A master’s in computer science prepares graduates for lucrative, high-level careers in computer and information technology (IT). Computer scientists design new computer technologies to solve problems in business, healthcare, science, and education.
Potential jobs for graduates include computer and information research scientist, computer and information systems manager, and computer hardware engineer. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 15% job growth rate, much faster than average, for computer and information research scientists from 2019-2029.
This page includes a ranking of the best computer science master’s programs. We also touch on what to expect from a typical master’s in computer science, potential careers for graduates, and how to choose the right school for you.
Computer science is the study of computational systems and computers. Computer scientists focus on the theory, design, and applications of computer software and hardware systems. These professionals need advanced knowledge of programming, databases, software development, and algorithms. People drawn to the field tend to demonstrate skills in analysis, critical thinking, math, and problem-solving.
The BLS projects an added 531,200 computer and IT occupations from 2019-2029. Master’s in computer science graduates find jobs as computer and information research scientists, computer and information systems managers, and computer hardware engineers. Other potential careers include computer network architect, information security analyst, and computer programmer.
Major employing industries include research and development, government, software publishing, and computer systems design. Many employers of computer scientists, particularly large companies, prefer or require candidates with a master’s in computer science.
Earning a graduate degree can help you distinguish yourself from other job applicants, qualify for management positions, and garner higher salaries. PayScale reports that individuals with a bachelor’s in computer science make $85,680 on average, compared to $103,190 for those with a master’s in the discipline.
Why Get a Computer Science Master’s?
Earning a master’s in computer science takes time, hard work, and money, but skilled graduates qualify for lucrative positions in a growing field. Only you can decide if graduate school is worth it, and each person’s return on investment might be a little different. Although it takes longer, a master’s degree may offer a better value and a more thorough and rigorous education than a typical computer science bootcamp. Below, we describe benefits of earning a master’s in computer science.
Computer science master’s programs develop in-demand, specialized technical skills. Because not many people possess this advanced knowledge, computer science professionals find high wages and plenty of job opportunities.
As more organizations put their information online, nearly every industry can benefit from the skills and knowledge of computer science professionals. The BLS projects much faster-than-average growth for computer and IT occupations from 2019-29.
Graduates of computer science master’s programs typically earn high salaries. For example, the BLS reports that computer and information research scientists made a median annual salary of $122,840 as of May 2019.
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The Top Master’s in Computer Science Schools of 2021
This list spotlights the 15 best computer science master’s programs of 2021 to help learners choose the right school. Visit the link below to learn about how we rank master’s in computer science programs.
A public land-grant institution, the University of California, Los Angeles boasts 15 Nobel laureates, 15 Macarthur Fellows, and 118 NCAA titles. UCLA-developed technology contributes to numerous industries.
One of the country's best computer science master's programs, the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering's MS in computer science requires full-time, on-campus study. The 36-credit curriculum explores subjects such as artificial intelligence, programming languages and systems, computational systems biology, and databases. Students culminate their degree with either a thesis or a comprehensive examination and capstone project.
The competitive master's in computer science program accepts 14% of applicants. Prospective 2021-22 enrollees, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds in computer science, may qualify for a DeepMind fellowship. Master's candidates can also apply for funding through institutional and external fellowships and grants.
Applying to UCLA
Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants must submit three recommendation letters, a statement of purpose, and a personal statement. UCLA does not require GRE scores for the 2021-22 admissions cycle.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Public Accreditation: WSCUC Tuition: $17,486/year (in state); $32,588/year (out of state) Required Credits: 36 credits Program Length: 6 quarters Delivery Format: On campus
The master's in computer science degree from UC Davis's College of Engineering focuses on computer science theory, architecture, systems, and applications. The program offers two capstone options. Plan I participants complete a thesis, while Plan II requires a project or master's examination. Degree-seekers typically complete the program in about two years.
The 36-credit curriculum features courses in machine learning and discovery, information visualization, advanced computer graphics, and computer-aided geometric design. Faculty-led research projects provide opportunities to explore issues like augmented reality, artificial intelligence in health research, and computational geometry.
Applying to UC Davis
Requirements include undergraduate transcripts, three recommendation letters, a personal history statement, and a statement of purpose. Students must demonstrate proficiency in computer architecture, operating systems, theoretical foundations, and mathematical foundations.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Public Accreditation: WSCUC Tuition: $3,814/quarter (in state); $8,848/quarter (out of state) Required Credits: 36 credits Program Length: 5-6 quarters Delivery Format: On campus
Founded in 1868, the University of California, Berkeley maintains a 17.8-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Berkeley's innovations include the Free Speech Movement, earthquake science research, and a treatment for malaria.
Berkeley's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences offers a two-year, no-GRE master's in computer science program. The university's many computer science research centers and labs include the Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research Lab, Berkeley Benchmarking and Optimization Group, and Berkeley Emerging Technologies Research.
The curriculum explores topics such as the beauty and joy of computing, information device and system design, human and machine coevolution, and robotic manipulation and interaction. Graduating students complete either a thesis or a master's project. Transfer students can apply up to four semester or six quarter units towards the degree.
Applying to Berkeley
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited school and a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also submit three recommendation letters, a statement of purpose, a personal history statement, and a resume.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Public Accreditation: WSCUC Tuition: $5,721/semester (in state); $13,272/semester (out of state) Required Credits: 24 credits Program Length: 2 years Delivery Format: On campus
A public research institution established in 1848, the University of Wisconsin-Madison generates $1.2 billion in annual research expenditures. UW delivers more than 200 undergraduate programs and over 250 graduate programs.
Founded in 1964, UW's Computer Sciences Department ranks as the second oldest in the United States. UW computer science researchers have received competitive grants from organizations like the National Science Foundation and Department of Defense. Companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, and Google also sponsor faculty research.
Computer science majors enjoy opportunities to network and present their research at conferences. They also benefit from UW's strong computer science alumni association. Most UW computer science MS candidates receive institutional financial support, including research or teaching assistantships, fellowships, and on-campus employment.
Applying to UW
Applicants must submit letters of recommendation, a personal statement, official transcripts, and a resume or CV. The program recommends submitting GRE scores but does not require them during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Public Accreditation: HLC Tuition: $12,220/year (in state); $25,548/year (out of state); $19,052/year (Minnesota residents) Required Credits: 30 credits Delivery Format: On campus
UConn offers a 30-credit master's in computer science with the option to complete a thesis or coursework-only degree. Thesis students can elect to complete a research-based or design-based thesis. The design thesis focuses on design, implementation, and documentation of a computing system, while the research thesis addresses a theoretical problem.
Students typically complete the computer science and engineering MS in 2-4 semesters. Many master's candidates hold teaching or research assistant positions while completing their degrees. Prioritizing diversity and inclusion, the Department of Computer Science and Engineering organizes events to encourage underrepresented groups in the field.
Applying to UConn
Admission to the program requires a bachelor's degree, two recommendation letters, GRE scores (waived for the 2020-21 academic year) and preparation in computing and mathematics. Applicants must also qualify for the research, teaching, or five-year track.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Public Accreditation: NECHE Tuition: $8,454/semester (in state); $19,410/semester (out of state); $13,902 (regional students) Required Credits: 30 credits Program Length: 2-4 semesters Delivery Format: On campus
A major research institution founded in 1861, the University of Washington educates over 54,000 students annually. The Seattle-based school ranks among the oldest state-supported universities on the Pacific coast.
Housed in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, UW's flexible computer science and engineering program delivers instruction through online colloquia and one weekly evening class. The 40-credit degree typically takes about 2.5 years to complete.
Degree-seekers pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency or citizenship status. The program welcomes international learners and enrollees from underrepresented backgrounds. Many local employers offer tuition reimbursement for the PMP program. Students enjoy access to UW computer science libraries.
Applying to UW
PMP applicants must live and work in Seattle. Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field, a minimum 3.0 GPA, experience with advanced computing technology, and GRE scores (waived until fall 2022).
Program at a Glance
School Type: Public Accreditation: NWCCU Tuition: $1,015/credit Required Credits: 40 credits Program Length: 2.5 years Delivery Format: Hybrid
One of the world's most prestigious educational institutions, Harvard University enrolls over 23,000 students at its Cambridge, Massachusetts campus. Four million more learners study through HarvardX, the university's online platform.
Harvard's John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences offers one of the best computer science master's programs in the United States. Combining computer science with applied mathematics, the interdisciplinary computational science and engineering program awards master of science (SM) and master of engineering (ME) degrees. Thirty percent of computational science and engineering program faculty members hold joint appointments in other departments.
The one-year SM program features coursework in computational foundations, systems development, and advanced scientific computing. Students use mathematical techniques to model complex systems, analyze big data, and participate in collaborative software development. A final-semester capstone research project finishes the degree.
Applying to Harvard
Applicants must demonstrate a background in computer science, math, and statistics. Required materials include a statement of purpose, three recommendation letters, transcripts, and a resume or CV. The program does not accept GRE scores.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Private Accreditation: NECHE Tuition: $56,528/year (SM program and first year of ME program); $28,264 (second year of ME program) Program Length: 1 year (SM); 2 years (ME) Delivery Format: On campus
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
California Polytechnic State University hosts over 21,000 students at its San Luis Obispo campus. The public university's more than 200 undergraduate and graduate programs emphasize real-world learning and hands-on experience.
Cal Poly's 45-credit master's in computer science program prepares degree-seekers for careers in areas such as software engineering, artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, and computer graphics. The curriculum includes courses in computer architecture, software engineering, advanced data mining, and computer support for knowledge management. Students complete a thesis or project under faculty supervision.
A variety of computer science student organizations provide opportunities for community engagement. Cal Poly encourages women and underrepresented minorities to apply to the master's in computer science program.
Applying to Cal Poly
Applicants with a bachelor's in computer science need a minimum 3.0 GPA; those with degrees in other fields must hold a minimum 3.25 GPA. The program also requires GRE scores and three recommendation letters.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Public Accreditation: WSCUC Tuition: $11,505/year (in state); $17,841/year (out of state) Required Credits: 45 credits Delivery Format: On campus
A private university established in 1873, Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee enrolls over 13,000 students annually. Vanderbilt students enjoy access to more than 500 clubs and organizations.
One of the best computer science master's programs for aspiring tech professionals, Vanderbilt's MS in computer science program features coursework in software engineering and computer science theory. Learners develop technical skills through hands-on learning.
Enrollees can choose between online and on-campus course delivery and may elect a thesis or non-thesis track. The online program features live instruction. Courses focus on topics such as cybersecurity, software and systems engineering, mobile and cloud computing, and distributed systems.
Applying to Vanderbilt
The program requires a bachelor's degree in computer science or another field with a strong computing emphasis. Applicants must submit transcripts, a CV, recommendation letters, and GRE scores.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Private Accreditation: SACSCOC Tuition: $2,087/credit Required Credits: 30 credits Delivery Format: 100% online (synchronous) or on campus
Located in La Jolla, the University of California, San Diego receives more than $1 billion in research funding annually. Over 160 current and former faculty members hold membership in the National Academies of Engineering, Sciences, and Medicine.
Housed in the Jacobs School of Engineering, UC San Diego's computer science master's programs offer part-time and full-time options. These selective programs receive over 6,000 applications annually.
Enrollees can follow one of three MS plans. The thesis plan and comprehensive standard plans encompass 40 credits and the comprehensive interdisciplinary plan 48. All students complete breadth requirements in theory, systems, and applications. Additional coursework explores subjects such as algorithms design and analysis, computer communication networks, database system principles, and computer science logic.
Applying to UC San Diego
Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and a bachelor's degree, preferably in computer science or a related field. Students with degrees in non-computing fields must complete prerequisite computer science and engineering courses. UC San Diego does not require the GRE for fall 2021 admission.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Public Accreditation: WSCUC Tuition: $3,814/quarter (in state); $8,848/quarter (out of state) Required Credits: 40-48 credits Delivery Format: On campus
UC Santa Barbara's 42-credit master's in computer science program features courses in advanced computer architecture, advanced topics in operating systems, numerical simulation, and data and knowledge bases. Learners select a major area in systems, applications, or foundations/theory. The program offers three degree plans with varying research commitments.
Under faculty supervision, thesis plan participants complete and defend an approved thesis involving significant research. Project plan students conduct directed or supervised research, complete a report, and deliver a 30-minute public presentation. The comprehensive examination plan requires additional coursework in place of independent research.
Applying to UC Santa Barbara
Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree in a STEM field and a minimum 3.0 GPA. The program does not require the GRE for fall 2021 applicants. The application requires a $120 fee.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Public Accreditation: WSCUC Tuition: 3,814/quarter (in state); $8,848/quarter (out of state) Required Credits: 42 credits Delivery Format: On campus
Founded in 1785, the University of Georgia in Athens ranks as the United States' oldest publicly chartered university. The state's flagship institution, UGA serves 38,000 students annually across 17 colleges and schools.
UGA's MS in computer science focuses on computing theory, software design, and system design. The program's 32-credit curriculum covers subjects such as automata and formal languages, software engineering, computer systems architecture, and distributed computing systems. Full-time students usually take 9-15 credits a semester.
Degree-seekers can choose a thesis or non-thesis option. Non-thesis students complete a master's project and report, typically during the last two semesters of study. The thesis option requires learners to conduct original research in a particular computer science area. Computer science majors can apply for department assistantships, internships, and part-time jobs in other departments.
Applying to UGA
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree, preferably in computer science or a related field. Students without this background must complete prerequisite classes. Additional requirements include GRE scores, three recommendation letters, and a personal statement.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Public Accreditation: SACSCOC Tuition: $8,686/year (in state); $24,644/year (out of state) Required Credits: 30-32 credits Delivery Format: On campus
Founded by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young University enrolls more than 33,000 students from every U.S. state and 105 countries. The Provo, Utah- based school offers 187 undergraduate majors and 88 master's programs.
BYU's master's in computer science program fosters proficiency in research and communication. The curriculum explores areas such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, networking and security, and computer and information theory. Individual courses examine big data systems, deep learning, advanced neural networks, and algorithmic languages and compilers.
The program offers a 30-credit thesis option and a 33-credit project option. The department's research labs provide opportunities for learners to hone hands-on research skills. Computer science research areas at BYU include artificial intelligence, data and text analytics, and human-computer interaction and software development.
Applying to BYU
BYU requires a bachelor's degree, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and an ecclesiastical endorsement. Applicants must submit transcripts, a $50 fee, and GRE scores. They must also agree to uphold BYU's honor code.
Among the United States' oldest public universities, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has educated students since 1789. The university offers 104 master's programs, 74 bachelor's degrees, and 65 doctoral degrees.
UNC-Chapel Hill's 30-credit master's in computer science curriculum incorporates coursework in applications, systems and hardware, and theory and formal thinking. To graduate, students must program and document a program product, compose a professional-quality technical document, and pass a comprehensive exam. Computer science faculty conduct research in areas including autonomous and cyber-physical systems, human-computer interaction, and medical image analysis.
The Department of Computer Science's corporate partnerships allow students access to exclusive recruiting events. The department's corporate partners also sponsor student hackathons and organize events to encourage women and minorities pursuing computer science careers.
Applying to UNC-Chapel Hill
The program requires a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Prospective students must submit a resume or CV, statement of purpose, and recommendation letters. UNC-Chapel Hill recommends but does not require the GRE.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Public Accreditation: SACSCOC Tuition: $10,571/semester (in state); $19,144 (out of state) Required Credits: 30 credits Program Length: 4 semesters Delivery Format: On campus
Duke's 30-credit master's in computer science offers thesis and coursework-only options. Both plans require an oral exam. Thesis option enrollees complete a faculty-supervised research project, written report, and public defense. Learners following the coursework-only plan submit a portfolio for review.
Duke's computer science curriculum features courses in subjects such as applied cryptography, computational biology, advanced computer architecture, and computer architecture and hardware acceleration. Learners hone field-specific interview skills through a professional development course. Duke's Pratt School of Engineering, Department of Computer Science, and career center host TechConnect, an annual networking event.
Applying to Duke
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution and a computer science background. Required documents include college transcripts, GRE scores, recommendation letters, and a statement of purpose.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Private Accreditation: SACSCOC Tuition: $28,276/semester Required Credits: 30 credits Delivery Format: On campus
What the Best Computer Science Master's Programs Have in Common
College experiences vary, but the best computer science master’s programs share several characteristics. Below, we explain some commonalities among top schools.
They are accredited. Colleges and universities undergo accreditation to demonstrate that they meet minimum educational standards. Enrollees at both regionally and nationally accredited institutions may qualify for federal financial aid. Attending a regionally accredited school increases students’ chances of successfully transferring credit and qualifying for professional certifications. The schools on our rankings list of the best computer science master’s programs hold regional accreditation from one of the following agencies:
Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
They promote academic excellence. We measure academic excellence by looking at factors like student retention rate, graduation rate, and presence of a robust faculty. For example, the University of California, Berkeley’s 17.8-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio allows learners to enjoy small class sizes and receive more one-on-one time with instructors.
They maintain a high reputation. We assess reputation by considering criteria such as admissions yield, percentage of applicants admitted, and return on investment. The best schools maintain selective admissions criteria. For example, the master’s in computer science program at the University of California, Los Angeles accepts just 14% of applicants, ensuring that only the top candidates receive admission.
They are affordable. Cost should not prevent qualified applicants from attending top universities. Our affordability rubric includes post-graduation student debt, percentage of students receiving financial aid, and degree cost for learners with scholarships. For example, the University of Wisconsin-Madison supports many of its computer science MS students through research and teaching assistantships, fellowships, and on-campus employment.
What To Expect From Master’s in Computer Science Programs
A master’s in computer science equips students with advanced knowledge and technical skills in computers and IT. Typical computer science graduate programs focus on topics like machine learning, programming, software development and engineering, and database management. Most build upon the foundation laid in a bachelor’s in computer science program.
Most master’s in computer science degrees take two full-time years to complete and require 30-60 credits. Cost expectations vary considerably, depending on school type, program format, and student residency status. Schools offer different master’s in computer science degree types and concentrations.
Most programs require core, elective/concentration, and project/thesis credits. Typical classes explore issues like machine learning, advanced algorithms, and advanced computer architecture. Below, we discuss what to expect from a master’s in computer science in more detail.
Admission criteria for master’s in computer science programs vary by school, but many require a bachelor’s in computer science from a regionally accredited university and a minimum GPA of 2.5-3.0. Some programs admit those with an undergraduate degree in another subject, but require learners to complete prerequisite foundational courses prior to applying or enrolling.
Additional admission requirements may include 3-5 years of professional experience and satisfactory GRE test scores. Applicants typically submit college transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of purpose. Some programs require an in-person or phone interview.
Most master’s in computer science programs offer a master of science (MS) in computer science. However, schools may offer other types of master’s degrees in this field, such as a master of business administration (MBA) in computer science.
Earning a general MS in computer science provides a strong foundation in general computer science theory and practice and prepares students for a variety of computer-related careers. An MBA in computer science focuses on business skills and theory with an emphasis on computer science. Graduates with an MBA in computer science can use their unique skill set in business or IT positions.
Many computer science master’s programs offer concentrations in areas like artificial intelligence, data analytics, software engineering, and cybersecurity. Students who want to specialize in a subdiscipline of computer science can also earn stand-alone master’s degrees in subjects like cybersecurity and software engineering. Earning a master’s in a subdiscipline of the field helps graduates prepare for more specialized career paths.
Popular Computer Science Courses
Specific master’s in computer science curricula and types of required classes vary by school. Computer science majors usually focus on advanced theory and practice of computer science. Topics include artificial intelligence, algorithms, machine learning, and software architecture and design. Most programs require core, elective/concentration, and thesis/project courses. Below, we describe typical master’s in computer science classes.
This course provides an introduction to the role of intelligent technologies in engineering and science. Students learn about essential algorithms and theoretical foundations of machine learning. Other topics include least squares regression, bias variance trade-offs, statistical learning theory, and multitask learning.
This course explores the fundamentals of algorithms, including advanced methods of implementation, analysis and algorithmic design. Topics include randomization, bit scaling, network flow, and fixed-parameter algorithms. Students gain proficiency with data structures, computational geometry, network optimization, and external memory.
This class focuses on the organization and architecture of computers, historical developments, quantitative analysis of design alternatives, and principles of instruction sets. Other topics include memory, interconnection, storage, and architectural innovations. Participants learn computer architecture terminology and major principles.
Learners in this course receive an introduction to the way database systems function, with a focus on relational algebra, query processing, query optimization, and data models. The class also emphasizes database design, SQL programming, object-relational mappings, and isolation and consistency.
Students design, research, and create an advanced master’s in computer science project in this course. The class typically continues for two semesters and includes faculty supervision. Learners identify a problem in computer science and conduct original research to answer their questions.
How Much Will a Master’s in Computer Science Cost?
The cost of a master’s in computer science varies by school. Factors that can influence how much you pay include program format (online or in-person), type of school (private or public), and tuition rate (in-state or out-of-state).
Public universities often offer the most affordable degrees, particularly if you qualify for in-state tuition. Prospective students should consider costs they may face while pursuing their degree in addition to tuition and fees, including housing, transportation, groceries, and textbooks.
Computer science master’s programs offer a variety of financing options to help learners pay for their degree, including loans, scholarships, grants, and fellowships. Many graduate programs provide graduate research or teaching assistantships, which give students free or reduced tuition in exchange for their part-time employment at the university. Some graduate assistants receive a stipend to help pay for living expenses. See below for more information about financial aid and scholarships for master’s in computer science students.
Master’s in computer science graduates pursue a variety of well-paid computer and IT careers.
Because of their advanced knowledge and in-demand technical skills, computer science professionals make substantial salaries. As of May 2019, computer network architects earned a median annual salary of $112,690, and computer and information research scientists garnered a median of $122,840 annually. On the even higher end, computer and information systems managers earned a median annual salary of $146,360.
Below we describe potential career paths for graduates, including typical job duties, salary and career outlook, and why a computer science degree is particularly valuable.
Computer and Information Research Scientists
Computer and information research scientists create new technologies and find ways to use existing technologies to solve problems in business, education, healthcare, and government. They may specialize in areas like programming or robotics. Typical job duties include inventing new programming languages, designing software experiments, and doing research on human-computer interaction.
One of the highest paid careers for computer science graduates, computer and information systems managers oversee computer issues at organizations of all kinds. These professionals work in the computer systems design, information, finance and insurance, and management industries. Job duties may include negotiating prices with vendors, planning installation of computer hardware, and directing IT workers.
Required Education: Bachelor’s degree required; master’s degree often preferred
Computer hardware engineers work with computer systems and their components, including processors, networks, memory devices, and routers. They may design new hardware, test hardware, analyze test results, and oversee manufacturing of new hardware. They exhibit excellent analytical, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.
Required Education: Bachelor’s degree required; many large firms require a master’s degree
Computer network architects create data communication networks, including intranets, wide area networks, and local area networks. They need to understand their organization’s business plan to help achieve organizational goals using technology. Typical duties may include researching networking technologies, upgrading hardware, and making recommendations to management.
Required Education: Bachelor’s degree required; some employers prefer a master’s degree
Information security analysts protect their organizations’ computer systems and networks by enacting security measures. They monitor networks for security breaches, install data encryption programs and firewalls, and research IT security trends. Information security architects can improve their career opportunities and salary potential by pursuing industry certifications.
Required Education: Bachelor’s degree required; master’s required by some employers
Choosing the Right Computer Science Graduate Program
Prospective students can learn a lot from looking at our rankings list of the best computer science master’s programs. However, you many want to consider some of these additional criteria when choosing where to apply.
Attending an accredited school improves your chances of successfully transferring credit to another institution, receiving financial aid, and qualifying for professional certifications. Master’s in computer science programs also often hold separate programmatic accreditation from ABET.
Attending a prestigious master’s in computer science program may expose students to better opportunities while in school. Graduates of well-known schools may also find better job opportunities after graduation.
Research program faculty members to see if anyone is conducting research related to your own interests. You can also check to see where faculty got their own education and whether they hold any awards.
Do you seek a graduate school experience in which you make close friends and participate in a lot of extracurricular activities? Or do you prefer a more professional culture?
Figure out your estimated cost of attendance and budget prior to enrolling. Keep in mind that most master’s in computer science programs provide financing opportunities like scholarships, grants, loans, and fellowships.
How difficult may it be for you to get into your desired program? Many schools post program acceptance rates online.
Should You Get Your Master’s in Computer Science Online?
Online master’s in computer science programs offer benefits such as convenience, affordability, and flexibility. Distance education programs appeal particularly to working professionals, people who graduated with a bachelor’s degree many years ago, and students with family responsibilities.
Many schools offer online degrees that feature the same curricula, faculty members, and access to university resources as their on-campus versions.
In the past, some employers remained dubious about hiring someone with an online degree, but today distance education is widely recognized as equivalent to many in-person programs. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to shift public perception of online learning, making distance learning even more popular and understood as a legitimate education.
Factors to weigh when determining whether the online experience is right for you include your learning style, budget, and the availability of distance education programs in your field. Many people thrive in an online learning environment, but some prefer a traditional on-campus experience. Only you can decide if you should pursue an online master’s of science in computer science.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need a bachelor's in computer science to get a master's?
You need a bachelor’s degree, but not necessarily in computer science. Students without a background in computer science typically need to complete prerequisite foundational classes before enrolling.
Can I get a computer science degree online?
Many schools offer online master’s in computer science programs.
What can you do with a master's in computer science?
A master’s in computer science prepares graduates for a variety of computer and IT careers. Potential jobs include computer and research information scientist, computer hardware engineer, and computer network architect.
Which is better: An MBA or MSc in computer science?
An MBA or MSc in computer science can both open the door to lucrative, in-demand, and rewarding jobs. Prospective students should choose their degree based on their academic interests and career goals. Business-minded learners typically choose the MBA.
Is a master's in computer science worth it?
Although a master’s in computer science requires an investment of significant time, money, and work, it typically pays off. Graduates possess the knowledge and technical skills to qualify for many in-demand, lucrative careers.
Professional Organizations for Computer Science
Association for Computing Machinery
ACM convenes computing professionals to share resources, communicate with one another, and advance the field. With almost 100,000 members (many of whom live outside the United States), ACM is among the largest and fastest-growing organizations for computing professionals. Members receive access to various educational programs and publications, and most members can join special interest groups or local chapters to engage with peers. ACM also connects members with leadership opportunities to bolster their resumes and expand their networks.
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Computer Society
Created for both computer science and engineering leaders, the IEEE Computer Society strives to promote collaboration between the two fields. The society regularly organizes conferences offering networking and professional development opportunities. Members receive access to the IEEE Spectrum magazine, a digital library, networking events, and industry discounts. The organization offers membership levels for students, basic members, and preferred members, with each level offering different benefits.
Association for Women in Computing
Founded in 1978, AWC is among the oldest professional organizations for women in computing. AWC works to promote professional growth through online programs and networking. AWC offers mentoring, continuing education, and professional development opportunities. To reach as many women in computing as possible, AWC offers both in-person and internet-based networking. AWC encourages current students to create college chapters.
A global leader for tech professionals, CompTIA offers certification, education, and professional development opportunities. Popular certifications include A+, Linux+, CySA+, and CTT+. To help prepare members for certification exams, CompTIA provides training, online study tools, instructor-led programs, and other helpful materials. The organization also features continuing education opportunities to help members meet certification renewal requirements. Professional members receive discounts on CompTIA products and join an extensive professional network, while student members gain access to scholarship opportunities, career advice, and competitions.
Bachelor's programs in computer science (CS) cover the theoretical and mathematical underpinnings of computing. Schools offer various degree titles, including bachelor of arts in computer science, bachelor of applied science...