Best Online Computer Science Master's Programs of 2020

Written by Kathleen Swed

By pursuing a computer science master's online, students sharpen their technology skills, studying advanced topics in software engineering, computer architecture, and programming. Online master's programs in computer science often provide concentrations that allow students to tailor the degree to their interests. Graduates qualify for a variety of job opportunities across many industries.

On this page, readers can learn more about what earning a computer science master's online entails, including common courses, admission requirements, and career opportunities for graduates. This page also ranks the top online computer science master's programs to help students find the right program for their needs.

Top 10 Best Online Computer Science Master's Programs of 2020

Rank School Location
1 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
2 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
3 Stevens Institute of Technology Hoboken, NJ
4 Stanford University Stanford, CA
5 Columbia University in the City of New York New York, NY
6 Boston University Boston, MA
7 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
8 Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago, IL
9 North Carolina State University at Raleigh Raleigh, NC
10 Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA

What Is an Online Master's Degree in Computer Science?

Students pursuing a computer science master's online gain advanced skills and knowledge in areas like algorithms, communications, databases, and software systems. This expertise prepares students to work in diverse industries, like aerospace and defense, computer simulation, and consulting.

An online computer science master's program generally requires 30-45 credits, depending on the institution. Many programs include concentrations that allow students to tailor the degree to their interests and goals. Common concentration options include machine learning, network systems, cybersecurity, human-computer interaction, and software engineering.

Computer science graduates enjoy strong job prospects. For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for computer and information research scientists to grow 16% between 2018-2028 -- greatly outpacing the national average for all occupations. These professionals make a median annual wage of $122,840.

Top 25 Online Master's in Computer Science Programs of 2020


To ensure fairness and accuracy, our rankings are informed by a strict methodology that accounts for a range of success indicators. The schools are evaluated in terms of each of the following factors, and then their category ranks averaged to determine overall standing. All programs had to be fully accredited and have a minimum of 300 students.

  • Student satisfaction (SS): Indicated by retention rate
  • Quality, supportive program (Q): Indicated by graduation rate
  • Reputation (R): Indicated by acceptance rate
  • Program Desirability (PD): Indicated by enrollment rate
  • School’s emphasis on CS and resources around the program (CS): Indicated by percentage of computer science majors

NOTE: All factors rated evenly; meaning that the overall ranking is based on the mean of these five indicators.

Formula: The numerical value for each variable is assigned based on the school's ranking for a specific factor among all schools offering a CS program. Ranking weight is then determined as follows:

(SS+Q+R+PD+CS)5 = Ranking Weight

Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD Expand - Plus/Minus

Based in Baltimore, Maryland, Johns Hopkins University offers one of the nation's top online computer science master's programs through its Whiting School of Engineering. The 30-credit program provides students with a highly customizable curriculum.

Students can choose from concentrations in areas like bioinformatics, cybersecurity, data communications and networking, human-computer interaction, and software-engineering systems. Classes feature a flexible, mostly asynchronous format.

Prerequisites include a year of calculus; a mathematics course beyond calculus; and classes in programming, data structures, and computer organization. Most applicants hold a GPA of 3.0 or better. Those who select the bioinformatics track must apply to it separately.

Average Net Price: $27,868
Program Website

University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA Expand - Plus/Minus

USC offers a computer science master's degree that students can pursue entirely online. The program gives participants an immersive education in the concepts, theories, and techniques involved with designing, maintaining, and programming computer systems. Full-time students can complete the program in as little as 18 months.

The university's Viterbi School of Engineering uses a uniquely interactive delivery method for the 28-credit computer science master's program. Online students can attend the same classes as on-campus students, ask questions via phone, and conduct live presentations. Alternatively, they can view recorded material at their convenience. Degree candidates can use electives to create a specialization in an area of interest.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's in engineering or closely related field from an accredited university with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Remote learners pay the same tuition as on-campus students.

Average Net Price: $36,161
Program Website

Stevens Institute of Technology Hoboken, NJ Expand - Plus/Minus

A tech school in Hoboken known for innovation, Stevens hosts an online computer science master's program with academic and professional tracks. The institute's 30-credit curriculum blends theory and practical skills to prepare graduates for doctoral programs or the workforce. Highlights include unique instruction in enterprise and cloud computing, system security, and effective written and oral communications.

Students can choose their own core curriculum, and select a thesis or non-thesis track. Learners can also pursue nine elective credits from disciplines outside of computer science. Available focus areas include cloud-computing databases; gaming and simulation; mobile systems; modeling, simulation, and visualization; and web application development.

Students can transfer up to 10 credits toward the degree. Applicants should hold a bachelor's degree in a related field with a GPA of 3.0 or better.

Average Net Price: $39,862
Program Website

Stanford University Stanford, CA Expand - Plus/Minus

Set in Silicon Valley, Stanford built its online master's in computer science as a terminal degree rather than a gateway to a doctoral program. The program provides a broad education in computer science along with the opportunity to specialize in an area of focus. The majority of coursework is delivered online, but some tracks may require visits to Stanford's campus in central California.

Stanford's curriculum requires a fundamental computer core and 21 credits in a specialization. Students can choose from specializations such as artificial intelligence, biocomputation, computer and network security, human-computer interaction, information management and analytics, or theoretical computer science.

Candidates need a bachelor's degree in any discipline. Applicants must submit GRE scores. Some students may need to take additional foundational courses.

Average Net Price: $17,271
Program Website

Columbia University in the City of New York New York, NY Expand - Plus/Minus

Columbia designed its online master of science in computer science to prepare professionals for career advancement. The New York institution's 30-credit curriculum emphasizes theoretical computer science, mathematics, and experimental computer technology. Students can earn the degree entirely online through the school's Columbia Video Network.

Participants pick a track during their first semester. Track options include computational biology; computer security; foundations of computer science; machine learning; natural language processing; network systems; software systems; and vision, graphics, interaction, and robotics. Degree candidates can also create their own personalized pathway with the approval of an advisor. All classes use prerecorded lectures accessible at students' convenience.

Typical applicants hold a bachelor's degree in computer science with a minimum 3.3 GPA. Students from other backgrounds may need to take four prerequisites in computing and two in mathematics.

Average Net Price: $21,220
Program Website

Boston University Boston, MA Expand - Plus/Minus

BU created one of the nation's top computer science master's programs by adding managerial education to a rigorous IT curriculum, preparing graduates for leadership roles in the field.

The program carries prestigious credentials from multiple national agencies, including the Committee on National Security Systems, the Project Management Institute Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs, and the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education.

The 40-credit online master's in computer science takes two years of full-time study to complete. Distance learners work through six required classes and four electives in concentration areas like networking, data analytics, database management and business intelligence, and web application development. BU delivers classes asynchronously in accelerated, seven-week terms.

BU uses a rolling admission policy and offers six start dates each year. Applicants need a bachelor's degree in any discipline.

Average Net Price: $29,154
Program Website

Drexel University Philadelphia, PA Expand - Plus/Minus

Based in Philadelphia, Drexel offers an online master's in computer science with thesis and non-thesis options. The broad-based program requires 45 credits. The university uses four, 10-week terms per year rather than the traditional two semesters.

Drexel's flexible curriculum requires students to select two core courses in each of six themed areas, including theory, intelligent systems, programming, computer systems, vision and graphics, and applications. Learners who do not choose a thesis must take two additional classes. Most classes run asynchronously.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree in any discipline with a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also score in the 50th percentile on the GRE. Drexel accepts up to nine transfer credits toward the degree.

Average Net Price: $36,727
Program Website

Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago, IL Expand - Plus/Minus

IIT built its online master of science in computer science for students who want to pursue Ph.D. programs in the field or careers in research. The 32-credit curriculum emphasizes theory, and participants must complete and defend a thesis or create their own software as a culminating project.

The core consists of two classes in theory and one each in systems and programming. Students complete the remaining credits through electives and the thesis or project. IIT requires distance learners to satisfy all core coursework through the university.

Candidates need a bachelor's degree in any discipline. They also need a score of 300 or better on the GRE's quantitative and verbal sections.

Average Net Price: $25,184
Program Website

North Carolina State University at Raleigh Raleigh, NC Expand - Plus/Minus

NC State's online master's in computer science boasts the same world-class faculty as its on-campus counterpart. The degree streams the same lectures and programming that occur in Raleigh straight to a student's computer. This fully online, 31-credit curriculum does not require a thesis, oral exam, or residency.

The university designed the computer science master's program for distance learners with bachelor's degrees in computer science. Classes open with an introductory, one-credit orientation. Students then complete a curriculum divided between theory and systems. Courses are delivered asynchronously and degree candidates must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Applicants need prerequisite courses in differential and integral calculus, calculus-based probability and statistics, and computer science. The school prefers candidates with a 3.0 GPA or better and acceptable scores on the GRE.

Average Net Price: $14,771
Program Website

Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus Atlanta, GA Expand - Plus/Minus

Georgia Tech partnered with AT&T and Udacity to offer the first accredited online computer science master's delivered using the massive open online course format. This delivery method allows the renowned Atlanta institution to provide the program at a much lower cost than many others. Participants can log in from anywhere and complete the required coursework at their convenience, taking one or two classes at a time.

The 30-credit curriculum consists of 10 courses and features no required classes. Students take electives and pursue one of four specializations: computing systems, interactive intelligence, machine learning, or computational perception and robotics. Proctors monitor all exams online.

Georgia Tech accepts applications year-round for the program, which begins in the spring and fall. The institute extends a single tuition fee to all learners. Georgia Tech holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Average Net Price: $16,950
Program Website

Southern Methodist University Dallas, TX Expand - Plus/Minus

SMU's Lyle School of Engineering offers an online master's degree in computer science. The 30-credit program offers concentrations in algorithms, software, architecture, security, and data science.

Lyle's curriculum gives students both thesis and non-thesis options. Those who choose not to write a thesis must take six additional credits. Five core classes teach learners the basics of software and systems, database management, and algorithm engineering. Each specialty area involves two courses. The remainder of credits come from electives.

SMU recommends applicants hold a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field but allows applications from any discipline. Some students from other backgrounds may need to take articulation coursework. Admission also requires a minimum 3.0 GPA from the last two years of undergraduate education.

Average Net Price: $38,562
Program Website

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL Expand - Plus/Minus

Illinois teamed up with Coursera to host an online master's in computer science using the Massive Open Online Course format. The flexible, affordable program allows busy professionals to continue working while earning an advanced degree. Students can complete the course of study in as little as one year or as many as five years.

The coursework-only degree comprises just eight, four-credit classes on topics like scientific computing, databases, human-computer interaction, and high-performance computing. Lecture-based courses run through Coursera on the traditional semester schedule. Illinois faculty and graduate assistants arrange assignments, projects, and tests. No grades below a C count toward the degree.

Illinois requires a minimum 3.2 GPA on the last 60 credits of undergraduate work. The university does not ask for GRE scores. Applicants with degrees outside of computer science can boost their chances of admission by taking the Data Structures proficiency exam.

Average Net Price: $15,829
Program Website

Marquette University Milwaukee, WI Expand - Plus/Minus

A private, Jesuit institution in downtown Milwaukee, Marquette offers a flexible online master's in computer science. The 30-credit program allows learners to build their own pathways using primary and secondary career focus areas. Students can select graduate-level coursework from any department that matches their professional aspirations.

The curriculum features two designated specializations: big data and data analytics and cybersecurity and information assurance. However, students can also design their own specialization using elective courses.

All learners begin the program on a non-thesis track; however, they can petition to do a thesis if they choose. They can also enroll in a working practicum to develop their resume. Some students may also pursue a career-change track that requires additional coursework.

Average Net Price: $33,081
Program Website

Syracuse University Syracuse, NY Expand - Plus/Minus

Syracuse offers an online master's in computer science that emphasizes analytical thinking, mathematics, and the ability to integrate new technologies into existing systems. Students can graduate in as little as 15 months with marketable skills in areas like advanced programming, computer architecture, security and assurance, and artificial intelligence.

The cohort-based curriculum features 12 credits of rigorous coursework in structural programming, algorithm design, and operating systems. Eighteen credits of electives allow distance learners to focus on topics like machine learning, software modeling, and object-oriented design. Syracuse requires participants to visit campus for at least one weekend seminar, where they meet professors and peers, listen to industry experts, and attend collaborative workshops.

The university recommends applicants hold a bachelor's degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related field from an accredited school. Some students may need to take three preparatory courses.

Average Net Price: $39,005
Program Website

New Jersey Institute of Technology Newark, NJ Expand - Plus/Minus

NJIT offers one of the nation's best master's programs for computer science. The school's computer science department designed the online computer science master's for working professionals.

The 30-credit curriculum explores theoretical computing concepts, algorithms, programming, logical reasoning, and complex computer systems. The core includes just four courses. Online specialties in databases and data mining, networking, and cybersecurity each consist of three classes. Nine elective credits round out the requirements.

The institute welcomes distance learners with a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Learners who enter the program with degrees in fields other than computer science must complete a four-class bridge program.

Average Net Price: $17,855
Program Website

Lewis University Romeoville, IL Expand - Plus/Minus

A Catholic university, Lewis hosts an online computer science master's degree that uses hands-on classwork, research, and a thesis project to teach students the skills needed for today's computer science jobs. The fully online program runs asynchronously, with no required visits to the school's campus in Romeoville, Illinois.

The 33-credit curriculum includes concentrations in software engineering, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, digital forensics, and enterprise and cloud computing. Degree candidates must complete six courses in one of these focus areas or create their own path. They must also earn nine elective credits, write a thesis, and complete a research project.

Full admission to the program requires a bachelor's degree in computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering, mathematics, or information systems with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students from other backgrounds can often enter the program on a provisional basis.

Average Net Price: $18,899
Program Website

University of Illinois at Springfield Springfield, IL Expand - Plus/Minus

UIS offers a 32-credit online master's in computer science with a special focus on software. The curriculum teaches the design, implementation, and analysis of software systems while exploring security and information assurance. The course of study culminates in a graduate research seminar.

Participants must complete three 400-level courses and four 500-level courses, but they can select whichever classes are most relevant to their goals. The research seminar that closes the program involves writing a formal document demonstrating mastery of professional ethics and research skills in computer science. Degree candidates must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA during the program.

Prerequisites for the program include calculus, discrete math, statistics, computer programming concepts I-II, computer organization, data structures and algorithms, programming languages, and intro to operating systems. Applicants need a bachelor's degree in a computer-science-related field with a minimum 2.7 GPA.

Average Net Price: $10,733
Program Website

Missouri University of Science and Technology Rolla, MO Expand - Plus/Minus

Set in Rolla, Missouri, S&T hosts an online computer science master's degree focused on cybersecurity and data science. Designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance and Cyber Defense Research, the university holds top IT credentials. The 31-credit program includes thesis and non-thesis tracks.

Missouri S&T's distance technology allows students to virtually attend classes as they happen on campus or view recorded versions at their convenience. Degree candidates can also apply credits toward a graduate certificate in areas like computational intelligence, cybersecurity, information systems and cloud computing, and big data management and security.

The university accepts students with a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Average Net Price: $13,994
Program Website

James Madison University Harrisonburg, VA Expand - Plus/Minus

Among the seven original National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance and Cyber Defense Research, JMU offers an online master's in computer science with an information security focus. Intended for working professionals, the 33-credit program offers small classes and close interaction between participants and faculty.

The cohort-based program proceeds in a prescribed sequence, with students taking two asynchronous classes at a time across five semesters. Coursework touches on computer science fundamentals, such as object-oriented programming, computer organization, and operating systems, before concentrating on information security. Distance learners can select between thesis and non-thesis options. Those who elect not to write a thesis must pass a comprehensive exam.

Applicants must submit a resume, all official transcripts, and a personal statement. The university encourages but does not require submission of GRE scores.

Average Net Price: $17,753
Program Website

DePaul University Chicago, IL Expand - Plus/Minus

Based in Chicago, DePaul University offers an online master's degree in computer science with an emphasis on the programmatic application of IT. The 52-credit curriculum features five classes in foundational studies followed by eight electives.

Students can use electives to pursue concentrations such as software and systems development, artificial intelligence, software engineering, game and real-time systems, or database systems. Each participant must also complete a thesis, research project, or graduate internship. They must maintain a 2.5 GPA or better to graduate.

Some students may need to take a suite of introductory classes, depending upon their undergraduate background. The university's computer science and software engineering alumni boast median salaries of $80,000, according to a survey of 2017 graduates.

Average Net Price: $30,584
Program Website

University of Michigan-Dearborn Dearborn, MI Expand - Plus/Minus

UM-Dearborn's online master's in computer science prepares IT professionals to advance their careers. The 30-credit curriculum offers thesis and project tracks, and distance learners can pursue all necessary credits online.

Students take three core fundamentals courses: algorithm design, networking, and advanced operating systems. Students then select four courses from two concentrations, developing their own specializations. Concentration options include software engineering, systems software, computer networks and security, information systems, and data management and analytics.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Some applicants may need to take prerequisite coursework in calculus, computer organization, data structures, operating systems, and statistics. All online learners pay in-state tuition regardless of residency.

Average Net Price: $10,533
Program Website

Colorado State University-Fort Collins Fort Collins, CO Expand - Plus/Minus

CSU offers an online master's in computer science program that readies students for computer science careers. Problem-solving sits at the heart of the 35-credit curriculum, and participants learn to critically examine entire systems. Students can complete the program in two years or less.

CSU's online master's in computer science curriculum takes an interdisciplinary approach, combining topics in math, science, and engineering. The program's unique format allows students on and off campus to work on the same projects, complete the same assignments, and join in on discussions together.

Applicants should understand Java or C++ and have completed undergraduate classes in advanced calculus, linear algebra, probability, statistics, and discrete structures. They also need a minimum 3.0 GPA. Nearly 100% of CSU program alumni receive job offers upon graduation.

Average Net Price: $17,914
Program Website

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN Expand - Plus/Minus

UMN's online master's in computer science offers thesis, project, and coursework-only tracks. Students can pursue their studies entirely online or in a hybrid format. Most classes run asynchronously.

The 31-credit curriculum gives students the flexibility to explore many areas of professional interest. Faculty boast expertise in fields including algorithms and theory; high-performance computing; artificial intelligence, robotics, and computer vision; databases and data mining; and computer security. Participants must maintain a minimum 3.25 GPA to remain in good standing.

The school prefers applicants with a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field. The university extends resident tuition rates to online learners.

Average Net Price: $16,691
Program Website

University of Michigan-Flint Flint, MI Expand - Plus/Minus

The online master's in computer science at UM-Flint offers computer science and information systems concentrations. Information systems students can further specialize in healthcare IT.

All learners study topics like technical support, educational uses of technology, and training applications. The computer science track features fully online, mostly asynchronous courses. The information systems track requires some on-campus courses. All students can only take up to nine credits per semester.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Candidates with educational backgrounds outside of IT often begin in UM-Flint's Fast Track program, a five-course introduction to computer science.

Average Net Price: $12,519
Program Website

Capitol Technology University Laurel, MD Expand - Plus/Minus

A private, nonprofit engineering institution in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., Capitol offers an online master's that prepares learners for modern computer science jobs. The university considers the program a bridge to tech careers, and students are guaranteed to receive a job offer within 90 days of graduation, or they get up to 36 credits for free.

The 30-credit, online master's in computer science includes classes in computational theory, algorithms, computer language design, intelligent systems, and distributed programming. Students can use four elective courses in data science and software engineering to focus their studies on an area of interest. All students must complete a capstone research project with a faculty member.

Classes run in accelerated, eight-week terms, with six start dates per year. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a GPA of 3.0 or better. Capitol extends in-state tuition to all graduate students.

Average Net Price: $21,816
Program Website

Common Online Master's in Computer Science Courses

  • Software Engineering

    Software engineering courses are often a core requirement in computer science programs. This course covers the fundamental principles of software engineering and development, preparing students to use common coding practices, including implementation techniques and methodologies.

    Students learn to produce and maintain high-quality software programs, usually through hands-on projects that demonstrate commonly accepted software development practices. Courses may emphasize testing, troubleshooting, debugging, and documentation. Other topics include lifecycle models, risk management, quality testing, and software reliability estimation.

  • Algorithms

    Another foundational requirement found in many online computer science programs, this course provides a thorough overview of computer algorithms. Prerequisites may include data structures or discrete mathematics. Basic topics prepare students to understand advanced data structures, as well as common uses for algorithms in problem-solving and data analysis.

    Students develop skills in algorithm design and analysis, including the use of data structures and dynamic programming. Other topics may include randomized algorithms, information retrieval, and computational geometry.

  • Computer Architecture

    This course surveys computer systems, providing an overview of internal structures and operation. Topics may include CPU design, pipelining, memory systems, and a comparison of microprogramming and hardwiring.

    Students learn how the variables of computer architecture can impact a machine's performance. The course may also compare classical computer system theories with modern techniques. Advanced subjects may cover topics like multiprocessor prefetching.

  • Artificial intelligence

    Artificial intelligence (AI) courses survey approaches to advanced reasoning and the uses of artificial intelligence. It may be taken as a core course, an elective, or a requirement for a database systems concentration. Learners study programming related to AI through personal exploration and research.

    Topics may include logic and probability, AI programming languages, AI problem-solving, and associative databases. Students may also study advanced AI subjects like robotics, natural language processing, and vision.

  • Security and Information Assurance

    As reliance on cloud-based computing grows, cybersecurity risks also increase. This course surveys security policy and risk management, as well as government cybersecurity regulations, including privacy issues.

    Students learn to identify, assess, and respond to security risks to both hardware and software. Topics may include cryptography, internet and extranet, network security, and database security. Students may also learn about data encryption algorithms and access control.

Admission Requirements for an Online Master's in Computer Science

Admission requires vary by school, but most computer science master's online programs require a minimum GPA, such as a 2.5 or 3.0, standardized test scores, and course prerequisites. By understanding and organizing materials early, prospective students can avoid last-minute stress as they work to present the best possible application.

Applicants should expect to submit academic transcripts, recommendation letters, and an essay -- likely a statement of professional goals -- to each prospective program. Many programs desire detailed resumes as part of the application; in some cases, significant work experience can help applicants whose GPA falls below the stated minimums.

Typically, prospective students must also submit GRE scores, though some schools don't require standardized test scores. While most programs do not specify minimum GRE scores, top programs expect competitive results. Some schools consider significant work experience alongside standardized test results, accepting lower test scores with evidence of computer science competencies.

International students must usually demonstrate English proficiency by taking the TOEFL exam, unless they hold an accredited degree earned in the United States.

Most programs prefer applicants with an undergraduate degree in computer science or a related field. Some schools admit promising applicants from other fields on a conditional basis, allowing them to complete prerequisites through the master's program.

Common prerequisite course requirements include calculus, discrete mathematics, intro to computer science, and data structures and algorithms. Applicants are expected to be proficient in some programming languages, such as Java, C++, R, and/or Python.

Individual concentrations may require further prerequisites. For example, a concentration in bioinformatics may require a background in organic chemistry and biochemistry in addition to the computer science requirements.

Is an Online Master's Degree in Computer Science Worth It?

Completing a computer science master's online prepares students to pursue in-demand careers. Whether coding user interfaces for online consumers, protecting their organization's data, or researching new and exciting innovations, computer science graduates can take advantage of diverse, in-demand job opportunities.

The BLS projects jobs for computer and information technology professionals to grow 12% between 2018-2028, far faster than the national average for all occupations. These professionals earned a median annual salary of $88,240 as of May 2019.

With a master's in computer science, graduates can advance to management levels and enjoy strong job security as they provide important value to their organizations. Graduates may work in industries such as finance and insurance, computer systems design, software publishing, manufacturing, and government.

Careers in Computer Science

Computer Programmer Expand - Plus/Minus

Proficient in programming languages, computer programmers code software application programs. They write and test code for new programs and troubleshoot any bugs that arise. They may also contribute to the program design process.

Programmers also check for issues with existing programs, expanding those applications where new tools would benefit the users and ensuring they continue to work with new operating system iterations. They may work with computer software, mobile applications, and operating systems.

Computer programmers often work with languages like Java, Python, and C++. They typically hold a bachelor's degree, though a master's degree gives candidates a competitive edge in the job market.

Median Annual Salary: $86,550

Projected Growth Rate (2018-28): -7%

Software Developer Expand - Plus/Minus

Software developers collaborate in teams to develop applications that fit the needs of their consumer base. They conceptualize new programs and use visual models, like graphs and flow charts, to dictate the tool's design.

There is often overlap between the duties of software developers and computer programmers. Accordingly, software developers often contribute code to build and debug the programs they design. They also monitor software performance and suggest improvements or upgrades.

Software developers may focus on application software development, designing commercial programs or databases for a single employer or client. Alternatively, they may work as systems software developers, working with operating systems. Software developers usually hold a bachelor's degree, though some employers require a master's degree.

Median Annual Salary: $105,590

Projected Growth Rate (2018-28): 21%

Computer and Information Systems Manager Expand - Plus/Minus

Computer and information research scientists conduct original research to innovate the field of technology. Often experts in a particular field, such as healthcare or business, computer and information research scientists examine industry problems and create new technology or repurpose existing technology to respond to those problems.

Computer and information research scientists may focus on specialty areas like robotics or programming. They identify and study challenges in their field, collaborate with developers to build new tools to approach those problems, and report on their findings to advance the industry.

Research scientists often get to work on the field's cutting-edge projects, like developing new programming languages. They typically hold a master's degree in computer science.

Median Annual Salary: $146,360

Projected Growth Rate (2018-28): 11%

Professional Organizations for Computer Science

Association for Computing Machinery

An international organization of computer professionals, educators, and researchers, ACM promotes high standards and leadership in the field. The organization hosts 37 special interest groups and chapters around the world. Each interest group and chapter offers networking opportunities through meetings and conferences.

Members can take advantage of ACM's interactive career center, where they can search for jobs and post resumes. Members also gain access to volunteer opportunities, a digital library, online learning opportunities, publications, and professional discounts.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Computer Society

Dedicated to computer science and engineering, the IEEE Computer Society contributes to high professional standards in the field through continuing education. The organization prioritizes the distribution of innovative information, allowing its members to stay abreast of important changes in the field.

Membership is available to researchers, students, and practitioners. Members gain access to newsletters and a digital library; networking opportunities through local and regional chapters; online communities; and career resources, such as a job board, sponsored events, and online programs.

Computing Research Association

The CRA supports university departments, laboratories, government agencies, and affiliated professional organizations through advanced research in computing. The organization works to ensure that lawmakers and community members understand important changes to the field of computer science as they occur.

Full membership is open on an organizational level to academic departments, labs and centers, and professional organizations. With membership, organizations and their leaders may engage in policy and advocacy work; participate in committee work; participate in career mentoring; attend conferences; and access resources like newsletters, publications, and guides for best practices in computer research.

Association for Women in Computing

AWC supports women in computing professions, such as programmers, system analysts, technical writers, and consultants. The association provides professional development opportunities, networking opportunities, and career guidance. AWC also gives annual awards to recognize excellence in the field.

Women can join AWC on the chapter level or as independent members. Chapter members can attend monthly meetings, participate in mentorship programs, and take advantage of professional education opportunities. Independent members engage at the national level, where they can access newsletters and publications, scholarship opportunities, and membership directories.

Computer Science Scholarships

Eli Lilly Scholarship Expand - Plus/Minus

Sponsored by the Black Data Processing Associates' Education and Technology Foundation (BETF), the Eli Lilly Scholarship is a one-time $4,000 scholarship for minority students majoring in technology-related subjects at the undergraduate or graduate levels. The application process emphasizes leadership potential, academic excellence, and community service. Funds may apply to tuition or other college-related costs, such as books, housing, and fees.

Established in 1992, the BETF supports minority students, encouraging interest in technology-related careers through high school computer camps, conference attendance, award programs, and scholarship opportunities. With a focus on community involvement, BETF works to close the computing achievement gap for students in marginalized demographics.

Apply for Scholarship

AfterCollege Engineering and Technology Scholarship Expand - Plus/Minus

Students pursuing computer science, cybersecurity, and related majors at the associate, bachelor's, or master's level are eligible to apply for this $500 award.

The application requires a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants must outline their education and work experience, honors and awards, and special skills. AfterCollege's review process emphasizes career readiness, seeking high-performing students likely to qualify for top internships and job placements after graduation.

A career network for students and recent graduates, AfterCollege provides a comprehensive search engine for jobs and internships. Using AI technology, the site pairs students and graduates with ideal positions for their academic history, location, and skills.

Apply for Scholarship Future Web Developers Annual Scholarship Expand - Plus/Minus

Students majoring in a field related to computer science are eligible to apply for this $1,000 tuition scholarship. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.5 GPA and submit official transcripts, a cover letter describing extracurricular activities, and an essay detailing technology's impact on business operations. focuses on web development and website building, offering professional advice through blog posts, service reviews, and how-to guides for new and advanced website builders.

Apply for Scholarship

Women in Technology Scholarship Program Expand - Plus/Minus

Sponsored by Visionary Integration Professionals (VIP), this $2,500 award is open to women majoring in fields related to information technology, including computer science and management information systems. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit transcripts, descriptions of community service, and an essay discussing the importance of information technology.

VIP provides tech-related consulting services to help businesses respond to rapid changes in technology. Working with clients in state, local, and federal government and commercial corporations, VIP develops solutions related to public safety, finance, workflow automation, and learning management software.

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Is an online master’s degree in computer science hard? Expand - Plus/Minus
Students looking to pursue a computer science master's online should expect to dedicate the same amount of time to their studies as they would in an on-campus program. These programs are typically challenging but rewarding.
Is an online master’s degree in computer science worth it? Expand - Plus/Minus
Graduates with a master's in computer science enjoy diverse job opportunities with high potential salaries, making the degree a worthwhile investment.
Can you get a master’s degree in computer science online? Expand - Plus/Minus
Yes, many top schools offer excellent online master's programs in computer science.
How long does it take to get an online master’s degree in computer science? Expand - Plus/Minus
The length of an online master's degree in computer science varies by program, but many full-time students can complete the degree in 2-3 years.