Best Master's Degrees in Computer Science for 2023

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Updated December 22, 2022

Learn about our top picks for the best master's in computer science degrees, including the most affordable and best military options. Compare each school by cost, delivery format, and length.

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The modern computer science field began in the 20th century as 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. Consequently, more than 100,000 U.S. students were enrolled in graduate-level computer science programs as of 2019.

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

Read on to discover some of the best master's degrees in computer science available in 2023.

Best Master's in Computer Science Programs

Check out the top five master's in computer science in 2023 and how these schools and programs go above and beyond the competition. More information on the ranking methodology can be found in the link below.

#1 Best Master’s Degrees in Computer Science for 2023

University of California-Los Angeles

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

Founded in 1919, UCLA has more than 47,000 students across its 12 professional schools. The school has more than 80 programs at the master's level alone. 

Master of Science in Computer Science

Run by the engineering and applied science school, University of California-Los Angeles' master's in computer science features a thesis and a capstone track. In both paths, students complete nine courses from fields like artificial intelligence, data science, and system architecture. Thesis students must also complete two thesis courses, whereas capstone students complete an individual project with an advisor. 

UCLA plays a prominent role in the nation's computer science advancements, with 31 relevant research centers and labs. Graduate students benefit from such close proximity to industry-leading projects and innovations, along with the school's strategic industry partnerships and over 40 computer-related student clubs and organizations.

Applying to UCLA

Applications to UCLA cost $135 and require a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Candidates also need to submit a statement of purpose, a personal statement, transcripts, and letters of recommendation. 

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Tuition: $3,900/quarter
  • Required Credits: 36
  • Program Length: 5-7 quarters
  • Delivery Format: On campus
Average Tuition
In-state
$11,442
Out-of-state
$41,196
Retention Rate
96%
Admission Rate
14%
Students Enrolled
44,589
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
94% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#2 Best Master’s Degrees in Computer Science for 2023

University of California-Berkeley

  • Berkeley, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Berkeley was founded in 1868 and has more than 45,000 students in over 350 programs. The school made a mission to have a more lasting impact on California's future generations than gold. 

Master of Science in Computer Science

Berkeley's program for a master's in computer science features a thesis and project report path. The thesis track has 4-10 individual research credit requirements, whereas the project report track has 3-6. Students in either path can choose from several specializations, including security, human-computer interaction, and database management systems. 

Berkeley's computer science cohorts are often limited to 10 students, giving learners a more personal and engaged learning experience. The electrical engineering and computer science department has more than 70 research centers and labs. Students also have access to more than 20 student groups related to computer science. 

Applying to Berkeley 

For admission to Berkeley, applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. They also need to pay the $135 application fee and submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a statement of purpose. 

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Tuition: $5,850/year
  • Required Credits: 24
  • Program Length: Two years
  • Delivery Format: On campus
Average Tuition
In-state
$11,442
Out-of-state
$41,196
Retention Rate
96%
Admission Rate
17%
Students Enrolled
42,327
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
97% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#3 Best Master’s Degrees in Computer Science for 2023

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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

In 1795, UNC-Chapel Hill became the first public school in the country to confer degrees. The school now has more than 30,000 students and over 260 programs, including more than 100 at the master's level. 

Master of Science in Computer Science 

UNC-Chapel Hill's master's in computer science allows students to build their own program around their research interests. Possible research areas include computer vision, machine learning, natural language processing, and real-time systems. All students must also satisfy breadth course requirements in applications, system and hardware, and theory and formal thinking. 

The program has a thesis and nonthesis option, along with a written or oral comprehensive examination. Learners also need to design and develop a piece of product-quality software and a professional technical document. UNC-Chapel Hill's extensive computer science facilities include general computing, software, and network environments, plus an extensive computation infrastructure. 

Applying to UNC-Chapel Hill

UNC-Chapel Hill applicants need a bachelor's with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Their $95 application needs to include transcripts, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a resume. Applicants also need to identify up to five research areas they want to pursue and five faculty members they want to work with.

GRE scores are recommended.

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $5,276/semester (in state); $14,139/semester (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 30
  • Program Length: Four semesters or less
  • Delivery Format: On campus
Average Tuition
In-state
$7,019
Out-of-state
$34,198
Retention Rate
95%
Admission Rate
25%
Students Enrolled
30,092
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
91% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#4 Best Master’s Degrees in Computer Science for 2023

University of California-Irvine

  • Irvine, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Founded in 1965, UCI enrolls more than 37,000 students in over 220 programs. The university has 18 academic schools, including the information and computer sciences school, which began in 1968. 

Master of Science in Computer Science

University of California-Irvine's master's in computer science has a professional track with a comprehensive examination and research-oriented track with a thesis. Students build their program by choosing four of seven core courses, with options in data structures, architecture, system software, AI, and networks, plus database systems and visual computing. 

Students also choose from 12 research areas, including multimedia and gaming, security, and programming languages and compilers. After completing their final projects or papers, learners present their work to the school's professional network partners. With more than 20 computer science research centers, UCI also provides its graduate students with numerous research and extracurricular opportunities. 

Applying to UCI

UCI applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA for admission. The application costs $135 and must include GRE test scores, three letters of recommendation, and transcripts. 

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Tuition: $10,458/quarter
  • Required Credits: 47
  • Program Length: 15 months
  • Delivery Format: On campus
Average Tuition
In-state
$11,442
Out-of-state
$41,196
Retention Rate
94%
Admission Rate
30%
Students Enrolled
36,303
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
99% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#5 Best Master’s Degrees in Computer Science for 2023

University of California-Davis

  • Davis, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

UC Davis began as a research and science extension of UC Berkeley in 1908. After becoming an official campus in 1959, the school has grown to host more than 38,000 students, six professional schools, over 100 majors, and more than 100 graduate programs. 

Master of Science in Computer Science

The master's in computer science from UC Davis offers two tracks: a thesis-based path and a project- or exam-based path. Students complete core courses in three of four areas, including architecture, theory, applications, and systems. The school provides learners with direct support from a thesis or project advisor, graduate advisor, and graduate program coordinator.

UC Davis students can also access research opportunities and mentorship from UC Davis' computer science graduate group consisting of over 75 faculty members. Learners can benefit from program partnerships with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, along with research partnerships with several industry-leading organizations.

Applying to UC Davis

UC Davis graduate applications cost $125 and require candidates to have a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 minimum GPA. Applicants must identify their area of interest and submit transcripts, a resume, and three letters of recommendation. They also need to submit a statement of purpose and a personal history and diversity statement. 

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Tuition: $3,900/quarter
  • Required Credits: 36
  • Program Length: 2-3 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus
Average Tuition
In-state
$11,442
Out-of-state
$41,196
Retention Rate
93%
Admission Rate
46%
Students Enrolled
39,074
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
90% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

Why Get a Computer Science Master's Degree?

Earning a master's in computer science takes time, hard work, and money, but skilled graduates can qualify for jobs that pay higher-than-average salaries. Ultimately, deciding whether a master's degree is worth the investment depends on each individual's goals.

A master's degree in computer science may offer better return on investment and a more thorough, rigorous education than a typical coding bootcamp. Below, we detail some benefits of earning a master's in computer science.

  • Valuable Skills: Computer science master's programs develop in-demand technical skills. Because not many people possess this advanced knowledge, computer science professionals with advanced credentials can qualify for multiple job opportunities that pay higher-than-average salaries.
  • Growing Field: As more organizations digitize their operations, nearly every industry can benefit from computer science professionals' skills. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects faster-than-average growth for computer and IT occupations from 2021 to 2031.
  • Higher-Than-Average Salaries: Graduates of computer science master's programs often earn wages that exceed the national average salary for all occupations. For example, the BLS reports computer and information research scientists made a median annual salary of $131,490 as of May 2021.

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 languages, software development and engineering, and database management. These degrees' curricula build upon the foundation laid in bachelor's in computer science programs.

Most master's in computer science degrees take two years of full-time study to complete and require 30-60 credit hours. Cost expectations vary based on school type, program format, and student residency status. Schools offer different master's in computer science degree types and concentrations.

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 Requirements

Admissions criteria for master's in computer science programs vary by school. However, common components of an application include:

  • A bachelor's in computer science from a regionally accredited university, or a bachelor's in another field with prerequisite foundational courses
  • A minimum GPA of 2.5-3.0
  • A minimum 3-5 years of professional experience
  • GRE scores

Applicants also usually submit college transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of purpose. Some programs require an in-person or phone interview.

Degree and Specialization Options

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) that focuses on information technology.

Earning a general MS in computer science provides a strong foundation in computer science theory and practice, preparing students for a variety of computer-related careers. An IT-related MBA focuses on business skills specific to the computer science industry. Graduates with an MBA geared toward 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 seeking to specialize in these subdisciplines may also pursue full master's degrees dedicated to subjects like cybersecurity and software engineering. Earning a master's in these niche areas helps graduates prepare for more specialized career paths, many of which pay higher-than-average salaries.

Popular Computer Science Courses

A master's in computer science deepens learners' knowledge of computer science fundamentals and equips students with valuable problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Most programs offer an array of courses in subjects like artificial intelligence, 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. Participants learn computer architecture terminology and major principles.
  • Database Systems: Learners in this course receive an introduction to the way database systems function, focusing on 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 class, students explore how cryptography functions as a security method in computer applications. Topics include common ciphers, password cracking, advanced cryptography protocols, and election algorithms. Enrollees need prior knowledge of discrete mathematics, algebra, computer architecture, and data structures.

What Will a Master's in Computer Science Degree 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 typically offer the most affordable master's degrees, particularly if you qualify for in-state tuition. In addition to tuition and fees, prospective students should consider expenses like housing, transportation, and groceries as they calculate the cost of pursuing their degree.

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 part-time employment at the university. Some graduate assistants receive a stipend to help pay for living expenses.

Jobs for Master's in Computer Science Graduates

Computer and Information Research Scientists


Computer and information research scientists seek answers to the discipline's most complex queries. They may create models that address these questions, determine new system requirements, or 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 organizations.

Required Education: Master's degree

Median Annual Salary: $131,490

Job Outlook (2021-31): +21%

Computer and Information Systems Managers


Among the highest-paying computer and information science careers, systems managers plan and direct organizations' computer-related activities. These professionals may serve as IT managers, IT directors, chief technology officers, or chief information security officers. Their duties typically depend on their roles, though they generally combine management with technology knowledge.

Required Education: Bachelor's degree required; master's degree preferred

Median Annual Salary: $159,010

Job Outlook (2021-31): +16%

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 their work and modify designs accordingly. 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

Median Annual Salary: $128,170

Job Outlook (2021-31): +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 often prefer a computer science master's degree for this role.

Required Education: Bachelor's degree required; master's degree preferred

Median Annual Salary: $120,520

Job Outlook (2021-31): +4%

Information Security Analysts


Information security analysts provide protection for their organization's networks and computer systems. They may monitor systems for breaches, check for vulnerabilities, research security trends, and recommend security 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

Median Annual Salary: $102,600

Job Outlook (2021-31): +35%

Choosing a Computer Science Graduate Degree 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 separate 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. Do you want a graduate school experience with close-knit cohorts and extracurricular opportunities? Do you prefer a more professional, individualized learning experience?
  • Cost: Figure out your estimated cost of attendance and budget prior to enrolling. Keep in mind that schools offering master's degrees in computer science may provide financing opportunities like scholarships, grants, loans, and fellowships.
  • 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.

Should You Get Your Degree Online?

In addition to the growth of internet-based education as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, evolving market forces have also impacted how students learn. Many learners may seek cost-effective, in-demand degrees that they can earn without relocating.

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 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 paths

Computer Science Certificate Programs

Computer Science Certificate Programs

Associate Degrees in Computer Science

Associate Degrees in Computer Science

Bachelor's Degrees in Computer Science

Bachelor's Degrees in Computer Science

Online Bachelor's Degrees in Computer Science

Online Bachelor's Degrees in Computer Science

Affordable Online Master's in Computer Science

Affordable Online Master's in Computer Science

Doctoral Degrees in Computer Science

Doctoral Degrees in Computer Science

Questions About Master's in Computer Science Degrees

  • Is getting a master's in computer science better than just a bachelor's?

    In addition to an in-depth understanding of core computing concepts, master's degrees in computer science provide students with specialized knowledge in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and machine learning. Enrollees in these programs can also learn research methods and other tools to solve complex problems. These skills may help graduates qualify for advanced roles that pay higher-than-average salaries.

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

    Prospective students should choose a degree based on their academic interests and career goals. Many master's degrees in computer science can lead to advanced positions in the field.

  • What can you do with a master's degree 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.

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

    Typically, master's programs require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree. However, this credential does not need to be computer science-related as long as you satisfy schools' 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 offer higher-than-average salaries.

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