Best Colleges with Computer Science Degrees in the U.S. 2017

Best Universities Badge
“It’s a world without rules or controls, borders or boundaries…a world where anything is possible.” – The Matrix

Be like Sherlock.

No, I’m not trying to pitch you on a criminal justice degree, which is, I’m sure, very interesting.. I’m talking about computer science. One of your main tasks - next to coding - will be problem solving. Debugging. You will go on a quest to find the broken piece, the typo, the bad boy who messes with your software, messes with your head, messes with YOU. I’m talking about the science of problem solving. As a computer science major, you must be adept at modeling and analyzing problems. You will have to design solutions and verify that they are correct. You’ll be hunched over your keyboard until the early morning hours. You’ll need a skillset consisting of precision, patience, creativity, and careful reasoning. Ran Libeskind-Hadas, the computer science department chair at Harvey Mudd College noticed an increasing “enthusiasm to contribute something meaningful to society and do ‘cool’ things” among his students. Yep, being a geek is cool in today’s world.

Computer science is a discipline that spans theory and practice. You might need to think outside the box, in abstract terms as well as in concrete terms. Whether you already have a fascination with computers and programming or you’re simply toying with the idea of learning code, computer science could be the degree path for you. Computer technologies are becoming an integral part of all industries. There are growing opportunities for those with computer science degrees to contribute in the success and daily operations of nearly every industry. Earning a computer science degree will allow you to join the ranks of this fast-developing industry and may provide you access to the growing demand of computer science. A degree in computer science can be obtained from many traditional colleges and schools as well as the possibility of online degrees and courses.

The Best Computer Science Colleges of 2017

While having a computer science degree from a prestigious school may help you get into a few more entry-level positions, the fact is that there are many amazing programs offered at many different schools across the nation. Finding the right choice to fit your needs, whether it be cost, time, or location, is the most important part of the process. Earning a computer science degree will help you get your foot in the door. Let’s take a look at some of the best computer science schools in the nation.

Rank School Name Location Description
1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA

You want to change the world? With a cutting-edge program and world-class faculty, this innovative school is what innovative minds might just be looking for. The Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department (EECS) at MIT prides itself on offering “outstanding education” and conducting “innovative and award-winning research.” Although its outside image might give the impression of being a highly competitive and cut throat program, alumni reviews state that the opposite is the case. Knowledge is openly shared, and helping hands are never far away. Its holistic approach is one of the reasons, why the computer science department at MIT consistently ranks #1 in reputable college rankings and is recognized widely for its programs. To prep students for the working world, MIT offers an Industrial Connection Program (ICP) with the purpose of recruiting EECS students. Students attending those events will “learn about industry expectations and corporate cultures and gain a better understanding of how their own skills fit summer internship and full time job opportunities.”

2 Stanford University Stanford, CA

Stanford University is another big name institution that provides students the opportunity to make an impact in the world. The School of Engineering is home to nine departments, more than 240 faculty, and more than 4,000 students. They believe that “engineering should solve human problems – not just technical ones.” Whether it’s climate change, overpopulation, or network security, Stanford takes on the toughest challenges of the 21st century and asks, “What can we do about it?” Stanford answers this question with a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary research and a general multidisciplinary approach. The school also offers a Computer Forum, offering industries the option to learn about the professional abilities and interests of Stanford students through its active recruiting program. More than 60 companies located in Silicon Valley, the rest of the U.S., Europe, and Asia are members of this cooperative venture.

3 Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA

Carnegie Mellon will “bring out the best in you.” At least, that’s what their website states. But “mutual trust and support among all faculty, staff and students” might be just the right way to actually fulfill this statement. Especially outstanding is the department’s diversity - around 33 percent of students receiving an undergraduate degree in computer science are women, which is almost twice as much as the national average! No wonder Carnegie Mellon University's Carol Frieze is the recipient of the 2017 A. Nico Habermann Award, which recognizes her sustained and successful efforts to promote diversity in computer science. Post-graduation survey results from 2015 state that 85% of their graduates with a bachelor’s degree are now employed, while 10% are continuing their education.

4 Harvard University Cambridge, MA

The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) offers nearly 410,000 square feet of interconnected labs, classrooms, clusters, and offices for groundbreaking research. And every square foot is part of a dynamic hub that enables new discoveries and innovations. Broad-minded learning is key. There are no traditional academic departments, and degrees are not awarded by specific research areas. Courses and programs are designed to “cater to students at multiple levels and fully incorporate laboratory research.” Clubs, societies, and student groups are available in increasing numbers, dedicated to promote interest in computing and information technologies. They also give you the opportunity to do everything from building robotic soccer bots to imagining and launching start-ups. SEAS also interacts with industry and does so in a number of ways. A job database, career fairs, company presentations, and on-campus interviews are just a few possibilities to get a jump start on your future.

5 California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA

It’s the most popular major at Caltech and not without reason. The Computing + Mathematical Sciences (CMS) Department is home to everyone who shares a passion for science and engineering and has the drive to investigate. Nestled in the heart of Pasadena (nearly 300 sunny days a year!), CMS “involves its students in world-class research – even at the undergraduate level.” These research availabilities make Caltech a very special place to be! It’s a small community, and the collaborative atmosphere on campus will have an enormous impact on your learning and research experience. The CMS Partners Program gives you more than just a sneak peek into the working world and lets you engage with companies through course projects, collaborative research, and mentorship. One of the biggest events is TechFest in October, focusing on providing startups and companies with a chance to interact with undergraduate and graduate students at CMS.

6 Rice University Houston, TX

Rice's computer science department is a hidden gem. Their website itself describes it as a “lively and invigorating place”, where rigorous graduate and undergraduate programs are balancing theory and practice. Meanwhile, education at Rice can be identified as a “contact sport”, giving students and faculty myriad possibilities to interact. And even if you didn’t start programming at the age of nine, there’s no reason to throw the towel in right away. Rice welcomes students with little to no experience at all, because programming is just “one part of computer science but the discipline is really about using computers and computation as tools to solve problems and to build tools for others to use.”

7 Brown University Providence, RI

Less than an hour from Boston, three hours from New York City, and within one hour’s drive of one of the best beaches in the country is where you’ll find Providence, Rhode Island – and subsequently, Brown University. It was voted as the third most charming city in America. And Brown prides itself on being “a friendly and welcoming place.” That’s not everything though. Their computer science department combines technical strength with a great diversity of backgrounds and perspectives, and its interdisciplinary options enrich the educational experience of graduate as well as undergraduate students. Fresh and exciting content is key! The university has a long history of matching students with “industry leaders, startup companies, and everything in between.” At the annual Tech Fair in fall, students in the tech sector will have the chance to get together with employers looking to hire.

8 University of California-Berkeley Berkeley, CA
UC Berkeley

As one of the most distinguished institutions of higher learning, University of California Berkeley, or better known as Cal, sure has something to offer. An excellent faculty, educational opportunities, and close proximity to the California high-tech economy definitely have to be factored in. As the website states: “This close proximity to the latest and coolest technologies enlivens our curriculum, provides many research and summer job opportunities for our students, and makes this a very exciting place to study electrical engineering and computer sciences.” With two different undergraduate degrees from two different colleges (the Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences offered by the College of Engineering and the Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science from the College of Letters & Science) UC Berkeley stands out among other institutions. And if you want to further your education even more, EECS’s graduate programs are also among the best in the nation.

9 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA

USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering boasts current enrollment of 2,700 undergraduate and 5,600 graduate students. The University of Southern California takes pride in being “innovative, elite and internationally recognized for creating new models of education, research, and commercialization that are firmly rooted in real world needs.” Whether you're a first year, senior, or graduate student - it's never too late to start! A variety of courses, designed to introduce you to computer science and programming, make it obvious that we live in an exciting time to study this major. Choose from four bachelor’s degree programs or a variety of master’s degree programs to support students in exploring all the challenges this disciplines has to offer. Stay up to date! By subscribing to the CS Job Announcements mailing list, you will receive information regarding on-campus and off-campus jobs and internships in your field.

10 Harvey Mudd College Claremont, CA
harvey-mudd

“Our majors should possess strong oral and written communication skills, leadership skills, and an understanding of the impact of their work on society.” This is #3 of eleven goals that the department of computer science states on their website to ensure a learning environment that is “welcoming and supporting” (#9). A “reputation for excellence within and beyond the college” (#10) and “effective teachers and mentors” (#6) are among the other desired achievements. Faculty and students try to accomplish these through three undergraduate major programs in cooperation with the Departments of Biology and Mathematics: the computer science major, the joint major in computer science and mathematics, and the mathematical and computational biology major. In addition, students can participate in the innovative Clinic Program, which provides students with a capstone experience, taking an idea from "concept-to-product". Fancy a semester abroad? The CS department encourages all students to consider a study abroad experience to better understand other cultures, develop language skills, and study in a new environment. Off you go!

List of Computer Science Schools in the U.S.

Filter:
Degree Levels
  • Associate's
  • Bachelor's
  • Certificates
  • Doctoral
  • Master's
Program Length
  • Less than 2 years (below associate)
  • At least 2 but less than 4 years
  • Four or more years
Control Type
  • Private for-profit
  • Private not-for-profit
  • Public
School Logo School Name Average tuition Student Teacher Ratio Enrolled Students
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA
5/5
8 : 1 11,331
Stanford University Stanford University Stanford, CA
5/5
6 : 1 16,980
Carnegie Mellon University Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA
5/5
11 : 1 12,963
Harvard University Harvard University Cambridge, MA
5/5
14 : 1 29,652
California Institute of Technology California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA
5/5
7 : 1 2,255
Rice University Rice University Houston, TX
5/5
10 : 1 6,719
Brown University Brown University Providence, RI
5/5
12 : 1 9,458
University of California-Berkeley University of California-Berkeley Berkeley, CA
3/5
21 : 1 38,189
University of Southern California University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
5/5
16 : 1 43,401
Harvey Mudd College Harvey Mudd College Claremont, CA
5/5
8 : 1 825
Columbia University in the City of New York Columbia University in the City of New York New York, NY
5/5
7 : 1 28,086
University of Central Missouri University of Central Missouri Warrensburg, MO
2/5
25 : 1 14,395
Cornell University Cornell University Ithaca, NY
5/5
12 : 1 21,904
University of California-San Diego University of California-San Diego La Jolla, CA
3/5
15 : 1 32,906
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL
4/5
20 : 1 45,842
North Carolina State University at Raleigh North Carolina State University at Raleigh Raleigh, NC
3/5
19 : 1 34,015
University of California-Los Angeles University of California-Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA
3/5
12 : 1 41,908
University of Illinois at Springfield University of Illinois at Springfield Springfield, IL
3/5
22 : 1 5,402
Arizona State University-Tempe Arizona State University-Tempe Tempe, AZ
3/5
27 : 1 51,984
University of California-Irvine University of California-Irvine Irvine, CA
3/5
17 : 1 30,836
Duke University Duke University Durham, NC
5/5
5 : 1 15,984
Stevens Institute of Technology Stevens Institute of Technology Hoboken, NJ
5/5
20 : 1 6,359
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN
3/5
14 : 1 50,678
University of Chicago University of Chicago Chicago, IL
5/5
7 : 1 15,391
University of Pennsylvania University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA
5/5
12 : 1 24,876

Find Local Colleges Offering Computer Science Degrees

Getting a Computer Science Degree Online

A seemingly perfect fit - getting your computer science degree online makes a lot of sense. After all, you are on the computer already, right? Since computer science remains one of the fastest-growing fields in the U.S., the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that job openings for software developers and related careers will grow by more than twenty percent within the next five years. That means future college students will have more degree options available from top schools – especially online. The need to balance work, life, and education is continuously growing and makes online learning a priority for many students. Online and hybrid options are being added to course collections by institutions with strong programs in the computer science department. The founder of code.org, Hadi Partovi, believes in the options of learning to code online: “The good news is that the absolute best university courses in computer science are also available to study online via platforms such as EdX, or Coursera. Though these courses often aren’t accredited and will not give you any college credit, they can be a good introduction before your first day of formal class.

Schools offering online Computer Science degrees

Online Computer Science degrees are available at a variety of different schools with as many as 384 degrees earned at the most popular school. Read more below about all schools that have offered online Computer Science degrees. If you are interested learning more about getting a degree online, check out our page dedicated to online degree information.

Certificate
Associate's
Bachelor's
Master's
Doctoral
School Name Certificate Associate's Bachelor's Master's Doctoral
University of Illinois at Springfield 0 0 97 287 0
Oregon State University 0 0 238 0 0
Columbia University in the City of New York 0 0 0 228 0
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities 0 0 199 64 0
Stanford University 0 0 0 187 0
How many schools offer online Computer Science degrees?
  • 11 Certificates
  • 30 Associate's
  • 26 Bachelor's
  • 32 Master's

What can you do with a Computer Science Degree?

Computer Science Careers Expected Job Growth (2014-2024)
Year Computer programmers Employment Software developers, applications Employment Software developers, systems software Employment Web developers Employment Database administrators Employment
2015 325,960 731,930 400,740 152,450 121,340
2016 323,320 745,460 405,880 156,400 122,680
2017 320,680 758,990 411,020 160,350 124,020
2018 318,040 772,520 416,160 164,300 125,360
2019 315,400 786,050 421,300 168,250 126,700
2020 312,760 799,580 426,440 172,200 128,040
2021 310,120 813,110 431,580 176,150 129,380
2022 307,480 826,640 436,720 180,100 130,720
2023 304,840 840,170 441,860 184,050 132,060
2024 302,200 853,700 447,000 188,000 133,400

Computer Science Major Career Outlook

Once the hard earned degree is achieved, it comes time to reap the rewards of an industry that is continually seeking more and more of those with degrees in computer science. And well-rounded students have an advantage in an increasing job market. Caroline King, the Chief Policy Officer for Washington STEM, stresses the importance of an education in this field and highlights how the average computer science salary has increased: “Computer science jobs are growing and pay well. Students who know how to code will have access to the best paying and fastest growing jobs in the nation.” Computer science students are in demand, and they know it!

Software Developer

Software developer. A big title with a large scope of responsibilities. You will most likely create software programs that allow users to perform specific tasks on various devices. Development, testing, and maintenance of software are a part of your tasks. You’ll need the technical creativity to solve problems in unique and out-of-the-box ways. It goes without saying that you will need to be fluent in multiple computer languages used to write the code for those programs.

Web Developer

As a web developer, you’ll assess the needs of users for information-based resources or web applications and build the technical structure for websites. You’ll make sure web pages are accessible and meet the user’s needs. In doing so, you’ll need to know everything about existing tools and platforms, such as LAMP stack, MEAN stack, and .NET Framework. Developing a fast and clear user (and maybe even robot) experience is key. Your daily duties might include optimizing and coding web sites, tweaking on-page user interfaces for visual and functional purposes, and identifying and solving problems you uncovered through testing.

Game Programmer

Games have surpassed movies in income production. As a video game programmer, you’ll create the code that makes a video game run. Many programmers in that field begin their career in a junior programming position learning about specific fields of video game programming so you can decide what to specialize in. Whether it’s audio, physics, artificial intelligence, or graphics, each part of a video game requires a very detailed set of coding knowledge.

Database Administrator

Humans use data every day. As a database administrator, it is your job to analyze und evaluate the data needs of users. You will need to develop or improve existing data resources so critical information can be stored and retrieved. Here, your problem solving skills will be in high demand! Will you be able to correct malfunctions in databases and modify systems when user needs evolve? Your daily duties may include testing and administering computer databases, coordinating changes, correcting errors or anomalies, and applying security measures to safeguard critical information.

Computer Science Career Legend
Computer programmers
Software developers, applications
Software developers, systems software
Web developers
Database administrators
About this Data

*Sources for career information and data include the National Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data may vary depending on year.

Average annual salary for Computer Science careers

  • $84,750 2010
  • $90,038 2015

What Does a Computer Science Major Study?

If you haven't written a single line of code yet, don’t sweat it! Getting your degree in computer science, be it an associate or bachelor’s degree, is still a possibility as it has no other degree requirements. However, be aware that while computer science may not require any prior knowledge, the expectations and skills needed to complete your degree include logic, math, and plenty of patience and practice. Some of the course requirements not specific to computer science itself may include math (calculus, statistics, discrete logic, linear algebra) and physics. While these aren't always a part of programming, logic and basic math continue to remain a foundational skill in computer science. Beyond the technical level of understanding, one must also take on the task of learning one or many different programming languages (such as C++, Java, and C#), which will involve memorizing, understanding, and debugging. Every programmer faces logic or syntax errors. Don't let that discourage you if you are a beginner. Even for those who enjoy logic and solving problems, practice and learning will always be a continual part of the field of computer science.

Those interested in computer science have also found interest in other areas of the computer science field:

  • Computer Engineering 
  • Software Engineering 
  • Electrical Engineering 
  • Math, Physics 
  • Information Technology (you might not be interested so much in the engineering process but rather in the connections and hooking it all together) 
  • Graphic Design (be the extension and representation of the engineer and use computing to bring amazing works of art to life)

What degrees do people get in Computer Science?

Degree Level Program Length Colleges Graduates
Associate's 2-year Length 218 Colleges 1,422 Graduates
Bachelor's 4-year Length 672 Colleges 16,519 Graduates
Certificates < 1 year Length 67 Colleges 266 Graduates
Doctoral 1-2 year Length 105 Colleges 974 Graduates
Master's 1+ years Length 240 Colleges 9,157 Graduates

Computer Science Degree Overview

The most popular computer science degree is the bachelor’s degree. However, getting an online associate degree in computer science is often the first educational step for someone who’s exploring their options and a possible future in this field. The two-year degree helps cultivate background knowledge and skills required for entry-level careers or a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Online computer science degree programs in particular offer students more flexibility, which is key for those trying to balance life and work outside of their studies. As an associate degree student, you’ll complete general education requirements. Core courses typically include computer programming, data organization, discrete mathematics, and algorithms.

Study requirements for bachelor’s degree programs are similar to those for associate degree programs. Additional courses might include advanced programming, data structures, and computer architecture. The Bachelor of Science (BS) in computer science prepares students for rewarding, cutting-edge careers in fields such as software engineering, system administration and management, research, and development. Computer science background skills, which come hand in hand with analytical skills, are also used to prepare for careers in different fields, like medicine, law, or education. After completing your bachelor’s degree in computer science, you’ll be able to demonstrate advanced knowledge of programming language such as C++ and Java, database management and computer networks, web languages, operating systems, a computer’s architecture, and software engineering.

Post-graduates might want to specialize in a particular course from their graduate level courses. The master’s degree in computer sciences attracts numerous students each year and is designed to equip students with in depth knowledge. With a master’s degree in computer science, you’ll not only have a broad grounding of your discipline, but you’ll also have studied a particular area in detail and gained in depth knowledge in a specialty of your choice.

If you’re aiming for a career in research or education, the Ph.D. program in computer science prepares students for leadership positions in industrial careers or research facilities, as well as in teaching. As a doctoral student, you’ve mastered the discipline of computer science in its broadest sense, showed your knowledge of a specialized area, and are now teaching students while working on original and independent research topics.

Average cost of college for a Computer Science degree

Average Tuition and Fees for a 2 year Degree

Average Tuition and Fees School Control Student Residence
$2,931 Public In-State
$15,746 Private In-State
$6,738 Public Out-of-State
$15,746 Private Out-of-State

Average Tuition and Fees for a 4 year Degree

Average Tuition and Fees School Control Student Residence
$8,586 Public In-State
$29,303 Private In-State
$20,556 Public Out-of-State
$29,328 Private Out-of-State

Questions About Computer Science

WHO ARE SOME NOTABLE COMPUTER SCIENCE DEGREE HOLDERS?

Larry Page: As son of the Michigan State University computer science professor Dr. Carl Victor Page, Larry’s love for computers began at the early age of six. To follow his passion, Page studied at the University of Michigan to receive his Bachelor of Science in computer engineering. He also holds a master’s degree in computer science from Stanford University. During his search for a dissertation theme, he focused on the problem of finding out which web pages link to a given page. Sergey Brin, a fellow Stanford PhD student, soon joined Page's research project. In 1996, the first version of Google was made available to Internet users. Two years later, Brin and Page incorporated Google, Inc.

Reed Hastings: After teaching high school math in Swaziland for two years as part of his work in the Peace Corps, Reed Hastings returned to Stanford University to graduate with a master’s degree in computer science. The first part of his career consisted mostly of problem solving. After inventing a tool for a debugging software and founding a company that produces products to troubleshoot software, Hastings finally co-founded Netflix in 1997 to offer flat rate movie rental-by-mail to customers in the US. And the rest is history.

Marissa Mayer: With the intention of becoming a pediatric neurosurgeon, Marissa Mayer took pre-med classes at Stanford University. She later switched her major to symbolic systems, a major combining philosophy, cognitive psychology, linguistics, and computer science. Mayer graduated with a Bachelor of Science in symbolic systems in 1998 and an M.S. in computer science in 1999 for which she specialized in artificial intelligence. That same year, she joined Google as its 20th employee and was the company’s very first female engineer. Thirteen years later, she was appointed president and CEO of Yahoo!

IS A COMPUTER SCIENCE DEGREE WORTH IT?

Being self-taught requires patience and motivation. It can be done, but having access to accredited resources as well as knowledgeable and skilled professionals is a more comprehensive way to learn about computer science. Ask questions, and let professors guide you through a curriculum developed to adapt you to the working world of the industry. Plus, learning to code alone might be frustrating and lonely!

What to expect?

First of all, you will feel a little bit like God. You will be able to build stuff that stays around forever, and many people will have access to it. Talk to the computer in its own language and get it to follow YOUR instructions! Another advantage: your problem solving skills will increase outside of the computer as well. You may look at everyday situations from a different angle and try to solve problems from a computer science perspective. Look for the symptoms, understand the system, and figure out what causes the issue. You will have to mess around with code and really dive in. In return to maybe breaking a working piece, you might learn something new every day.

Article Sources

  • http://www.eecs.mit.edu
  • https://www-cs.stanford.edu/
  • http://www.csd.cs.cmu.edu/
  • https://www.seas.harvard.edu/computer-science
  • http://cms.caltech.edu/
  • http://www.cs.rice.edu/
  • http://cs.brown.edu/
  • https://cs.berkeley.edu/
  • https://viterbischool.usc.edu/
  • https://www.cs.hmc.edu/
  • http://www.geekwire.com/2014/analysis-examining-computer-science-education-explosion/
You've Started Your List