The Best
Computer Science Master’s Degree Programs of 2021

A Master’s in Computer Science can be the first step to advancing your career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median yearly salary for computer and information research scientists was $126,830 in 2020. The sector is expected to experience 15 percent growth by 2029.

Finding the best Master’s Degrees in Computer Science can be time-consuming. There is a lot to consider, from cost to flexibility to accreditation. This guide contains a list of the best programs, along with short summaries of each.

Top 20 Computer Science Master’s Degrees of 2021 at a Glance

The US has a high number of universities and colleges that offer computer science master’s degree programs. Some are private schools with higher tuition costs, while others are public schools with lower price tags.

The table below lists the schools and their prices. Where applicable, different prices are listed for residents and non-residents. All the cost information was collected from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

School and Degree State Price Notes
Arizona State University
Master of Science (MS) in Computer Science
(AZ) $12,608
$27,048
In-State
Out-of-State
Columbia University
MS in Computer Science
(NY) $51,194 All Students
Cornell University
Master of Engineering in Computer Science
(NY) $60,286 All Students
Duke University
MS in Computer Science
(NC) $63,027 All Students
Georgia Institute of Technology
MS in Computer Science
(GA) $16,383
$31,761
In-State
Out-of-State
Johns Hopkins University
Master of Science in Engineering (MSE) in
Computer Science
(MD) $59,350 All Students
Michigan State University
MS in Computer Science
(MI) $19,613
$38,541
In-State
Out-of-State
North Carolina State University
MS in Computer Science
(NC) $9,401.30
$18,394.80
In-State
Out-of-State
The Ohio State University
MS in Computer Science and Engineering
(OH) $12,679
$37,396
In-State
Out-of-State
Princeton University
MSE in Computer Science
(NJ) $56,414 All Students
Purdue University
MS in Computer Science
(IN) $6,457
$14,618
In-State
Out-of-State
Rice University
Master of Computer Science
(TX) $63,496 All Students
Stanford University
MS in Computer Science
(CA) $55,011 All Students
Stony Brook University – SUNY
MS in Computer Science
(NY) $14,132
$26,154
In-State
Out-of-State
Texas A&M University
Master of Computer Science
(TX) $10,547
$23,278
In-State
Out-of-State
University of Colorado – Boulder
MS in Computer Science
(CO) $13,873
$33,905
In-State
Out-of-State
University of Florida
MS in Computer Science
(FL) $12,740
$30,134
In-State
Out-of-State
University of Massachusetts – Amherst
MS in Computer Science
(MA) $16,648
$35,260
In-State
Out-of-State
University of Michigan
MSE in Computer Science and Engineering
(MI) $25,005
$50,108
In-State
Out-of-State
University of Texas – Dallas
MS in Computer Science
(TX) $14,303
$28,773
In-State
Out-of-State

What Are the Requirements for a Computer Science Master’s Degree?

The requirements for a Master’s Degree in Computer Science are similar at most universities. The most important qualification is a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or any similar technical field.

Some schools allow you to apply for a Master’s Degree in Computer Science even if you do not meet this criterion. As long as you demonstrate the skills required to be a specialist in the field, they encourage you to apply.

Choosing the Right Computer Science Master’s Degree Program

There are a lot of considerations to make before choosing the right computer science master’s degree program for you. Below are the key ones.

Location

Where you study is an important factor. Most people would not want to consider relocating for a master’s degree. Luckily, there are plenty of options available.

Accreditation

This is another important consideration. The school’s accreditation matters when you need to transfer credits or qualify for federal aid. For a seamless future educational journey, check whether the university is accredited.

Tuition

While this degree has a promising outlook job-wise, you still need to consider the tuition cost. Think of how much you can afford and how to fund that tuition.

Networking

Networking is essential in the tech world. A well-recognized institution can help you connect to a network that would be beneficial to your career.

Best Computer Science Master’s Degrees in 2021

Best Computer Science Master’s Degrees in 2021

After considering important factors like location and cost, you still need to choose a master’s degree program that suits your needs as a professional. The programs listed in this section have varying completion times. The longest programs last for about five years, but most fall between one and three years in length.

Some programs are accelerated so you can speed up the study time. Several of them also give you the opportunity to specialize in certain subdisciplines.

Arizona State University | Master of Science (MS) in Computer Science

This program by ASU provides high-quality instruction using real-world experience. You will work on projects to thoroughly understand cutting-edge topics such as cyber security, AI, blockchain, and big data. It runs for one year.

Other main topics in this program include cloud and distributed computing, bioinformatics, and data mining. Students will learn about computer networks, computer-aided geometric design, and machine learning.

Columbia University | MS in Computer Science

This master’s degree program is for students who want to deepen and broaden their computer science knowledge. It also provides an opportunity for students to learn specific computer science subdisciplines.

Currently, there are eight concentrations to choose from. Two of them are Computational Biology and Vision, Graphics, Interaction, and Robotics. During the program, students are also expected to complete lab work and take part in the research.

Cornell University | MS in Computer Science

This two-semester program is very small and highly selective. It is ideal for students who want to advance their careers. The program involves advanced coursework, writing, research, and teaching. Self-motivated students are encouraged to apply.

During the program, students can serve as teaching assistants. It requires 34 credit hours of work. The thesis research takes up between six and 12 credit hours.

Duke University | MS in Computer Science

This master’s program blends practice and theory to produce skilled professionals. It trains students in current applications and technologies. Students who graduate from this program are ready for careers in research and can focus on doctoral study.

There are two options for computer science master’s candidates. You can choose between a course-only master’s, or a project- or thesis-based master’s. For either, 30 hours of course credits are required.

Georgia Institute of Technology | MS in Computer Science

This master’s degree program is designed for people with a bachelor’s degree. People with non-computer science degrees can also apply. However, they may need to complete some remedial coursework as well as the master’s degree requirements.

The program offers 11 different areas of specialization for students to choose from. Students can customize the program to fit their areas of specialization.

Johns Hopkins University | MSE in Computer Science

John Hopkins University’s master’s program offers a blend of research-based and practical knowledge in different areas. Students focus on software engineering, bioinformatics, and cyber security.

The program produces scientists, computer professionals, and engineers with skill-building opportunities in different areas. These areas include analysis, theory, implementation, and design of information systems.

Michigan State University | MS in Computer Science

This program from Michigan State University has two options for master’s students. You can complete the program with or without a thesis. Both have a requirement of 30 credits.

Some of the topics covered include advanced computing architecture, distributed systems, parallel computing, and advanced software engineering.

North Carolina State University | MS in Computer Science

This program is based on attendance and coursework. It does not have a thesis, research, or comprehensive examination requirements. The program is mostly part-time as students are self-supported.

The program requires 31 graduate credits to complete. Courses in theory and systems are compulsory. There are student internships for students after two semesters.

The Ohio State University | MS in Computer Science and Engineering

The philosophy of this program is to provide attendees with the fundamentals of engineering and computer science. Students also study specialized areas of interest. The program has advisors on hand to help you choose a suitable area of specialization.

This program has two options to choose from. Students can choose the thesis option, which is a research track. They can also choose the non-thesis option and focus on coursework.

Princeton University | Master of Science in Engineering (MSE) in Computer Science

Princeton offers a Master’s Degree in Computer Science with two options. It has a thesis and non-thesis track. The program is full-time and can be finished in two years. Some of the main courses include advanced computer graphics, computational complexity, and data structures.

Other topics include parallel architecture, models, biological networks, and mathematical models. Geometric modeling is also another subject covered in detail.

Purdue University | MS in Computer Science

Purdue’s master’s program requires students on the non-thesis track to take 10 three-credit courses. Students who choose to write a thesis are only required to take eight three-credit courses. Some of its elective courses include Data Mining, Bioinformatics, and Numerical Computing.

The program takes around four semesters. The maximum load for each semester is four courses. Students on assistantships cannot do more than three in a semester. Some people can complete the program in 12 months.

Rice University | Master of Computer Science

Rice University’s master’s degree is for people who are in pursuit of tech careers. The program is full-time and can be completed in three semesters. Students learn top programming languages, robotics, networks, logic, and verification. These skills can help them stand out in the workforce. It is also possible to take this master’s degree online.

Stanford University | MS in Computer Science

This program has different specializations for students to choose from. Some of the main topics include artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, and biocomputation. Other topics include real-world computing, theoretical computer science, and software theory.

It can be taken part time but most students finish in between three to five years. It has a 45-unit requirement and students must finish it within five years of enrolling in the program.

Stony Brook University – SUNY | MS in Computer Science

This computer science master’s program has three completion options. You can choose the basic project, advanced project, or thesis. It offers several subjects like logic, data science, operating systems, wireless networks, and robotics. It is possible to complete the program in three semesters.

The university prefers students with computer science degrees or something related to it. Others can apply if they show exceptional promise. However, they may need to take extra computer science courses to meet the requirements.

Texas A&M University | Master of Computer Science

This professional degree requires 30 credit hours. To graduate from the program, students must choose one of the following: systems, software, or theory.

The Texas A&M University Master’s Degree in Computer Science is a research degree. Students are required to write a thesis as well as a final examination. The thesis defense is required as well.

University of Colorado – Boulder | MS in Computer Science

This program prepares you for a career in research. It is a pathway to PhD study and offers opportunities to fund the degree through research and teaching assistantships.

To earn the master’s degree, students are expected to complete coursework worth 24 credit hours. Depending on the selected option, you may need to complete six hours of independent study credit or thesis credit.

University of Florida | MS in Computer Science

The University of Florida offers a master of science program through its college of engineering. Some of the core courses include programming language principles and analysis of algorithms. It has both thesis and non-thesis tracks.

You need to complete 30 credits to complete the programs. Some of the electives in this program include machine learning, computational molecular biology, and neural networks.

University of Massachusetts – Amherst | MS in Computer Science

This program has a data science concentration option for students. It requires 30 credits for completion and takes four semesters. This can mean two years in most cases. The main areas of research in this program include computer networks, machine learning, web retrieval, and artificial intelligence.

Students enrolling in this program must have an undergraduate background in technical courses and computer science.

University of Michigan | MSE in Computer Science and Engineering

This program requires 30 credits before students can graduate. They have the option of writing a thesis or not. It can be completed in one to three years. There are some extra topics attached to the program, including compilers, chip design, distributed systems, human-computer interaction, and data mining.

University of Texas – Dallas | MS in Computer Science

This program offers intensive training in theory, design programming, and applications. It is for students with professional and academically-oriented goals who want to learn computing theory and technology.

It has courses on different subfields in computer science. Some include operating systems, automata theory, computer architecture, and database design. It also includes software systems, computational complexity, and computer vision.

What Can You Do With a Computer Science Master’s Degree?

A computer science master’s degree can deepen your knowledge of challenges in the digital world today. It also gives you an opportunity to work in leading organizations. Naturally, this translates to a higher salary that can reach six figures.

Since the skills from computer science degree programs are largely applicable, you can always find jobs and excel in industries. You can build computer games, animate movies, and handle government research.

How Much Can I Expect to Earn With a Computer Science Master’s Degree?

Entry-level computer science positions hardly require more than a bachelor’s degree. A master’s degree will give you a wider range of jobs to choose from. You can advance to management roles quickly.

According to ZipRecruiter data, job roles for master’s recipients can pay salaries as high as $153,679. Other factors can also affect the salary.

50000
Min salary
153679
Average salary
270000
Top salary

Top Computer Science Master’s Degree Careers

Profession Approximate Average Salary
Chief Information Officer (CIO) $153,679
Principal Software Engineer $136,879
Network Engineer $112,313
Computer Scientist $101,999
Mobile Applications Developer $101,899
Security Analyst $99,944
Software Engineer $99,729
Development Operations (DevOps) Engineer $96,944
Software Developer $86,523
Programmer Analyst $80,334

Is a Computer Science Master’s Degree Worth It in 2021?

A computer science master’s degree is definitely worth it in 2021. When you graduate, you will earn around $80,000 to $150,000 per year on average, according to ZipRecruiter. The job also has a good outlook for the future. This master’s degree can also set you up for more growth and specialization.

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