The Best Universities for
Computer Science in 2021

Computer science is one of the most wide-ranging fields in tech. With a degree in computer science, you can learn how to become a data scientist, IT specialist, product manager, software engineer, and more. All you need to do is pick an area of specialization that suits you most.

Getting a CS degree is one of the best ways to prepare for your future. Whether you’ve never worked before or want to upskill in your current field, going to school for computer science is a great choice. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there will be an 11 percent growth in the number of computer occupations by 2029.

Overview: The Top 10 Computer Science Colleges in 2021

Although most universities have computer science degrees, they are not created equal. You should check for program quality and other factors when you’re choosing the best school for computer science.

The data on this table was collected directly from each school’s website. However, tuition is approximate and subject to change, so reach out to the school when you’re ready to apply.

School State Degrees and Annual Tuition Online Options
Brown University RI Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
$60,944
Master of Science in Computer Science
$71,312
PhD in Computer Science
$71,312
Yes
Carnegie Mellon University PA Bachelor of Science in Information Systems
$50,976
Master of Science in Computer Science
$50,320
PhD in Computer Science
$45,700
Yes
Cornell University NY Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
$56,550
Master of Science in Computer Science
$58,586
PhD in Computer Science
$29,500
Yes
Georgia Institute of Technology GA Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
$31,572 in-state
$52,684 out-of-state
Master of Science in Computer Science
$18,970
PhD in Computer Science
$18,970
Yes
Harvard University MA Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science
$72,357
Master of Computational Science
and Engineering
$49,448
PhD in Computer Science
$51,904
Yes
Massachusetts Institute of
Technology (MIT)
MA Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
and Engineering
$53,450
Master of Engineering in Computation
and Cognition
$26,725
Yes
Princeton University NJ Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
$53,890
Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science
$53,890
Master of Science in Engineering
$56,010
PhD in Computer Science
$56,010
Yes
Stanford University CA Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
$52,857
Master of Science in Computer Science
$57,861
PhD in Computer Science
$37,620
Yes
University of California Berkeley CA Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
$39,550 in-state
$69,304 out-of-state
Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science
$39,550 in-state
$69,304 out-of-state
Master of Science in Computer Science
$17,486 in-state
$32,588 out-of-state
PhD in Computer Science
$32,588
Yes
University of Michigan MI Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
and Engineering
$31,484 in-state
$66,698 out-of-state
Master of Science in Computer Science
and Engineering
$54,982 in-state
$74,724 out-of-state
PhD in Computer Science and Engineering
$54,982
Yes

Computer Science Degree Levels Explained

Like every other post-secondary program, computer science degrees are available at four levels: associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD. These four levels are divided into undergraduate and graduate studies.

Computer Science Associate Degree

This is one of the fastest degrees you can get in computer science. An associate degree in computer science takes about two years. You can earn an associate degree at a community college, which is much less expensive than a university.

While some employers might demand a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, you can qualify for some entry-level positions with your Associate Degree in Computer Science. The average salary for computer science associate degree holders is $66,754, according to ZipRecruiter.

Computer Science Bachelor’s Degree

A Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science is more advanced than an associate degree, and you will need about four years to complete the program. If you apply for an accelerated bachelor’s degree, you can get your computer science degree in two and a half to three years.

With a CS bachelor’s degree, you can aim for higher positions in any industry. According to ZipRecruiter, you will earn an average of $68,673 per year. This amount will be influenced by your job title and location. You could become a software engineer, data scientist, and more.

Computer Science Master’s Degree

A Master’s Degree in Computer Science is a great choice if you want to reach for a managerial position. You will need a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or a related field before you can apply for a master’s. While the timeline varies from school to school, a master’s does not usually take longer than 24 months.

According to ZipRecruiter, people with Master’s Degrees in Computer Science earn about $70,418 per year. Just like with every other degree, your specialization and company will influence your salary. With a master’s degree, you can work as a product manager, network architect, computer and information manager, and more.

Computer Science Doctorate

This route is a good choice if you want to take the research path and increase your knowledge of computer science. A PhD in Computer Science can take anywhere from two to ten years, and it involves a lot of independent study.

Most doctors in computer science pursue research and academic roles. It is not a standard requirement from employees. However, if you want to work as a lecturer, professor, or research scientist, you should aim for a PhD in Computer Science.

In Detail: The Best Computer Science Schools of 2021

In Detail: The Best Computer Science Schools of 2021

This deep dive into the best computer science schools will help you determine which option is best for you. It covers each school’s accreditation, graduation rates, degree levels, and unique benefits.

Brown University

Degree Levels: Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree, PhD

Graduation Rate: 95.5 percent

Regional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

The bachelor’s degree program at Brown University runs for four years. However, you can opt for a five-year combined program that allows you to graduate with a bachelor’s and master’s degree at the same time. The coursework covers modern technologies in computer science. If you want to get a PhD, you may be entitled to funding from the university.

Brown Computer Science Pros

  • Accredited
  • High graduation rate
  • Solid curriculum
  • Flexible online classes

Brown Computer Science Cons

  • Expensive tuition
  • Hard to get into

Carnegie Mellon University

Degree Levels: Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree, PhD

Graduation Rate: 90 percent

Regional Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

It’s no news that Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science is one of the best in the world. This school offers four specialized CS bachelor’s degree options, all of which have extensive syllabi to help you get the training you need. According to the school’s website, its computer science graduate program is ranked number one in the country.

Carnegie Mellon Computer Science Pros

  • Many degrees and specializations
  • Extensive curricula
  • Accredited

Carnegie Mellon Computer Science Cons

  • Expensive for all students

Cornell University

Degree Levels: Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree, PhD

Graduation Rate: 93.9 percent

Regional Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Like other major universities in the United States, Cornell has degrees at many different levels. This school is unique because you can get a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, which can help you prepare for different jobs. The master’s degree option also covers programming, data science, cognitive science, and more.

Cornell Computer Science Pros

  • Accredited
  • Hybrid programs are available
  • High graduation rate
  • Extensive specialization options

Cornell Computer Science Cons

  • Expensive tuition
  • Hard to get into

Georgia Institute of Technology

Degree Levels: Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree, PhD

Graduation Rate: 86.2 percent

Regional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The Georgia Institute of Technology is another great option if you want to study at a reputable tech institute. There are computer science majors, but students from other departments can take computer science as a minor to improve their technical skills. Dual degree options are also available if you’re comfortable with a higher workload.

Georgia Tech Computer Science Pros

  • Accredited
  • Excellent reputation
  • Computer science minor is available

Georgia Tech Computer Science Cons

  • Limited online options
  • Extensive workload

Harvard University

Degree Levels: Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree, PhD

Graduation Rate: 97.3 percent

Regional Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education

Harvard has state-of-the-art facilities and world-renowned faculty for CS students. The coursework on all levels of education has modern technologies and options for specialization. Keep in mind that Harvard admissions is highly competitive. According to its website, only 2,015 students were admitted out of 40,248 for the class of 2024.

Harvard Computer Science Pros

  • Strong reputation
  • High graduation rate
  • World-class curricula

Harvard Computer Science Cons

  • Expensive tuition and cost of attendance
  • Competitive admissions process

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Degree Levels: Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree

Graduation Rate: 92.7 percent

Regional Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education

The MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing is one of the best in the world. Graduates from MIT get positions in top tech firms to put their knowledge into practice. The Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science can help you develop hands-on projects.

MIT Computer Science Pros

  • Extensive curriculum
  • Networking opportunities
  • Affordable tuition compared to other private universities

MIT Computer Science Cons

  • High pressure and workload
  • Hard to get into

Princeton University

Degree Levels: Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree, PhD

Graduation Rate: 98 percent

Regional Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

This is another excellent Ivy League school that will look good on your resume. You can choose between a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, depending on your future career goals. It can be easier to dive into the master’s degree program if you get your bachelor’s degree from this school.

Princeton Computer Science Pros

  • High graduation rate
  • Strong reputation
  • Networking opportunities beyond graduation

Princeton Computer Science Cons

  • Competitive admissions process
  • Expensive tuition and fees

Stanford University

Degree Levels: Bachelor Degree, Master’s Degree, PhD

Graduation Rate: 75 percent

Regional Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges

Stanford allows you to enjoy a smooth ride from the undergraduate to graduate levels. The CS bachelor’s degree runs for four years, and you can finish the master’s degree in less than two years. Topics like artificial intelligence and machine learning are part of the computer science curriculum.

Stanford Computer Science Pros

  • Up-to-date curriculum
  • Strong reputation

Stanford Computer Science Cons

  • Lower graduation rate
  • Expensive tuition

University of California Berkeley

Degree Levels: Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree, PhD

Graduation Rate: 91.9 percent

Regional Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges

This school has an incredible computer science program at all levels of education. Students can choose from a BA or BS with the same quality of education. There are also many options for double majors, minors, and transfer programs. UC Berkeley provides career placement services to help you get a job after graduation.

UC Berkeley Computer Science Pros

  • High graduation rate
  • Extensive curriculum
  • Strong sense of community

UC Berkeley Computer Science Cons

  • High out-of-state tuition

University of Michigan

Degree Levels: Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree, PhD

Graduation Rate: 91.2 percent

Regional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

At the University of Michigan, you can get a combined Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and Engineering. This can increase your opportunities in the tech industry. The College of Engineering awards this CS degree. There are a few online master’s degrees available, as well as individual online courses to help you get started.

University of Michigan Computer Science Pros

  • High acceptance rate
  • Online programs are available
  • Extensive curriculum

University of Michigan Computer Science Cons

  • High out-of-state tuition
How to Pick the Best Computer Science School for You

How to Pick the Best Computer Science School for You

You need to pick a credible university with a good reputation, a solid faculty, and state-of-the-art facilities. The best schools in computer science combine practical study with CS theory. Most importantly, your school should also be accredited to ensure a high quality of education.

Online vs In-Person Computer Science Degrees

In recent times, online education has become more and more popular. While there are some drawbacks to online learning, the flexibility can be helpful. An online degree is an ideal option for self-motivated learners who might be too busy for in-person learning. Whether you want to opt for self-paced or live online classes, there are several schedule options.

At the same time, in-person degrees offer a sense of community. If you love a motivating environment with in-person classes and social events, a traditional school setting will be ideal. Keep in mind that you will need to spend more time and financial resources for an in-person CS degree.

Accreditation

This is one of the first things you should consider when choosing a university. Whether it’s an online or in-person school, you need to make sure that the school you select is accredited in the United States. It should also be accredited to offer computer science programs.

In the United States, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) oversees computer science accreditations. In this case, the accreditation you should look out for is the Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC). When you see a CAC accreditation, you can be confident that you’re getting the right education.

Tuition Cost

Student loan debts can be crippling for some people. Before you apply for a degree, make sure your finances are in order and you can afford the program. You will need to check the tuition cost and cost of attendance and calculate how much you will pay back when adjusted to reflect compound interest.

Curriculum

Another vital consideration is the computer science curriculum. There are many fields available for computer science programs. Your school should allow you to explore as many modern technologies as possible. Some programs offer specialization and minor options, so you can become a data analyst, a computer scientist, or anything in between.

How Much Can You Earn With a Computer Science Degree?

You can earn over $100,000 per year with a computer science degree. People who study computer science have a wide range of job opportunities. Since there are so many options, there are many different salaries in the industry. Read below to learn more about how much you can earn in certain CS jobs. Note that the salary estimates are subject to change.

The Best Computer Science Careers

Profession Required Education Average Salary
Computer Network Architect Bachelor’s degree $122,125
Machine Learning Engineer Bachelor’s degree $112,837
Computer Scientist Bachelor’s degree $106,850
Product Manager Bachelor’s degree $99,549
Data Scientist Bachelor’s degree $96,501
Database Administrator Bachelor’s degree $86,833
Business Analyst Bachelor’s degree $78,386
Computer Hardware Engineer Bachelor’s degree $75,273

Why You Should Attend a Computer Science School in 2021

If any field is here to stay, it’s computer science. As time passes, computers will become more complex, so there will always be a demand for computer science experts. This is why 2021 is a good time to hop aboard the train and get a computer science degree.

You do not need to pass through all the computer science degrees before you can secure a good job. With an associate degree and adequate personal training, you can demonstrate your skills. You can also get a standard bachelor’s degree or elevate your education with a master’s. Either way, you can get a great job in tech.

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