The tech industry offers an excellent job outlook for graduates with a computer science degree. However, women remain significantly underserved by the field.

Stories and studies of bias against women in STEM might discourage women from attaining computer science degrees. Even though women outpace men in completing bachelor's degrees, they earn computer science degrees in much smaller numbers.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that in 2020, women received 58% of all bachelor's degrees in the U.S., while men earned 42%. Yet, only 20.7% of computer science bachelor's degrees went to female students in 2019.

If you want to be part of closing the gender gap in STEM, learn below about the top computer science colleges for women.

What to Look For in a Top Computer Science School for Women

The top computer science colleges for women may have several things in common. Look for these qualities and characteristics in your search.

  • Women-Driven Organizations, Clubs, and Activities: The best colleges for women computer science majors often host various women-driven clubs, organizations, and activities. This may include volunteering opportunities and student chapters of women's tech groups.
  • Gender Balance in the Computer Science Major: Schools that offer the most supportive environment for women computer science students tend to have a relatively good gender balance in the computer science major. The top computer science colleges for women in our list below all award at least 45% of conferred degrees in computer and information sciences and support services to women. While 45% is below gender parity, these schools serve women in computer science at a better rate than the national average.
  • Gender Balance in Computer Science Faculty: The top computer science colleges for women prioritize gender balance in computer science faculty. To make our list below, we considered faculty gender balance when choosing the best schools for women computer science majors.
  • Robust Computer Science Department: The best computer science schools for women and people of all genders have a robust computer science department. Signs of quality include accreditation, high student retention, and presence of highly regarded faculty members.

Methodology

To determine the top computer science schools for women, we began by evaluating institution-specific NCES data on field of study and student demographics.

This ranking looks at many factors to determine the best computer science colleges for women's success. This list includes co-ed institutions.

To select schools with gender-balanced enrollment, we excluded institutions where women received fewer than 45% of conferred degrees in computer and information sciences and support services. We excluded schools with fewer than 15 total computer science graduates.

Using an additional ranking methodology, we identified the five best schools satisfying all previous criteria. Our reliable, data-driven methodology takes into account academic quality, program availability, affordability, and reputation.

The final ranking considered faculty gender balance in the top five schools. That some schools made the cut despite their lack of faculty gender parity illustrates that higher education has room to grow when serving and including women in STEM.

Top 5 Computer Science Schools for Women

Explore the top five computer science schools for women. Beyond the above methodology, these blurbs explain what makes the college unique, notable student organizations and activities in the computer science department, and research opportunities.

1. Mount Holyoke College

Mount Holyoke College, a private women's college in South Hadley, Massachusetts, ranks among the best computer science colleges for women. Mount Holyoke is the first of the Seven Sisters, the women's college equivalent of the previously all-male Ivy Leagues.

The school's computer science department offers a computer science major and minor. Students can also earn a dual degree in computer science and engineering. Mount Holyoke is part of the Five College Consortium, which allows students to cross-register for courses across multiple schools, potentially giving learners access to more computer science courses.

Computer science majors can join the Computer Science Society of Mount Holyoke College, a chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery's Council on Women in Computing. Research opportunities in the computer science department include a senior thesis in computer science, independent studies, and an undergraduate research project.

  • Estimated Tuition and Fees, 2021-22: $56,518
  • Acceptance Rate: 52%
  • Total Enrollment, 2020: 2,040
  • Percent of Women Enrolled, 2020: 100%
  • Percent of Computer Science Degrees Awarded to Women, 2019-20: 100%
  • Percent of Women Faculty in Computer Science Department: 77%

Learn more about Mount Holyoke Department of Computer Science

2. Harvey Mudd College

One of the top computer science colleges for women, Harvey Mudd College, a private school in Claremont, California, focuses on STEM disciplines. In 2020, women received 53.2% of all computer science degrees awarded by the school.

One of the five Claremont colleges, Harvey Mudd offers a computer science major, a joint major in computer science and mathematics, and a mathematical and computational biology major. The computer science program's capstone clinic program gives students experience with a year-long software design project.

Harvey Mudd increased the number of women majoring in computer science from 10% of students to over 50% in less than ten years by redesigning intro classes to engage more students. The computer science department did such a good job of eliminating the gender gap in computer science majors that is a featured case study at the Harvard Kennedy School.

  • Estimated Tuition and Fees, 2021-22: $60,703
  • Acceptance Rate, 2020: 18%
  • Total Enrollment, 2020: 854
  • Percent of Women Enrolled, 2020: 49%
  • Percent of Computer Science Degrees Awarded to Women, 2019-20: 53.2%
  • Percent of Women Faculty in Computer Science Department: 52%

Learn more about Harvey Mudd College Department of Computer Science

3. Colgate University

Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, was one of the first schools to create an independent computer science program. A private university, Colgate commits to ensuring that 100% of every student's demonstrated need is met via financial aid.

Colgate's computer science department offers majors in computer science or computer science and mathematics. Students can also minor in computer science. Exemplifying the school's desire to shrink the gender gap in tech, women made up 51.2% of computer science graduates from Colgate in 2019-20.

Colgate's Women in Computer Science club includes student mentoring, advising, and discussion on computer science issues. The computer science department offers tutoring and resources that support travel to conferences. Students can participate in faculty research and take advantage of the department's research lounge and machine room.

  • Estimated Tuition and Fees, 2021-22: $61,966
  • Acceptance Rate: 27%
  • Total Enrollment, 2020: 3,054
  • Percent of Women Enrolled, 2020: 55%
  • Percent of Computer Science Degrees Awarded to Women, 2019-20: 51.2%
  • Percent of Women Faculty in Computer Science Department: 21%

Learn more about Colgate Department of Computer Science

4. California Institute of Technology

A great option for women interested in studying computer science, the California Institute of Technology is a private research institution in Pasadena, California, that focuses on science and engineering. Women comprised 49.3% of Caltech's computer science graduates in 2019-20.

Caltech's Computing + Mathematical Sciences Department offers undergraduate majors in computer science, applied and computational mathematics, and information and data sciences. Graduate programs include Ph.D.s in computer science, applied and computational mathematics, computing and mathematical sciences, and control and dynamic systems.

The school offers various research opportunities for computer science majors in areas like computational biology, robotics and autonomous control, and algorithmic economics. The department hosts an annual tech fest where students can network with start-ups and other companies.

  • Estimated Tuition and Fees, 2021-22: $58,680
  • Acceptance Rate, 2020: 7%
  • Total Enrollment, 2020: 2,240
  • Percent of Women Enrolled, 2020: 46%
  • Percent of Computer Science Degrees Awarded to Women, 2019-20: 49.3%
  • Percent of Women Faculty in Computer Science Department: 19%

Learn more about Caltech Computing + Mathematical Sciences Department

5. Carnegie Mellon University

A private research school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon University is one of the top computer science colleges for women. Its computer science program was one of the first in the world. Women made up 45.1% of computer science graduates from CMU in 2019-20.

CMU offers bachelor's degrees in computer science, human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, and computational biology. The school's numerous graduate programs include a fifth year master's in computer science, MS in computational biology, MS in robotics, and master of software engineering.

Undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty members can join Women@SCS, a committee that supports women and advocates for diversity in computer science. The group organizes a student-faculty lunch series, outreach projects, and a big sister/little sister program for undergraduates.

  • Estimated Tuition and Fees, 2021-22: $58,924
  • Acceptance Rate, 2020: 17%
  • Total Enrollment, 2020: 13,519
  • Percent of Women Enrolled, 2020: 50%
  • Percent of Computer Science Degrees Awarded to Women, 2019-20: 45.1%
  • Percent of Women Faculty in Computer Science Department: 19%

Learn more about CMU School of Computer Science

Resources for Women in Computer Science

Women interested in studying or working in computer science can find help and support through the organizations below.

Association for Women in Computing

A professional organization for women in computing, the AWC offers education programs, networking opportunities, and mentoring. Members also get chances to volunteer, gain self-esteem, and apply for scholarships.

National Center for Women & Information Technology

The NCWIT is a network of change-makers dedicated to diversity and better representation of women and girls in computing. The group emphasizes the importance of getting more women involved in innovation and development in tech.

Women in STEM

Women in STEM works to shrink the gender gap in tech. It encourages high school girls to pursue STEM education and careers. With 78 chapters in 10 countries, Women in STEM organizes outreach, networking, and mentorship opportunities.

Women in Technology International

WITI advocates for the inclusion of women in tech and includes more than 3 million professionals worldwide. Members get discounts to events, members-only webinars, and a profile in the member directory.

Common Questions for Women Studying Computer Science

What percentage of computer science majors are women?

In 2019, only 20.7% of computer science bachelor's degrees went to women, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

What do the best computer science colleges for women have in common?

The best computer science colleges for women have robust computer science departments, gender balance in the computer science major, and gender balance in the computer science faculty. Also, look for women-driven organizations, clubs, and activities.

Should I attend a women's college or co-ed college?

Women's colleges and co-ed colleges can both offer excellent computer science programs. Think about what matters most to you and then evaluate each school to find the one that best meets your needs.

Why are women underrepresented in STEM fields?

The reason that women are underserved and therefore underrepresented in STEM fields is complex and multifaceted. Factors that may contribute to the gender gap include sexism, lack of women role models, and less exposure to tech from a younger age.


Reviewed by:

Portrait of Laila Abdalla, Ph.D.

Laila Abdalla, Ph.D.

Laila Abdalla obtained her Ph.D. in English from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. She taught undergraduate and graduate courses in English and successful writing at Central Washington University for over 21 years.

Currently, Abdalla serves as a Washington state career coach and advocate for individuals on temporary state assistance. Abdalla has devoted her career, teaching, and leadership to matters of equity, diversity, and inclusion. Above all, she is committed to her clients' and students' complete experience, raising awareness of BIPOC issues in employment, language, community, and culture.

Abdalla leads with equity in management and nonprofit volunteering, and continues to develop her own understandings of these complex issues — both professionally and in her lived experiences.

Laila Abdalla is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.

Page last reviewed on June 20, 2022


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