The Best Master’s in Computer Science Programs in the US

If you have a passion for technology, consider a career in the field of computer science. One of the best ways to prepare yourself for a career in a computer science-related field is to earn a degree in computer science. 

Although graduate studies are not a requirement for all occupations in this area, getting a formal education in this area will deepen your understanding of computer science, make you more marketable to future potential employers, and increase your earning potential.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2031, employment in the field of computer science is expected to grow by 15% — more than twice the national average for all careers at just 7.7%. 

In addition, the average yearly income for people in these careers is $97,430 as of May 2021, compared to the median for all occupations at only $45,760.

To set yourself up for a long, successful career in the computer science industry requires earning a degree in the subject and, for many, a degree from an excellent school. With so many options out there, it can be challenging to find the right MSCS degree program for you. 

Thus, we have compiled information about some of the best schools for getting a masters in computer science in the country. 

Here are 10 of the best master’s in computer science programs in the US. These schools were selected because of their top ranking in major publications, such as, Niche, and US News and World Report. 

University of California – Los Angeles Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science (Los Angeles, CA)

UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
UCLA Samueli – Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

Consistently coming in the top 25 in US News and World Report’s annual list of best colleges in the country, the University of California – Los Angeles is an excellent choice of school for graduate computer science studies. 

The college is conveniently located in Los Angeles, CA, offering students proximity to the technology offerings of Southern California.

According to, the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science is home to the #1 master’s program for computer science in the country. The school’s program offerings in the areas of cryptography, artificial intelligence, and software engineering are ranked first, third, and sixth nationwide, respectively.

The department of computer science has offered the two-year MSCS for more than 50 years, making it one of the oldest programs of its kind in the country. 

Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science (Pittsburgh, PA)

Carnegie Mellon University
Dllu, Gates-Hillman Complex at Carnegie Mellon University 3, CC BY-SA 4.0

Established in 1900, Carnegie Mellon University is a premier private research university that is home to an excellent computer science master’s program. 

Offered through the CMU School of Computer Science, the MS program in computer science is open to all students who have completed a bachelor’s degree. 

The school also offers an MS in computational biology. This interdisciplinary degree program is intended for students who are seeking careers in the medical industry, as well as working professionals who are looking to add a new dimension to their existing expertise. 

Another option for computer science graduate students at the school is the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition Training Program, offered through a partnership between CMU and the University of Pittsburgh. Students in this program receive extensive training in both computer science and other disciplines relating to brain function.

University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX)

The #1 public institution for higher education in the state of Texas according to US News, the University of Texas at Austin offers one of the best masters programs for computer science in the country. The UT Austin department of computer science offers two different MSCS program options

The first of these is the on-campus master of science in computer science, intended for students who are interested in pursuing research-intensive careers. 

The computer science masters program offered at the school is the online MSCS, a professional degree track targeted toward working professionals who are looking to gain a deeper understanding of the field. 

Both programs consist of 30 credit hours of coursework and can be completed with or without a capstone thesis. One benefit of the online option is that the school is able to admit far more students in this program format, whereas the in-person MSCS is more selective. 

Stanford University (Stanford, CA)

Stanford Gates Computer Science Building
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

Stanford University, an internationally-acclaimed private research university, offers a particularly rigorous computer science master’s program. 

While some MSCS programs consist of as little as 30 credit hours completed over the course of one year, the Stanford School of Engineering’s MSCS program consists of 45 credits worth of academic coursework.

In addition to the traditional in-person program, there is also an online MSCS option.

In order to fulfill the MSCS program requirements, Stanford requires that students complete five foundational courses. These include algorithms, probability, computer organization and systems, and more. 

In addition to completing core curriculum requirements, students have the opportunity to personalize their degree experience by choosing from among nine different areas of specialization

Artificial intelligence, software theory, human-computer interaction, and real-world computing are just a few of these.

Cornell University Bowers College of Computing and Information Science (Ithaca, NY)

Cornell University Bill and Melinda Gates Hall
Kenneth C. Zirkel, Bill & Melinda Gates Hall at Cornell University, CC BY-SA 4.0

One of the eight elite private colleges known collectively as the Ivy League, Cornell University is a federal land-grant university that emphasizes research, especially with regard to improving the public good.  

The Cornell Bowers College of Computing and Information Science offers an MS in computer science. The highly selective and equally rigorous CS MS is a four semester-long program, entailing no less than 34 credit hours of coursework. 

Students in Cornell’s CS MS program have the opportunity to serve as teaching assistants for undergraduate courses in computer science, compensated for this work with a scholarship covering 100% of tuition, as well as a stipend to cover the cost of living. 

To satisfy program requirements, all CS MS students are required to complete a minor in a different academic discipline, in addition to a written thesis and oral presentation. 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Public domain photo by Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

An institution that has played a crucial role in the evolution of modern technology and science as we know it, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is one of the most highly-esteemed universities in the world. 

In fact, MIT has been ranked #1 in the world in the QS World University Rankings for 11 consecutive years, also placing first worldwide in 12 different subject areas. One of these is computer science.

A part of the Schwarzman College of Computing, MIT’s Department of Engineering and Computer Science is the largest academic department at the school. MIT Schwarzman offers several different graduate degree programs in the area of computer science. 

One of these is the SM in computational science and engineering, an interdisciplinary master’s program. The curriculum provides students with fundamental skills and knowledge that serve a wide range of different careers. 

Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)

An Ivy League university that has been at the forefront of higher education ever since it was established in 1636, Harvard University has a world-class computer science department. 

The John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences offers a robust array of graduate degrees, one of which is the MS in computer science

Students in this program receive rigorous academic instruction not just in the fundamentals of computation, but also the ways in which computation functions and interacts with the world.

In addition, Harvard’s computer science MS students receive numerous opportunities to take part in interdisciplinary research projects at the school’s many institutes and centers. These include the Institute for Applied Computational Science, the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, the Data Science Initiative, and more.

University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)

Ranking among the top five public research universities in the United States, the University of Florida has multiple graduate degree programs that are great for students interested in computer science. 

At the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, there is the MS in computer science. 

The Department of Computer and Information Science and Engineering — a part of the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering — offers four unique computer science-related graduate degree programs. Students interested in earning a master’s in computer engineering can choose either an ME or an MS, depending on their professional aspirations.

The Wertheim College also has its own MS in computer science program. 

The final program option at the school is the MS in digital arts and sciences, a computer science-focused degree intended for students who are interested in studying the technical side of computer simulation and graphics.

Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA)

The Georgia Institute of Technology is a public research university that offers a wide array of degree programs in the technology field, including an MS in computer science

Open to students who have completed a computer science bachelors, the MSCS is intended to prepare students for successful careers in the technology industry. MSCS students at Georgia Tech choose one of three different formats for their degree program. 

One of these is the course option. Students who select this track are required to complete 30 credit hours of coursework, 24 of which must be in computer science-related subjects. 

Second, there is the project option. This plan of study also includes 30 credit hours, with 21 hours being academic coursework, while the remaining nine hours consist of a capstone project.

Last is the thesis option, which entails 18 credits of coursework, the other 12 hours being dedicated to a thesis.

Pennsylvania State University (State College, PA)

Established in 1855, the Pennsylvania State University is a large, public land-grant university with a total enrollment of over 98,000 students. According to Niche, Penn State ranks fourth among all universities in the United States in terms of best program offerings relating to information technology. 

The school’s College of Engineering offers two different master’s programs in computer science. The first is the MS in computer science and engineering, which consists of 30 credit hours.  

For students who are interested in pursuing careers in the field of engineering, there is the ME in computer science and engineering. The intensive ME program is much shorter than the MS option, with a duration of just one year. 

Penn State also offers online graduate program options in both computer science and engineering.

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