Top Master's in Computer Science Programs (2024)

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Updated January 30, 2024

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Discover more about master's degrees in computer science, including common courses, where the degree can lead, and what to look for in a program.

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The modern computer science field began in the 20th century when governments and universities sought ways to solve complex mathematical problems quickly.

Today, developments like artificial intelligence, data science, and the internet of things are driving rapid changes in the field. This mirrors the popularity of advanced study in computer science: More than 121,000 U.S. students were enrolled in graduate-level computer science programs in 2021, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

A master's in computer science can help technology professionals stay on the industry's cutting edge. These programs are designed to give students in-depth knowledge of computer science principles while developing their problem-solving and analytical skills.

Use our guide to discover some of the best master's degrees in computer science available in 2024.

Popular Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Snapshot of Master's in Computer Science Rankings

Jump to a school below using the links in the "School" column.

Rank School In-State Tuition Out-of-State Tuition Acceptance Rate
#1 Georgetown University
Washington, DC
$54,672 $54,672 12%
#2 University of Washington-Seattle Campus
Seattle, WA
$16,605 $29,763 53%
#3 Vanderbilt University
Nashville, TN
$51,600 $51,600 7%
#4 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC
$10,552 $28,844 20%
#5 University of California-Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA
$11,442 $26,544 11%
#6 New York University
New York, NY
$35,982 $35,982 13%
#7 University of California-Berkeley
Berkeley, CA
$11,442 $26,544 14%
#8 University of California-Irvine
Irvine, CA
$11,442 $26,544 29%
#9 University of South Florida
Tampa, FL
$8,350 $19,048 49%
#10 California State University-Fullerton
Fullerton, CA
$7,176 $16,680 59%

Best Computer Science Master's Degree Programs

#1 Top Master’s in Computer Science Programs (2024)

Georgetown University

  • Washington, DC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Located in Washington, DC, and founded in 1789, Georgetown University is the oldest Catholic and Jesuit university in the U.S. The school enrolls about 1,500 undergraduates and more than 2,000 graduate students.

MS in Computer Science

Georgetown University's MS in computer science from the department of computer science offers a thesis option and a coursework-only option. Students must complete a core algorithm and a core systems course and can choose electives to meet the rest of the program course requirements. 

The program is designed for full-time students and discourages part-time enrollment. The department does not currently offer financial aid to MS in computer science students. However, it does hire some MS students for teaching assistant and research assistant hourly positions.

Applying to Georgetown

Applicants need a bachelor's in computer science or a related degree or a significant background in the field. Prospective students must submit a $90 application fee. The program does not require the GRE. 

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Tuition: $2,452/credit
  • Required Credits: 30
  • Program Length: 2 years 
  • Delivery Format: On campus 
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$59,784
Out-of-state
$59,784
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$54,672
Out-of-state
$54,672
Retention Rate
98%
Acceptance Rate
12%
Students Enrolled
20,935
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
38% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#2 Top Master’s in Computer Science Programs (2024)

University of Washington-Seattle Campus

  • Seattle, WA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Founded in 1861, the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington, serves more than 33,000 undergraduate students and offers more than 180 different majors.

Professional Master's Program in Computer Science and Engineering

The University of Washington's professional master's program in computer science and engineering provides flexibility for full-time working professionals. Housed in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, the part-time, evening program can help students move into higher-level positions in the computer science field. 

Degree requirements include eight courses and eight colloquium credits. The curriculum explores topics like database management, robotics, computational biology, and computer vision. All students in the program pay the same tuition rate per credit, regardless of residency or citizenship status.

Applying to the Allen School

Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA, either cumulatively or in the last 60 semester credits or 90 quarter credits. Applicants need at least two years of relevant professional experience and an academic background in computer science. The program does not require the GRE. 

Applicants must submit an $85 application fee. 

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Tuition: $1,076/credit
  • Required Credits: 40 quarter credits
  • Program Length: 2.5 years
  • Delivery Format: Hybrid (online and on campus)
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$10,927
Out-of-state
$38,757
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$16,605
Out-of-state
$29,763
Retention Rate
93%
Acceptance Rate
53%
Students Enrolled
52,434
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
19% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#3 Top Master’s in Computer Science Programs (2024)

Vanderbilt University

  • Nashville, TN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Established in 1873, Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, enrolls more than 13,000 students. The school has small classes with a 7-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. 

MS in Computer Science

Vanderbilt University's MS in computer science program from the electrical engineering and computer science department offers both thesis and non-thesis degree options. The thesis option is research-heavy and requires students to write and defend a research thesis. The non-thesis option is coursework-only. 

The curriculum explores cybersecurity, computer science theory, distributed systems, and mobile and cloud computing. Vanderbilt also offers an accelerated combined bachelor's and master's in computer science for admitted Vanderbilt undergraduate students.

Applying to Vanderbilt

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in computing or a related field or hold a bachelor's in another field and extensive programming and computer science experience. It is free to apply and the GRE is not required.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $2,281/credit
  • Required Credits: 30
  • Program Length: 12 months (accelerated track) or 20 months (standard track)
  • Delivery Format: Online
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$54,840
Out-of-state
$54,840
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$51,600
Out-of-state
$51,600
Retention Rate
97%
Acceptance Rate
7%
Students Enrolled
13,796
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
11% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#4 Top Master’s in Computer Science Programs (2024)

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The first public university in the U.S., the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill dates to 1795. More than 11,000 graduate students and over 19,000 undergraduate students attend the school. 

MS in Computer Science

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's MS in computer science program offers most of its graduate students a research assistantship, teaching assistantship, or fellowship. This financial support usually covers tuition and fees plus a stipend and health insurance.

The program provides a thesis and non-thesis option. To satisfy a breadth requirement, students must take one course each in the following categories: applications, systems and hardware, and theory and formal thinking. To graduate, learners must program and document a product-quality program.

Applying to UNC

The program requires a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants must submit a statement of purpose, a resume, letters of recommendation, and a $95 application fee. The program prefers but does not require GRE scores.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $1,142/credit (in state); $2,158/credit (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 30
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus 
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$7,019
Out-of-state
$34,882
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$10,552
Out-of-state
$28,844
Retention Rate
97%
Acceptance Rate
20%
Students Enrolled
31,641
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
29% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#5 Top Master’s in Computer Science Programs (2024)

University of California-Los Angeles

  • Los Angeles, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Located minutes from Hollywood, the University of California-Los Angeles has a decorated history of faculty and alumni, featuring 16 Nobel Laureates, 120 NCAA championships, and 15 MacArthur Fellows. 

MS in Computer Science

The University of California-Los Angeles's computer science MS program offers eight concentrations. Students can specialize in areas like artificial intelligence, computer science theory, data science computing, or graphics and vision. The program, housed in the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, offers thesis and comprehensive exam/capstone (non-thesis) tracks.

The program offers courses like embedded systems, internet architecture and protocols, advanced topics in internet research, and machine learning applications in genetics. 

Applying to UCLA

Applicants need three letters of recommendation and must pay a $135 application fee. The program does not require the GRE. Additional requirements include a statement of purpose, a personal statement, and a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Tuition: $4,088/quarter (in state); $4,088 + $5,034 nonresident supplemental tuition (out of state) 
  • Required Credits: 36
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus 
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$11,442
Out-of-state
$41,196
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$11,442
Out-of-state
$26,544
Retention Rate
97%
Acceptance Rate
11%
Students Enrolled
46,116
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
68% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#6 Top Master’s in Computer Science Programs (2024)

New York University

  • New York, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Founded in 1831, New York University is the largest private research university in the U.S., serving more than 65,000 students. The school's main campus in New York City is joined by 12 study-away sites across the world plus campuses in Shanghai and Abu Dhabi.

MS in Computer Science 

New York University's MS in computer science program lets students customize the curriculum based on their interests. The Tandon School of Engineering offers the degree, which provides a foundation in computer science fundamentals and specializations in areas like cybersecurity, information visualization, machine learning and artificial intelligence, or responsible computing.

Prospective students without a computer science background can take NYU's Tandon Bridge, a completely online preparatory course that takes 21 or 28 weeks to complete.

Applying to NYU

Applicants need a bachelor's degree in computer science, math, engineering, or science. Additional requirements include one year of university-level science, a basic understanding of the fundamentals of computer science, and programming knowledge. The GRE may be required, depending on previous experience and education. Applicants pay a $90 application fee.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Tuition: $2,335/credit
  • Required Credits: 30
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$53,770
Out-of-state
$53,770
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$35,982
Out-of-state
$35,982
Retention Rate
94%
Acceptance Rate
13%
Students Enrolled
58,226
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
45% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#7 Top Master’s in Computer Science Programs (2024)

University of California-Berkeley

  • Berkeley, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Founded in 1868, the University of California-Berkeley boasts 184 academic programs and departments. Current faculty members hold nine Nobel Prizes.

MS in Computer Science

The University of California-Berkeley's computer science MS degree can help prepare students to eventually pursue the school's Ph.D. in computer science. Housed in the electrical engineering and computer sciences department, the program requires all graduate students to enroll full time and start the program in the fall.

Classes cover topics like computer vision, machine learning, advanced computer graphics, and advanced robotics. Students must complete either a master's thesis or a master's project capstone to graduate.

Applying to UC Berkeley

Prospective students need a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA. The program does not require a technical background, but those applicants without one should try to complete the recommended prerequisites to increase their chances of acceptance. The GRE is optional. Applicants pay a $135 application fee.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Tuition: $6,132/semester (in state); $6,132 + $6,122 (nonresident supplemental tuition fee)/semester (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 24
  • Delivery Format: On campus 
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$11,442
Out-of-state
$41,196
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$11,442
Out-of-state
$26,544
Retention Rate
96%
Acceptance Rate
14%
Students Enrolled
45,036
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
69% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#8 Top Master’s in Computer Science Programs (2024)

University of California-Irvine

  • Irvine, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Founded in 1965, the University of California-Irvine serves more than 36,000 students and generates $7 billion for Orange county annually. The school has 28 national titles in nine sports.

MS in Computer Science

The University of California-Irvine's MS in computer science degree explores topics like system software, data structures and algorithms, and database systems. Offered by the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, the curriculum includes classes like principles of scientific computing, machine learning, computer systems architecture, and analysis of algorithms. 

Students can complete a thesis or take two additional elective courses to meet program requirements. The program's main research areas include artificial intelligence and machine learning, networks and distributed systems, and graphics and computer vision. 

Applying to UCI

Admission requirements include at least one year of programming experience. The program recommends at least one year of professional or internship experience, a data structures or algorithms prerequisite, and an understanding of linear algebra, discrete mathematics, and boolean algebra. 

The GRE is optional. Prospective students pay a $135 application fee and must submit a statement of purpose, personal history statement, and three letters of recommendation.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Tuition: $4,088/semester (in state); $9,122 (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 47
  • Delivery Format: On campus 
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$11,442
Out-of-state
$41,196
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$11,442
Out-of-state
$26,544
Retention Rate
93%
Acceptance Rate
29%
Students Enrolled
36,505
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
81% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#9 Top Master’s in Computer Science Programs (2024)

University of South Florida

  • Tampa, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Located in Tampa, Florida, and founded in 1956, the University of South Florida serves over 36,000 undergraduates and more than 9,000 graduate students. 

MS in Computer Science

The University of South Florida's MS in computer science degree offers students a lot of freedom in choosing the courses they want to take. The curriculum includes courses like digital image processing, brain-computer interfaces, data mining, and mobile biometrics. 

Available from the computer science and engineering department, the degree includes thesis and non-thesis options. The thesis option requires nine credits of thesis work, while the non-thesis track requires an additional nine elective credits. 

The program's major research areas include artificial intelligence, computer architecture, pattern recognition, and computer security. 

Applying to USF

Prospective students need a bachelor's degree and knowledge of various computer science topics. Most successful applicants hold a degree in computer science or a related field, but the program welcomes students from all backgrounds to apply. Admission requirements include GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, a resume, and a $30 application fee. 

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $468/credit (in state); $914/credit (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 30
  • Delivery Format: On campus
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$4,559
Out-of-state
$15,473
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$8,350
Out-of-state
$19,048
Retention Rate
90%
Acceptance Rate
49%
Students Enrolled
49,708
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
66% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#10 Top Master’s in Computer Science Programs (2024)

California State University-Fullerton

  • Fullerton, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cal State University Fullerton became the 12th state college in California, and now teaches over 40,000 students annually. For the 2022 academic year, nearly 5,000 of those students focused on engineering and computer science.

MS in Computer Science

California State University Fullerton's MS in computer science provides enrollees an understanding of established and emerging technologies, including data science, software engineering, and artificial intelligence. Students must complete core courses, electives, a graduate seminar, and a capstone project or thesis. Seminar attendees can research prospective ideas for their future project or thesis. 

The computer science program requires enrollees to submit an official list of courses they plan to take, called a graduate study plan. The study plan must be approved by the graduate advisor and vice president of research. Students require approval to make any changes in their study plan. 

Applying to CSUF

Applications can be submitted online and the requirements include a $70 fee and official transcripts. Individuals that graduated from an engineering or computer science undergraduate program require a 2.5 minimum GPA, other majors require a 3.0 minimum GPA and at least one computer science course in the last two years with a B- or above. 

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Tuition: $4,256 /semester for full-time students (in state); $4,256 /semester  + $396.00/semester unit (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 30
  • Delivery Format: On campus
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$5,742
Out-of-state
$17,622
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$7,176
Out-of-state
$16,680
Retention Rate
87%
Acceptance Rate
59%
Students Enrolled
40,738
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
80% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

How We Rank Colleges And Bootcamps

ComputerScience.org ranks computer science degree programs at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. We also rank bootcamps and certificate programs. Our top priority is making sure you find the best possible fit for your education. We use up-to-date national statistics and focus on factors like return on investment, academic quality, and affordability.

Take a closer look at our rankings on our rankings methodology page.

Why Get a Computer Science Master's Degree?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects much-faster-than-average growth in computer and technology occupations between 2022 and 2032, including an average of 377,500 job openings each year.

As organizational technology needs grow more complex, the skills gap also widens. This correlates to increased demand for computer science professionals with these skills, including workers with credentials like master's degrees. Computer science master's programs combine advanced knowledge and skills with specialized training, qualifying graduates for upper-level roles in the field.

Benefits of earning a computer science master's degree include:

  • Valuable Skills: Computer science master's programs develop in-demand technical skills. Because of their training, computer science professionals with advanced credentials can qualify for job opportunities that pay higher-than-average salaries.
  • Growing Field: As more organizations digitize their operations, nearly every industry benefits from computer science professionals with advanced knowledge. The BLS projects much-faster-than-average growth for computer and IT occupations from 2022 to 2032.
  • Higher-Than-Average Salaries: Graduates of computer science master's programs can qualify for jobs with median salaries that exceed the national median wage for all occupations. For example, the BLS reports computer and information research scientists — a role typically requiring graduate-level education — made a median annual salary of $136,620 in 2022, almost three times higher than the national median wage for all workers.

What To Expect From Master's in Computer Science Programs

Master's degrees in computer science explore topics like engineering, business, and science. Students develop skills in software design and development, computer architecture, and programming.

The typical master's degree in computer science takes two years of full-time study and requires 30-45 credits. Per the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average annual tuition and fees for graduate degrees was $20,513 in the 2021-22 school year.

Programs often culminate in a thesis or capstone project. Research-based thesis programs often suit learners who want to pursue a doctorate or research-related careers. Course-based or practical project-based programs may most benefit students aiming for industry jobs.

Master's in Computer Science Admission Requirements

Admission criteria for master's in computer science programs vary by school. However, common requirements include:

  • A bachelor's in computer science from an accredited institution, or a bachelor's in another field with prerequisite foundational courses
  • A minimum 2.5-3.0 GPA
  • GRE scores

Additionally, applicants usually submit materials like transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of purpose. Programs may require an admission interview.

Master's Degree and Specialization Options

Most institutions offer master of science (MS) degrees in computer science. Though some schools offer other related degrees, such as a master of business administration (MBA) focusing on information technology, these often lack the same focus on technology-specific topics.

For example, earning a general MS in computer science provides a foundation in computer science theory and practice, preparing learners for a variety of technology careers. An IT-related MBA focuses on business skills, including managing IT teams within organizations.

Computer science master's programs may also offer concentrations or even full degrees in subdisciplines like artificial intelligence, data analytics, software engineering, and cybersecurity. Earning a master's in these niche areas helps graduates prepare for specialized career paths.

Popular Master's in Computer Science Courses

A master's in computer science degree deepens learners' knowledge of computer science fundamentals and equips students with valuable problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Though specific classes vary by school, most programs offer an array of courses in subjects like programming, robotics, and data science. These options allow students to tailor their degree to their goals.

Common computer science graduate-level classes include:

  • Machine Learning: This course introduces students to the impacts of intelligent technologies in science and engineering. Learners explore essential algorithms and theoretical foundations of machine learning. Other topics may include multitask learning, statistical learning theory, least squares regression, and bias variance trade-offs.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Students learn the core concepts of designing objective-driven autonomous agents. This course focuses on the technological and ethical issues surrounding agent development. Other topics may include neural networks, classical planning, Markov decision processes, and perception-based recognition.
  • Advanced Computer Architecture: This class focuses on the organization and architecture of computers, quantitative analysis of design alternatives, and principles of instruction sets. Other topics include memory, interconnection, storage, and architectural innovations.
  • Database Systems: Enrollees in this course learn how database systems function. They explore relational algebra, query processing, query optimization, and data models. The class also emphasizes database design, SQL programming, isolation and consistency, and object-relational mappings.
  • Applied Cryptography: In this course, learners explore how cryptography functions as a security method in computer applications. Topics include common ciphers, password cracking, advanced cryptography protocols, and election algorithms. Students usually need prior knowledge of discrete mathematics, algebra, computer architecture, and data structures before enrolling in this class.

What Will a Master's in Computer Science Degree Cost?

NCES data from the 2021-22 school year reveals graduate program tuition carried an average annual cost of $20,513.

The same data also showed an average tuition cost of $12,596 per year for graduate programs at public institutions that same year. Further breakdowns also reveal the following ranges for public colleges and universities:

  • 25th percentile: $9,292
  • 50th percentile (median): $11,766
  • 75th percentile: $14,814

At nonprofit private institutions, average annual tuition cost $29,931 that same year. NCES reported these percentile ranges for graduate programs at nonprofit private schools:

  • 25th percentile: $14,520
  • 50th percentile (median): $24,534
  • 75th percentile: $45,684

NCES data further indicates that in 2020, students in 100% online computer science master's programs paid an average of $11,079 in tuition and required fees — almost $9,000 lower than the $19,795 average tuition and fees graduate students across all fields paid that same year. This indicates that online programs are generally more affordable than on-campus degrees.

Many factors impact the prices and costs of higher education, including:

  • School prestige and reputation
  • In-state and out-of-state student residency status at public institutions
  • Additional study materials and equipment such as books, computers and other technology, and software

Familiarize yourself with financial aid options as you research computer science master's degrees. First, investigate aid sources that do not require repayment, including scholarships, fellowships, and grants. Then, look into federal or private loans as a supplement or last resort.

Jobs for Master's in Computer Science Graduates

Computer and Information Research Scientists

Computer and information research scientists seek answers to their discipline's most complex queries. They create models, determine new system requirements, and even develop new computer languages. Computer research scientists can specialize in areas like robotics or programming. Many work for the U.S. government or computer design companies.

  • Required Education: Master's degree
  • 2022 Median Annual Salary: $136,620
  • Job Outlook (2022-32): +23%

Computer and Information Systems Managers

Among the highest-paying computer and information science careers, systems managers plan and direct organizations' computer-related activities. They serve as IT managers or directors, chief technology officers, and chief information security officers. Their duties typically combine management with technology knowledge.

  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree required; master's degree preferred
  • 2022 Median Annual Salary: $164,070
  • Job Outlook (2022-32): +15%

Computer Hardware Engineers

Computer hardware engineers design and test new computer hardware. They create components like processors, routers, and circuit boards. Hardware engineers also test and modify their designs. These professionals often work in computer systems design firms, research and development labs, or manufacturing organizations.

  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree required; master's degree preferred
  • 2022 Median Annual Salary: $132,360
  • Job Outlook (2022-32): +5%

Computer Network Architects

Computer network architects create data communication networks, including intranets, wide area networks, and local area networks. Their duties may include analyzing data traffic, researching networking technologies, and upgrading hardware. They must understand their organizations' business plans to help achieve those goals using technology. Large employers may prefer a computer science master's degree for this role.

  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree required; master's degree preferred
  • 2022 Median Annual Salary: $126,900
  • Job Outlook (2022-32): +4%

Information Security Analysts

Information security analysts provide protection for their organizations' networks and computer systems. They assess vulnerabilities, monitor breaches, research security trends, and recommend system enhancements. They may also help reconstruct security features after an attack. Along with a computer science master's, many of these professionals need industry-recognized cybersecurity certifications.

  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree required; master's degree preferred
  • 2022 Median Annual Salary: $112,000
  • Job Outlook (2022-32): +32%

Choosing a Computer Science Master's Program

In addition to our rankings of the best computer science master's programs, consider the following criteria when determining where to apply:

  • Accreditation: Holding institutional accreditation verifies that a school meets standards of academic excellence and rigor. Master's in computer science programs may also hold programmatic accreditation from organizations like ABET, which verify whether a degree's curriculum helps prepare students for careers in the field.
  • Staff Credentials: Research potential programs' faculty to see if anyone conducts research about or specializes in areas related to your interests. These faculty may offer insights into career prospects or help connect you to professional networks.
  • Program Culture: Determine which kind of program fits with your learning and social styles. Some schools offer close-knit cohorts and robust graduate student groups, while others offer a more professional environment.
  • Competitiveness: Research how competitive a school's admissions are. Many master's in computer science programs may offer information about acceptance rates to prospective applicants.
  • Available Specializations: Consider your career interests, then look for programs with specializations geared toward those goals. You can specialize in high-growth areas of the field to access niche roles with higher-than-average salaries.

Should You Get Your Master's in Computer Science Online?

Because of the integration of technology into coursework, computer science master's degrees may be particularly well-suited to the online experience. Prospective students considering online master's degrees should determine whether distance learning modalities align with their preferences. Since these programs often lack a traditional classroom structure, online enrollees need motivation, discipline, and time management skills.

Explore other computer science education options:

Affordable Online Master's in Computer Science

Affordable Online Master's in Computer Science

Doctoral Degree Programs in Computer Science

Doctoral Degree Programs in Computer Science

Top Computer Science Certificate Programs

Top Computer Science Certificate Programs

Certifications for Computer Science Professionals

Certifications for Computer Science Professionals

Questions About Master's in Computer Science Degrees

Which master's degree is best for a computer science career?

A master's degree in computer science offers the most straightforward path to advanced computer science careers. Degrees in data science, software development, and information technology can also prepare graduates for specialized roles in this field.

How long is a computer science master's degree program?

A computer science master's degree usually requires 30-45 credits. Students enrolled full time typically complete their degree requirements in two academic years.

What can you do with a master's in computer science degree?

A master's degree in computer science can qualify you for an array of computer and information technology jobs. Possible career fields include computer and information research science, information security analysis, and computer and information systems management.

Can you get a master's degree in computer science without a bachelor's degree?

Typically, master's programs prefer applicants to hold a bachelor's degree in computer science or related field. However, this undergraduate credential does not always need to be computer science-related as long as you satisfy prerequisite coursework requirements.

Is a master's degree in computer science worth it?

Deciding whether a master's in computer science is worth the investment of time, money, and work depends on your career goals. Often, graduates of these programs can qualify for advanced positions that pay higher-than-average salaries, offering a positive return on investment.

Page last reviewed November 27, 2023.

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