On the other hand, maybe you’re a real whiz at computers. You’ve gotten your bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or something similar, and you’re ready to take things to the next level. Well, we’ve got some good news for you.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, careers in computer and information technology occupations are set to grow in the double-digit percentages in the next decade. And at the same time, online education is increasing. So if you want to consider an online degree, here’s our ranking of the top online master’s in information technology degrees.
That’s the result of the growth of cloud computing, “big data,” and the spread of mobile computing. Median pay can start in the six figures, but there’s a trick to it: you’ll need a master’s degree or higher.
We’ve got you covered. We’ve compiled a list of the best master’s programs in computer and information technology in the United States. Some of them specialize in computer science, some of them in information technology, and some of them you’ll earn only on the way to a doctorate, but they all have one thing in common: they will help get you to the next level in your career.
What are the Best Master’s in Information Technology Degrees?
The first thing we want to know, like you, is the bottom line: how much is this going to set me back? So we’ve included the annual tuition for each school right up front for you. We’ve also included our College Choice Score, which is computed based on each school’s reputation in the field and its return on investment.
The end result is a list of schools that balance cost, reputation, and, ultimately, what they can do for you and your unique goals. You can’t go wrong with any of them, of course, but these schools are leading the way.
The rankings you’re about to read are based on a few important sources. The first source is actual college freshman polled during a nationwide survey published by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA.
These students rated academic reputation, financial aid offerings, overall cost of school, and the survey also took into account graduate success rates on the post-college job market. These factors were weighed equally alongside data from other publicly available sources, including U.S. News & World Report, the National Center for Education Statistics, and PayScale.com.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
College Choice Score: 100
Average Tuition: $48,140
MIT offers a master’s in Computation for Design and Optimization through its Center for Computational Engineering (CCE), which was established in 2008 and collaborates with numerous other departments and institutes across MIT. This program focuses primarily on computational approaches for engineering problems, that is, the application of information technology to practical problems: the formulation and implementation of new approaches that are more efficient and capable and the informed application of existing approaches to important engineering questions. The program is deliberately interdisciplinary and provides a strong foundation in computational approaches to the design and operation of complex engineered and scientific systems. Students will acquire hands-on experience and complete their program with a thesis. Some areas of application include aerospace, nanotechnology, Internet protocols, and telecommunications system design. Graduates work in a wide variety of industries, and students are encouraged to pursue areas of individual interest.
University of Washington
College Choice Score: 99.85
Average Tuition: $20,276
The University of Washington, located in Seattle, Washington, offers a Master of Science in Information Systems through its Foster School of Business. Its curriculum is deliberately practical and geared toward preparing students for real-world responsibilities, particularly in the business arena. The program is designed to train students to understand the role of information technology and identify the appropriate technology solution to either solve an existing business problem or create a new business opportunity. The curriculum is intentionally focused on the relationship between information systems and the practice of business; it is not designed to be a program for generalists. The program in intended to be pursued on a full-time basis, and it also holds classes on two weeknights and on some Saturdays to accommodate working professionals. It is also designed as an “accelerated program,” which means that the degree can be completed in as little as twelve months. The program focuses on information that’s relevant, current and practical, particularly in the areas of technology, management, operations, accounting, and marketing.
University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
College Choice Score: 99.61
Average Tuition: $26,058
Illinois’s Computer Science program is consistently recognized as one of the best of its kind not just in the United States but worldwide for both undergraduate and graduate education, a big accomplishment for any school. Illinois offers a professional master’s of computer science, a non-thesis, non-research degree that can be completed entirely online and proceeds in exactly the same way as its residential equivalent. It is designed for working professionals who are unable to relocate to Urbana-Champaign for their studies. The online format allows students to complete their obligations where and when they can. Students have access to the same faculty members as well. It is a 32 credit-hour program, and students choose a specialty area and also have the option to develop cross-disciplinary programs in consultation with their advisers. Online students can complete this degree in as little as three years. Coursework for the program includes Architecture, Compilers, and Parallel Computing; Artificial Intelligence; Database, Information Systems, and Bioinformatics; Formal Methods, Programming Languages, and Software Engineering; Graphics/HCI; Systems and Networking (includes real-time systems and security); Scientific Computing; and Theoretical Computer Science.
University of California Berkeley
College Choice Score: 99.59
Average Tuition: $32,930
Berkeley offers a unique opportunity for training in computers and information technology through its School of Information, otherwise known simply as the “I School.” It offers a couple of options for students interested in graduate study in computer and information systems: a doctoral degree (PhD) program in Information Management and Systems and a professional Master of Information Management and Systems (MIMS). The Master of Information Management and Systems (MIMS) program is a two-year full time program designed to train students for careers as information professionals. This includes training in areas such as the theory and practice of storing, organizing, retrieving, and analyzing information in a variety of settings in business, the public sector, and the academic world. The I School prepares students not just in information and technological theory but also in practical application and real-world scenarios so that they are prepared to handle whatever they might face in actual career settings. Skills graduates can expect to acquire include assessing and identifying technological needs; making iterative design decisions; organizing collections of information and other resources to support human and/or machine-based interactions and services; understanding and applying foundational principles and debates of information law, policy, and ethics; and understanding and applying architectural, computational, and algorithmic thinking and principles of concurrency to the design of information systems.
University of Texas at Austin
College Choice Score: 99.59
Average Tuition: $18,464
The University of Texas at Austin is no stranger to rankings in tech education. It offers a Master of Science in Information Systems, which is a career-oriented degree with an excellent track record of success. Students come to the program from a wide variety of backgrounds, including business, psychology, anthropology, engineering, art history, music, and architecture. The curriculum is designed to be intentionally flexible in order to meet the rapidly changing demands of the computer and information science and technology fields and prepare students to study, manage, and innovate the information systems around us. Students will be prepared to be not just capable professionals but leaders in their field. The program involves forty hours of coursework distributed across a semester system. All students must take nine semester credit hours of core courses during their first year of studies. Twenty-seven credit hours of electives are to be taken from the range of courses offered by the School of Information and/or a mix of courses within the School of Information and elsewhere at UT Austin. The program concludes with a capstone project. Coursework for the program includes classes such as Information in Social and Cultural Context; Perspectives on Information; and Understanding Research.
Carnegie Mellon University
College Choice Score: 99.57
Average Tuition: $43,000
Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz College is one of the country’s leading programs in information technology, and it has been ranked as the best school for Information Technology and Management by U.S. News and World Report. Heinz offers a Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) degree designed specifically for IT professionals. The program offers online learning options for those who are unable to relocate to Pittsburgh for their degree. Carnegie’s IT program include an emphasis on quantitative management and technology, which includes a pragmatic and interactive approach to teaching that encourages students to apply concepts to real-world situations. Applications to the program are accepted each semester, part-time study is available via evening and online classes, and classes are offered year-round. Students can also customize and tailor their MSIT degree in any of the following concentrations: Information Technology Management; Information Security and Assurance; Business Intelligence and Data Analytics; and Software Design and Management. Students also have access to other schools in the Carnegie community, such as the School of Computer Science, CERT, and the Software Engineering Institute. Carnegie is also designated as the Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education (CAEIAE) by the NSA and the DHS.
University of Michigan
College Choice Score: 99.56
Average Tuition: $21,673
The University of Michigan, located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, offers a Master of Science in Information (MSI), a professional degree designed to prepare students for emerging careers that meet the rapidly growing information-management needs of an increasingly interconnected world. As the digital age continues to shift the professional landscape, particularly the business world, Michigan students will be trained in analyzing, systematizing, and evaluating the massive resources generated by the digital revolution. Graduates will be prepared to not just excel in their professions but serve as leaders. Recent graduates have been placed in leading companies in the industry, including in technology firms such as Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard; at universities and medical centers; at social media companies like Google and Facebook; and at consulting firms and national libraries. The intensive program is designed to be completed in two years, and graduates of the program enjoy a 99 percent placement rate. Students are not required to hold an undergraduate degree in information systems, but the program does seek students with leadership potential who have a team-oriented approach to problem-solving, who are capable of dealing with ambiguity and change, and who have a strong commitment to service. Management-oriented courses in the program focus on planning, leading, organizing, and decision making, while research-oriented courses teach how to produce or validate information through fieldwork, program evaluation, or computer simulation.
Georgia Institute of Technology
College Choice Score: 99.39
Average Tuition: $30,904
No list in anything remotely related to STEM fields would be complete without the Georgia Institute of Technology, located in Atlanta and always on the cutting edge of the constantly evolving intersection of technology and business. Georgia Tech offers one of the widest varieties of degree programs for students interested in this exciting field, from undergraduate concentrations to PhD programs in IT and business. They also offer a full-time MBA program with an option of concentrating in information technology, which prepares students to be not just IT professionals but also business leaders who appreciate the indispensable role of technology in business and business decisions. The curriculum at Georgia Tech emphasizes the critical role of information systems in organizations, including their design, development, transformations, and applications to business problems. Areas of training include business analytics; business value of information technology; data warehousing and visualization; distributed network and database design; economic and behavioral implications of electronic commerce; emerging technologies; enterprise and supply chain systems; information technology outsourcing and off-shoring; platforms and open innovation; project management; strategic and innovative uses of information technology; social media; software development; technologies enabling electronic commerce; virtualization of business and societal processes; database development and applications; electronic commerce; business process analysis and design; emerging technologies; big data analytics in business; and business intelligence and analytics.
California Institute of Technology
College Choice Score: 98.96
Average Tuition: $45,846
Cal Tech is another national and international leader in information technology and computer science that needs little introduction. Note that Cal Tech does not offer a terminal master’s program but rather a PhD program through its Computing & Mathematical Sciences department, which is worth considering if you are already interested in a master’s program. The program is interdisciplinary in nature and involves both applied and computational mathematics. This program is designed to give students thorough training in fundamental computational and applied mathematics and to develop their research ability in a specific application field, which include areas such as fluid mechanics, materials science, and mathematical biology, engineering applications, image processing, and mathematical finance. The result is that there are few careers in the field of computer and information science graduates will not be prepared for. Research interests of the faculty include such areas as nonlinear dynamics, computational biology, numerical analysis and scientific computing, computational and theoretical fluid mechanics, theoretical materials science, multiscale computations and homogenization theory, computational methods for electromagnetics and acoustics, statistics, signal and image processing, probability theory and stochastic analysis, and dynamical systems and geometric mechanics. Engineering and scientific applications are of particular importance for the program.
University of Wisconsin Madison
College Choice Score: 98.4
Average Tuition: $25,269
The University of Wisconsin’s flagship campus in Madison, Wisconsin, offers several options for students interested in computer and information technology professions through its Department of Computer Sciences: a traditional M.S./Ph.D. program, a Professional Master’s Program, a graduate minor (intended for Ph.D. students from other departments), and a Professional Capstone Certificate Program. Starting 2017-18, the department will also offer a User Experience Design Online Capstone Certificate (Mad UX). Wisconsin’s Computer Science department is one of the oldest and most respected computer science departments in the United States. It also ranks as one of the top ten public universities in the country for federal research funds, and it has been listed among the top educational institutions overall since the early 1900s. Its M.S. students are in high demand, so students can be confident that a rewarding career awaits them upon graduation. Recent students have interned at companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft, and many of them have received job offers after only one year of study.
College Choice Score: 98.2
Average Tuition: $45,320
Princeton University is another program that offers a PhD program rather than a terminal master’s degree, but if you are in the market for graduate study already, it could be wise to consider all your options, including doctoral programs in addition to or in place of a master’s program. We mention Princeton’s program in particular because it is uniquely comprehensive and practical. The degree is offered through Princeton’s Department of Electrical Engineering, which offers training in a wide range of areas ranging from applied mathematics, circuits and computers to applied physics. One areas of emphasis that will be of particular interest to readers of this ranking is their Computing and Networking concentration, which is geared toward creating the next generation of architectures, software, and networks required to meet the demand for computer functions. Security is a particularly important component of this endeavor, from the hardware level and to networks, as are challenges related to power consumption, availability and cost, reliability, verification, and design methodology. Another area of interest for readers of this ranking will be their concentration in Information Science and Systems. This is a mathematics heavy track, and it focuses on applied solutions to engineering problems. Information sciences and systems play a crucial role in this concentration, and it emphasizes breadth and fundamentals in systems, probability, random processes, analysis and optimization, information theory, coding theory, signal, image and video processing, machine learning, data transmission and compression, and networking.
University of California San Diego
College Choice Score: 98.16
Average Tuition: $27,850
UCSD, part of the University of California system, offers two options for students interested in a career in computer and information technology through its Computer Systems Engineering graduate program: a Master of Science (MS) and a PhD, both in computer science and computer engineering. The department also offers a streamlined five-year bachelor of arts (BA)/MS or bachelor of science (BS)/MS combined program for qualified current UCSD CSE undergraduates. Students interested in either graduate program should have completed a BA or BS degree in computer science, computer engineering, or a related area, but admission is not limited to students from only these areas. Students with undergraduate degrees who have sufficient preparation in the field may be considered also. The graduate program is concerned with fundamental aspects of computation, and the curriculum is divided among the areas of theory, hardware, and operating systems. The computer engineering specialization places a greater emphasis on hardware and the design of computer systems. The MS program is available in three different plans: a Thesis Plan, a Comprehensive Standard Plan, or a Comprehensive Interdisciplinary Plan. Students can expect to cover fundamental concepts and tools, advanced, up-to-date views in topics outside their area, and a deep, current view of their research or specialization area. Students pursuing the Interdisciplinary option will complete additional coursework outside the department.
College Choice Score: 97.97
Average Tuition: $63,108
Stanford University needs little introduction to those familiar with the most current developments in the tech sector; Stanford is always on the cutting edge of the latest in both theoretical and applied sciences. Much of Stanford’s technological innovation comes from its Computer Science Department, which is part of the School of Engineering. The department offers the degrees Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, and Doctor of Philosophy. It also participates in other undergraduate interdisciplinary programs, including Computer Systems Engineering, Symbolic Systems, and Mathematical and Computational Sciences. The Department places a premium on research, and it is highly active in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics, foundations of computer science, scientific computing, and systems. The Department offers a joint MS in Computer Science /MBA Degree Program (CS/MBA) with the Graduate School of Business, which enables students to pursue both a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Science in Computer Science at the Stanford School of Engineering. Joint MS/MBA degree students should have interests in technology and leadership with a desire to become managers or entrepreneurs in technologically-inclined businesses. Students will typically apply for the joint program at once, but in some cases it is acceptable for first-year students to add one or the other degree to their existing program. Subject areas of the CS portion of the degree include Logic, Automata, and Complexity; Probability; Algorithmic Analysis; Computer Organization and Systems; and Principles of Computer Systems. Areas of specialization include Artificial Intelligence, Biocomputation, Computer and Network Security, Human-Computer Interaction, Information Management and Analytics, Mobile and Internet Computing, Real-World Computing, Software Theory, Systems, and Theoretical Computer Science.
University of California Los Angeles
College Choice Score: 97.92
Average Tuition: $31,427
UCLA’s Computer Science Department offers degrees from the bachelor’s level up to the PhD level in both computer science and computer science and engineering, with the latter designed to accommodate students who desire a strong foundation in computer science but who also have a strong interest in computer system hardware. The PhD program is more selective than the MS program, and prospective students will need to choose which program is best for them before applying; the application processes for each program are separate. MS students typically prepare for careers in the computer tech industry, and they often demonstrate interest in developing and applying technical skills and translational knowledge. Students of the program can expect to develop a wide range of skills, such as an ability to apply the basic mathematical and scientific concepts that underlie modern computer science and engineering; an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as analyze and interpret data; an ability to design a software or digital hardware system, component or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability; an ability to identify, formulate, and solve computer software and hardware related engineering problems; knowledge of contemporary and emerging issues in computer science and engineering; knowledge of probability and statistics, including applications to computer science and engineering; and much more.
College Choice Score: 97.76
Average Tuition: $28,804
Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana offers a couple of MS options for students interested in careers in computer and information technology. The first degree, an MS in Computer Science with a concentration in Information Security for Computing Professionals (ISCP) is designed for IT professionals in industry or government who want to advance in technical security and privacy positions. Purdue also offers an online MS in Computer Science, which provides working professionals an opportunity to earn a non-thesis MS via distance learning. Finally, Purdue also offers an on-campus MS, which prepares students for a wide variety of careers. The on-campus program can be completed with either a thesis or a non-thesis option. Areas of concentration include a joint STAT/CS concentration, a Computational Life Sciences (CLS) Concentration, and a Computational Science and Engineering (CS&E) Concentration. Research areas include bioinformatics and computational biology, computational science and engineering, databases, data mining, distributed systems, graphics and visualization, information retrieval, information security and assurance, machine learning, networking and operating systems, programming languages and compilers, software engineering, theory of computing and algorithms. Most students complete their program in approximately two years, while some complete the program earlier, and some take slightly longer, particularly if they are already working in a career setting.
College Choice Score: 97.65
Average Tuition: $50,712
Cornell University, located in Ithaca, New York, offers a Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Information Science, an interdisciplinary, one-year program that prepares students for careers in information science. Students have access to Cornell’s world-class faculty and complete their program with a capstone project. The MPS at Cornell also allows for customization and tailoring according to each individual student’s goals. Some areas of specialization include user experience design, data science, interactive technology, and networks and markets. The program’s flexible curriculum allows students to develop strong technical skills and an in-depth understanding of the social and behavioral aspects of information technology. The curriculum also includes semester-long projects that provide students with the opportunity to put their theoretical knowledge to work. Graduates of the program have enjoyed an excellent placement record in recent years, including positions such as the following: application designer, business technical analyst, front end web developer, integrations engineer, it leadership, research scientist, software engineer, systems administrator, usability analyst, user experience architect, and web applications developer. Recent starting salaries have exceeded $80,000, and alumni of the program can be found at companies such as Apple, Deloitte, eBay, GE, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Oracle, Verizon and Yahoo!.
College Choice Score: 97.44
Average Tuition: $44,592
Columbia University, located in the city of New York, offers a master of science in Technology Management, which is designed to prepare senior technology professionals to develop a strategic mindset, fine-tune their speaking and presentation skills, understand core business functions (such as finance, accounting, and leadership), and ultimately drive enhanced business performance through the use of technology. The program thus places a strong emphasis on the intersection of technology and business, specifically for the purposes of improving productivity and thinking strategically about complex business problems. Graduates typically assume positions as CIO, CTO, CAO, COO, CEO, or CSO. The program also boasts entrepreneurs among its alumni, and it is also ideal for those pursuing CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor) certification. The program offers six areas of focus: C-Level Management, Data Management and Analytics, New Business Ventures, Media and Entertainment Technology Management, Cybersecurity, and Digital and Business Transformation. It is an executive, cohort-based program designed to be completed in under two years, which includes flexible online and interactive learning using Columbia’s unique networked learning platform and five multi-day residences where students engage in intensive study and have the opportunity to network with other students, faculty, and industry leaders.
University of Maryland College Park
College Choice Score: 97.42
Average Tuition: $35,040
The University of Maryland at College Park offers a Master of Information Management (MIM) degree for those preparing to be leaders in the use of information and technology in any organization. Disciplines that inform the structure of the program include management, computer science, information systems, and information science, and students will develop skills necessary to meet users’ information needs, lead efforts to develop organizations’ information management capabilities, develop and deploy emerging technologies, and manage high-value information resources. Areas of specialization in the program include Information Analysis (with a focus on either Data Analytics or Strategic Management) and Technology Design (with a focus on either User Experience or Technology Development), and coursework includes such topics as information environments, information technology and organizational context, users and use context, and management of information programs and services. Specific goals of the program include preparing professionals for leadership positions that bridge the gap between technology-oriented staff, functional personnel, and management; addressing the growing need for skilled information professionals who can strategically manage information and technology assets to fulfill critical information needs in organizations; and providing leadership in the information management field through the study of ethical, political, social, and technical issues related to information management in modern society.
College Choice Score: 97.33
Average Tuition: $43,296
Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, offers a few options for students interested in graduate education in computer and information technology through its School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). First, Harvard offers a PhD program in a variety of areas, and students may earn the S.M. degree en route in any SEAS area. Furthermore, A.B. candidates in Harvard College with sufficient advanced standing may be admitted for S.M. candidacy through the A.B./S.M. program. Harvard College students are eligible to apply for an AB/SM degree program in any area of SEAS. For students who are not interested in pursuing a PhD but rather a terminal master’s degree, SEAS also offers terminal S.M. and M.E. degrees in Computational Science and Engineering (CSE) and Engineering Sciences: Electrical Engineering (but only in these two fields). In addition to fulfilling SEAS coursework requirements, students will also be required to demonstrate competency in specialization areas such as Applied Mathematics, Applied Physics, Computational Science and Engineering, Computer Science, Bioengineering, Electrical Engineering, Environmental Science and Engineering, Materials Science and Mechanical Engineering.
University of Virginia
College Choice Score: 97.24
Average Tuition: $26,182
The University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia, offers a Master of Science in the Management of Information Technology (M.S. in MIT) Program, which is recognized as a leader in developing technology-savvy business decision makers. The program is designed to help students understand how current and emerging technologies can best be applied to make their organizations more profitable, productive, and competitive. The program offers an innovative curriculum that employs a real-world problem-solving approach and an outstanding faculty dedicated to teaching and bringing the corporate perspective into the classroom. The program proceeds in an executive format, which allows working professionals from a wide range of industries and expertise an amount of flexibility they’ll need to continue their responsibilities. The curriculum requires 30 credit hours, and it emphasizes the intersection of business and technology. It is structured around four modules: Enterprise Architecture; IT Project Management; Enterprise IT Management; and Strategic Management. The program will appeal to leaders who already have IT management, budgetary, or decision-making responsibilities. The program can be completed at one of two locations, but students will benefit from the same faculty and curriculum at both locations. Each section begins in early August with an orientation and overview, followed by three consecutive joint weekend sessions in Charlottesville in late August and early September. Students will complete the entire program by the following July.
College Choice Score: 97.07
Average Tuition: $39,800
Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut, offers a terminal Master of Science (MS) in Computer Science for students planning to pursue a professional career directly after finishing the MS program rather than continuing on in a PhD program. The MS program is also suitable for students interested in undertaking a research project but who are not sure yet whether they want to make the multi-year commitment to a PhD program. The program is intended for students who have earned a BA or BS in computer science or a related field and want to expand their depth of knowledge in a smaller class setting with world-renowned faculty. The program offers three tracks: a general track, and two specialized tracks in Bioinformatics or in Computing and the Arts. Students in specialized tracks follow a set of courses that prepare them to do a one-term independent project in the area of specialization. Choosing a particular track versus the general track is purely a matter of personal preference and does not have any major bearing on the results of the degree. The program is administered through the Yale Graduate School, and while MS students may apply for the PhD program, they must do so according to the standard application procedures for all applicants. For students interested in completing their studies at the master’s level, the M.S. could be a fine option.
University of California Irvine
College Choice Score: 97.03
Average Tuition: $22,440
UC Irvine, part of the University of California system, offers a master of science in Informatics. Students of the program have pursued careers in a wide variety of roles, including health administration and technology, consulting, program development, and government occupations. The program emphasizes the relationship between computers and the people who use them, and asks questions such as, How do the existing technologies shape human behavior, society and culture, and how can we design future technologies to better serve those same constituents? Prerequisites for the program are minimal, and students are not required to come from an undergraduate major in computing or related fields. Whether they come from the arts or the sciences, MS in Informatics students share one a common desire to seek to build a deeper understanding of the relationship between people and technology. The primary theme throughout the program is that of design, from early research to concept design to actual prototyping and evaluation. Core courses introduce the fundamentals of informatics, followed by a broader range of courses through which students can choose to focus their learning. Students can choose from three tracks, each with its own set of course requirements: interactive and collaborative technology; ubiquitous computing; and a general track. Example topics include social computing, human-computer interaction, and collaborative work.
University of Massachusetts Amherst
College Choice Score: 96.87
Average Tuition: $25,853
UMass offers three graduate degree tracks through its College of Information and Computer Science (CICS): a PhD and two options for a Masters degree. It offers an impressive and comprehensive array of courses as well as a highly active research community and state-of-the-art computer facilities. Advanced students can also benefit from special guest seminars and the College’s research seminars, which focus on specific research areas. The program also has a history of collaborating with other departments, such as Art, Business, Education, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Linguistics, Mathematics, Psychology and Zoology. The two Master’s tracks differ according to whether a student is interested in pursuing a PhD: the professional track, which is designed as a terminal program, and the research track, which is designed for prospective PhD students. The coursework requirements for each track are the same, but research M.S. students are encouraged to participate in research activities after their first two semesters of coursework. CICS also offers a concentration in Data Science, which meets all of the regular Master’s degree requirements but also includes additional requirements for data science courses. Unlike some programs, applicants to UMass’s program are expected to have a solid undergraduate background in computer science. Students are required to complete 30 course credits, which includes four core courses.
University of North Carolina
College Choice Score: 96.46
Average Tuition: $26,854
UNC offers a Master of Science in Information Science Program, which is a 48-unit, two-year program. The MSIS curriculum educates students in the theory and practice of analyzing, organizing, representing and retrieving information.
University of Pennsylvania
College Choice Score: 96.24
Average Tuition: $51,932
Penn offers a Master of Computer and Information Technology (MCIT) program. It is designed to provide students who have no prior experience in Computer Science an opportunity to embark on a highly successful career in computing and technology, whether that be in a dedicated IT specialist role or in something less specialized. The MCIT program stems from a belief that advanced computer science coursework for people with undergraduate degrees in other diverse fields leads to highly successful career paths. The program is geared so specifically toward these learners that it restricts applications to students who have limited or no past experience in computer science, which is a unique approach among the schools on our list. Recent students have come from backgrounds as diverse as chemistry, history, medicine, law, mathematics, literature and fine arts. However, what they all share in common is immense drive and a strong desire to succeed in the field of computing and technology. Applicants who do happen to have a background in computer science are encouraged to apply to Penn’s Master of Science in Engineering (MSE) program instead. Graduates of the program have been highly successful and enjoy a great demand for their expertise. Past students have gone on to work in various roles at large companies like Google, Microsoft and Facebook, as well as at entrepreneurial start-ups, smaller-sized companies, bioinformatics, medicine, finance, telecommunications, media and many others.
University of Minnesota
College Choice Score: 96.22
Average Tuition: $29,306
One of the nation’s leading public institutions in a host of different areas, the University of Minnesota offers a master of science in Management of Technology (MOT) through its Technological Leadership Institute. Like some other programs on our list, Minnesota’s program has a particular focus on the intersection of technology and business and the unique technological needs of the business profession. The MOT is a management degree with an emphasis in strategic technological leadership. It is similar to an MBA and differs from it primarily in emphasis and name. Students study accounting, finance and marketing, for instance, but the curriculum also covers technology forecasting, innovation management, new technology product development and commercialization. One of the requirements for the program is participation in an International Management of Technology Project, which is designed to give students an opportunity to use the skills they’ve gained to address management of technology issues in the international market. It is a capstone project, and each student selects his or her own topic for it. The curriculum is a mixture of business management, leadership and technology management, and the program requires the completion of 36 credit hours.
College Choice Score: 96.17
Average Tuition: $50,400
Located in Houston, Texas, Rice University’s Department of Computer Science offers three graduate programs: a Master of Computer Science (a non-thesis professional master’s degree), a Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS), or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree. Rice’s program in smaller than some others and features a small student-to-faculty ratio. Students benefit from close working relationships with faculty members. Like so many of the best programs on our list, Rice’s program seeks a balance between theory and practice. Students will thus cover areas such as algorithms, artificial intelligence and robotics, bioinformatics, computer architecture and design, graphics and geometric design, high-performance computing, networking, programming language theory and implementation, systems, and the theory of computing. Students can also expect to benefit from interdisciplinary collaboration with departments such as engineering and natural sciences, but the program has particularly strong ties with computational and applied mathematics and electrical and computer engineering as well as a good working relationship with the Texas Medical Center. Examples of topics students can look forward to investigating include artificial intelligence, bioinformatics, computer architecture, computer graphics, computer networking, computer security, distributed peer-to-peer systems, embedded computing, high-performance computing, logic and the foundations of computer science, mobile networking, operating systems, physical computing and robotics, programming language theory, and virtual machines.
College Choice Score: 95.98
Average Tuition: $50,224
One of the storied schools of the Ivy League, Brown University offers a master of science, or ScM, program through its Department of Computer Science that is suitable both for those who wish to improve their professional competence in computer science and for those who seek to prepare for further graduate study. Many schools require a student to choose between their objectives, but Brown’s program is unique in catering to students of both stripes. The program offers three different tracks (thesis, project, and coursework-only) that enable students to customize their studies. Brown boasts expertise in a number of areas, including algorithms and data structures, artificial intelligence, automated reasoning and planning, brain-machine interfaces, computational biology, computer security, cryptography, database management systems, distributed systems and ubiquitous computing, electronic commerce and agents, graphics and visualization, human-computer interaction, nanotechnology, natural language processing, networking, operating systems, operations research and constraint programming, programming languages, robotics and computer vision, software engineering, and stream processing. Completion options vary according to each student’s goals. A thesis will be appropriate for those intending to pursue further graduate study and research. Students can also complete their program with a significant project, and others can opt for coursework only. Brown boasts a number of regional and non-regional strategic partnerships in the industry, which can provide unique opportunities for students.
Pennsylvania State University
College Choice Score: 95.85
Average Tuition: $35,650
Penn State is no stranger to rankings of almost any sort, and the training it offers through its College of Information Sciences and Technology in computer and information technology is no exception. Penn State’s program is diverse and multidisciplinary, and students do not necessarily need to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science to apply to its Master of Science program. Recent students, for instance, have come from backgrounds such as computer science, behavioral sciences, cognitive and brain sciences, engineering, environmental sciences, information sciences, law, life sciences, health sciences, management, philosophy, physical sciences, policy, mathematics, statistics, and social sciences (sociology, economics). The M.S. program emphasizes research activity in the sciences, and it is another institution that caters both to students who are interested in pursuing a Ph.D. and those who are interested in a professional program only. The program entails 30 credit hours, and most students complete the program in two years on a full-time basis. Students in the program are required to complete two core courses: Foundations of Theories and Methods of Information Sciences and Foundations of Research Design in Information Sciences and Technology. From there, students will be required to complete twelve credit hours in their area of specialization.
College Choice Score: 95.46
Average Tuition: $51,480
Located in Durham, North Carolina, Duke University offers both a master of science degree and a PhD in a variety of areas through its Department of Computer Science. Some examples of topics include algorithms, architecture, artificial intelligence, scientific computing, and systems. The M.S. program can be completed in one of two ways: a coursework-only track or a project track. Both options require 30 credit hours to complete, and the project option requires supervision as well as an oral defense. M.S. students will take advanced courses in their area of concentration, two courses in a related field, and two approved electives. While students are not required to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science specifically, the program does require suitable undergraduate preparation in mathematics and computer science. Areas of particular interest to the program include algorithms, architecture, artificial intelligence, scientific computing, and systems. Some specific research interests of the faculty include architectures for emerging technologies, fault-tolerant architectures, memory and storage systems, operating systems, networking, distributed systems, mobile and wireless systems, database and data-intensive systems, social/collaboration systems, computational geometry and topology, DNA nanoscience and DNA-based computing, computational biology, machine learning, vision, robotics, computational economics, numerical analysis, and mathematical foundations of computer science.
University of Southern California
College Choice Score: 95.44
Average Tuition: $51,442
USC, a private institution, offers a robust Master of Science in Computer Science through its Computer Science Department. The program provides intensive preparation in the basic concepts and techniques related to the design, programming and application of digital computers. Students can expect comprehensive preparation both in theory and practice as well as training in the latest developments in the field. Students are required to take a broad variety of courses but also specialize in an area of concentration. Currently, the department offers specialization in the following areas: data science, game development, computer security, computer networks, software engineering, intelligent robotics, multimedia and creative technologies, and high performance computing and simulation. The degree caters both to students who are interested in a career-focused, terminal master’s degree as well as students who wish to continue their education in a Ph.D. program. The program also offers a thesis completion option, which will be suitable for those students who are interested in the prospect of additional graduate education after completing their M.S. In addition to the M.S. program, the Department of Computer Science is also home to the USC Viterbi Informatics Program, which offers M.S. degrees in Cyber Security Engineering, Data Informatics, and Spatial Informatics, as well as a Master in Communication Informatics and a Graduate Certificate in Big Data Fundamentals.
Johns Hopkins University
College Choice Score: 95.42
Average Tuition: $50,410
Johns Hopkins University, located in Baltimore, Maryland, offers a master of science in Information Systems through its Carey Business School, which offers training in at the intersection of business and technology. It qualifies as a STEM program and receives associated support. A heavy emphasis is also placed on leadership in this cutting-edge field and how technology can be used and optimized to achieve business objectives. The program seeks to prepare students to use information technology to improve decision making and increase organizational effectiveness, manage complex business and information system challenges, and leverage technology to gain strategic advantage. Students are required to take twelve credits in Business Foundations, which includes courses such as Business Communication, Business Leadership and Human Values, Information Systems, Statistical Analysis, Decision Models, and Operations Management. They are also required to take twelve credits in the Functional Core area, which includes courses such as Developing Internet Systems and Services, Managing Complex Projects, IT and Global Sourcing Strategy, Telecom Clouds and Mobile Applications, Data Analytics, and Applied IS Architecture. Finally, students will select twelve credits of electives in Information Systems, such as Competitive Intelligence, Cybersecurity, Digital Data and Business Intelligence, Optimization Models, Crisis Management, Legal Foundations of Health Care, Entrepreneurial Ventures, Health Care Delivery, and Global Supply Chain Management.
Ohio State University
College Choice Score: 95.3
Average Tuition: $33,334
Ohio State University, in Columbus, Ohio, needs little introduction. It boasts numerous world-renowned programs, and its graduate program in computer and information science is no exception. It offers a master of science and PhD through its Department of Computer Science and Engineering Graduate Program, which seeks to develop researchers, educators and practicing professionals with advanced skills in computing. Students intending to pursue a Ph.D. without first obtaining a Master’s degree may apply to the Direct Ph.D. Track. The program enrolls approximately two hundred students total, about a third of whom are in the M.S. program. Like many other programs on our list, the M.S. program can be completed in one of two ways: a research track, which requires the completion of an original thesis or comparable project, and a coursework track, which entails additional coursework as well as a comprehensive examination. The thesis track is designed for students who might be interested in pursuing further graduate work, and the coursework track is better suited for students who anticipate working the trade. Both tracks give students a solid background in the theory and foundations of computing and expose them to the latest technology and ideas in computer science. The program’s faculty includes ACM, IEEE, AAAI, and ABET Fellows, and editors and committee members on the boards of numerous journals and conferences. The program encourages students to be involved in research activity early in the program, and some of them receive funding to participate in research efforts. Areas of particular interest and strength include artificial intelligence, computer graphics, computer networking, high-end computing systems, and software engineering.
New York University
College Choice Score: 94.85
Average Tuition: $47,880
Another program emphasizing the crucial relationship between technology and business, New York University’s M.S. in Management and Systems seeks to prepare students to lead successfully in the business world through training in both the nuances of business and also how they interface with the most advanced innovations in technology. It operates on the assumption that the business world has an increasing need for excellent managers who are also well-versed in the specialized knowledge of information technology. Today’s business leaders need to be adept at crafting budgets and understanding organizational structures as well as designing and implementing company-wide computer upgrades. NYU’s MS in Management and Systems is a unique program that provides students with the tools to succeed in this environment: strong business leadership skills and comprehensive knowledge of information technologies that can enable an organization to improve its financial or marketplace performance. With a focus on the alignment and the integration of management information systems and technology with key business strategies, the program provides students with a considerable competitive advantage. NYU offers a couple of completion options for students depending on their needs. The program can be completed in a traditional classroom setting, fully online, or a combination of the two. Thus residential students just out of a bachelor’s program and working professionals alike can benefit from the program’s accomplished practitioners whether they are in New York or elsewhere. Faculty members possess significant management expertise and in-depth knowledge of the latest innovations in information technology. The program currently offers four areas of concentration: database technologies, enterprise risk management, strategy and leadership, and systems management
College Choice Score: 92.62
Average Tuition: $67,232
Located in Evanston, Illinois, just north of the city of Chicago, world-renowned Northwestern University offers a Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) designed for information technology professionals who want to improve and broaden their technical skills while also learning the application of business principles. Although it is not alone in combining business and technology training, the program is unique in that it is designed specifically for existing IT professionals who need to improve their management savvy. Thus students bring years of combined workplace experience to the program, and the program’s unique blend of technology and business courses, a diverse student body, and coursework taught by academic professors and business executives prepares its graduates to strategically plan, implement, and manage information technology systems in a broad range of industries. The program employs a cohort model for its M.S., so incoming students will stick with their entering group as they progress through the program. Examples of coursework include computer and networks technology, finance, marketing, and project management. Because of its unique emphasis on training IT professionals in business, the program’s coursework is split into approximately 70 percent technical courses and 30 percent business management courses. The program covers three fundamental areas: Communication systems and networks, computing systems engineering, and business and management principles. Students can expect their fair share of group projects, and the program concludes with a 10-week capstone course.