Best Online Master’s in Computer Science Degrees

Are you ready to find your fit?

Do you generally just love to problem-solve and be on the cutting-edge of technology? Then a Master of Science in Computer Science degree may be for you.

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

Whether you want to work directly in the tech industry or not, software engineers are in demand across all industries, from healthcare to local, state, and national governments. Interested in the nexus of education and technology?

There’s a place for you. Same with those who want the advanced degree to carry them into higher, more challenging positions within the business, finance, and tech sectors. And since you’re looking at our ranking of the best online master’s in computer science degrees, why not get a broader picture of the best online colleges and universities more generally?

If you’re thinking about an online graduate degree, take heart: it is one of the most affordable, accessible, and flexible avenues toward advanced education. Online learning has nearly completely shed the stigma it once held, and it is now recognized as on par with traditional education.

This is because most colleges and universities deliver the same content online, through the same faculty board, as they do in the classroom. Plus, the diploma looks identical to those earned by more “traditional” students. Finally, online degrees are often earned at a fraction of the cost of on-campus programs.

So, regardless of your current financial, geographical, or professional situation, earning your MS in Computer Science online is a great option.

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

Though some MS in Computer Science programs require previous academic or professional experience in technology, others don’t. And while some emphasize engineering or design over security or database management, they all share one thing in common: they offer the best online Master of Science in Computer Science degrees in the nation.

We’ve looked at notable colleges and universities across the country—some of which are small, liberal arts colleges and others are elite research universities, and still others are tech professional schools—and have thoroughly examined them in four key areas: academic reputation, credit hour cost, retention rate (which is an indicator of student satisfaction), and the average early salary of graduates from the respective programs.

The result of our extensive data mining is a list comprised of the best online MS in Computer Science programs in the nation. Our figures and information come from the university and colleges’ websites, PayScale, and nationally recognized U.S. News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics.

Top Online Master’s in Computer Science Degrees

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus
    Location

    Atlanta, GA

    Tuition

    $28568

    Overview

    Located in Atlanta, the Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the top public universities in the country and one of the best to offer a degree in computer science. Founded in 1885, the school has a large undergraduate enrollment of nearly 16,000 students and is home to six colleges and multiple highly-ranked graduate schools. Georgia Institute of Technology offered the first online Master of Science in Computer Science from an accredited university, a program that was developed and is administered in partnership with AT&T and Udacity.

    Program Features

    This unique program has been informally termed OMSCS by the faculty in the College of Computing. Offered within the massive online format at a fraction of the normal cost, the program attracts computing professionals from over 80 countries. Several specializations are offered, including those in Machine Learning, Computing Systems, Computational Perception and Robotics, and Computing Systems. 30 credit hours consisting of ten courses are required, including core classes in:

    • Computing in MATLAB
    • Intro to Computing
    • Intro to Object-Oriented Programming
    • Data Structure and Algorithms
    • Computer Organization and Programming

    Notables

    This degree is one of the most affordable in the nation, making it possible for busy professionals from all over the globe to complete a degree for a total cost of just $7,000. This program has enrolled over 10,000 students since its inception in 2014 and is identical to the Master of Science in Computer Science that is offered on campus. In addition to the diploma, graduates receive access to a global community of computing professionals who collaborate in their courses and their professional networks. This provides exceptional opportunities for personal support, job experiences, and lifelong learning.

  2. Stevens Institute of Technology
    Location

    Hoboken, NJ

    Tuition

    $34494

    Overview

    Stevens Institute of Technology is located in Hoboken, NJ, and is a private school that was founded in 1870. This school is research-intensive and known for its science, engineering, and management programs. The Schaefer School of Engineering and Science at Stevens Institute of Technology offers seven master's degree programs entirely online. These degrees are multi-disciplinary and design-based, allowing students to earn a hands-on diploma without ever leaving home.

    Program Features

    This program is designed for professionals who wish to work in industries like operating systems computer networking, software engineering, and more. This is a broad-based program that addresses the foundational scientific laws and engineering principles that concern the design, use, and manufacturing of computers. Ten different focus areas are available, as is the option to work on a research thesis in this flexible program. Students will take a variety of core and elective courses taught by recognized leaders in the field, such as:

    • Web Programming
    • Distributed Systems
    • Advanced Algorithm Design and Implementation
    • Database Management Systems
    • Mobile Systems and Applications

    Notables

    In addition to the program in Computer Science, the Schaefer School also offers online degrees in fields like computer engineering, machine learning, applied artificial intelligence, and more. There are also numerous self-contained graduate certificate programs available online. All course requirements for the master's in computer science can be completed entirely online, but should learners choose to visit the campus, they benefit from a premier location just 15 minutes from downtown Manhattan. This location as well as Stevens' reputation provides learners with exclusive access to networking and career opportunities both in the city as well as all around the globe.

  3. University of Southern California
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    Tuition

    $43200

    Overview

    Located in Los Angeles, the University of Southern California was founded in 1880 and has an undergraduate enrollment of 19,170 students. The university has multiple campuses in Los Angeles in addition to others in Sacramento, CA, southern California, and even Washington, D.C. This program includes a whopping 22 graduate and professional schools. The Master of Science in Computer Science at the University of Southern California is offered within the award-winning USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

    Program Features

    This dynamic program prepares students by offering them a complete training in the fundamentals and current issues in computer science and engineering. Designed for individuals who are interested in high-ranking carers or in pursuing advanced degrees, this program allows students to take a broad spectrum of courses while at the same time allowing them to choose an emphasis in areas of specialization. A blended program, this degree includes core classes such as:

    • Analysis of Algorithms
    • Foundations of Artificial Intelligence
    • Web Technologies
    • Database Systems
    • Operating Systems

    Notables

    A variety of career opportunities exist after receiving this degree, a majority of which are in fields like computer programming, software design, bioinformatics, and more. In addition to the classes listed above, all students are required to complete a thesis option or an internship. A global center for the arts, technology, and international trade, this acclaimed research institution is home to more international students than any other university. Despite the large size and its prominence on a global scale, the university maintains a close-knit learning environment with a student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1.

  4. Columbia University in the City of New York
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $44864

    Overview

    Columbia University, located in New York City, is a private university that was founded in 1754. This school has a total undergraduate enrollment of 6,162 students and is comprised of three major undergraduate schools as well as multiple graduate and professional schools. The online Master's in Computer Science at Columbia is offered with a specialization in Software Systems and is housed within the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science.

    Program Features

    The Software Systems track at Columbia University is designed for candidates who wish to receive additional training in software systems technologies and methodologies. Used in practical, real-world computing systems, this track helps students understand and gain mastery of modern and traditional software systems and gives them the fundamentals they need for lifelong learning in the discipline. 30 graduate credits are required, including core courses in topics such as:

    • Advanced Software Engineering
    • Operating Systems
    • Programming Languages and Translators
    • Principles and Practice of Parallel Programming
    • Compilers and Interpreters

    Notables

    The Computer Science major at Columbia is offered in conjunction with the Columbia Video Network. This network has been leading the field of online learning since 1986, providing the opportunity to receive a part-time degree to thousands of working professionals. The school offers multiple broad-based graduate engineering programs, all of which are housed within a major research university that is positioned to educate tomorrow's engineering leaders. These programs are some of the country's oldest and most impactful yet consistently embrace new interdisciplinary possibilities and new technologies.

  5. Stanford University
    Location

    Stanford, CA

    Tuition

    $48987

    Overview

    Stanford University, located in Stanford, CA, is regarded as one of the top National Universities by U.S. News & World Report. A private university founded in 1885, this school is located in California's pristine Bay Area. This location gives students access to some of the best jobs and learning experiences in technology available, and the online campus is just as accessible and relevant. The online Master of Science in Computer Science at Stanford is a terminal professional degree that is designed for candidates who wish to conclude their training with a master's degree

    Program Features

    Most students will take about three to five years to complete this degree when studying part-time. However, learners may also choose to study part-time, too. The degree can be completed almost entirely online and has 45 credit hours required for degree completion. Almost all classes are offered in the same format as those that are offered on campus. Core foundational courses must be completed before graduation, with requirements including classes like:

    • Probability
    • Design and Analysis of Algorithms
    • Computer Organization and Systems
    • Principles of Computer Systems
    • Logic, Automata, and Complexity

    Notables

    When engaging in their courses, students have the option of pursuing a single depth area or a dual-depth program. This makes it possible for students to pursue multiple areas of interest, such as those in Biocomputation, Artificial Intelligence, Human-Computer Interaction, Computer and Network Security, Mobile and Internet Computing, Software Theory, and more. Despite its reputation and relatively large size, these school has a small student-to-faculty ratio of just 4:1. The average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, is nearly 98%!

  6. North Carolina State University at Raleigh
    Location

    Raleigh, NC

    Tuition

    $23967

    Overview

    North Carolina State University at Raleigh, located in Raleigh, NC, is one of many schools within the state university system. This school is the largest four-year college in the state. As a result, the university is able to offer students a variety of programs and extracurricular activities to choose from. The school is home to a highly-ranked engineering school as well as top programs in education, management, and other disciplines. The Master of Computer Science at North Carolina State University at Raleigh is housed within the aforementioned acclaimed College of Engineering.

    Program Features

    An excellent option for military personnel serving abroad as well as students residing remotely in the United States, this degree is based on coursework alone, requiring no thesis for a comprehensive examination. This program can be completed on a full-time basis, but most learners will only take one or two courses each semester. All courses are offered via streaming video, with all coursework shared electronically. Sample classes might be pursued in subjects such as:

    • Algorithms
    • Artificial Intelligence
    • Graph Data Mining
    • Advanced Algorithms
    • Computational Methods for Molecular Biology

    Notables

    Online learners at North Carolina State University at Raleigh enjoy the same privileges and access to resources that on-campus learners enjoy. All classes are simply recorded versions of on-campus courses, containing the same depth and content as received by other graduate students on-campus. The degree includes three potential tracks: one in Data Science, one in Software Engineering, and one in Security. In addition to this top-ranked program, the department also offers certificate degrees in Computer Science and Data Science Foundations as well as a Master of Science degree in Computer Networking.

  7. Boston University
    Location

    Boston, MA

    Tuition

    $50980

    Overview

    Boston University is a private research university located in Boston. The Master of Science in Computer Information Systems at Boston University was established in 2004 and prepares learners for fast-paced careers in IT leadership and technological innovation. Learners in this degree benefit from a supportive online network and study in small course sections. The program is recognized by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security as a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education and Research, too.

    Program Features

    This degree is designed for learners who want to combine their existing technical competencies in information systems with advanced knowledge of organizational and managerial issues. The degree focuses on core areas like computer networks, database management, and security, and takes most students about 18 to 24 months to complete. With seven available concentrations, this degree requires 40 credit hours of study and is instructed by 13 distinguished faculty members. Required classes include:

    • Business Data Communication and Networks
    • Database Design and Implementation for Business
    • Information Systems Analysis and Design
    • IT Strategy and Management
    • Information Structures with Java

    Notables

    The Computer Information Systems program is taught by expert faculty who are industry leaders with extensive experience in network construction, applications development, and cybercrime defenses. The online programs are cutting-edge while also rooted in Boston University's 150-year tradition of excellence. The degree includes seven different concentrations in fields like IT Project Management, Health Informatics, and Web Application Development. It is certified by the Committee on National Security Systems and accredited by the Project Management Institute Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs.

  8. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
    Location

    Minneapolis, MN

    Tuition

    $25884

    Overview

    The University of Minnesota Twin Cities is a public university located in Minneapolis. This school was founded in 1851 and has a total undergraduate enrollment of 35,433 students. Home to multiple graduate schools, such as the Carlson School of Management and the College of Education and Human Development, the university offers candidates multiple campuses to choose from. In addition to the Minneapolis location, learners can study online as well as abroad at one of 200 other schools in the United States and Canada. The Master of Computer Science is one of the most commonly-chosen programs.

    Program Features

    This fully-online program is a coursework-only degree that is offered within the College of Science and Engineering. 31 total credit hours are required. The curriculum focuses on skills development instead of extensive research, as most Master of Computer Science students are currently employed in the industry and have been out of school for quite some time. Major course requirements are industry-focused in their design and include titles such as:

    • Modern Cryptography
    • Animation and Planning in Games
    • Introduction to Compilers
    • Wireless and Sensor Networks
    • Analysis of Numerical Algorithms

    Notables

    Learners in this program receive superior access to academic support from peer research groups, academic advisors, departmental program administrators, and other support staff around campus. All courses are offered asynchronously through the UNITE Distributed Learning office, but some synchronous experiences, like exams and quizzes, might be required. However, these can be completed locally, and students are supported by the Student and Faculty Engagement office as they seek local testing sites.

  9. East Carolina University
    Location

    Greenville, NC

    Tuition

    $17898

    Overview

    East Carolina University is located in Greenville, NC. This public university has a total undergraduate enrollment of 23,265 students and is just 80 miles from the state capital of Raleigh. The school offers over 100 undergraduate degrees and 75 master's programs, many of which are highly ranked on a national scale. The Department of Computer Science at East Carolina University offers a real-world Master of Science in Computer Science that is delivered entirely online.

    Program Features

    This far-reaching program helps learners realize how they can serve humanity by solving real-world problems through the creative use and development of computer software and hardware. The program offers a well-rounded training that prepares learners for professional programs and careers as well as for further doctoral study. The curriculum covers the theory and practice of software design and hardware construction as well as programming languages like C# and various operating systems. Required areas of study include:

    • Computing Systems and Methods
    • Design Methodology Algorithms and Tools
    • Methods for Testing Concepts
    • Methods of Analysis and Verification
    • Knowledge Representation and Implementation

    Notables

    This rapidly growing degree is not only high-quality, but it's also affordable. Significant financial aid is available to qualifying learners. Students will complete between 30 and 38 credit hours of study, depending on their choice to pursue either a traditional or a nontraditional pathway. The traditional pathway allows students to choose between a thesis, project, or coursework only track. The nontraditional pathway offers the same choices but also includes bridge coursework requirements in topics like Programming and Data Structures Foundations. The nontraditional pathway is designed for students who have an undergraduate degree in disciplines outside of computer science or software engineering.

  10. University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth
    Location

    North Dartmouth, MA

    Tuition

    $27834

    Overview

    Located in Dartmouth, MA, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth was founded in 1895. This public university has a relatively large undergraduate enrollment of nearly 7,000 students and specializes in offering high-quality master's and bachelor's degree programs. 35 master's programs are available, many of which can also be found online. The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth offers a fully online Master of Science in Computer Science via UMassOnline, the school's award-winning distance learning platform.

    Program Features

    The Master of Science in Computer Science at Umass Dartmouth prepares learners with the training required to succeed in core topics like software, theory, and systems, building upon each student's area of expertise as it does so. Each candidate will be able to select an area of specialization and to complete a variety of offered electives that focus on software instead of computer systems. The curriculum is rooted in research and shaped by the professional expertise of the faculty. Identical to the program offered on-campus, the degree includes classes such as:

    • Algorithms and Complexity
    • Computer Networks
    • Special Topics in Computer Information Systems

    Notables

    This online degree is taught by full-time experienced faculty members who are the same individuals that teach on campus. Graduates leave the University of Massachusetts with the skills necessary to succeed in the computing industry, research, and government. Tuition is highly affordable, starting at just $553 per credit hour. Significant financial aid is also available, most of which is in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, and even work experiences. Students only need to take six credits each semester to be eligible for financial aid.

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