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10 Best Computer Science Masters Programs

best cs masters programs

The computer science industry is booming. More businesses than ever are developing online spaces. More businesses are shifting more of their business to the digital world.

There’s no better time to earn a master’s in computer science.

The world is more connected to the growing web of computers, mobile devices, and cloud networks. The need for skilled programmers and computer experts is growing, too. Master’s degrees are essential.

Computer science is now a standard field at most major universities. You can accomplish a lot with a bachelor’s degree in the subject. But acquiring a Master of Science in computer science is still valuable. It can lead to a higher salary ceiling and more interesting job opportunities. It’s not often intended as a degree for further research pursuits or as a stepping stone to a PhD.

Ready to get started? The first step is to take a look at our list of the best computer science programs.

This master’s degree in computer science is a terminal degree. It prepares you for specialized work in the computer science field. 

Plus, it is more important than ever before to stand out from the high number of computer science majors entering the workforce. A Master’s degree is a perfect way to do just that. Do you enjoy solving mathematical or logic problems? Do you like completing projects through quantitative reasoning? Then you will be a great fit for a Master’s in computer science.

A Master of Science in CS allows you to do lots of things for a career. You won’t be limited to data crunching or programming.

Computer science majors can enter dynamic and interesting fields. Examples include cyber-security, data analytics, or digital design.

With a master’s in computer science, you’ll be able to:

  • Design and develop software
  • Make existing software more efficient
  • Help businesses secure themselves against growing malware threats

You aren’t limited to one sector when you earn a Master of Science in Computer Science, either. Both the government and private companies need skilled computer science experts. This variety demonstrates the multitude of positions available for those with the right skills.

Keep reading to learn more about the best computer science masters programs!

See Also: 10 Best Master’s in Industrial Engineering


The exact admissions criteria for any Master’s program will vary by university. But most computer science programs have a few common requirements to be aware of.

For one, almost all computer science programs ask that applicants have a bachelor’s degree in a related subject. An acceptable bachelor’s degree will deal with math, statistics, programming, or computer engineering.

Of course, a bachelor’s degree in computer science is the logical degree to pursue, too. Most computer science programs also have a preferred programming language, such as C++ or JavaScript. Not having a computer science background in a specific language does not often disqualify you from acceptance.

If you have a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated subject, you may have to take additional prerequisite courses to qualify for a CS Master’s program. There are a few Master’s computer science programs that may accept graduate students without a bachelor’s degree. In most cases, these are joint BS/MS degree pathways where students enter a fast-track program. In this program, you will be able to complete both a bachelor’s and Master’s degree in five years. That’s from start to finish for this fifth year master’s program!

Most Master’s computer science programs have a minimum GPA requirement. This is usually around 3.0 or above. This number can vary from school to school. It’s always a good idea to target a higher than required GPA. In addition, all Master’s students must take the Graduate Record Examinations or GRE.

These computer tests measure your aptitude in a number of areas. It includes verbal reasoning, critical thinking, analytical writing, and quantitative reasoning. All of these are important for graduate work in any field. Computer science Master’s programs may have high GRE minimums or thresholds that must be met.

Students who have some level of professional experience will be given a higher priority for acceptance. Lots of Master’s computer science  programs want at least two letters of recommendation. These should be from the faculty of your previous school or your employers. 

See Also: 10 Best Computer Engineering Graduate Schools

What Do Computer Science Students Learn?

In your degree, you will cover the following topics and computer science courses:

  • Theoretical computer science
  • Data science
  • Software engineering
  • Machine learning
  • Computer engineering
  • Computer architecture
  • Computer systems
  • Computational science
  • Computer networks
  • Artificial intelligence/biocomputation computer science
  • Intelligent systems
  • Real world computing
  • Computer and information technology
  • Human computer interaction
  • Computer security
  • Operating systems
  • Computer science and engineering

Other topics and areas of specialization for a degree in computer science include:

  • Computer graphics
  • Software development
  • Database systems
  • New programming languages/older programming language
  • Data structures
  • Data analytics
  • Computer science theory and theoretical foundations
  • Scientific computing
  • Software systems
  • Distributed systems/networked systems/embedded systems
  • Creative technologies
  • Advanced algorithms and computer design
  • Computational biology
  • Information security
  • Database management systems
  • Analysis of algorithms
  • Computer and network security
  • Computational systems
  • High performance computing
  • Intelligent robotics
  • Software theory
  • Information science
  • Computer programming
  • Applied science
  • Computer and information research

Of course, there is some variability here. Many computer science students choose to add specializations to their professional master’s program as well. In this way, a degree in computer science prepares students for just about any career, including the coveted positions of information research scientists. With a degree in computer science, graduate students are well equipped to tackle any research project.

After earning a master’s in computer science, you could work in the following information technology occupations:

  • Information research scientists (added bonus – information research scientists can work just about anywhere!)
  • Computer scientists
  • Computer security specialist
  • Information systems managers and other information management positions
  • Web developer
  • Computer and information research
  • Computer sciences professors
  • Software publishers
  • Information science
  • Software development engineers
  • Software developers/software development
  • Computer and electrical engineering

…or any other area related to computer sciences and computing professionals. You’re sure to have a fruitful academic career and meet any career goals you might have!


Any pursuit of financial aid should start with the FAFSA. This application allows you to petition the federal government for aid. It’s the only way you can access excellent government grants, like the Pell Grant, or receive subsidized federal loans.

The FAFSA has to be completed before you pursue any other type of aid. It’s best to knock this out early. You also have to fill out the FAFSA every academic year.  FAFSA aid is based on your economic situation. Students without much of an income stand to benefit the most from its awards. Earning an MS in Computer Science can be affordable!

The rising popularity of many computer science programs has caused lots of universities to begin CS-specific scholarship programs and grant committees. These are funded by local university organizations. Applications can be found on school websites. Such scholarships or grants have individual requirements. They may need a personal essay or demonstration of your prior work. These financial aid programs are typically quite competitive.

Any students completing a MS in Computer Science on campus should investigate computer science assistantships and/or fellowships. Many assistantships will provide you with a small stipend to cover any living expenses along with your tuition expenses. In exchange, you’ll perform teaching assistant work for one of the professors. It usually requires between 15 and 20 hours of work each week. Assistantships are excellent opportunities.

Fellowships are another method of lowering tuition. Computer science fellowships are best thought of as prizes that you and your fellow program peers will compete for. Whoever wins the fellowship will have some or all of their tuition covered. Winners are usually determined based on potential for furthering the computer science field. These fellowships sometimes come with certain requirements or strings attached. But they’re very valuable, just like assistantships. Both fellowships and assistantships are competitive. Only a few students are accepted at a time.


The earnings for individuals with a MS in Computer Science range across a broad spectrum. General pay is higher than average for an MS in Computer Science compared to other fields. Those with more experience or with a MS in Computer Science are in a better position to obtain higher-paying positions. They can also take more interesting jobs than less-skilled programming jobs.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. News & World Report, computer science positions offer excellent salaries right off the bat.

For instance, standard computer programmers have a median annual wage of about $84,280. Work in the finance industry and you can earn salaries between $80,000 and $103,000. It’s easier to progress as a programmer with more experience and a MS in Computer Science degree.

Database administrators are people who oversee vast amounts of data into a responsible for larger networks or collections of software. They earn a higher median salary of about $90,070. These jobs are  important to many businesses or government organizations. Those who hold them are responsible for presenting large amounts of data to those without the expertise to understand it. In other words, database administrators are those who give information to executives for decision-making purposes. This position also only requires a bachelor’s degree at a minimum. Having a MS in Computer Science will make you a more competitive hire for any company.

There are also computer science jobs that require a Master’s degree for the initial hire. One such job is that of a computer and information research scientist. These computer science experts design new computing technologies. They discover how to integrate new developments with existing digital architecture. They’re capable of understanding and creating new digital tools and software for others to use.

As a result, they’re paid very well. The median pay is around $118,370 per year. This isn’t even the cap. Higher earners among CS scientists earn wages around $140,000 per year. Even scientists who do more research work can easily attain salaries of around $130,000 per year. It’s quite lucrative to snag a position as a CS scientist of some kind. This position always requires a professional Master’s degree.

These ultimate highs aren’t what you’ll experience immediately upon graduating. The BLS indicates that the median salary for most computer occupations is around $86,320 per year. This is still nothing to sneeze at.

A Master’s degree in computer science is clearly a worthwhile investment. The BLS clearly indicates that those in STEM fields with a MS in Computer Science earn a wage premium over their bachelor’s degree peers. Network and computer systems administrators have a wage premium amount of about $18,000. Web developers have a wage premium amount of about $14,000. Even miscellaneous mathematical or science occupations prefer MS in Computer Science holders. They award a premium salary amount of around $20,000 over those with just a bachelor’s degree. The data is clear. A CS Master’s degree is very worthwhile.


We have a time-tested four-part formula designed for ranking the best colleges in the nation. We’d love to share it with you. We prioritize four major factors:

  • Earnings Potential
  • Affordability
  • Student Satisfaction
  • Selectivity.

Reliable research and well-harvested data are the main ingredients in our recipe for success. We don’t make recommendations based on personal opinions, or financial incentives. Our revenue and content are separate. Sponsored schools have no impact on our rankings. The only way to make it onto one of our lists is to have an incredible academic program! 


We know that you have educational goals that you’re itching to pursue. You may not know where to start. The editors of Master’s Programs Guide utilize a unique ranking methodology based on the following three aspects:

40% Potential Salary After Graduation: Average mid-career salary of school alumni 

30% Institutional Accreditation: Regional and National Accreditation for the 2019-2020 school year 

30% Overall Degree Affordability: Average cost of undergraduate and graduate tuition per school

At Master’s Programs Guide, we strive to do our best to guide you and your family toward a fruitful academic career. The pursuit of knowledge is a noble one, and we want to help you reach your goals. For questions, comments, badge downloads, or data corrections, please feel free to reach out to us at

Check out our list of the 10 best computer science master’s programs! 



Georgia TechYou will find one of the best masters in computer science at Georgia Institute of Technology. The Georgia Institute of Technology began as a trade school. After its first 50 years, it transitioned to a recognized technological university with cutting edge computer science programs. They’re ranked as 8th overall for U.S. Graduate computer science programs by U.S. News and World Report. They are 16th for ranked Global Universities for CS by the same organization.

There is a high reported starting salary of $156,000 for spring 2016 computer science graduates. It’s clear that this MS in Computer Science degree holds tremendous value. In fact, the  College of Computing has the highest job placement rate of any major at Georgia Tech.

Georgia Tech’s Master of Science in computer science degree is designed for those who already hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science. They do accept applicants from other backgrounds or fields. They prefer that applicants have a strong background in computer science.

In your professional master’s program, you will take core courses and conduct cutting edge research in subjects like:

  • Data science
  • Software engineering
  • Computer engineering and electrical engineering
  • Computer architecture and machine learning
  • Computer networks
  • Computational biology
  • Computer and information science
  • Real world computing
  • Software systems and computer systems design
  • High performance computing
  • Big data
  • Game development
  • Information science and information systems
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Human computer interaction
  • Computer security and network security
  • Journalism and computer science
  • Programming languages
  • Operating systems  and computer systems

Applicants should have a strong background in C programming. The application to the degree in computer science is also  limited by the deadline. February 1 is the only application deadline each year. You will enter during the fall semester. Students from the Georgia Tech College of Computer BS program have the option to be admitted under the Fast-Track system. This is an alternative route to the Master’s degree program. Applicants for either pathway must have a GPA of 3.4.

Students have three options to pursue the Master of Science in computer science. The first master’s degree is a coursework-only option. It doesn’t require the completion of a capstone project or thesis. It consists of 30 credit hours of coursework. This master’s degree is an ideal choice for students with busy schedules.

The second option for the MS in Computer Science consists of 21 credit hours of coursework and a nine-hour project. The project has to be approved by their advisor and the CS coordinator. The project is an ideal opportunity for the student to showcase their qualifications. It can be used on their resume when seeking employment after graduation.

Finally, the thesis master’s degree option entails 18 credit hours of coursework. There is also a 12 credit hour thesis. Advance acceptance of the thesis concept is needed. Regardless of which path you choose to take, you’ll get to specialize in one of 11 distinct areas.

These master’s degree specializations include:

  • Computational Perception and Robotics
  • Computer Graphics
  • Computing Systems
  • Human Centered Computing

Each master’s degree specialization has  three to four core classes. These are shared with at least one other focus. The remainder of your credit hours center on specific classes unique to that branch.



StanfordAnother one of the best CS masters programs can be found at Stanford University. Stanford’s Master of Science in computer science has 45 units of study. Each Stanford unit equates to about three hours of work per week. This program is quite rigorous compared to others. Most students who qualify for this program complete it in six quarters because of the overall difficulty of each class. Completing the Stanford program will prepare you for any job. This private research university is one of the best in the nation. 

All students must complete five foundational courses as part of the master’s degree:

  • Probability
  • Algorithms
  • Computer Organization and Systems
  • Principles of Computer Systems
  • Logic, Automata and Computability.

A sixth course that implements educational techniques for software implementation is needed as well. You can complete a computer science degree online in some cases too. You will take extensive courses in programming languages. 

Students can then choose from 10 different specializations. Students can hyper specialize with a single-depth path that requires 27 units in a single area of specialization to be completed before graduation. This pathway is perfect for students who know exactly what field they want to go into.

Another option is a dual-depth pathway. In this, a student can select both a primary and secondary area of specialization. You’ll complete twenty-one units in the primary area. The remaining units are in the secondary area. This pathway is a great choice for students who don’t have a single overriding interest. It’s also great for those who wish to diversify their qualifications.

Stanford allows students to acquire a distinction in research. The first step is to identify a faculty advisor who can supervise and support their research topic. Then, students can develop the topic and accumulate significant research hours over three academic quarters. Additional supervised writing and research will be completed. These hours count as independent research program. They take the place of other courses.

Other breadth courses include:

  • Data science
  • Software engineering
  • Computer engineering
  • Computer architecture and machine learning
  • Computer and information science
  • Real world computing
  • Data structures
  • Software systems
  • Information science and information systems
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Human computer interaction
  • Programming languages
  • Operating systems  and computer systems

This Master of Science degree program is intense. Yet Stanford’s education cannot be undersold. U.S. News and World Report ranks it as No. 6 overall for National Universities in general. That’s not just in computer science. It shares the No. 1 slot for the Best Computer Science Schools with Carnegie Mellon University. Plus, Stanford is close to the historic Silicon Valley.

Its value is clear. There’s lots of potential in this Master of Science in Computer Science for employment, internships, and networking opportunities.



University of Texas AustinThe University of Texas at Austin has one of the best grad schools for computer science.

Although it was founded in 1883, the University of Texas at Austin is a modern, well-developed school. It has an exceptional graduate computer science program. It is the No. 7th best U.S. Public College according to Business First. UT Austin is known for its value and affordable tuition. It’s also No. 8 for Best-Value Public Colleges, according to Kiplinger in 2018. UT Austin has a student-faculty ratio of 19:1, too. You don’t need to worry about classes being too crowded to concentrate. You will get the support you need!

UT Austin does allow for those without undergraduate computer science degrees or an equivalent focus to apply for their Master of Science in computer science program. That said, it’s a particularly selective program with a very limited number of openings.

It has two on-campus Master’s in Computer Science degree options. There is one with a thesis and one without. Both master’s degrees have 30 credit hours of coursework. The non-thesis option has a more structured and organized coursework catalog. The thesis path for master’s degrees requires that students take two thesis classes. One is for research and the other for thesis development. The non-thesis option is also offered as an online option. The online master is ideal for aspiring information systems managers who don’t want to leave their current jobs. It is ideal for those who can’t attend school in person.

This Master of Science program does not offer specific areas of specialization. UT Austin’s program has both thesis and non-thesis graduate students take courses from their main CS catalog as part of their master’s degrees. That is as well as nine hours of “diversity” courses. These nine credit hours are taken from three areas:

  • theory
  • systems
  • application.

These diversify the master of computer science degrees beyond general computer science understanding. Although there are only three areas for these diversity courses, each area has a significant number of distinct classes for students to choose from. There’s a lot of personalization possible in the program. You should expect to take two years to finish. It’s rare that students complete UT Austin’s program in less time. But you can shave it down to one and a half years. This can be done if you take an additional course each semester.

UT Austin also boasts an extensive alumni network. There are many computer science graduates spread across national and local businesses. There are over 10,000 people in the computer science major alone. This group has a special email forwarding service and digital groups.

UT Austin also has a scholarship matching program. It is updated often for new master’s degree in computer science graduate students. These scholarships are generous. They can boost your graduate prospects by covering most or all of your tuition. Be sure to investigate all of these benefits if you want to attend UT Austin.



Cornell UniversityYou will find another one of the best graduate computer science programs
at Cornell University. This private research university is second to none.

Cornell’s computer science Master’s program is a four-semester program. It emphasizes advanced coursework and research. It is a terminal degree. Yet it is much more research-focused than other Master’s in Computer Science degrees. The biggest value that Cornell’s program offers is the added teaching assistant position. This is a position that all applicants receive upon admission.

You don’t need to apply for this position. It’s yours so long as you are admitted into the program. This does mean that the program is extremely competitive. It has a very small pool of positions. The value of the assistantship can’t be understated. It pays for the full costs of your tuition. It also awards you a stipend for any living expenses.

The computer science major has 34 credit hours. Six to 12 of those credit hours relate to your thesis research. There is no non-thesis option for this graduate program. The remaining non-thesis credit hours consist of six or eight graduate-level courses. In addition, Cornell requires that all graduate students have an outside minor, such as artificial intelligence, as part of the graduate program. The thesis for the graduate program must be accompanied by an oral presentation 

The full-time teaching assistant position that each student receives lasts for four semesters. This is the entire length of the computer science Master of Science program. It consists of 15 hours of work per week. It is dedicated to teaching assistant duties. All teaching assistantships come with a health insurance option. Summer internships and research assistantships are also available to Cornell students. They are not guaranteed.

As you can see, Cornell’s program has a lot of value. It is tough to enter. This adherence to high standards and fantastic rewards is typical of Cornell as a whole. It has a 9:1 student to faculty ratio. It is one of the most student-focused universities in the world. Such a learning environment also produced the notable scientist and entertainer Bill Nye, “The Science Guy”.

You will take core and elective courses in subjects like:

  • Data science
  • Software engineering
  • Computer engineering
  • Computer architecture and machine learning
  • Computer and information science
  • Software systems
  • Information science and information systems
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Human computer interaction
  • Operating systems  and computer systems

Its campus in Ithaca, New York, is beautiful and engaging. All students can take advantage of the natural splendor. There is a nearby lake, lots of natural waterfalls and gardens, and plenty of delicious eateries. It’s an excellent campus for engaging the mind and spirit in rigorous academic pursuits. 



University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUIUC offers another one of the top computer science masters programs
in the nation. The MS in Computer Science offers students the rare opportunity to earn a professional Master’s in Computer Science degree in just three to four semesters. These semesters are taken over a single year. This is shorter than the majority of other Master’s in Computer Science programs.

Any students accepted into this program must complete all MS in Computer Science requirements within that single year. This is an accelerated way to get your Master’s in Computer Science degree. It is an ideal choice for computer science professionals who don’t want to take too much time away from their careers. But you should be certain that you have the time and energy to focus on the program. You won’t get several years to finish a few remaining courses like with other universities.

They accept anyone with enough coursework in computer science-related fields. Those with experience in computer science will receive priority acceptance.  UIUC doesn’t require any GRE scores for its graduate programs. Their computer science program does not require any letters of recommendation.

It requires 32 credit hours of coursework to finish. Four of those courses selected from a core bracket of computer science classes. Each of these four “breadth” classes must be chosen from a different core area. This is to ensure that each graduate has significant experience in a variety of different computer science aspects. These core areas are:

  • Graphics
  • Scientific Computing
  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Artificial Intelligence.

The remaining coursework can be selected from other computer science courses. It can also be taken from the core areas.

UIUC offers several financial assistance options. These include teaching assistantships. Over 69% of students at UIUC receive some kind of financial aid from the university. Your chances of finding some kind of aid are good.

UIUC is a fantastic school to attend for its vibrant campus life and culture. The main campus has several museums and parks or recreational centers. You’ll always have something to do or a place to relax. UIUC also has a well-developed athletics component. It includes wheelchair and adapted sports programs. Plus, it’s an excellent campus for computer science enthusiasts. 100% of classrooms have wireless access. The majority of the buildings on campus – 367, in fact – also feature solid Wi-Fi connectivity. It’s a modern school for a modern era. It moved well into the digital age long after its initial founding in 1867.



HarvardHarvard University has one of the top CS masters programs in the world. It provides a one-year Master’s computational science and engineering program. It was developed by the Institute for Applied Computational Science. It provides training in the core mathematical and computing aspects of computer science. It includes independent research projects and several elective courses. These focus on how computation affects one or more distinct domains.

It is a deep-dive master of computer science program. It’s a great choice for students that want to get into the nitty-gritty aspects of computation. This private research university is regarded as one of the world’s best.

It has only a single application period for the fall semester. The application window occurs about a year prior to the actual program. Applications for the fall of 2020 must be completed in the fall of 2019. Harvard’s program is distinct from similar Master’s in Computer Science programs. It lacks specific application requirements. They will consider anyone who applies with an undergrad degree. They don’t require a specific major or certain scores on the GRE. They welcome those without academic work experience or interests. The program is a terminal type. It is meant to prepare an individual for work in an industrial or hands-on career.

Each plan of study for accepted students will include a single required class called Numerical Methods. Plus,  graduate students must take two of three possible core courses. All students must have at least one research experience by graduation. This requirement can be fulfilled with a capstone project or a semester-length independent study project.

The rest of the credits are electives from computer science and applied math.

You can take technical courses and optional thesis coursework such as:

  • Data science
  • Computer architecture and machine learning
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Computer and information technology
  • Operating systems  and computer systems

You can also take domain electives for these graduate programs that are essentially specializations. Domains for electives include:

  • Machine Learning
  • Data Systems
  • Data Science
  • Visualization.

By the end of the graduate programs, all students will have completed eight classes or the equivalent.

All of these aspects reflect Harvard’s devotion to rigor and excellence. Its accolades are well known across the world. U.S. News and World Report ranks it as No. 2 overall for its National Universities category. It is No. 2 for its Best Value in Schools category.

This is due to the quality of its education in the graduate programs. But it’s also because of its other factors. For example, there is a low student-to-faculty ratio at this top computer science graduate school.

With six students for every teacher, class sizes are rarely over 20 in these computer science degree programs.  This affords each student a chance for a more personalized education. You’ll get plenty of face-to-face time with their instructors. Harvard has a beautiful campus just outside the Boston metropolitan area. It mixes natural beauty with the convenience and bustle of a city environment. It also hosts the largest private collection of books in the world. There is an extensive library system. Its athletic teams compete in the Ivy League.



Carnegie Mellon UniversityCarnegie Mellon University offers one of the best graduate schools for computer science. This school shares the No. 1 ranking for Best Computer Science schools with Stanford according to U.S. News and World Report. This school emphasizes student choice and program flexibility. Their Master of Science in computer science program comes in three distinct varieties.

The largest and most common Master’s in computer science option is the standard Master of Science in computer science pathway. This is developed for students who already possess a bachelor’s degree. They’ll accept anyone with a bachelor’s degree. They prefer those with computer science or related degrees. You won’t rely on a fixed course of study. Instead, students in this program will construct their own personalized study plan. There’s no thesis track or research component for these computer science degrees. Most programs are coursework only. Students can complete this in three semesters. Students coming from a non-technical/computer science background can sometimes complete it in four. The first semester coves any prerequisites needed to understand later material.

The second Master’s in Computer Science option is the Fifth Year Master’s in Computer Science Program. It was designed for students  attending CMU earning a BS or a double major with computer science. The program incorporates a research component. The program lasts 12 months from start to finish. It includes a summer semester. It uses sections of your senior year to accelerate the learning. Work on your research project will begin during the summer after your senior year. It continues into your fifth year of school. This program is excellent for its ability to truncate costs and time spent at school. It’s competitive and requires evidence of research potential from your faculty supervisors. Letters of recommendation or proof of research and work experience are recommended. 

Students can also pursue an accelerated MBA program. In this, they can earn a bachelor’s degree and a Master’s in Computer Science at the same time. This MBA degree has a business component. It is suitable for computer science students who wish to emphasize the field’s role in business and economics. It’s also great for those who wish to become software entrepreneurs.

You can even take classes in subjects like:

  • Data science
  • Computer architecture and machine learning
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Operating systems  and computer systems

CMU is a university dedicated to the quality of its education. There are over 109,000 alumni spread across the globe. Those who’ve passed through its programs are always equipped for success. Its academics are reflective of its drive for exceptional quality. It also boasts an interesting and invigorating student life on campus. The campus hosts a Spring Carnival every year. There’s a “buggy” race that has competitors challenge each other using student-designed vehicles. CMU’s musical and athletic teams are among the best. They allow students to engage with a rich culture and the social lives of others in addition to focusing on academics.



University of California irvineYou will find another one of the best computer science graduate schools at the University of California, Irvine. UCI’s Master of Computer Science degree is perfect for students who want to jump straight into the technology workforce. The program spans 16 months in total. There are four academic quarters and a summer component. In this, students must either complete additional coursework or complete an internship. You’ll study from the fall of one year to the fall of the next year in these computer science programs. You can finish everything in less than two years.

These computer science programs are intense. It has a restrictive selection process. The program does admit some students without computer science backgrounds. This is the exception rather than the norm. All applicants must have a year of programming in Python, Java, or C++. Equivalent professional work experience may be accepted as an adequate substitute. This work experience must be approved by the application team. All students must be proficient in C/C++ . You’ll also need to complete an introductory statistics course. Three letters of recommendation and high GRE scores are also needed.

Getting into UCI is a worthwhile goal. It’s well known for its academic achievements and premier research facilities. It has produced three Nobel laureates since its founding in 1965. The Irvine campus is particularly beautiful. It rests in California’s temperate Orange County. It has year-round excellent weather. The campus is only a short while from the beach and other recreational hotspots.

The program is taught by world-renowned faculty from UCI’s Computer Science Department. The MCS program integrates a computer science writing and communication course. Most programs don’t focus on this subject. Yet this course can be beneficial for your professional career going forward. You’ll learn how to apply your writing and analytical skills. This can be a huge advantage when you need to present material to your superiors, ask for grants, or make design plans.

You can take three foundational courses in subjects like:

  • Data science
  • Computer architecture and machine learning
  • Artificial intelligence

All MCS students must complete a capstone design course. This includes professional writing, development and design components. These classes let you show off your skills. You can prove your expertise when coming up with your own computer science work.

You’ll have access to a dedicated career counseling team. This counseling team is ideal for students who aren’t 100% sure what type of job they should pursue. Given the wide variety of possible careers that any computer science specialist can hold, being able to speak with career placement computer science professionals is a huge bonus. This benefit even includes one-on-one personalized career coaching and professional development workshops.



University of Wisconsin-MadisonLooking for the best masters degree for computer science? You will find a great option at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This computer science master is truly second to none. 

UW-Madison was founded in 1848 as a small university. It has since expanded into a campus with 936 acres. Lots of research takes place at this university. It is ranked No. 6 for total research expenditures among US universities by U.S. News and World Report. Its overall academic value is easy to see. It’s ranked No. 15 for America’s Best Colleges among public universities by the same organization. Lots of amazing innovations and industry “firsts” have happened here. This includes the first national stem cell bank, the first cultivation of embryonic stem cells in the lab. It was home to the first space-based weather camera. It’s also home to the first bone marrow transplant. There’s a lot of history and possibility within these walls. UW-Madison’s faculty will provide you with the education you need to make your own contribution to computer science.

UW-Madison offers two pathways to attain a Master’s degree in computer science. The first traditional program allows students to pursue a Master’s in Computer Science degree with the option of continuing on to a PhD. . This program accepts students from all kinds of backgrounds. It does request that applicants have some programming experience. The program consists of 30 credit hours. 24 of these must be for CS courses. 15 of them are from a curated selection of core classes. The remaining three to six credits for the degree will be made up of a project and report or a Master’s in Computer Science thesis track.

Some required courses and capstone courses include:

  • Data science
  • Computer architecture and machine learning
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Operating systems  and computer systems

Students can pursue the professional Master’s in Computer Science that is designed for working computer scientists. It’s also ideal for those in the technology industry. It allows you to complete the program within two years. Yes, even with a busy job schedule. It only admits students once a year for enrollment during the fall semester. Keep the application deadline of March 15 in mind if this pathway appeals to you. The program is very similar to the traditional Master’s in Computer Science. It only requires 15 credits of core graduate-level master of computer science classes. The remaining courses can be taken from CS-related subjects at the 400 level or higher. All students must complete both a Master’s research class and Master’s thesis track class. Both of these count toward the 15 credit requirement described above. Independent study credits are available. That is, provided the student can show proof of their professional experience. They must receive approval from their faculty or advisors.

UW-Madison’s faculty and research experience are outstanding. You’ll be able to network with top CS professionals in research and engineering contexts. UW-Madison is home to plenty of research groups focused on computer science. Many of these researchers are published in top journals. They attend important conferences. 



NC StateYou will find another one of the best schools for masters in computer science at North Carolina State University. NC State is one of the leading research universities in the country. It has an excellent student-to-teacher ratio of 14:1. It’s no surprise that their Master of Science in computer science is a research-oriented degree. That is as opposed to an industry-focused one. It requires a thesis track plus the completion of a structured curriculum. The only non-thesis track option is for students interested in PhD computer science programs. The Master’s in Computer Science track with the thesis consists of 31 credit hours. Six of these are dedicated to your thesis research and development. All incoming Master students have to register. They must take an orientation course regardless of work experience.

You must take two courses from each category: theory and systems. The theory collection of classes emphasizes algorithmic and numerical knowledge. It is particularly useful for computer scientists who are interested in the developmental side of the subject. The systems class bracket emphasizes large data groups, graphics, and software engineering. It also covers the integration of computers with various types of networks. Both class groups are important. You are free to switch between them once you’ve fulfilled the requirements of one from each. This allows you to specialize.

Sample courses include:

  • Data science
  • Computer architecture and machine learning
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Operating systems  and computer systems

Be aware that NC-State has a continuous enrollment policy. You have to be registered every fall and spring semester until you graduate. It’s not possible to take any break semesters in the middle of your studies without requesting an official leave of absence. This program is more suitable for students who can dedicate up to two years of full-time study to their Master of Science in Computer Science pursuits. The school does allow you to complete your degree within six years if you only take one or two classes per semester. NC-State’s computer science path also offers many internship opportunities. These are in either full-time or part-time varieties. Most of the part-time internships take place during the school year. The full-time opportunities are during the summer. You have to have completed two semesters of study. You must be in good academic standing to qualify for either type of internship.

If you currently are or will soon attend NC-State, and haven’t yet completed your bachelor’s degree, you have one more option. You can take advantage of the Accelerated Bachelor’s-Master’s (ABM) degree. It combines the curricula for both computer science programs. It can help you earn your Master’s in Computer Science  in just two semesters. This program is particularly intense. Every applicant must be reviewed and recommended by the computer science department Undergraduate Advisor. There are a lot of other preparations to be made as well with the computer science department. Consider this well ahead of time if you think it’ll be a good choice for your schedule.


#11. University of Virginia, Main Campus

Location: Charlottesville, Virginia

Degree: Master of Science in Computer Science

Net Price: $17,845


#12. Texas A & M University, College Station

Location: College Station, Texas

Degree: Master of Science in Computer Science

Net Price: $19,118


#13. Columbia University of the City of New York

Location: New York City, New York

Degree: Master of Science in Computer Science

Net Price: $21,220


#14. Duke University

Location: Durham, North Carolina

Degree: Master of Science in Computer Science

Net Price: $19,785


#15. University of Southern California

Location: Los Angeles, California

Degree: Master of Science in Computer Science

Net Price: $36,161


#16. University of Washington, Seattle Campus

Location: Seattle, Washington

Degree: Master of Science in Computer Science

Net Price: $9,765


#17. Yale University

Location: New Haven, Connecticut

Degree: Master of Science in Computer Science

Net Price: $18,748


#18. George Washington University

Location: Washington, D.C.

Degree: Master of Science in Computer Science

Net Price: $39,600


#19. Arizona State University, Tempe

Location: Tempe, Arizona

Degree: Master of Science in Computer Science

Net Price: $13,731


#20. University of Colorado Boulder

Location: Boulder, Colorado

Degree: Master of Science in Computer Science

Net Price: $21,466



Michael Templeton
Managing Editor

Kacey Reynolds Schedler
Contributing Editor