But computers also affect just about every area of public life: the economy, healthcare, transportation, entertainment, and more—the list continues to grow.
The technology in the field of computers and computer science is ever changing and advancing, and will undoubtedly become more advanced in the coming years.
Because of both the present and future manifestations of computers technology, graduate degrees in computer science are highly competitive and desirable degrees. And this is true for both residential and online master’s in computer science degrees.
Having a graduate degree in computer science will certainly give individuals the chance for better career opportunities.
It is also not too drastic to say studying in the field of computer science may give individuals the opportunity to change the future of our world: possibly solving global problems or inventing new ways of interacting with one another and impacting international systems and processes.
What are the best master’s degrees in computer science?
We have ranked the top 50 programs across the United States, taking into consideration the school’s academic reputation, cost of tuition, and average salary of recent graduates.
The institutions outlined below each have different strengths when it comes to their Master of Computer Science degree (abbreviated as “MSc in Computer Science” in other countries). Some of the first computer science programs began back in the 1960s while others weren’t founded until more recently.
Certain programs are more focused on research and the theoretical nature of the field, while others are geared toward professional applications. Many programs give students the option of picking either a research or a professional track. Sometimes the master’s degree in computer science is meant only if one plans on pursuing a PhD, but most of them are stand-alone (terminal) degrees.
College Choice Score: 100
Total Tuition: $38,700
Established in 1701, Yale University is located in New Haven, Connecticut and is a private Ivy League university accredited by New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Yale is consistently ranked as in the top three universities in the country, and in the top 15 universities in the world.
A computer science degree has been offered at Yale since the department’s founding in 1969 by Alan Perlis. He then served as a professor until his death in 1990. Yale hosts distinguished lecturers in the field of computer science who have spoken on topics such as robotics, cryptography and verifiable computing, and the quest of computational biology.
Yale’s Master in Computer Science degree is a terminal graduate program–as such, it is most oriented toward to students interested in beginning their professional career after graduation rather than pursuing their PhD. It is also an appropriate option for students who are interested in research, but may not be ready to commit to the thoroughness of a PhD.
College Choice Score: 98.93
Total Tuition: $43,280
Harvard University is a private university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Established in 1636, it is considered to be the oldest university in the United States, and it has been accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges since 1929. Harvard consistently ranks among the best universities in the US and the world, notably topping the Academic Ranking of World Universities every year since 2003.
Harvard offers two master’s degrees within their graduate program that are a computer science degree: a Master of Science and a Master of Engineering Degree in Computational Science and Engineering (CSE). The graduate program in CSE program lasts one year and is best suited toward graduate students looking to further their knowledge in the industry and quickly move on to professional aspirations. The Master of Engineering in CSE program lasts two years and requires a thesis in order to graduate. Typically, the majority of the second year is spent doing research, culminating in the completion and defense of a master’s thesis. This program is best suited for students interested in research or planning further education toward a Ph.D.
California Institute of Technology
College Choice Score: 98.65
Total Tuition: $45,264
Also known as Caltech, the California Institute of Technology is a private university founded in 1891. It is located in Pasadena, California and accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Caltech ranks as having one of the highest median starting salaries for its alumni. A notable alumnus is Donald Knuth, known as the father of algorithm analysis.
Caltech’s graduate degree in Computer Science is a non-terminal research-based computer science degree oriented toward a Ph.D. It has general and specialized coursework as well as a thesis component, and can normally be completed in two years. Students can expect to receive a strong grounding in the mathematical and algorithmic foundations of computing, as well as be introduced to cutting-edge research in a variety of subfields of computers. Upon graduating, students will be prepared to utilize their skills and learning to tackle difficult problems in the computer science industry and beyond.
College Choice Score: 96.37
Total Tuition: $31,176
Dartmouth College is a private, Ivy League, university in Hanover, New Hampshire. Dartmouth College was established in 1769. It is one nine universities that were founded in the United States prior to the American Revolution. Dartmouth College is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
In the Master of Computer Science program at Dartmouth, students work with top-level faculty researchers in an intimate and collaborative setting. All of Dartmouth’s Master of Computer Science degree students are eligible to use the state-of-art facilities on campus and are given ample time to conduct research throughout their studies. Students are exposed to research in a variety of fields, including engineering, mathematics, biology, medicine, and more. Dartmouth’s graduate program takes pride in its small class sizes and nationally recognized faculty.
College Choice Score: 94.59
Total Tuition: $29,500
Cornell University is a private Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York. Founded in 1865, the university is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and is consistently ranked as one of the best universities in the nation. The Cornell University Library is the 11th largest academic library in the United States.
The Computer Science degree program Cornell University was created in 1965, over 50 years ago. The graduate degree program is a small, highly selective, four-semester program. This graduate program favors driven, self-motivated students who take pleasure in both research and working alongside undergraduate students in introductory courses. Students admitted into the program must also work as full-time teaching assistants (TA’s) during their time of enrollment. As part of the program, and in exchange for these services, however, master’s degree students pay no tuition, and receive a stipend and health insurance.
College Choice Score: 93.65
Total Tuition: $53,460
Established in 1754, Columbia University is a private Ivy League university located in Upper Manhattan of New York City, New York. It has been at the forefront of research in the field of computers, engineering, technology and medicine, and is associated with the invention of Macromodel (a software for computational chemistry) and Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) which is used for audio, video, chat and instant messaging.
Columbia offers two degree programs for professionals interested a computer science degree. The Master in Computer Science program is for those who are interested in software engineering, AI, natural language processing or other core areas in computers. Concentrations for the Master in Computer Science degree include: computer security, machine learning, software, and graphics. Columbia also offers a graduate degree in Computer Engineering, which targets students more interested in computer architecture, parallel systems, or other similar specialties.
College Choice Score: 92.65
Total Tuition: $60,300
Established in 1885, Stanford University is a private university accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, located in Stanford, California. It is consistently ranked as having one of the best reputations in the world, and holds the rank as the most selective university in 2016.
Stanford’s faculty and graduates has the second highest Turing Award recipients (behind only University of California-Berkeley), an annual prize given by the Association for Computing Machinery to individuals who have made contributions to the computing community, and it is generally recognized as the highest distinction in computer science.
Graduate degree students who complete the coursework of the Master of Computer Science Degree at Stanford indicate to employers that their studies have consisted of both a broad grounding in the discipline of computer science, while also specializing in a particular area such as: artificial intelligence, biocomputation, computer and network security, software theory and more.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
College Choice Score: 91.74
Total Tuition: $66,580
Commonly known as MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was founded in 1861 and is a private university in Cambridge, Massachusetts accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. It frequently ranks in the top 10 universities in the country, and as one of the most prestigious universities in the world. In 2014 Money magazine ranked MIT as third in the US for “Best Colleges for Your Money.” MIT has been involved in computer experimentation since the early 1960s, and MIT faculty and researchers have made fundamental contributions in the field of computer science.
MIT’s Master of Computer Science degree is directed to students pursuing their Ph.D. and is not offered as a terminal degree. As such, students who are looking to earn their master’s degree and quickly move toward professional pursuits would be better suited studying elsewhere. The master’s program consists of 66 units (roughly equivalent to 22 credits at another institution) of coursework, plus a research thesis. Graduates of MIT have gone on to work at places such as Ivy League (and other prestigious) schools, Facebook, Google, research and consulting firms, or MIT itself.
University of Chicago
College Choice Score: 91.70
Total Tuition: $49,212
The University of Chicago is a private university in Chicago, IL. The university was established in 1890, and is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Chicago’s Master in Computer Science degree most differentiates itself from competitive programs by specifically matching coursework to the career goals its students. The graduate program offers two programs of study: 1) The 9-Course master’s degree in Computer Science, and 2) The 12-Course master’s degree in Computer Science Specialization Program in Software Engineering, High Performance Computing and Data Analytics.
The 9-course Master of Computer Science Program exposes students to both foundational concepts of computer science and advanced skills required for a prosperous career. The 12-course Master’s in Computer Science Specialization Program is more suited to students looking to specialize and improve their skill set in a specific area of study. The 12-course graduate program also allows students to take part in an internship or research project by the completion of their studies. Typically, students are able to complete the graduate program in 9 months and part-time students can complete the graduate program in as few as 15 months.
University of Pennsylvania
College Choice Score: 88.16
Total Tuition: $64,896
Commonly referred to as Penn, University of Pennsylvania established in 1740 located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Penn is a private Ivy League, doctorate-granting university accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Penn is a prolific and active research institution and is associated with creating the first general purpose electronic computer (ENIAC) in 1946.
University of Pennsylvania offers five different master’s degrees in computer science–all labeled as an Engineering graduate degree. Students may choose between pursuing degrees in: Computer and Information Science, Embedded Systems, Computer Graphics and Game Technology, Robotics, and Computer and Information Technology. Graduates have worked as a software development engineer at Microsoft, a Systems Engineer at Lockheed Martin, researchers at MIT and University of Pennsylvania, or doctoral students at a variety of top-tier schools.
Students with little or no prior experience in computers who desire to pursue a career in computing and technology are recommended to pursue the Master of Computer and Information Technology (MCIT) degree.
Georgia Institute of Technology
College Choice Score: 87.60
Total Tuition: $17,070
ommonly referred to as Georgia Tech, Georgia Institute of Technology was founded in 1885 initially offering degrees in mechanical engineering. It is a public research institution in Atlanta, Georgia that has an emphasis on science and technology and is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Cooperative Education.
Georgia Tech is known for its fully online graduate program, which was launched in 2014. Delivered through a Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) platform, this program allows students to earn their Master of Computer Science degree online at a greatly reduced cost compared to a traditional on-campus degree.
The on-campus Master of Computer Science degree has three different programs to prepare students for highly productive careers in the industry of computers. Students may choose from the Course Option (30 hours of coursework, no project or thesis hours required); the Project Option (21 hours of coursework and a 9 hour project in conjunction with a faculty advisor); and the Thesis option (18 hours of coursework and a 12 hour thesis in conjunction with a faculty advisor). Each program presents its own strengths and weaknesses depending on how research-driven or coursework-focused students would like to be.
College Choice Score: 86.41
Total Tuition: $50,224
Brown University is a private, Ivy League university in Providence, Rhode Island. Founded in 1764, Brown is the seventh-oldest institution of higher education in the United States.
Brown’s Computer Science department was created in 1979. Since then, alumni of the program have made tremendous contributions to the computers industry, with their work including the Macintosh OS, the Intel 80386 processor line, Windows 95, Apple Inc. and Pixar.
In attending Brown’s Master in Computer Science degree program, students are exposed to, and taught by, some of the brightest minds in the computers industry. Faculty recognize the association between education and their research, and as such, students are provided an education with a strong foundation in concepts as well as groundbreaking ideas in the industry of computers. Master’s degree students may choose between a thesis track, project track, or coursework-only track for the completion of their Master in Computer Science degree.
University of California — Los Angeles
College Choice Score: 85.91
Total Tuition: $31,000
Informally known as UCLA, the University of California at Los Angeles is a public university accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and founded in 1919. It consistently is ranked as one of the top universities in the world in a variety of categories, offers 337 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and frequently receives more applicants than any other university in the United States.
UCLA’s Master in Computer Science degree teaches students the necessary technical skills for successful careers in the computers industry. As opposed to the more research-focused Ph.D. program, Master in Computer Science students typically focus on applicable skills that can translate to a variety of fields. Prospective students should be aware that it is not common for students in the Master’s Degree program to be considered for the Ph.D. program. As such, the Master of Computer Science degree at UCLA is typically utilized as a terminal degree. Receiving a degree from UCLA is a mark of prestige since only 7% of applicants to the graduate program are enrolled.
College Choice Score: 85.42
Total Tuition: $54,540
Vanderbilt University is a private university located in Nashville, Tennessee. It was founded in 1873 with an original $1 million endowment from shipping and rail magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, who hoped the university would help heal the sectional damaged caused by the Civil War. Vanderbilt University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Vanderbilt University offers a Master of Computer Science degree focused on networking systems, image processing, machine learning and artificial intelligence, and computer theory. The graduate program also offers a variety of interdisciplinary research opportunities, ranging across healthcare, security, energy and natural resources, and entertainment. Students may choose between two graduate degrees: the M.Sc/.thesis option, which includes a thesis and final exam and lets students request admission into a Ph.D. program in computer science; or the M.Sc./non-thesis option, which does not include a thesis or final exam and should be considered a professional graduate degree. Both master’s degrees require a total of 30 credit hours.
Carnegie Mellon University
College Choice Score: 85.28
Total Tuition: $43,000
Established in 1900 as the Carnegie Technical Schools by Andrew Carnegie, a self-educated immigrant, Carnegie Mellon is a private university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and the university consistently ranks in the top 25 in the country. It also has one of the first Computer Science Departments in the world: founded in 1965, over fifty years ago.
Carnegie Mellon’s Master in Computer Science program is a self-directed course of study, allowing students to choose the concepts they are most interested in studying (under consultation with their advisor) in order to complete their degree. The program is entirely coursework based, with no research component required. The graduate degree program is completed by most students in three semesters. The school also offers two other master of computer science tracks: a fifth-year master’s degree program for current undergraduates, and a combined program with the CMU Tepper School of Business as part of an MBA.
College Choice Score: 85.28
Total Tuition: $90,700
Princeton University is a private Ivy League university in Princeton, New Jersey. Princeton University was originally established in 1746 in Elizabeth, NJ before moving to its current location in 1756. It is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and is consistently ranked as one of the best universities in the world–ranked as the #1 university in the United State in 2016 by the U.S. News & World Report.
Princeton University’s Master in Computer Science degree typically requires two-years to complete, and is formally a Master of Science in Engineering (M.S.E) graduate degree. By default, all admitted students are enrolled in the thesis-required track, but are later given the opportunity to switch to the Master of Engineering (m.Eng.) non-thesis track, if they desire. The graduate program is fairly self-directed, with students having the ability to choose a subarea of computer science on which they would like to focus their studies.
College Choice Score: 85.26
Total Tuition: $74,250
Duke University is a private university located in Durham, North Carolina. It was founded in 1838, and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
The Computer Science Graduate Program at Duke University is internationally recognized as a top-level program regarding the quality of their research and quality of education provided. Some of the primary benefits of a computer science degree at a graduate level at Duke include the opportunity for collaboration with other departments, including biology, economics, business, and medicine. Duke’s close proximity to Research Triangle Park also provides opportunity to work with high-tech companies and other major universities. The Master of Computer Science program at Duke University is small and selective, with an admission rate of only about 10-15%, and class sizes having note exceeded 8 students since 2013. These small class sizes also differentiate Duke from other programs in that it allows faculty to give students more personal guidance and attention. Students are given the choice between a course-only graduate degree or a thesis/project-based graduate degree.
College Choice Score: 84.03
Total Tuition: $64,832
Northwestern University is a private university with campuses in Evanston, Illinois and Chicago, Illinois and accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission. John Evans and eight other lawyers, businessmen, and Methodist leaders founded Northwestern in 1851. The school has the eighth largest university endowment in the United States, currently valued over $10 billion.
Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering offers graduate degrees in computer science that students can tailor to their personal research interests and career goals. Since the program is associated with the engineering school, computer science students are taught through an interdisciplinary approach, better preparing them for careers in the working world upon graduating. Areas of study include: A.I, theoretical computer sciences, user interfaces, graphics, entertainment, and visualization. Employers in nearly every industry recruit employees with a master of computer science degree from Northwestern. Their program is equally appropriate for students looking to pursue professional careers as it is students planning on moving on to PhD studies.
Johns Hopkins University
College Choice Score: 82.67
Total Tuition: $75,615
Founded in 1876, Johns Hopkins University is a private university named after an American entrepreneur, abolitionist and philanthropist. It is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and is located in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1916 it founded the first school of public health in the US.
The research-centered computer science graduate degree at Johns Hopkins is designed to produce graduates who have both a depth of skill and the ability to be at the forefront on the industry. The computer science research laboratories at Hopkins that tackle a variety of topics such as: algorithm design and analysis, human-computer interaction, computational medicine, cryptography and information security, and robotics. Professors often instruct not from outdated textbooks, but research that they themselves are intimately involved in crafting. The graduate degree is flexible, allowing students to choose coursework based on their own interests.
College Choice Score: 80.66
Total Tuition: $69,270
A private university in Houston, Texas, Rice University was founded in 1912 and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. It is generally considered one of the most selective universities in the state of Texas. It has been at the forefront of computing technology as early as 1958 when work began on the Rice Institute Computer, a 54-bit tagged architecture digital computer.
Rice University’s Master in Computer Science degree is a terminal degree intended for students who are focused on pursuing a career in the industry. Graduate program studies in computer science at Rice University is a mixture of both theory and practice, and a master in computer science degree will consist of recent research in the fields of algorithms, artificial intelligence and robotics, and programming language theory and implementation. Students can expect to develop close working relationships with faculty as they engage in hands-on research by top computer scientists in the field.
Washington University in St. Louis
College Choice Score: 80.30
Total Tuition: $73,425
Washington University in St. Louis is a private university founded in 1853 and named after George Washington. Twenty-five Nobel laureates have been affiliated with Washington University, including T.S. Eliot and Arthur H. Compton. Washington University in St. Louis is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and it was officially incorporated as “The Washington University.”
The Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis prides itself on its small size, close-knit atmosphere of research groups, tradition of individual mentoring, active student organizations, and access to the faculty. The department offers $27 million in annual research awards, and prides itself on its research within human-computer interaction, graphics, artificial intelligence, networking, and computer engineering. Students in the Master of Computer Science degree program are given the option to present a thesis, complete a final project, or take courses exclusively in order to complete their master in computer science degree.
University of California—Berkeley
College Choice Score: 79.98
Total Tuition: $64,917
The University of California, Berkeley is a public university located in Berkeley, California. It is the flagship campus of the University of California public university system. The university has been accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission since 1949, and is one of only two University of California campuses that operate based on a semester calendar rather than a quarter calendar. UC Berkeley has more Turing Award laureates (faculty or graduates) than any other university, beating out Stanford, MIT, Harvard, and Carnegie Mellon, among others.
The computer science division at UC Berkeley was created in 1973, over 40 years ago, and is part of the Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences department. The Master of Computer Science degree is typically pursued as groundwork for pursuing a PhD. The computer science degree can be completed in a single academic year, but most students choose to take three to four semesters while they fill in undergraduate prerequisites, prepare for PhD preliminary exams, and/or becoming involved in a research group. Students who are more career-focused rather than research-focused are encouraged to enroll in the 1 year Master of Engineering (MEng) program.
University of Southern California
College Choice Score: 78.65
Total Tuition: $53,315
The University of Southern California is a private, not-for-profit, and university in the city area of Los Angeles, California. Founded in 1880, it is California’s oldest private university. USC is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
The Department of Computer Science was established in 1968, and resides within the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. Its engineering connection facilitates interdisciplinary research and study, which enables the program to provide a greater breadth of education to its students. USC holds claim as the #1 ranked online computer science program, according to U.S. News & World Report, and a top 10 Computer Science program worldwide according to Microsoft.
In addition to the standard computer science degree at the master’s level, USC also offers degrees with specializations including: Data Science, Game Development, Security, Networking, Software, Robotics, Multimedia, and more. Students in the master’s degree program are given the option of completing a thesis in order to graduate.
University of Virginia
College Choice Score: 78.31
Total Tuition: $58,784
The University of Virginia (UVA) is a public-private university. The university was founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson, and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
The University of Virginia Department of Computer Science is prides itself of it’s high achievement in research and education. The department boasts faculty active in research within the computer science and engineering fields and cooperative interdisciplinary work within other fields. Research initiatives are active within architecture, high-level computing, wireless networks, graphics, and security systems, among others. The University of Virginia’s Computer Science graduate program strives to create well-versed graduates who are prepared to make outstanding improvements in computers and society as a whole.
The Computer Science Department offers both Master of Science (MS) and Master of Computer Science (MCS) graduate degrees. The MS degree requires course work plus a formal thesis. The MCS degree is based primarily on coursework, but students are encouraged to complete a substantial project prior to graduation in order to get the most out of their degree.
University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign
College Choice Score: 78.02
Total Tuition: $32,628
Founded in 1867, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign is a public research-intensive university accredited by the North Central Association of American Schools. Located in the twin cities of Champaign and Urbana, it consistently is ranked in the top 50 schools in the country, and has been identified as a “Public Ivy” School: a public university with the quality of an Ivy League institution.
University of Illinois has been a leader in computer based education since the 1960s, including a project known as PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations) which was a precursor to the internet, and Mosaic, the first graphical web browser upon which Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer were based. Bill Gates has stated that Microsoft hires more graduates from University of Illinois than from any other university in the world.
The school’s Master of Computer Science degree program is a non-thesis, non-research professional degree that can be completed either online or on campus in two to three semesters. Those who are busy professionals have the option of working on the program online part-time. The online program consists of essentially identical courses to that of the full-time on-campus option. Graduate degree students can expect to accelerate their careers by taking coursework from world-class faculty. After completing the program, graduates are often recruited from prestigious firms such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Boeing, Intel, and IBM.
University of California—Santa Barbara
College Choice Score: 77.49
Total Tuition: $28,295
The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) is a public university and one of the 10 campuses of the University of California system. The main campus is located near Goleta, California. UCSB was founded in 1891 as an independent teachers’ college, and joined the University of California system in 1944. It is the 3rd-oldest campus in the system. UCSB is one of America’s “Public Ivy” universities, which recognizes top public universities in the United States with the education quality of an Ivy League school.
The Computer Science Department at UC Santa Barbara was founded in 1979, and is housed within the university’s College of Engineering. Alumni of the department have gone on to have successful careers in the computers industry and academia alike. Additionally, students and faculty have founded companies such as: Expertcity, AppFolio, Eucalyptus, and Lastline.
The Master’s Degree program is designed to give students training in the foremost skills and methods within computer science in order to prepare them for successful careers or more advanced degrees. The Master of Computer Science degree is able to be completed with a thesis, a comprehensive exam, or a project–depending on student interests.
University of Texas—Austin
College Choice Score: 77.00
Total Tuition: $27,045
The University of Texas at Austin, also known as “Texas,” is a public university and the flagship university of the University of Texas System. It was founded in 1881, and is located just a mile away from the Texas State Capitol building in Austin. Texas has earned recognition as one of the “Public Ivies, ” a public university that provides quality of education comparable to that of an Ivy League school.
The Computer Science graduate program at UT has shaped the industry from the start, having been established in 1966, and it consistently ranks as one of the top 10 computer science programs in the country. Texas’s computer science program prides itself on its strength in hardware and software systems, networking, data mining, theory, artificial intelligence, and security. The Master’s program at University of Texas is intended to be a terminal degree, and is designed to enhance students’ knowledge in the field and prepare them for prosperous careers in computing. Whether you have a bachelor’s degree in CS or degrees in other, unrelated fields, the Master in Computer Science Program at UT is a good fit.
University of California—Irvine
College Choice Score: 76.54
Total Tuition: $31,596
The University of California, Irvine is a public university located in Irvine, California. It is considered a “Public Ivy” (a public university that has educational quality similar to that of an Ivy League school), and is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
The University of California—Irvine school of computer science was established in 2002, making it the first within the University of California school system. Today, it is housed within the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, a state-of-the-art 90,000 square foot facility. Having the computer science program within an independent school specifically focused on computer science and information technology allows faculty to dedicate more time specifically to the study and teaching of the latest computer science methods and techniques. Topics covered in the computer science degree include various areas of computer science: information systems, networking, software engineering, statistics, and more.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
College Choice Score: 75.87
Total Tuition: $46,700
Accredited by The Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is a private university founded in 1824 and located in Troy, New York with additional campuses in Hartford and Groton, Connecticut. It was founded by Stephen van Rensselaer and Amos Eaton and is described as the first dedicated school of science and civil engineering established in the country and one of the oldest technological universities.
The Master of Computer Science degree at RPI is designed for accelerated professional advancement in the computing field. Students interested in continuing on to PhD work would be equally prepared through the program. Students looking to perform a career change should probably look elsewhere, as applicants must have a technical degree related to Computer Science, and must know how to program with at least three higher-level languages. Students are required to complete a Master’s Thesis demonstrating their application of learned principles (e.g. algorithm design, programming language knowledge, testing and debugging etc…). Students interested in completing a PhD may pursue both degrees concurrently.
University of Florida
College Choice Score: 75.58
Total Tuition: $30,134
Established in 1853, the University of Florida is a public land, sea, and space-grant university located in Gainesville, Florida. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and is classified as an institution with “Very High Research” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
The Computer Science department at University of Florida is part of the College of Engineering, but is still involved in programs spanning the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as well. Primary areas of research include: algorithms, cloud computing, medicine, graphics and visualization, networking, and artificial intelligence. An online “distance learning” Master’s Degree is offered here, which has the same requirements as the on-campus degree. Students pursuing a master’s degree in computer science may choose between the thesis and the non-thesis options, each totaling 30 credits. Students interested in pursuing a PhD at the University of Florida may apply near the completion of their Master in Computer Science degree.
Case Western Reserve University
College Choice Score: 75.40
Total Tuition: $47,898
A private, doctorate granting university in Cleveland Ohio, Case Western Reserve University was created in 1967 and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Notable alumni include Paul Buchheit, the creator and lead developer of Gmail, and Craig Newmark, the founder craigslist.org.
Case Western Reserve has been on the cutting edge of computers technology since the late 1960s, and was one of the earliest universities connected to the ARPANET, a predecessor form of the Internet, as well as pioneering the early Free-net computer systems. In 1989, it became the first university to have an all fiber-optic network, and currently boasts a top-of-the-line gaming computer lab called “Virtual Worlds”, which is heavily used for game development and 3D modeling courses, among other things.
Case Western Reserve University offers research positions within the computer science department, offering full tuition to those students who participate. Assistantships are also available to support students in their thesis research. The School of Graduate Studies at Case Western Reserve has two options for students to pursue their Master of Computer Science degree. One is a thesis-based option, and the other is a project-based option. The project option is typically pursued by part-time students or students attaining their BS and MS degrees simultaneously. Students are assigned faculty advisors to guide them through their studies.
University of Washington
College Choice Score: 75.27
Total Tuition: $34,688
Known informally as U-Dub (UW), the University of Washington is a university in Seattle, Washington accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. It was founded in 1861 making it one of the oldest universities on the West Coast. It is consistently ranked as one of the top 35 universities in the world.
According to the New York Times, Seattle-area tech icons like Microsoft and Amazon rely on U-Dub as an “incubator of talent and ideas,” and Silicon-Valley based companies such as Facebook, Zynga and Google have offices in Seattle in order to entice graduates from University of Washington. About 35% of its computer science graduates end up working at Amazon, Google, or Microsoft in a typical year.
The Computer Science degree graduate program at the University of Washington ranks in the top 10 programs in the United States. The program was started in 1996, and consists of three graduate degree options. First is a PhD program with a Master’s degree integrated, second is a part-time evening program aimed at busy professionals looking to improve their skills and propel their careers to a higher level, and third is a joint BS/MS program–there is no separate full-time program available. The part-time Master’s degree program is typically completed in 2.5 years, and allows students to choose from a variety of courses to cater to their desired education experience.
University of Rochester
College Choice Score: 75.13
Total Tuition: $46,140
Founded in 1850 as a Baptist-sponsored institution, the University of Rochester is a private, nonsectarian university. It is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and located in Rochester, New York.
The Computer Science graduate program at the University of Rochester was established in 1974, and heavily emphasizes research objectives with other disciplines, such as cognitive sciences, lasers and radiation, vision research. The Master of Computer Science degree is coursework-based (not requiring a thesis) and is a terminal degree appropriate for students not planning to continue their studies toward a PhD.
The Master’s degree program offers students the choice of heavily focusing their studies on a single area of computers or to enrich their knowledge and skills across the entire discipline. The degree can be obtained either via full or part-time coursework. Graduate degree students are encouraged to apply from diverse undergraduate backgrounds as long as their work demonstrates strong technical skills. Students with an undergraduate degree in computer science typically finish the degree over three semesters.
Pennsylvania State University—University Park
College Choice Score: 75.08
Total Tuition: $34,384
The Pennsylvania State University is a public, Flagship, research-intensive university. It was founded in 1855, and is considered one of the “Public Ivies,” a publicly funded university considered as providing a quality of education comparable to those of the Ivy League. It is accredited by the Middle States Association. Penn State ranked 8th nationally in research & development expenditures for its computer science department in 2013.
Penn State’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering was created in 1993 when it merged the computer engineering program with the computer science department. As a result of the combination of these two programs, Penn State offers two Master’s Degree options in Computer Science. First is a Master of Science in Computer Science and Engineering, the other is a Master of Engineering in Computer Science and Engineering. Both programs are one-year intensive master’s degree programs, and are meant to prepare students for successful careers, teaching, or pushing the boundaries of computers research.
Applicants to the graduate program are expected to have a B.S. degree in computer science, computer engineering, computer science and engineering, or similar degree.
New York University
College Choice Score: 74.39
Total Tuition: $51,074
New York University (NYU) was established in 1831 by Albert Gallatin (who was the Secretary of Treasury under Thomas Jefferson and James Madison), as a place of higher education for New Yorkers who could be accepted because of their skill not necessary their family tree. Located in New York City, New York, New York University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and is a private university. Unlike many other colleges at the time, NYU was established without a Christian denominational affiliation. NYU has hundreds of members associated with the National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Sciences.
The NYU Department of Computer Science offers two Master’s-level graduate degree programs, one focused on computer science and one focused on information systems. The first program is intended to increase a student’s skills in programming, creating computer systems, and overall critical thinking while also keeping students apprised of current computing technologies. This course-based degree includes foundational classes such as Fundamental Algorithms, Programming Languages, and Operating Systems, and has other courses such as Applied Cryptography and Network Security and Software Engineering.
The Master’s in Information Systems combines computer science courses with business courses for students who anticipate needing skills in both the business and computer technology field. The aim of this degree is to help professionals reach management positions successfully because of their strong technical skills. Half of the courses are required to be in Business (such as Data Mining for Business Analytics) and half in Computer Science (such as Data Communications and Networks). There is also a mandatory Information Technology Project course in which students work in teams at local non-profits, government agencies, and corporations and provide solutions to real-world business problems.
New York University (School of Engineering)
College Choice Score: 74.39
Total Tuition: $51,074
The New York University Tandon School of Engineering (Polytechnic Institute), is the second oldest private engineering school in the United States, dating back to 1854. Brooklyn’s MetroTech Center houses the school’s main campus. The school officially merged with New York University in 2014.
Their Master in Computer Science degree program is a flexible program that gives students the ability to cater their classes to their particular interests and long-term goals. In addition to fundamental courses in the theory of computers, this program offers a variety of electives, including computer security, networking, graphics, search algorithms, and others. Students may also specialize their degree in areas of computers/technology of their choosing.
Master’s degree students must have an undergraduate degree in computer science, engineering, or a related degree, but students with different backgrounds are accepted in rare cases. Students of this graduate program are required to complete a capstone course or a Master’s thesis in order to fulfill graduation requirements.
College Choice Score: 73.09
Total Tuition: $26,980
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University is a public, land-grant, university with a main campus in Blacksburg, Virginia. Virginia Tech is the leading research institution in the State of Virginia, managing a research portfolio of $513 million. The school was founded in 1972 and is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Virginia Tech’s master in computer science degree puts graduate students with highly recognized professors who have shaped the industry. Students can choose between a thesis option or a coursework option for their degree, both of which are typically completed within two years. A combined Bachelor’s of Science and Master’s of Science degree in computer science is also offered, allowing students to complete both degrees in five years.
Primary research areas within the graduate program include biology, data visualization, data analysis, high-end computing, software development, and computer system security.
University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill
College Choice Score: 72.99
Total Tuition: $57,592
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) is a public university located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The university was originally established in 1789 but didn’t begin enrolling students until 1795. It is one of three schools able to claim the title of the oldest public university in the United States. UNC is also one of the original eight “Public Ivy” schools, claimed to provide an Ivy League education at a public university price.
The Department of Computer Science at at UNC was one of the first to be established in the U.S. in 1964. The Master in Computer Science degree educates students on theory and concepts that are relevant to their application in practice. Starting with these fundamentals allow students to better grasp how to put their learnings into action. Most graduates go on to successful careers in the industry at companies ranging from new start-ups to expansive government operations and top-level international corporations. Most students complete the graduate program within two years.
College Choice Score: 72.91
Total Tuition: $47,840
Located in Boston, Massachusetts, Northeastern University is a private university accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. It was established in 1898 as the Evening Institute for Younger Men, located at the YMCA. Northeastern University has been classified as having the Highest Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.
Northeastern’s College of Computer Science began in 1982, making it the first College in the United States strictly devoted to computer science. It has since been renamed as the College of Computer and Information Science. Many of the faculty are well-known in the field, including Karl Lieberherr, who wrote the first book about adaptive programming. For students without a background in computers, Northeastern University offers the ALIGN degree program in order to provide the opportunity for students without a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, or people looking to change career paths, to develop their knowledge and skills in computers in preparation for successful careers in the industry.
The Master in Computer Science degree combines fundamental knowledge in computer science with specific student-chosen concentrations, such as artificial intelligence, game design, cyber security, networking systems, software design, and more.
University of Maryland—College Park
College Choice Score: 71.49
Total Tuition: $38,940
The University of Maryland at College Park is a public university founded in 1856 and accredited by the Association of American Universities. Located in College Park, Maryland, it is approximately 4 miles from Washington, D.C., resulting in many research partnerships with the federal government from agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, NASA, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
The Computer Science Department at UMD was formed in 1979 and has an annual research budget of several million dollars. It consistently ranks among the best in the United States, and within the top 10 public universities. Research can be done in nearly every aspect of computers, including: Artificial Intelligence, Human-Computer interaction, Software Design, Security and Cryptography, and Quantum Computing.
The Master of Computer Science degree usually takes 2 to 2.5 years and has both thesis and non-thesis options depending on the preference of students. A joint BS/MS degree program is also offered, allowing students to obtain both degrees within 5 years.
University of Notre Dame
College Choice Score: 71.28
Total Tuition: $98,100
Located near South Bend, Indiana, The University of Notre Dame du Lac is a Catholic university and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Its name is French for “Our Lady of the Lake,” which refers to the university’s patron saint, the Virgin Mary. The institution began in 1842 as an all-male school, and although it has long since become co-ed, there are still priests who continue to be employed by the university. It remains committed to Catholicism in part through the numerous Catholic ministries it funds, and its campus architecture.
Notre Dame’s Master of Computer Science degree is a two-year, coursework-focused graduate degree designed to make students highly competent in advanced technical skills. Students in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering learn from highly-esteemed faculty, including four IEEE fellows, one IBM fellow, and numerous NSF CAREER and ONR Young Investigator awardees.
Upon graduation, students have gone on to positions within other colleges and universities, international corporations, and research laboratories. The Master’s Degree is typically completed in two years and includes a year-long student project or thesis.
College Choice Score: 71.00
Total Tuition: $49,886
Established in 1839 and associated with the United Methodist Church, Boston University is a private university located in Boston Massachusetts. It is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. The interest in the computer science program at the university has led to overall enrollment quadrupling over the past five years. Boston University alumni in the computer sciences include J Allard, whose team at Microsoft developed Internet Explorer.
The general Master in Computer Science degree at Boston University has the option of two specializations: Cyber Security and Data-centric Computing. The Cyber Security specialization prepares students to deal with and prevent security breaches at top-level corporations or government agencies, while the Data-centric Computing specialization equips students to analyze large data sets and distill usable information and insights. Students in the Master of Computer Science program can expect small class sizes, allowing the experienced faculty to provide each student with enough individual attention to guide their research and studies throughout the program.
University of Wisconsin—Madison
College Choice Score: 70.68
Total Tuition: $47,308
The University of Wisconsin–Madison is a public university in Madison, Wisconsin. The university was founded when Wisconsin achieved statehood in 1848, and was the first public university established in Wisconsin and remains the oldest and largest public university in the state. UW-Madison is one of America’s “Public Ivy” universities, which refers to top public universities in the United States capable of providing a collegiate experience comparable with the Ivy League.
Wisconsin holds one of the nation’s oldest Computer Science departments, having celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014. Wisconsin’s Computer Science graduate program now prides itself in its work in databases, computer architecture, optimization, and more. Students with an entrepreneurial mindset can also take advantage of a class specifically focused on launching software startup companies.
What sets UW-Madison’s program apart from many others is the on-campus competitions, such as start-up pitch competitions and programming competitions. There are also student-led computer science organizations which allow students to take their learning outside the classroom and grow within a community.
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey—New Brunswick
College Choice Score: 70.44
Total Tuition: $34,560
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey located in New Brunswick, New Jersey, is more commonly known as Rutgers University. It is the eighth-oldest college in the United States, established in 1766 before the American Revolution, and is the largest university in New Jersey. It is currently a public university accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
The Master in Computer Science program at Rutgers is designed to develop students to be ready for professional pursuits, administration, teaching, and further academic study toward a PhD. Fundamental and advanced courses are offered in a variety of areas, including algorithms, computer architecture, operating systems, networking, security, and more. Working professionals who are able to be flexible with their work schedule may be able to complete the Master’s program in computer science at Rutgers due to the typical scheduling of classes. Most courses begin in the mid-afternoon or later, with others not starting until the evening.
Working professionals who are able to be flexible with their work schedule may be able to complete the Master’s program in computer science at Rutgers due to the typical scheduling of classes. Most courses begin in the mid-afternoon or later, with others not starting until the evening.
University of California—Davis
College Choice Score: 70.33
Total Tuition: $56,690
Founded in 1905, the University of California located in Davis, California is a public university. It is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges.UC Davis prides itself on having a reputation for solving problems related to food, health, the environment and society.
Admission to the Master’s degree program of the computer science department at UC Davis is very selective, with only the top 15 percentile of over 600 applications being admitted annually. In addition to the general computer science degree, since 1998 there has also been a joint BS/MS program, allowing undergraduate students to dual enroll and complete both degrees simultaneously and at an accelerated rate compared to standalone MS students. Research groups within UC Davis include: graphics and visualization, computer security, data analysis, networking, programming, software design, and more.
UC Davis boasts joint research with computer companies such as Intel, HP, Google, and more, providing ample opportunities for graduate students to gain real-world hands-on experience throughout the program.
College Choice Score: 69.45
Total Tuition: $43,290
A private university located in Syracuse, New York, Syracuse University was founded in 1870 and is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. It maintains ties with The United Methodist Church due to its roots as a Seminary school. Syracuse’s College of Engineering founded the nation’s second oldest computer engineering and bioengineering programs.
Syracuse University became the second institution in the country to offer computer engineering in 1971. Since then, it has grown into a leading research institution throughout the computer science industry. Areas covered include: artificial intelligence, networking, cybersecurity, electromagnetics, computer hardware, and healthcare. Syracuse offers Master’s Degrees in more than just Computer Science, including Computer Engineering, CyberSecurity, Electrical Engineering, and more. There is also an Online Master of Computer Science degree available for working professionals who do not have the time or ability to attend courses on-campus full time.
College Choice Score: 68.95
Total Tuition: $27,352
A public university founded in 1820, Indiana University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and is located in Bloomington, Indiana.
The School of Informatics and Computing was founded in 2000, adding the Computer Science department to the school in 2005, and the School of Information Science in 2013. The school boasts claim to offering the first master in computer science degree in Cybersecurity. In addition to Computer Science, the school offers Master’s Degrees in biological data, data science, information science, library science, and security. There are also accelerated Master’s degree programs, allowing students to complete their BS/MS degrees in five years.
The Master in Computer Science degree is a two-year program that covers topics across a variety of disciplines, supported by the broad range of courses offered within the school. Major areas of research include: hardware design, robotics, graphics and visualization, artificial intelligence, information systems, networking, and more.
University of California—San Diego
College Choice Score: 68.86
Total Tuition: $63,127
The University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego or UCSD) is a public university located in San Diego, California. UCSD was established in 1960, and is the 7th oldest of the 10 University of California campuses. UC San Diego is one of America’s “Public Ivy” universities, recognized as providing an “Ivy League” education at the cost of a public university.
The UCSD Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) offers a Master of Computer Science degree as well as a PhD in computer science and computer engineering. Both programs are able to be completed either full time or part time, depending on student’s schedule. There is also the option for current undergraduate students to dual enroll in the combined BS/MS program in order to accelerate their degrees.
Faculty members are highly recognized, including several IEEE Fellows. Particular research strengths include A.I., computer engineering, networking, data mining and visualization, and more.
University of Pittsburgh
College Choice Score: 68.66
Total Tuition: $42,870
Commonly referred to as Pitt, the University of Pittsburgh is a state-related university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1787, it was a private university until 1966, and is accredited through the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. One of its historically notable buildings is the 42-story Gothic revival centerpiece called the Cathedral of Learning.
The Computer Science Department was created in 1966 by Dr. Orrin Taulbee after he left the Goodyear Aerospace Corporation to become the chairperson of the new department.
University of Pittsburgh offers opportunities for research in many areas within the computer science field. Options include: computer hardware, data analysis and visualization, A.I., software design, networking, and more. Students pursuing a Master in Computer Science graduate degree at Pitt will be required to complete a thesis or project in order to graduate. The graduate program allows students to take what they learn in their classes and apply it to their research, both supervised and independent, and is designed to prepare students for advanced jobs in various computers industry positions.
University of California—Santa Cruz
College Choice Score: 68.33
Total Tuition: $28,410
The University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) is a public university. It was founded in 1965, and is considered a “Public Ivy” institution, one that provides an “Ivy League” level education despite being a public university. UCSC is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
The Department of Computer Science is housed within the Jack Baskin School of Engineering, and offers two types of Master in Computer Science degrees: project track and thesis track. Despite these programs requiring 40 and 43 credit-hours, respectively, these graduate degrees are usually completed in one year. Students begin with core courses in fundamental concepts before advancing to specialized topics.
The Computer Science department works closely with other departments within the School of Engineering (e.g. Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Applied Mathematics). Faculty members in each department often do joint research projects, supervise students, and teach courses within each of these departments. Areas of research include algorithms, computer security, data visualization, AI, programming languages, software development, and more.