:

  • Computer networking and communications
  • Computer security
  • Web technologies
  • Digital media technologies
  • and Database management

Notables

Ranked 10th nationally among historically black schools, North Carolina A&T is ranked 49th nationally among all colleges and universities (by Washington Monthly). Its reputation for research is reflected in its many rankings as well as its renowned projects emanating from one of its sixteen research centers and institutes. Likewise, North Carolina A&T maintains working relationships with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the National Institute of Health.

26

Auburn University

College Choice Score: 81.75

Credit Hour Cost: $988

Program Website

Auburn University

Overview

Located in the Alabama city of the same name, Auburn University is a private liberal arts school proffering degrees of all levels in hundreds of areas. It is a public land-, sea-, and space-grant institution with affiliations with the Methodist Episcopal Church and strong research contributions to the areas of renewable energy and sustainability.

Features

Auburn’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering offers a thirty-three credit hour MS in Computer Science and Software degree that can be completed fully online. Students engage in research projects, work closely with professors in specialized areas of interest, and graduate prepared to find work in computer systems design across industries. Many of Auburn’s students also go on to earn a PhD, as this degree sets them on the path for additional, advanced study of computer science. Students may opt to specialize in information assurance or just enroll in the general track, though all will take classes on:

  • Database systems
  • Design and analysis of computer networks
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Software process
  • Programming language design
  • Software architecture
  • and much more

Notables

Like some of the other schools on our list, Auburn is well-ranked in so many academic and professional areas. As a whole, the university is ranked 91st nationally, and many of its academic programs—including its computer science and engineering programs—hold equally prestigious rankings from U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, and Washington Monthly.

27

Florida Atlantic University

College Choice Score: 81.75

Credit Hour Cost: $1,024

Program Website

Florida Atlantic University

Overview

Florida Atlantic University (FAU), in Boca Raton, is a public university and part of the State University System of Florida. It offers nearly 200 undergraduate and graduate degrees in many academic and professional areas, the most popular being the sciences, business, engineering, and computer science.

Features

FAU’s Department of Computer and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science offers its online graduates two options for earning an MS in Computer Science: a non-thesis option and a thesis option. The former will require more credit hours, but means you can choose among many electives to specialize. The latter will get you engaged in research and help you polish your technical writing. Whichever track you decide on, the coursework comprising this degree is comprised of three areas: theory, software development, and computer systems. This degree is an ideal fit for those who want to become (or advance their careers as):

  • Information technology (IT) architects
  • Network architects
  • Senior application developers

Notables

FAU is designated a high research institution by the Carnegie Foundation and has made notable contributions and developments in the areas of biotechnology, renewable energy, and engineering. Among its many rankings from Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, and Washington Monthly, the Princeton Review recently named FAU one of the “Best Southeastern Colleges” in the U.S.

28

Southern New Hampshire University

College Choice Score: 81.5

Credit Hour Cost: $627

Program Website

Southern_New_Hampshire_University

Overview

Located near Manchester and Hooksett, New Hampshire, Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) is a private, non-profit school with over 60k undergraduate and graduate students. It is comprised of five schools and colleges that award degrees in the arts, sciences, business, engineering and technology, and education. The College of Online and Continuing Education is also a cornerstone of the greater SNHU academic community.

Features

This online MS in Information Technology degree from SNHU is identical to a computer science degree in that you will take classes on object oriented application development, operating systems, telecommunications, database design, as well as those on team management, technical communications, and innovations in a growing digital world. SNHU graduates have been successful in finding jobs as system architects, software managers, systems analysts, data processors, and more. This program comes with seven areas of concentration:

  • Data analytics
  • Database design
  • Healthcare informatics
  • Information security
  • IT management
  • Software application development
  • and Web design

Notables

In addition to being lauded for its strong and diverse academic programs, SNHU is also praised for its commitment to innovative pedagogy and student service. And recently the New Hampshire Business Review awarded SNHU with multiple awards for its science and business programs (both traditional and online).

29

Old Dominion University

College Choice Score: 81.5

Credit Hour Cost: $538

Program Website

Old Dominion University

Overview

Old Dominion University is a public research school located in Norfolk, Virginia that offers approximately 200 programs of study to its 25k students. Despite the size and breadth of Old Dominion, they provide a liberal arts education across departments and programs while also seeing to each student’s professional formation. There are also many research projects and opportunities at ODU, specifically in the engineering, bioelectrics, and energy conservation departments.

Features

Intended for those who already have a strong academic and/or professional background in computer science, this online MS in Computer Science degree promotes in-depth study of bioinformatics, data mining, digital libraries, networking, cybersecurity, and software engineering. Online learning at Old Dominion does not require you to be available at scheduled times, so you can earn this degree at your own pace and convenience. This is a perfect program for those looking to become (or advance their careers as):

  • Cyber security analysts or specialists
  • Network and database administrators
  • Software developers or engineers
  • Systems analysts
  • Web developers

Notables

Old Dominion has one of the biggest online distance education programs in the country, one that is also consistently well-ranked. As is the greater university, which is recognized by Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Times Higher Education, and Washington Monthly for its academic and professional development.

30

University of Massachusetts–Dartmouth

College Choice Score: 75.25

Credit Hour Cost: $537

Program Website

University of Mass Dartmouth

Overview

The University of Massachusetts branch in Dartmouth (UMass Dartmouth) is one of five members of the prestigious University of Massachusetts system. This is a mid-sized school with around 10k students, most of whom are undergraduates. For those who are looking for something smaller, with a liberal arts foundation, UMass Dartmouth may be an ideal fit, as they offer flexible online degrees in small, virtual classroom settings.

Features

UMass Dartmouth offers an online Master of Science in Computer Science degree that is at once flexible, affordable, and renowned. This four-semester degree grounds students in the fundamentals of computer science—software engineering, systems, and theory—while encouraging students to pursue specialization. One thing to note about the UMass program is it focuses more on software engineering rather than computer systems. Thus, you’ll take classes such as:

  • Paradigmatic software development
  • Software system design
  • Database design
  • Advanced bioinformatics
  • Algorithms and complexity
  • Mobile robotics
  • Neural computing

Notables

UMass Dartmouth boasts many awards, rankings, and recognitions. The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, and the Princeton Review are just some of the publications praising the university’s high standards in research, pedagogy, and development. Included in many of the rankings is UMass Dartmouth’s online program, their commitment to sustainability, and their affordability.

31

University of Minnesota–Twin Cities

College Choice Score: 74

Credit Hour Cost: $1,353

Program Website

University_of_Minnesota_Twin_Cities

Overview

The University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities (UMN) is a public research institution and a member of the larger University of Minnesota System. Comprised of nearly twenty colleges and schools, it is a flagship university and one of the country’s Public Ivy schools. Nearly 50k students attend UMN.

Features

Offered through the College of Science and Engineering, UMN proffers an online MS of Computer Science designed specifically for those students most interested in research. As an UMN online student you will work closely with academic advisors, peer and research groups, faculty members, and administrators as you work through both fundamental and complex issues concerning computer science, from modern cryptography and compilers to animation and planning in games, wireless and sensor networks, analysis of numerical algorithms, and computational aspects of matrix theory. UMN has produced many successful graduates who have found positions with:

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Google
  • IBM
  • Intel
  • Microsoft
  • Oracle
  • and much more

Notables

UMN has graduated numerous Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners and is home to many renowned research projects, initiatives, and centers. U.S. News & World Report ranks UMN 71st among all colleges and universities across the country while ARWU places it 24th and Washington Monthly, 53rd.

32

University of Maryland University College

College Choice Score: 71

Credit Hour Cost: $284

Program Website

University of Maryland University College

Overview

Offering classes throughout the state, internationally, and online, the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) is primarily based in Adelphi. It has one of the largest distance education programs in the country, serving over 100k students globally and offering degrees at all levels and in over 120 areas.  

Features

University of Maryland University College offers a MS in Information Technology degree that balances technical training—including in Java, 3D programming, and Oracle—with business formation and development. This is a perfect degree for anyone interested in information technology, regardless of their past academic or professional background, as UMUC does not have any strict undergraduate requirements for their applicants. Specializations include:

  • Database systems technology
  • Homeland security management
  • Informatics
  • Information assurance
  • Project management
  • Software engineering
  • Systems engineering
  • and Telecommunications management

Notables

Often lauded for being one of the country’s best universities for military veterans, UMUC is top ranked by The Military Times and the recipient of the Institution Award from the Council of College and Military Education. UMUC’s many engineering, computer science, and STEM related departments also consistently receive high acclaim.

33

Colorado Technical University

College Choice Score: 70.75

Credit Hour Cost: $585

Program Website

Colorado-Technical University

Overview

Specializing in certifications, undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees in the health sciences, business, management, and technology fields, Colorado Technical University (CTU) is a great option for advanced education in computer science. CTU is a for-profit university in Colorado Springs that has been providing flexible education to adult and returning students for many years. Its online education platform is equally established, thus over 90 percent of students are earning their CTU degree online.

Features

CTU offers eight different online masters degrees in computer science or engineering, including those that specialize in database systems, data science, security, software engineering, and systems engineering. These forty-eight credit-hour programs provide students with an extensive understanding of both the theory and practice of software system engineering. Each degree comes with the option of further specialization in a number of areas and each gives students the opportunity to engage in professional, scholarly research. Graduates from all degree options have become:

  • Applications engineers
  • Systems engineers
  • Software developers
  • Java developers
  • Solutions architects
  • Programmers

Notables

Being that CTU has such an established online and distance education program, it is often highly praised and ranked by U.S. News & World Report, especially in the areas of business, information technology, and criminal justice. Similarly, Colorado Technical is lauded for its affordability, its commitment to providing accessible education to vets, and much more.

34

University of Colorado–Boulder

College Choice Score: 67.25

Credit Hour Cost: $1,350

Program Website

university-of-colorado-boulder

Overview

The flagship school in the University of Colorado System, UC Boulder is made up of nine colleges and schools and is home to over 30k students. It offers over 150 degrees in an array of academic areas, and is most renowned for its research endeavors in genetics, sustainable energy, technology and society, and behavioral science.

Features

The University of Colorado–Boulder offers a Professional MS in Computer Science Engineering degree that is available completely online and that fully prepares students for thriving careers in technology or advanced study at the doctoral level. Students in the program choose from two tracks, one in general computer science and the other in data science and engineering. Both lead to the same degree and both make students experts in human-computer interaction, programming, databases, artificial intelligence, and software engineering. Additional areas of study students can explore through electives include:

  • Computational linguistics
  • Human-centered computing
  • Hypermedia
  • Parallel computation
  • Speech and natural language processing
  • Systems and theory
  • and more

Notables

UC Boulder has produced dozens of Nobel Laureates, MacArthur Fellows, astronauts, and high-profile research teams. It is ranked 19th in the nation by the Center for World University Rankings and 92nd nationally by U.S. News & World Report.

35

City University of Seattle

College Choice Score: 66.5

Credit Hour Cost: $340

Program Website

City University of Seattle

Overview

The City University of Seattle (CityU) is a private institution with approximately 6k enrolled students. Campus is comprised of the School of Management, the Albright School of Education, and the Arts & Sciences building; and while campus is located in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle, there are another twenty-seven campuses based around the globe.

Features

Through courses such as information security, systems administration, ethical obligations in systems, compilers for computer languages, managing technology projects, and much more, students at CityU gain a balanced education that blends practicum with theory. This online MS in Computer Science program takes approximately two years to complete and equips students to be both leaders in technology and in the business world. You will also have unique access to CityU’s Center for Information Assurance Education, a research institute devoted to innovations in the field of information assurance. Graduates from CityU have acquired job titles such as:

  • Senior software engineers
  • Senior designer
  • Senior programmer
  • Senior tech specialist
  • Chief technology officer

Notables

With an approval rating from students at 91 percent, CityU has earned a reputation for providing accessible, influential, and flexible education, as those 91 percent said their CityU education directly affected their professional lives. CityU has also been well-ranked by U.S. News & World Report, the Open Education Database, and Forbes, the latter counting it among the top twenty distance learning universities in the nation.

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